Yaaawn. I was hoping I'd be the bearer of good news, but there is NOTHING going on in U2 land this week other than rumors that raise our hopes, then get refuted, just like that. The wheels have been turning behind the scenes here at @U2, however, as a group of dedicated staffers have been taking advantage of this quiet time to work on U2tours.com. It's a huge undertaking -- finding information on the opening bands, or venues that may not exist any longer or have changed names over the years, takes plenty of research. Because many of the bands and venues from the early days existed pre-Internet, it's not always as easy as typing a name into a search engine to see what pops up.
You'll be amazed to see what this crew has uncovered, but there are still gaps to be filled. Please check out this thread on our Forum; if you have any information on the venues listed, we'd love to hear from you.
It hasn't happened in a long time, but I had a wonderful instance of U2 serendipity a few weeks ago. An email went out to the @U2 staff for help finding information on opening acts that couldn't be located. I recognized the name of one of the bands (started by an Irish ex-pat) and started digging around the Web for whatever I could unearth. A day or two later, I got a very excited phone call from a friend of @U2, Eileen S. She had a little gift for me: a recording of U2 playing at The Decade, a legendary local club in 1981. I knew this bootleg existed but never made the time to hunt it down. Eileen got it from a colleague she hadn't seen for a while who remembered she was a huge U2 fan, and she couldn't wait to give me a copy.
I've been listening to it in my car -- it's about 30 minutes long and just the right length for my commute to and from work. I love it so much! I was already feeling nostalgic from doing the research and reminiscing about how I spent a good part of my youth in that club, seeing everyone from They Might Be Giants to Stevie Ray Vaughn to any number of bands no one ever heard of. The walls were covered with the names of bands who were no one and then become someone: The Pretenders, The Police and U2, to name a few. Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen often stopped in after their gigs at much larger venues to say hello to the owners who helped give them their start.
The place is just what you'd imagine: cramped, smoky and extremely loud. The musicians on stage couldn't jump too high because they'd hit their heads on the ceiling. In the recording I hear beer bottles clanging and people talking over the music and it brings me back to the days when we'd pay a $2 cover and those clanging bottles would set us back a buck and a half. At one point during the show, Bono says, "This is a single released this week in your country," as Edge begins "I Will Follow." They were throwing their hats into the ring with some heavy hitters like The Who, John Lennon and Smokey Robinson, who all had No. 1 singles that year.
At the end of "Into the Heart" Bono says, "It's good that we can actually see the people in the back tonight. It's been a bit of a problem in the last few dates." This made me laugh the first time I heard it because 1) there was no way you couldn't see the people in the back of the room, it was so small, and 2) the last time I saw U2 perform was at another local venue, this one quite a bit bigger and probably not at all easy for Bono to see the people at the back.
It always bugged me seeing U2's name on the wall of that little bar and knowing that I missed their show, but I had to keep reminding myself that at the time, I would have been just shy of my 16th birthday -- much too young to get into the club. (At the tender age of 19, Larry also was too young to get in.) A short five years later when I was legally able to enter the holy grotto, U2 already had some hits on the charts, three more tours under their belts and were just finishing up with the Amnesty International shows. The Joshua Tree would be released the following year, making certain that they'd never have to play a tiny venue again. I'm so happy to have this early show to listen to because now I don't have to wonder what I missed all those years ago. Thanks, Eileen!
With so many rumors of the new album and tour plans flying around, one little tidbit got lost in the shuffle: Adam Clayton will be married on Sept. 15th. Huh?? If it's true, do you know what that means? It means the last available member of U2 will officially be taken off the market as an eligible bachelor. I want to be happy for him, but as an Adam fan-girl, I can't help but feel a little heartbroken that my fantasy of him picking me out of a sea of fans and whisking me off for a life of adventure is gone. There aren't many rock stars left who are near my age, single and fantasy-worthy. Eddie Vedder was in the running for a good while until he recently married his longtime girlfriend, again crushing my dreams. Okay, so maybe I won't get to trade vegetarian recipes with Larry Mullen, Jr. (which is too bad, because I make a killer chili), but there may be hope yet. Although he's only a part-time rock star, I think I could settle for this guy.
Have a great week!
(c) @U2, 2013.