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"Don't spend too much on the box and the wrapping paper. No matter how big the occasion, your loved ones just want what's inside." — Bono, on what's he learned from being in U2




July 20, 2019

by Michael Rankin

Cleveland, Ohio
Tour: Unforgettable Fire - 2nd leg
Venue: Cleveland Music Hall
Opening Act(s): The Waterboys

Main Set: 11 O'Clock Tick Tock, I Will Follow, Seconds, MLK, The Unforgettable Fire, Wire, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Electric Co., A Sort Of Homecoming, Bad, October, New Year's Day, Pride
Encore(s): Party Girl, Gloria, 40,
Where do I start? A friend of mine and I took a gamble and drove 5 hours from Indiana to try and see U2. We were both already fans, owning several of their albums between us. We had heard about their reputation as a GREAT live band and so we tried to go up without tickets and without a lot of money.
We get up there, the music hall is downtown, several blocks from the waterfront and it's freezing cold. There are lots of people milling around outside looking for tickets. A bad sign for the ticketless. We ask several people with no luck and then break apart to better our chances. A guy walks by that I don't ask and 10 ft away he sales 2 tickets. I curse at myself. A few impatient minutes later I go to try and found my friend. I find him by the side of the music hall and he hasn't had any luck either.
Showtime is fast approaching and the people going in are dwindling and we are becoming bummed. Then out of blue a door opens by where we're standing and a guy tells us to come on in, there's no one here. We look at each other and make a quick decision to go in. Up 3 flights of stairs and we go through curtins and we are in the balcony with no repercussions.
The Waterboys come on as soon as we get there and Jim convinces me to get out of there and wander the halls so no one questions us. I want to see the Waterboys but I would rather make sure I see U2. We stay moving in the halls until U2 comes on. We wander in and split up, eventually sittting on the stairs in the balcony. A security guard is now stationed at the curtains where we came in and from the looks of it I guess 40 or 50 people had gotten in like us.
The pace is fast from 11 o'clock Tick Tock on and the crowd knows all the songs and you can tell the band is feeding on the energy from us. Bono is mesmerizing and the Edge is On that night. I get totally immersed in it and the band never lets up. They are playing hard and giving it their all. I stand convinced they are all I've heard about. A tight, focused band ready to take on the world. I become a firm beleiver that night. Wire was excellent. Also a Sort Of A Homecoming. Bad becomes one of my favorite songs after seeing it live. It takes on a whole other identity in the live setting. MLK is alright but I could've easily had another song in it's place. The Unforgettable Fire is pulled off easily. I think it would be hard to play live but I'm not a musician.
The hits are strong and the crowd sings along, more than I've never seen with any other band. It's electrifying to say the least. Bono does the searchlight into the crowd move, climbs the speaker cabinet and looks like he's enjoying every minute.
By the last strands of 40, I am soaked with sweat and blown away, carried with the buzz from the crowd. A hell of a show and I walk away as a lifelong U2 fan. It's hard to top a show like that. I can't beleive I got to see them in a small hall, especially after all the big places I've seen them since.

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