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"As a performer, I understand it takes a picture of me with the Pope or a president to get debt cancellation onto the front pages. Otherwise it's just too obscure a melody line."

-- Bono

@U2 home page

Column: off the record..., vol. 16-721

@U2, May 01, 2016
By: Matt McGee


off the record, from @U2

U2 (or just individual band members) has performed in some pretty famous venues. Here in the U.S., I'd put Madison Square Garden, Boston Garden and the Apollo Theater pretty high on the list. I'm no expert on international venues, but surely Olympic Stadium in Berlin and Wembley Stadium in London would be on the list, too.

But I can't think of a more famous venue that U2 -- or at least one of the band members -- has performed in than the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican. Am I wrong? I started a thread in our forum asking if this is the most famous venue for any U2-related performance, and there are already a few good replies. Let me know what you think. It's gotta be. I mean, c'mon ... it's the Sistine Chapel??!!??

Edge gave a few comments to NBC News, but I hope someone talks to him in more depth about that performance Saturday night because I'd love to know what was going through his mind, if he was nervous, etc.

I'd like to offer a sincere thanks to U2 fans all around the world -- in 81 countries! -- who took this year's U2 Fan Survey. I know it's a lot of questions to answer and many of you needed 30 minutes or more to finish, so it means a lot to me and the whole @U2 gang that you had the stamina and persistence to participate. We had almost 3,600 fans complete the entire thing, which is an amazing number when you think about all the political and consumer surveys you see -- at least here in the U.S. -- where they poll maybe 1,000 or 1,500 people and consider that a representative sampling of the entire population.

I enjoyed several of the new questions we asked this year. One that our staffer, Scott Calhoun, suggested was the question about whether your passion for U2 has changed since your early days as a fan. I had to give that one serious thought. It definitely hasn't gone down; that answer was easy to eliminate. But, as I've written in previous OTRs, I've been going through lots of peaks and valleys as a U2 fan (and just in general) over the past 12-18 months ... and especially in the past 2-3 months. I ended up deciding that my passion for U2 is the same as it was 30 years ago, and there's a strange background that prompted me to pick that answer. When I was a fairly new U2 fan, I made two purchases that, in my mind, were statements about my level of interest and commitment to U2:

  • I bought The Unforgettable Fire on CD even before I owned a CD player. CD albums were still very rare in 1984, and record stores could fit all of their CD inventory in a single bin -- usually crammed into a corner or end of the big vinyl displays. The TUF CD cost me almost $25, as I recall -- about triple what the vinyl cost.

  • I spent $40 on "Soul, Revelation And The Baptism Of Fire" -- a 2-vinyl bootleg of U2's December 8, 1984 show at Massey Hall in Toronto. This was in the days when you could buy new vinyl albums for $7.99. For a 16-year-old kid back then, $40 was a lot of money and I used to tell anyone who questioned my U2 fandom, "Hey, I once spent $40 on a U2 bootleg!"

So, when I was answering that survey question about passion now vs. then, I thought to myself ... Yeah. If U2 releases something on a new format that I can't even play, I'd still buy it. And if there was a great live show that could only be owned by spending $40, I'd buy that, too.

Strange way to answer a survey question, huh?

Anyway, we've been dissecting some of the survey results on some of our recent @U2 Podcast episodes, so check those out if you've missed our conversations. And you can also see the full set of survey results here on @U2.

You may know that we're working on a new version of our website -- i.e., new design, updated features and so forth. Staffer Tim Neufeld is planning an update to Drawing Their Fish in the Sand, our popular page connecting U2's lyrics with verses and messages in the Bible. As part of that project, Tim has started a new Twitter to connect with readers who are interested in where U2's lyrics and the Bible intersect. You can find it at @atu2bible. And if you're not interested in that aspect of U2's music, that's okay, too. It's on a separate Twitter account from our main one, so you can happily ignore it if you prefer.

And finally, the Smithsonian is planning a book next year featuring rock 'n' roll photography, and they're looking for fans of any/all artists to submit their best shots for possible inclusion. You can learn more and submit your work at And, as I look right now, there just happens to be a cool photo of Bono from the Amnesty International tour in the Featured Entries section on the home page.

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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