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"I'll take a walk occasionally, and have a drink with the devil, but I'm not moving in with him."

-- Bono

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Column: off the record ..., vol. 16-743

@U2, October 02, 2016
By: Matt McGee


off the record, from @U2

I'm sitting in a hotel room in Burlington, New Jersey, as I begin to write this week's OTR column. It's late Friday night -- welp, actually the clock just turned to midnight Saturday morning -- and I'm exhausted. This is the last leg of an eight-day trip that began with the #U240 events in Cleveland, transitioned immediately into a four-day visit to New York City for a work-related conference and is ending here with a visit to see my mom.

Talk about whiplash! From U2 to work, then work to family with no time to stop and smell the flowers along the way! Adding to the whiplash is the fact that, about 24 hours after leaving Cleveland and "U2 mode," I went into "Adele mode" for the first time: I was at Madison Square Garden enjoying my first Adele concert. (She's incredible, by the way. It was one of the best concerts I've ever seen.)

At some point, I want to go back and review all the photos I took in Cleveland, watch the videos I/we shot, listen to the latest @U2 podcast and just step back and remember a wonderful weekend with the @U2 crew, a few hundred crazy U2 fans, Dave Fanning and the excellent staff of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I also need to do the same with the photos, videos and stories from our European staffers -- led by Aaron Govern -- who put on what everyone says was an incredible party for #U240Dublin.

Speaking of Aaron G., before I say any more I want to give major props to both him and fellow @U2 staffer Scott Calhoun. The two of them carried the torch for our Dublin and Cleveland events, respectively. They did most of the heavy lifting for both events and did a marvelous job. I tend to get fans approaching me to say "thanks" when we do things like this, but it's pretty much never me who deserves the thanks. In this case, it's most definitely Aaron and Scott -- with some help from other @U2ers -- who deserve the thanks.

By far the biggest surprise of the weekend was Adam Clayton's Skype interview with Dave Fanning on Sunday, which I still haven't had time to watch/listen to since it happened.

Did you say "surprise," Matt?

Yep. We didn't know it would happen until Friday (we = myself and Scott C.) when U2's PR team told us that the band wanted to be part of the #U240 fun and Adam would be available on Sunday for Dave Fanning to interview him via Skype. The details had already been worked out with Fanning and the Rock Hall's technical people; all we had to do was not tell anyone ... including the other @U2 staffers on the panel, Becky Myers and Ross Perry! They didn't know about it until minutes before the session started. And I so wish you could've been in the theater when Becky overheard them testing the Skype connection and one of the band's assistants mentioned Adam by name. She's a huge Adam fan and it immediately turned into a personal OMG moment for her!

I won't get into the interview any more -- you've probably already seen or heard it. But if you haven't, don't wait any longer. Literally stop reading this right now and go have a listen/look. It was one of the best interviews of a band member I've ever heard. Fanning asked Adam so many questions that a lot of fans have been asking in recent years, and somehow managed to keep Adam laughing out loud while putting some very pointed questions to him about U2's album delays and such! It was brilliant. Fanning's a total pro -- I remember thinking when it was done that he knew his audience in that room was 100+ very serious U2 fans, and that gave him freedom to ask questions and conduct an interview in a way that he wouldn't do if it was a general RTE radio audience.

One last note on Adam's interview. Our joy about it didn't last long because shortly after it was over, we heard from our European staffers that some fans who attended the Dublin party were angry/frustrated/etc. that Adam chose to connect to the Cleveland event instead of Dublin.


I just don't get it. I'd never try to speak for the band or explain what they do, but it seems like there were a couple pretty obvious reasons things happened as they did:

  • The Dublin party happened on Saturday night, so if the band (well, Adam) wasn't available until Sunday, there was no option to make a connection to Dublin.
  • The band was in the USA, Dave Fanning was in the USA and the whole thing was coordinated through him and the Rock Hall, so of course it happened at the Rock Hall.

The worst thing is that one fan who was at the Dublin event confronted Aaron G. on Sunday to angrily gripe about Adam's appearance in Cleveland -- a confrontation that happened in front of Aaron's family and brought his youngest son to tears. Can you imagine?!? That's not how U2 fans should act toward one another. Hell ... it's not how anyone should act toward one another.

(It's now about 4:00 pm ET Saturday, and I'm writing this on a United Airlines flight from Newark to Denver.)

My son texted me a couple hours after Adam's Skype interview: "People are gonna start expecting a band member to show up at every atu2 thing from now on." Several people said the same thing to me in Cleveland, actually. And so I'd like to announce our next @U2 party right now: On November 31st, we're gonna have a "Red Hill Mining Town" video viewing party! I'm going to sit in my office eating a bowl of Funyons and simultaneously commenting on that video, and I'll live stream the whole thing on Periscope so other U2 fans can join the party. It'll be incredible, I promise. (And if that doesn't lower expectations for future @U2 events, nothing will!)

It's kinda weird when my day job and my @U2 hobby intersect like they will this week. I have a press pass for the Dreamforce conference as part of my day job, and that pass also gets me in to see U2!

I'm going in with the assumption that, much like the recent iHeartRadio Music Festival gig, U2 won't be any introducing any new songs. I'm also assuming there'll be a similar political message like the anti-Trump one that started the iHeart Radio performance (but this week they're playing outdoors, so probably no Trump dollars falling down on us). It doesn't really matter to me what happens. As I've said before in past OTRs, I'm at the point of just being grateful for the chance to see them live whenever, wherever and whatever they decide to play.

(And it's now Sunday evening and I'm putting the finishing touches on this week's column.)

Fans on Twitter have been posting photos of the stage setup for the Dreamforce gig and it immediately looks familiar. That's quite obviously the staging from the 2006 outdoor Vertigo tour, although the rigging/screen behind the band is different and much smaller. In fact, you'll see a little sign above the stage -- above the big "U2" -- that says "Geneva Theater." I've no idea why that sign is on the staging, but I know what it is: It's a reference to an old drive-in theater that was open on the site between 1950 and 1999.

And with that, I think I'll wrap-up this three-day, multiple time zone edition of OTR. I need to go watch all the YouTube videos (here and here) from that Adele show I saw last week. And then get caught up on our #U240 stuff, too!

Any opinions expressed in this column are those of the individual author and do not necessarily represent the views of @U2 as a whole.

(c) @U2, 2016.

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