When I was 16 or 17, back in the Eightees, one of my classmates gave me a recorded copy of an album by this band. U2 they were called, he said and I should give it a listen. Don’t remember what else he said, but I think it was something about them being different.
He was so right. I never had heard anything like it before. The album was “The Joshua Tree” and the music blew me away. The sound was earthy, archaic, and it made me uncomfortable. The words came directly from the soul, from the deep end, and what I heard scared me a bit. I wasn’t used to something like that at all. Back then I was a shy, highly introvert teenager and lightyears away from accepting my inner strength and letting it shine through to the open.
Listening to U2 was like diving into the dark corners of your soul, like having fought your demons, and won. It still is like a therapy session for me.
When I was a teenager there was no way my parents would allow me to go see them live, let alone pay for my ticket. I waited until I would be old enough to buy my own ticket. My Twenties came and went without a U2 ticket. The band graced my country with several shows over the years, without my participation. The reason being either lack of time or money.
In my late thirties I started trying to get a ticket to one of the shows. No such luck. My commitment wasn’t strong enough yet, so I waited.
In my early fourthies I finally took heart and ordered my first ticket. I was in England at the time and so British soil was called for. Glasgow, to be precise. I ordered, paid and waited for delivery. I waited… And waited…. No ticket arrived and when I called the number on the voucher I had received, my gut feeling turned into reality. The bloke on the other end didn’t have a clue what I was talking about, or he just said so to protect the criminals behind the scam.
To make up for my loss, the friend of a friend with connections bought a ticket for me. I waited. He lost it.
Cut to August 2010. U2 was in town again.
I hadn’t been among the lucky ones who had got a ticket and had given up on ever seeing them live. I decided to go to Vienna anyway, and soak up the atmosphere from outside the stadium. While I was reacquainting myself with my capital, a good friend called me and told me about a company giving away a few tickets. After many many many tries to get through the phone line I couldn’t believe my luck. I was to wait for a delivery guy on a well-known public square to bring me the ticket. I waited. I saw someone parading up and down the square holding up a sign, but he passed so quickly that I couldn’t approach him to ask if he was there for me until he disappeared in the crowd.
Later in the afternoon I went on my way to the venue, with a heavy heart for having missed another opportunity for a ticket.
My friend had instructed me before to go for it and try to get a ticket on location. “You never know” is not what I thought when a few steps into the venue a couple walked into my general direction, discreetly holding up a sign telling me they had tickets for sale. I paid more than face value for it and expected to look right into a police identification tag next thing. I didn’t. I felt a strange mix of elation, excitement and criminal guilt when I walked up to the entrance mentioned on the ticket.
I waited for the staff to take me to the side and politely tell me I had a fake ticket and would I please step aside. It didn’t happen.
Instead I found myself inside the arena a few minutes later and the sheer size of “the claw”, the name people had given the 360 stage, took my breath away. Only few people were around by then. It was cold and it rained during the appr. two hours wait for the show to kick off. About 20 minutes before showtime we started doing the La Ola wave and it went on and on without stopping. People went crazy, cheering nonstop until finally “Ground control to Major Tom…” from the speakers and a thick cloud of white smoke from the “spaceship” announced the band’s way to the stage.
A brilliant piece of technology, but one that behaved like a ballet dancer with a sparkling disco globe on top when it came alive in multiple colours and changing shapes. It was quite a sight, but it only helped to underline the music and wasn’t there for the sake of showing off.
I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I found out that it’s all true what they say about U2 performing live. You feel like they play just for you, in a small club.
It was a magical evening with hair raising moments like 70.000 people singing “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” with Bono just standing there and listening in awe.
Good things come to those who wait. After 24 years of being a fan finally the wait was over.
P.S.: U2 are currently touring the globe with the “Innocence and Experience” tour. Yours truly will be among the lucky attendants in Cologne, October 2015, and this time with a ticket bought regularly. 🙂