U is for U2

U2 at Red RocksSunnyslope High School’s house band for the Class of ’87 (can anyone that I graduated with dispute that?) would have to be U2. I can still remember ditching school with Spencer, Mary Anne and I believe Brad to wait in line for LINE tickets on a Friday to see the band at the ASU Activity Center (now Wells Fargo Arena). We were in line all day, got those tickets, then had to come back at the crack of dawn Saturday morning to get the actual tickets for the concert. That was the spring of 1987 and the band ended up adding a second show because the first sold out so fast. Yep, went to that one too, as well as two concerts that December when U2 returned to play two concerts at Sun Devil Stadium.

My first experience seeing the band live was (cough, cough) opening for the J. Geils Band in 1982. Frightening huh? U2 was touring the U.S. in support of its second LP October. The band was still a few years away from establishing itself as the biggest band in the world and I was still a casual fan at this point. I liked the band’s Irish style of post-punk and to this day the lead track from the band’s debut Boy, “I Will Follow”, is my favorite U2 song.

War was released in February 1983 and like many of my friends at the time this was the album that made me go ga-ga over the band. The first time I saw the video for “New Year’s Day” I was blown away. The video was played on MTV a lot back in the day and I think it is still one of the coolest videos ever released. I did not get a chance to see the band on that tour but a performance from the band during the War tour made them superstars.

Under a Blood Red Sky was released November 1983 and was recorded at various concerts between May and August of that year. The original album featured eight songs:

  1. Gloria
  2. 11 O’Clock Tick Tock
  3. I Will Follow
  4. Party Girl
  5. Sunday Bloody Sunday
  6. The Electric Co.
  7. New Year’s Day
  8. “40”

The video for “Sunday Bloody Sunday” was taken from U2’s legendary June 5, 1983 performance at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado. I have been to the venue twice and trust me folks, in my opinion it is the ultimate place to see a live concert, a true Utopia for the music fan. I can only imagine what being there would have been like. That video became another staple on MTV and the entire concert an incredible representation of what the band delivers live. I have my hands on a bootleg version of the Red Rocks concert that contains four more songs, plus I suggest you get the 2008 remastered DVD edition that contains 17 songs from the show.

The best show I saw from the band was in the fall 1984 at Compton Terrace during the tour for The Unforgettable Fire. Red Rockers opened and there is an urban legend that when Bono stopped the show in the middle of a song (true), chastised two people up front for fighting (true), then directed the band to play “Pride (In the Name of Love)” for the first of two times that night (true) that one of the individuals fighting was someone from Sunnyslope. (who knows)

I did see the band one more time after the four Joshua Tree concerts I saw, once again at Sun Devil Stadium for the Zoo TV Tour in support of Achtung Baby. That concert sucked ass; the Sugarcubes were decent, Public Enemy left the stage after only about four songs once they played “By The Time I Get to Arizona” and U2 was so bad that night that my sister and I spent more time watching the tracker for the World Series to see if the Indians were winning. Yeah, that bad. I have been told that the band is back to fully dominating on stage during the last two times they have played in Phoenix, so I guess it is time to see them again if another show happens here.

U2’s newest album Songs of Innocence is currently a free download on iTunes and has a physical release next week on October 13. I am getting a kick out of the fact there are critics and consumers bitching about the album being available for free. Being a person that prefers to BUY a physical CD when the majority of people have no qualms about screwing over the artist and ripping music for free this whining floors me. Such is life. For now I give you “Sunday Bloody Sunday” …


Album Inspiration: Under a Blood Red Sky


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