Evolution of a Fan or Why I’ve Never Gone to a U2 Concert Until Now. (Long) - U2 Feedback

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Old 01-28-2006, 07:46 AM   #1
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Evolution of a Fan or Why I’ve Never Gone to a U2 Concert Until Now. (Long)

A summary of this post—The order in which the following albums influenced my appreciation of U2.

Achtung Baby
The Joshua Tree
Rattle & Hum
The Unforgettable Fire
Wide Awake In America
All That You Can’t Leave Behind
U2: 1990—2000
U2 Go Home: Live at Slane Castle Concert DVD
How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb

I used to hate U2.
Or at least that’s what I used to tell people. I said this out of ignorance—I really wasn’t that familiar with U2’s music. Sure, I’d heard “With or Without You” on the radio but I wouldn’t have been able to identify the artist. I also said I hated U2 to annoy a girl in my class who loved U2 but disliked me. I suppose we should have gotten along—I was a skinny black guy with mostly white friends, she was a skinny black girl with mostly white friends—but we didn’t. (Ironically, after high school we did become friends. Stranger still, I ran into her in a mall last summer and found out she doesn’t like U2 anymore.).

But all that changed in February of 1992 during a long bus ride from Orlando, Florida to Chicago, Illinois. I was on my senior class trip, and with a hundred high school students on the road, the tapes were being passed around. A friend lent me Achtung Baby and I was impressed. I heard rumors that another guy in the class had another U2 album. I found him and discovered The Joshua Tree. I was even more impressed. I remember that on both albums my favorite songs were little noted songs that I’ve since realized have received little critical or fan acclaim. Both were buried midway through the second side of the tape. On Achtung Baby it was “Trying to Throw Your Arms Around the World” and on Joshua “Trip Through Your Wires.” I remember that same girl that used to annoy me going with a bunch of friends to see the Zoo TV tour in Tampa, coming back and complaining that they didn’t sing any of the old songs. I wasn’t a big enough of a fan then to consider going with them.

The third CD I ever owned was Achtung Baby, a gift for my nineteenth birthday.
My freshman year in college a guy on my hall extended my knowledge of U2 further back in time. He was a true hard-core fan who had all the albums. Through him I added Rattle & Hum, The Unforgettable Fire, and War to my collection. In the summer of 1993 I heard Zooropa and was confused. This wasn’t the U2 I thought I knew. I didn’t get it. It seemed I’d discovered the band too late—I got on aboard just as they were getting off the train. The only song I liked—the only song that still felt like U2 to me was “Some Days are Better Than Others.”

At this point my relationship with U2 froze. I liked their “old stuff” and continued to listen to it throughout the nineties. I remember those long drives from my home in Florida to college in Michigan—back when I could do the whole 19 hours nonstop. I’d always be sure to pop The Joshua Tree into the tape deck right at sunrise. In my mind that classic opening to “Where the Streets Have No Name” always matched the sun cracking the horizon and the song ended with the blazing brightness of a brand new beautiful day. My favorite U2 song during this period was “Bad”, especially the live version found on the Wide Awake In America EP.

In 97 when Pop came out, I barely gave it a listen. One friend of mine, who had recently given up his faith felt that he was right on track with U2. The old faith-infused songs had meant something to him in the past, but now the darker, doubtful sounds of Pop spoke to him. Personally, I liked my faith, and passed on Pop. I wouldn’t have even imagined trying to see the Popmart tour.

The 21st century found me living on the tropical island paradise of Saipan in the Northern Marianas Islands. My wife and I were missionary teachers at a mission school. A fellow missionary let me borrow All That You Can’t Leave Behind. It was said that U2 had returned from their journey in the wilderness, and so it seemed. The music sounded familiar again. I didn’t love it, but I liked it, and eventually I bought the album. I also got the EP Seven and found I really liked the remixes of “Elevation” and “Walk On”. I used to listen to it on the exercise bike at the health club every morning. Eventually I bought the 1990-2000 album and found that I liked the tracks from the nineties on it. I figured it was the remixes (though I couldn’t stand—and still don’t really care for “The Hands that Built America.” The strings, the orchestra, the Sept. 11 references—U2 usually didn’t have to try to be soaring and powerful, they just were. The whole album ATYCLB spoke to what we went through in the fall of 2001 better than that song did). I also finally bought Boy during this time and found myself pleasantly surprised at how undated the music sounded to me. Listening to Edge’s opening salvo on “I Will Follow”, I was impressed. I also loved the bridge between “An Cat Dubh” and “Into the Heart.”

By the time How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb came out, I was genuinely excited. I’d bought my first U2 concert DVD, U2 Go Home: Live from Slane Castle in the summer of 2004 and was blown away. I’d seen snippets of U2 live before—the Super Bowl broadcast and a CBS special, but this DVD blew me away. For the first time I got a sense of what U2 could be like live. Anyway, HTDAAB was at the top of my Christmas wish list and I actually got two of the CDs, so vocal was I about wanting it. I liked it a lot, though again the sound was just a little different than I expected. Some of the songs actually reminded me of Tom Petty (who I also like). I could almost hear Tom drawling “I was there for you baby when you needed my help, would deny for others what you demand for yourself.” By the beginning of 2005 I knew I wanted to see U2 for myself. However, living in Saipan made that a little difficult. Getting to most of the places U2 was playing would have involved well over a thousand dollars, 26+ hours of travel, and at least a week off work ( I know, I know. It would be worth it. But for me it just wasn’t feasible).

The summer of 2005 finally brought me face to face with the two U2 albums I’d always avoided. Strangely enough they were the two opposite ends of U2’s spiritual and musical spectrum: Pop and October. Pop was the pinnacle of U2’s journeying in the wilderness. Musically, lyrically, I was sure I would hate it. October was the pinnacle of U2’s faith—their “Christian” album. And though, I myself am a Christian, I knew the album was widely considered one of U2’s lesser efforts. Bono had his lyrics stolen just before recording, the boys were in the throes of their Bible study struggles, and the album had been sort of thrown together. Musically, lyrically, I was sure I would hate it. With both Pop and October, I avoided the material because I didn’t want to be disappointed.

In the summer of 2005, I had a crisis of faith. I didn’t lose my Christian beliefs, but they was tempered, tried, tested. I knew what it was to encounter doubt, to really question God, to rage at Him a little, and still trust that He would somehow understand. At that time, I finally gave Zooropa a second chance. . . and loved it, absolutely loved it. Every single song. The title track became one of my all-time favorites, and I still think it is one of their masterworks. I love how it slowly builds in momentum (U2 is so good at that, aren’t they) beginning with the electronic noise in the beginning. I love how it basically has three melodies: The first melody in the early verses—“Zooropa, be all that you can be. Be a winner, eat to get slimmer, Zooropa, a bluer kind of white, it could be yours tonight.” The second, “And I have no purpose, and I have no reason to get back. And I have no religion, and I don’t know what’s what.” And finally the third—“Skip the subway, let’s go to the overground, get your head out of the mud baby.” Amazing. I always pictured the hyperstimulated, overbright chaos of downtown Tokyo with that song. I can’t wait to listen to it in Tokyo when I’m there in April.

From Zooropa, it was only a quick hop to Pop, which turned out to not be so bad. I got the irony that began in Achtung Baby and continued through Zooropa and Pop. Finally, it made sense to me and I could relate to the idea that expressed in “If God Will Send His Angels.” that, yeah God is good and all, but sometimes, I just can’t see it. Though Pop still is not my favorite album, it has earned its place in the collection.

Now all that was left was October. I had the album for about six months before I finally listened to it. I put it into my discman while running a practice 10K with some friends. I listened to “Gloria”, “With a Shout” and all the rest as I jogged along the beach path, the sun plunging into the Pacific in blazing, gorgeous light. Gloria, indeed. And I found myself pleasantly at home. All throughout October were hints of what U2 would become. A haunting keyboard refrain, an guitar riff from the Edge, a vocal cry or sigh from Bono, all familiar. I felt like I was at the roots of U2, discovering where so much that I would hear later began. By this time, I knew I was going to Japan to hear U2 live for the first time I ever. And I was finally ready.

U2 and the little known singer-songwriter Rich Mullins are the only two musical artists whose work I feel a genuine connection to. I like them not just because of their songs or lyrics but because they put it into words, put to music what I believe in, what matters most to me, and who I am.

My favorite U2 albums:

1. The Joshua Tree
2. The Unforgettable Fire
3. Zooropa
4. U2: 1990-2000
5. Rattle & Hum
6. Achtung Baby
7. War
8. How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
9. All that You Can’t Leave Behind
10. October
11. Boy
12. Pop
13. Under a Blood Red Sky

**U2: 1980-1990 doesn’t really count because all the songs are represented elsewhere (except for “The Sweetest Thing”, which is a great song) and I like to hear them “in context.” I also didn’t count EP’s such as Wide Awake In America or Seven. And if U2 Go Home were a CD it would be number two, right underneath The Joshua Tree.

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Old 01-28-2006, 08:09 AM   #2
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Welcome to Interference! My favourite album is either Pop or JT

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Old 01-28-2006, 08:11 AM   #3
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Really interesting story, I enjoyed reading it

Welcome to the boards
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Old 01-28-2006, 09:23 AM   #4
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Originally posted by Irishteen
Really interesting story, I enjoyed reading it

Welcome to the boards
Agreed. That was a fantastic introductory post maycocksean!
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Old 01-28-2006, 11:06 AM   #5
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awesome introductory
when I first listened to Zooropa, the title track immediately became a favorite for me too

welcome to the forum, and hope to see you around
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Old 01-28-2006, 11:25 AM   #6
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Great story to read! Welcome to the site, Im brand new also!
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Old 01-28-2006, 06:50 PM   #7
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Welcome aboard!
Into the heart of a child...
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Old 01-28-2006, 11:21 PM   #8
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What a great read! I am really really happy that you are able to come to Tokyo and see them for the first time! You WILL be blown away, despite the frustration and nonsense that we are experiencing now trying to figure out the logistics.

Welcome to the forum! And I am looking foward to meeting you in April.
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Old 01-29-2006, 03:34 AM   #9
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Wow, thanks guys, for your kind words.

It's been quite a journey and I can't wait for Japan!

Looking forward to meeting you as well Dulce.
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Old 01-29-2006, 03:49 AM   #10
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Awesome first post! Welcome! Glad you turned into such a fan. You will fall in love with U2 all over again seeing them LIVE, guaranteed. Enjoy the show! Hope to see you around the boards....sounds like you've got a lot to share and contribute.
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Old 01-29-2006, 08:24 AM   #11
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Welcome to Interference!
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Old 01-29-2006, 01:56 PM   #12
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