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"I don't doubt God. I have firm faith absolutely in God. It's religion I'm doubting." — Bono

'Is This U2 Heaven?' - Night Three of '3 Nights Live'


Millions tuned in on radio and the Internet, but only 785 were inside the Somerville Theatre for U2's final night of "3 Nights Live." Dubbed a "secret show," it was the worst-kept secret in Massachusetts as word broke of its location over a week ago. Fans by the hundreds showed up at the theatre in Dublin-esque weather with the hope of getting in to see the show. Instead, they were able to share a few brief moments with Bono, Edge and Adam as they greeted folks to say "thank you."

While some ticketless fans were -- in the words of "No Line On The Horizon" -- "hatching some plot, scheming some scheme" to get in, others had to perform super-human feats to win radio contests. Sure, most stations just asked fans to be the correct caller or answer a trivia question, but Jamie Ward of Northfield, New Jersey, had to eat seven pounds of Irish potatoes to win her tickets. Another fan had 21-inches of hair cut for charity. The radio contest winners were bussed from the Museum of Science in Boston to the event.

Both assigned tickets and the proper wristband were required to enter the theatre as U2 wasn't the only show going on that evening in the building. Movie lovers could catch the 8:30 p.m. showing of Watchmen in an adjacent theatre.

Once inside the tiny theatre, fans were instructed by the evening's host, Sway of MTV, to be energized and enthusiastic as the broadcast was going all over the world. He asked, "Is this U2 heaven?" and the audience replied with a resounding "YES!" Cameras were panning the crowd with a huge boom camera sweeping overhead. All fans were told was that the evening was being videotaped, but no one said what the video will be used for.

As U2 took the stage to break into "Get On Your Boots," the roar coming from the theatre was deafening. Midway into the song, Bono motioned for fans to storm the stage to create a more rock-and-roll vibe, which many gladly did. The lighting was minimalistic with strings of white globes hung like a beaded curtain in back of the stage and a huge "U2" made out of what appeared to be large black PVC piping hanging behind Larry. Huge light towers were in the four private balcony areas in the theatre with the speaker stacks on either side of the stage.

Next came a spirited version of "Magnificent," with Adam showcasing why this is quickly becoming one of his signature songs. Bono worked the audience during the song trying to kick everyone's already insane enthusiasm up another level. People were swaying their arms in the air as fans did during the Fordham University performance last week.

After Bono shared some high-fives with those in the front of the stage, "Breathe" had indeed given those in the theatre a breather as most of the jumping and fist-pumping calmed down until towards the song's end. This was the first, and only, time that Bono took off his signature shades as he sung "The songs are in our eyes."

The set continued with "I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight," with the crowd back to it's uber-enthusiastic state with their fists pumping in the air and the jumping resumed during the "You know we're gonna go crazy ... You know we'll go crazy" refrain. This song is surely set to be a crowd-pleaser and energizer on tour.

Then the roof was blown off the building as the band ripped into "Vertigo." Everyone shouting out "uno, dos, tres, catorce" and trying to not bump into the seat in front of them as they jumped in time to Larry's beat. With sweat dripping off of many brows in the very hot and steamy theatre, fans were roaring with delight as the set came to a close.

During the radio commercial break, directors chairs were brought on stage for the question and answer segment of the program. Sway came back out to inform the audience that the questions were previously submitted by those in attendance and that as time was tight, he would do his best to get through as many as he could. He also shared his story of seeing U2 as a teenager back in 1992 in Oakland, California. He said he thought he was only going to see Public Enemy and was planning on leaving after their performance. He was then told that the real reason why he was taken to the show was to see U2, and became a U2 fan after seeing them live.

The band returned to the stage and answered questions ranging from "What do your wives call you, Bono and Edge?" to "Bono, when did you lose your virginity?" Radio could only showcase what the band members said, but their faces showed genuine surprise, shock, horror, and disbelief at some of the ultra-personal questions. In one case, Larry was asked what his favorite fan-related moment was with the question being prefaced with, "I was pulled up on stage when I was three weeks pregnant." Larry's eyes nearly bulged out of his head and he nearly dropped his microphone before frantically saying words to the effect of "I never went near her!" Meanwhile, his three mates were laughing hysterically. The favor was repaid to Bono when Sway asked him how to broach the topic of sex education with young children.

When asked what current musician impressed Larry quickly replied "Bono." At first everyone thought he was saying it tongue-in-cheek, but then gave a very frank answer, ending it with "I am not sh*tting," to which Bono quickly quipped with a look of shock, "We are live on the radio, Larry." After all the hot water Bono got into for his run-in with the Federal Communications Commission, he did not want to revisit that. He then instructed Larry to take more Nyquil to stay sick.

During the last of the commercial breaks, fans began shouting questions to the band. One question was "What is the difference between a Boston audience and others?" Bono replied that it reminded him of the potato famine and that Boston was where all the tall Irish people ended up. He also said that it's a city where the police will not give you trouble. Another question was if the band ever played at The Rat Cellar near Fenway Park. Bono conferred with the rest of the band members before saying "No, but we've spent time there." The last question during the commercial break was if they would ever play in Maine. Bono answered the question by asking if they were being invited to spend a holiday at the fan's house. Without realizing that they were back on the air, Bono continued with the answer by stating that the band members had only shared a bed together once, and that he prefers to sleep on the other side of the sheet as he doesn't like touching. He was using hand gestures to make his point clear. Sway then told him that they were back on air and a very embarrassed Bono finished his point.

At the end of the evening, the band members waved goodbye and left the stage to the loudest cheers of the night. The crowd chanted "one more song" while stomping their feet and clapping their hands. But it was not to be. As the band was leaving the theatre, Bono took a few moments to greet those who hung out behind the barricades at the backstage entrance, then the band was whisked away by police escort.

While the age of fans inside the theatre ranged between 30 and 50, some outside the theatre were older. Long-time fan Dorothy Shanahan was lucky to shake Bono's hand during the afternoon meet-and-greet outside. She said "It's a chance of a lifetime." Danny and Dylan, aged 5 and 7, chatted with Bono for a few moments. While their brush with celebrity didn't sink in with them, their proud mom was ecstatic at the opportunity. "I'm teaching them about the world with what Bono's doing. This is all very exciting." Bono said to them "With names like yours, are you a little bit Irish?"

For last night, the cities of Boston and Somerville were all a little bit Irish.

We've uploaded a large collection of photos from U2's appearance in Somerville to @U2's Flickr account.

© @U2/Lawrence, 2009.