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"[A] fresh sound can be just as inspiring as a great hook. To me, sounds are hooks." — Edge

by Phil R

After lunch my marry band (well, three of us) started to drive up to LA to hang out at the LA Arena. This was located on the USC campus and next to the Coliseum from the 1984 Olympics; a very historic spot to visit for us. Our group of three @U2 show up at about 3:30 after the 2+ hour drive. (damn highway 5 traffic on a Saturday would HATE to see it on a workday) There were about 30+ people standing by the back load-in entrance to the arena. Bono came by about an hour prior and signed for the 20+ people there. He even answered if fans would be let in to the rehearsal like the radio contest winners. He said that if there werent too many and we were nice, it might happen. No promises though.

Two hours of waiting went by with people showing up like a high school class reunion. Everyone seemed to know someone without much trouble. I even ran into good friend Dan E from LA in the parking garage. He lived about 30 minutes away and decided on a whim to drop by, after his wife let him. It was good to see him after 4 years.

At about 6pm, and my time line gets really hazy as it is all a blur now, the radio contest winners showed up in many buses of various sizes. Steve and I were walking around the venue with nothing better to do, and just about the point where we were the farthest away, Sherry calls to say come back now, they are counting heads! And we ran, though I dont recall how far or for how long. We get back and 5 minutes later Scott Nichols comes out, head of U2 security, and says, You have 3 minutes to take all your cell phones, cameras, and any recording devices and put them in your cars. Go now. I froze at that point I had both my new camera and phone still with me. Steve bolted with bunches of stuff to drop it off in the car. I was stuck with a camera I had no intention of using and a cell phone which both needed to be hidden. Without going into detail and much personal stressing, I got both pieces past the pat down and was in.

Inside the 200+ radio contest winners were on one side of the arena. On our side about 350+ die hard fans. We were prepped about how this was a rehearsal and we would see U2 with warts and all. They may stop and start, go over something again etc. (btw, none of which happened) Sherry was scribbling notes to form a report after the show. Mean while there was security out the ying-yang. Each section had at least 3 people over looking it, and some staff members embedded in the section. I saw at least 3 people get booted out for something like using cell-phones.

The two sides were like night and day when certain songs were played in the set. The earlier material from Boy was taken on with reckless abandon from the fan side, the radio contest winners were subdued. It was amazing to see the band with this few people, and such an empty floor. Almost at the end Bono asked, so, whatd think? And he was a bit taken back by no reaction at all. We were all so stunned! No one clapped nor shouted, just in awe of what had happened! Bono wished us a happy Easter, and we sang 40 until our throats hurt. As we walked out, there were people holding baskets full of Cadbury Chocolate Eggs. (I still have mine, not sure what else to do with it as I am not a chocolate fiend)

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