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"We were working class in 1978 when we formed. We were working in 1983 when we hit paydirt. But now more than ever, we are working class men. We take our work seriously. Our work is music. But we don't take ourselves seriously." — Larry





by Mike Dann

Well... where do I begin? The wristbands say "Elevate The Astoria"
and that's just what I saw on Wednesday night. I just can't believe I
was lucky enough to go.


Struggled to get to sleep the night before. Partly because of the
anticipation and partly because I didn't actually have a ticket in my
hand and one of the methods I'd used to organise tickets wasn't
necessarily legit. Don't worry, it wasn't immoral or illegal but
there was a little bit of sly dealings involved. I won't reveal any
more in case I need to use this route again. I'd sourced two other
tickets from spare U2.com winners (thanks... you know who you are).
But yes... without a physical ticket and given the nature of the gig I
was a little worried that perhaps I wouldn't get in.

I went in to work from 9am to 11:45am. Fat lot of good that was. Just
kept thinking about what it was gonna be like. Kept surfing the web...
listened to the Irving Plaza show and hoping that the Astoria gig would
be equally good. Was glad to get out of there.

Caught the train in to London... still listening to live stuff to build
my anticipation... I'd expected to pick up my single ticket at 12 but
was told that I couldn't get it until between 7:30pm and 8:00pm that
night. I decided to just give this ticket to someone that needed a
ticket but more on that later.

Checked in to my hotel and headed down to The Astoria where I met a
couple of gals (Clare and Cathy... hiya!) and also picked up the spare
U2.com tickets that I had been kindly offered. We were given
flourescent yellow wristbands which had written on them "U2" (there's a
surprise), the Stuck In A Moment icon, u2.com, "ELEVATE THE ASTORIA
7/2/2001" and a confirmation number.

By the time I'd arrived and collected a wristband the boys were well and
truly into their soundcheck. I hadn't arrived early enough to see them
arrive. As previously mentioned, tracks soundchecked included "Gone"
(again as posted, this was done many times), "Discotheque", "Beautiful
Day", "Until The End Of The World" and "40" (woo hoo!).

The queue to get in was in a small alleyway at the side of the
Astoria. It was dirty and smelt of... well... it smelt. It didn't
really matter. We were going to see U2.

The guys left sometime after 5pm. Unfortunately we were moved on from
the alley way where they were to get in their cars so we just went back
to the line. There were hundreds of people waiting for them across the
road and from the sounds of it they obliged in signing autographs for
about 10 minutes. People were hanging out of office windows. Bono
seemed to be quite popular. Now there's a surprise. I couldn't
actually see any of this from the queue but it was great to hear
people yelling "Bono" and "Edge" and "Adam" and "Larry" and "we love
you" and it kinda hit me right then that this was going to be a U2
year. They're on the road again. YES!!!

Nothing much happened up until doors opened. My friend turned up and
joined me in line about 6pm. I met a guy outside that didn't have a
ticket so I gave him details of how he could get the ticket that I
didn't use. I haven't heard from him so I hope he was able to get in
and that the ticket didn't go to waste. Some dude with a bag on a
trolley walked down the alley we were all lined up in sparodically
shouting "Bono" in some foreign accent. He returned a few minutes
later and appeared to be crying. I'd like to think it was because he
didn't have a ticket rather than someone having hit him. As we were
seated on the ground behind barriers in the alley, it almost felt like
we were caged animals. Were getting some strange looks from passers
by. A little old lady on a London bus was looking at us funny. We
waved. She waved back.

7pm... doors open. We were taken by 10's to the foyer. I was in the
second "squad". Wristbands were checked... bags were checked (not very
thoroughly at all nor was there any kind of body search...

DAMN... could easily have gotten a video camera in). Tickets were
issued and de-stubbed and we were in. Walked through a few darkened
corridors and then suddenly we were out on the floor. I cannot begin
to tell you what it's like to walk out at a venue you know U2 is
playing to see that actual floor area no bigger than a large lounge
room and to see only 10 people at the front barrier. The front barrier
beckoned and that's where I ended up. Adam's side. I felt my heart...
it was beating fast. The barrier was waist high. The stage was no
more than a metre away and that too was only waist high. I could
practically reach out and touch Larry's bassdrum.

DJ Jon Carter opened. He suffered from bad acoustics I thought but
apart from that he was cool. Didn't really get the crowd jumpin' too
much but I think this was mainly due to bad acoustics and the fact he
wasn't given much volume. He closed his set with "The Boys Are Back
In Town". Quite apt.

Salman Rushdie was given a huge ovation when he walked in and took up
his position in the VIP balcony.

It was incredible to see the band just casually stroll out. No drummer
boys, video screens, bouncers, wacky costumes. Just four guys wanting
to put on a small show.

Does anyone realise how hard it is to get setup to record a show with a
bouncer only 4ft away? Quite hard work. I'm glad they're not overly
intelligent. :-)

"Until The End Of The World" opened the set. Bono was quite happy to
spend quite a bit of time in the front rows of the crowd. With UTEOTW,
BD and "Elevation", it was clear they were here to blow us away.
I was gonna write "kick our ass" but thought I'd be polite. :-)

I swear this is true. During "Gone", Bono looked over in my general
direction. I gave him a cool "thumbs up" which he returned with a wry
grin. That was way cool. (Was probably thinking what a stupid hat I
had... I had to buy a new hat for my mics before the gig and I couldn't
find too many cool black hats. I think I was wearing a nike golf
hat). Heh heh.

"Discotheque" and a trimmed "Staring At The Sun" were next.

"New York" was awesome. One of my favourite tracks off ATYCLB and
one I see as being a highlight of the tour. It's a killer.

After "New York" I think there were some technical probs as Edge
started to play 11 O'Clock but then beckoned for Bono to come over and
pointed to the back of the stage. Bono said "time for a family
meeting". Not sure what that was about. Bono gave a bit of a speech
and introduced the band. Mentioned Larry and Anne had just had another
baby a couple of days earlier, confirmed that Adam has the biggest
*ahem* bass in the band and that Edge is sexually aroused by Dana.
One of the highlights for me was this part of the speech from the B-man.

We're back re-applying for the job.
There's a few people here this evening that could qualify for
that job... on their night.
But this is our night and the job is... *pause* ... best band
in the world! *crowd roars*

It was a real "YES!!!!" moment.

"11 O'clock Tick Tock" was introduced next as the first single recorded
for Island Records and sounded great. Not as fast as in the '80s but
not as slow as Irving Plaza. It's getting there. "I Will Follow" was
introduced as the "second single" and got the place jumpin... Larry's
drums... woooo hoooo... yeah... rocked the place.

Bono started "Desire" on his own. From what I could tell an old lookin'
solitary amp was all that Bono was "plugged" in to and it wasn't at all
loud. It could easily have been a guy playing in a basement. It was
very humble. Then the band joined in the rest and the harmonica made a
welcome appearance. It was a bit of a rusty performance this. Who
cares? I don't.

"The Ground Beneath Her Feet" was dedicated to Salman Rushdie. Bono
said that as a man, Salman was very precious to him. Called him a
"great lyricist".

"Mysterious Ways" was cool as was "One". Bono added snippets of Craig
David's "Walking Away" into one. By the look Bono gave Adam whilst he
was doing this I just got the feeling Bono thinks the start of "Walking
Away" sounds a lot like it could be a "One" cover. He had a very
cheeky grin. (When doesn't he? I hear you all asking.)

Unchained melody was next up and seem to be very improvised. Again,
sounded rusty and didn't quite fit onto "One" as you'd expect from what
we're used to with Zoo-TV but still.

"All I Want Is You" was one of the highlights for me as I've never
heard the full version live before and it's one of my favourites. Part
way during this, Bono was singing into his mobile phone. I don't know
whether he called someone or someone called him. I don't know who it
was.

"Bad" is in my top 3 live songs and the version was awesome with bits of
"Sympathy For The Devil" thrown in (ala Rattle and Hum video). Bono
spent the majority of the second half of this song in the crowd at the
end of the stage on Adam's side. Bono hugged and kissed Adam before
leaving the stage. Now, this seems awefully familiar. Where have we seen that before? Adam and Edge left and then Larry.

Then the "How long... to sing this song?" chant went up. It didn't
take long for the band to come back up on stage. Edge took up Adam's
stage position and Adam's bass. Adam followed suit and was on lead
guitar in Edge's usual stage position. Bono sang "40" really
strangely. Quite awkwardly actually. I'm not convinced he'd
forgotten the words... it was just different. Everyone wanted to sing
along but Bono made that quite hard work. But still it was AWESOME to
hear this closing the set. I never thought I'd get to hear this live
and from the moment I heard it being soundchecked I was looking forward
to it. Bono left the stage, then Adam and Edge and Larry was left
holding the fort to play a smallish solo part. He stopped, gave a shy
wave to the crowd and left. And that was that. Almost immediately the
house lights came on and the crew started ripping into the rigging. It
was over. It just seemed to go so quickly it was incredible.

What was great was that EVERYONE knew ALL the words to EVERY song.
At times I couldn't hear the band. The whole thing had a real
"family-and-friends" feel to it and I feel really very lucky to
have been there. One of the best, most memorable nights of my
life. I will NEVER forget it.

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