Over the last weekend in September 2016 fans had gotten ourselves together and organised stuff to celebrate 40 years of this band.
In Dublin, In Cleveland, in other places too. With the instant, always-on advantage of social media it can almost feel like we are in more than one place at a time. Sometimes that’s a good thing, the sense of connectivity and online community is very real. Sometimes it means you forget to be in the now and can lose out on fully appreciating the one-to-one things right next to you.. its a balancing act.
Dublin, to U2 fans will always be the Mecca, the (un)holy centre.. visits to shrines, walking in past footsteps, a magical place. Some of that is of course just fantasy, imagined stuff that listening to the band’s music over 40 years has evoked - but made real... real people and places that were introduced to us through the songs, each having a unique meaning to the listener should we so desire..
Walking through the city streets I find myself as if in a U2 video… the single-take version to Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own to be more precise.. turning those corners around Sherif Street (also the scene of this short set from the Community Centre rooftop back in 1982)
It’s far from glamorous. It’s nearly midnight and I can hear loud Bingo calling drifting out of the Youth Club, while just around the corner the financial centre & posher, newer bits of the city slumber..
I spend the night parked up in Dorty Oileen (her name has took on a Gaelic lilt since arrival) in a city centre car park.. the first of those postponed meetings from yesterday has been rearranged for early today. It would not be a good idea to miss it again..
A package is to be collected… and delivered.
A visit to the hub within the hub… If Dubs is the hub, U2 main office has got to be hub central.. Its not a place to take photos, I liken it to the Sisteen Chapel of U2 land. Covered in amazing artwork and desks and telephones. One of the team makes me a cuppa & who listens to me rave on for a good half hour about how special all this is, especially to be here.
I try to be cool, and not fangirl it. I think I succeed to a degree. Impossible to stop smiling and imagine Paul McGuiness on that telephone over there finalising some big tour or other. Or booking lunch.. The heaven is in the ordinary I am told.
This is not ordinary. If heaven has an office…
I tear myself away.. package carefully tucked under one arm. Hmmm.. lunch you say…
It’s true.. sometimes you can’t make it on your own & I arrange to meet Aaron Govern, @atu2 staffer who is heading up all the arrangements for their Dublin fan stuff, and let him know I have a little package for him.. We know each other from our online bits & bobs of course, but its always great to put a real face and body to our online entities. We meet up in (in Bono’s cousins cafe I think) and a long chinwag ensues. If you get the chance to talk U2 with this man, do. Your knowledge and intimacy will deepen. He has some tales that’s for sure… he would make a great choice for a U2 Playlist. I get to meet Aaron's family too, Amanda, Thomas & James who have only gone and designed some badges to also give away to all the fans this weekend..
He show’s me his. I show him mine. Badges. Call it serendipity, call it something else (little U2-related miracles to
The idea for badges has been invoked completely independently.. the badges Aaron & his son have made are an exact replica of one of the earliest U2 logo designs (by Larry we think - more on these badges in final part of this tale - which is coming soon!) and the package I have to give to him to give out to U2 fans this weekend contains badges sent over from U2.com - designed by Shaughn McGrath over at Amp Visual - who have been at the heart of much U2 related artwork over the years.
A meeting of minds. Of spirit. Pilgrims on our way…
(Part 3 finale very soon! Have also started to upload some images from the weekend over in the zoo galleries, check em out!)
A Tale of the Almost… When Almost Is Good.
Flying to Dublin is cheap for a reason, hotels & touristy bits are not so cheap. With that in mind, and having recently acquired an inexpensive 20 year old little camper van project (fondly christened Dirty Eileen, as you do) the decision to do this #U240 trip by road, and in turn try to visit as many U2-linked place in Ireland as I could fit in, appealed. The shortest distance from my home also takes me via ferry, through the Port of Belfast, and quite close to the last place I saw the band at, last year.
Perfect… make that the first target stop on this ‘sort of pilgrimage’.. take a few photos, summon up the essence of those 2 great nights (when Bono said how good it was to come from a moment of violence (Paris) to this land of peace.. or something like that..).
Call there and try to pick up a trail linking the not too distant past to the present… with maybe some clue to the future.
3 essential things I am reminded of as I follow the free satnav app around Belfast :
1. ‘We must visit the past, for if we don’t we’re condemned to stay there’ (Bono, before Cedarwood Road last tour)
2. Don’t hang around in the past too long or you will get stuck there.. (same guy, paraphrased)
3. Sometimes you get what you pay for. (cheap / free apps)
The very early morning rush hour and the what turns out to be shitty sat nav app finds actually do get me quite close to the Titanic Exhibition, which I know was quite near to the Arena they played… and for a brief moment I think I spot it in the distance.. before other angry drivers beeping horns force me further up the road.. and away..
That closeness will have to do.. Almost..
Dublin of course is way south of Belfast. The road I was on was North-bound, and before I know it I am foolishly following signs that promise me the ‘Giant’s Causeway Trail’. I am not familiar with that other national treasure having any U2 association, but it seems like a good idea to at least stop by and have a gander. Its amazing I hear. I eventually do get right close-by. But, alas, time and shitty satnav become too much of a concern, and I do turn South, with a glance toward the misty north and a wee glimpse of sunshine illuminating the incredible Irish coastline up yonder.
According to shitty sat nav, Dublin is a couple of hours away.. I have a couple of meetings planned for the afternoon.. so time is a plenty, no need to floor it..
I don’t know how I ended up in Slane, it was never on my radar for this trip, but I find myself right by a wall in that village that jumps out at me. Standing next to it after one of the ‘U2 Go Home’ Slane gigs from 2001. Spine tingling unexpected realisation. I see in my head a photo opportunity of me next to Slane Castle, ala Unforgettable Fire.. but am told when I ask directions ‘its closed for renovations’, and more angry motorists behind me urge me to keep moving along the road put pay to that ambition.. Had I been more self aware at that point, and looked down at my own chest I might have actually freaked out at what t-shirt I was wearing (honest, not joking). Oh Lord.
(Those Slane shows were some of the very best ever. Legendary. We walked back into Dublin that night.. 6 hours it took).
Another Almost. I start to get it.. its going to be one of those days.. gonna get close to stuff… no cigars today I am thinking. Sure enough. Meetings have to be postponed, a chance to hear some unreleased Bowie stuff missed... (also turns out that everyone else missed that too but that's another story...)
Ever decreasing circles seems to be the methodology this satnav uses for software. It seems to know me well.
The #U240 tag appeared on twitter very early in 2016. As early as May @U2Valencia were the first fan site to host a party to celebrate the band’s 40th and this weekends celebrations on Dublin were all in the mix of stuff that was happening around the globe, stuff organised by U2 fans, for other fans.
As well as all the fan led things, the band also was booked to play a show at the iHeart festival and at this point none of us knew how much they would be joining in with us in the celebrating… if at all!
(Next bit soon!)
It's 40 years next month since the band's formation back in September 1976 in Larry kitchen.
Fans worldwide are marking the occasion with events to celebrate #U240 (we are trying to list as many as we find out about, and if you are doing something special with other fans & friends, do let us know about it over in the Zoo)
Back in May, Spanish U2 fan site U2Valencia were one of the first fan clubs to meet up to party the big 4-0. They had lots of special guests attending, and Zootopian & U2Songs staffer Harry Kantas was there too, so we asked him to tell us about the event and take a few snapshots.
It sure looked like a great night was had by all... over to you Harry :
If you are a U2 fan, chances are you have come across the fan site U2Valencia, online or even in person at a U2 show, at least once.
U2V are one of the most active U2 fan communities in Europe, covering U2 shows and events, bringing news to Spanish fans, as well as on an international level, and celebrating U2's music.
To mark the band's 40th anniversary this year, U2V threw a big party in Valencia, inviting people from all over Spain, as well as fellow fan sites: U2chile, U2place, U2songs, U2start were among the ones that made it to this Tribal Gathering of the Faithful!
"The idea of this party was born thinking how we could pay tribute to U2's 40th anniversary (1976-2016), 40 years after the day they first met at Larry Mullen's kitchen on the North side of Dublin", says Javi Vara, founder of U2V. "We wanted the party to take place when U2 would not be on tour, so May seemed like the best option. We were very happy that friends from all over the world were able to join us, as well as fans coming from all regions of Spain."
"You know, U2 have never played here in Valencia. We are lucky enough however, to have one of the best U2 tribute bands from Spain, called 'Spyplane', who also happened to be celebrating their 10th anniversary as a band this year, so all the more reason to throw a big party!"
And what a party that was! In a sold out night club in Valencia, 500 people got together to celebrate the music of their favourite band and heroes until early in the sun came out, and then some more!
There were beautiful posters, t-shirts and banners everywhere, courtesy of U2V's very own Maria Jose Garcia Villarrubia. The logo used for the event, (U2V40), is a beautiful adaptation from U2's iconic early days' logo, made famous by Colm Henry's photo of U2's performance at the Dandelion Market in Dublin, back in 1979.
Sara O'Mallie, Campaign Manager at ONE.org was there, too. A ONE stand was built in the club, for people to learn more about the ONE Campaign, and lend their voice on the fight against extreme poverty.
Incidentally, U2V's Miriam Bermejo holds the record for most ONE.org sign ups during the iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Tour campaigns in one show: 269 (any Hawkmoon fans out there?)
Saira and Miriam took the stage during one of Spyplane's intermissions, to talk about ONE. By the end of the night, almost half of the crowd had signed up to ONE, and the other half, well they were members already!
"It was such a privilege to join so many familiar and friendly faces in Valencia", Saira says. "No group on earth knows how to have fun like U2 fans! And the overwhelming support for The ONE Campaign was truly amazing. There was so much positive energy in the room. I can't wait for the next event!"
Time for the main event. Take 500 U2ers, thirsty for some live U2, in the middle of a U2 Tour drought season, and put a great live U2 tribute act in front of them: Mayhem!
Being in a U2 Tribute Band is not an easy job. I should know, I've tried starting a couple over the years.
Spyplane is one of the most hard working U2 Tribute Bands out there.
Their attention to detail is extremely impressive, their focus is on the music, not just looking the part!
If Spyplane ever toured outside of Spain, they would sell out venues.
The show lasted a little over 3 hours. The setlist ranged from U2 hits, to fan favourites, to songs that prove that Spyplane themselves are just 4 U2 fans like everyone in the venue, that were there to show their fellow fans a good time.
There were songs like Heartland, Street Mission, Tomorrow, that really put Spyplane up there with the best for me.
There was a rendition of Mysterious Ways with some familiar faces dancing on stage (Amra, Brigitte, Lucia, Veronica).
There was a performance of Iris, a song so personal, that you would not want to hear from anyone else other than U2, but Spyplane had the huevos to do, and they did it justice!
During one of the intermissions, a recreation of the Window In The Skies video was shown on the screen, featuring live shots of Spyplane throughout their 10 year career. Javi takes the stage, to present the band with Silver Plectrums as a thank you from U2V.
Time for a #Spyplane10 cake, and the show goes on, with a bit more fun: A remake of U2's Numb video, featuring Spyplane's guitar player, Nacho!
Youtube link - Numb
Almost 3 hours after Spyplane took the stage, the set ends with 40. Except people decided it was not over yet. And people have the power. Spyplane out on stage again, for a few more tunes!
Video - Intro
Out Of Control
The Electric Co. / Send In The Clowns
I Will Follow / Raised by wolves
Sunday Bloody Sunday / Get Up Stand Up
New Year's Day
Exit / Riders On The Storm / Gloria
Bullet The Blue Sky / Love & Peace Or Else
Running To Stand Still
Video - ZooTV
Lady With The Spinning Head / The Fly
Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses / Mysterious Ways
One / Unchained Melody (with Karen)
In A Little While
Angel Of Harlem / Man In The Mirror (with Kafra's Blues Band)
When Love Comes To Town (with Kafra's Blues Band & Kike Portolés)
Tomorrow (with Lluis Preus on trumpet)
The First Time / Bad / Ruby Tuesday / Walk On The Wild Side
ONE Campaign Speech (Saira & Miriam)
Video - Window In The Skies
Video - Numb
Discotheque / If You Wear That Velvet Dress
With Or Without You
The Miracle Of Joey Ramone
Vertigo / Stories For Boys
Drowning Man / Iris
All I Want Is You
Purple Rain / Where The Streets Have No Name
People Have The Power (with Kafra's Blues Band, Kike Portolés, Karen & Monty Peiró)
Until The End Of The World
Stand By Me
But the night was not over yet. Far from it.
All members of Spyplane joined the crowd for the post-show party. Everywhere you looked, you would see people sharing their U2 experiences, from gigs to meeting the band, to visiting Dublin as pilgrimage.
You would see people talking about the upcoming U2 DVD Live from Paris, some doing complex science and applying algorithms to reveal the release date for 'Songs Of Experience', others channeling ancient deities like oracles, to find out when the iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Tour resumes. A true U2 Tribe, enjoying each other's company until the early morning.
Thank you U2Valencia, thanks Spyplane, and more importantly, thanks U2, for helping us discover each other!
As the #U2ieTour arrives home to Dublin, in the final U2 FSOTW feature for this year, the Zoo managed to grab a chat with Matt McGee, founder & editor of one of the longest running U2 fan websites - @U2. They were there at the beginning of this tour in Vancouver and many of their team are making the pilgrimage over to Ireland this week to see the 4 shows.
As he was packing his suitcase, we asked Matt to tell us about atu2.com, and what this year has meant to him. In his own words :
"I have a confession: I don't like the term "fan site."
More often than not, when you tell someone that you're involved with a fan site for a music artist, they instantly think you're Chris Farley trying to have a coherent conversation with Paul McCartney. Back in the day, in fact, when we were just beginning to develop relationships with various music industry professionals, I'd go out of my way to explain that I was a stable, married, adult male, not a 15-year-old kid with pimples all over my face...
But confessions aside, it's an honor for all of us involved with @U2 to be chosen "Fan Site Of The Week" as U2 arrives home for four shows in Dublin! It's such a privilege to be able to see the band play in its hometown. I vividly remember seeing the two PopMart concerts at Lansdowne Road Stadium and being overcome with emotion as I heard songs like "I Will Follow" and "Sunday Bloody Sunday" -- songs that were written and recorded just a few miles away.
@U2 turned 20 years old last month. Twenty years is a long time to do anything, much less work on an all-volunteer fan site. But doing @U2 is as much fun as it is work, and that's thanks to three things: U2's ongoing greatness, the wonderful group of fans that have worked on @U2, and the generous readers that have said so many kind things to us and about us over the years. Thank you, all.
@U2 has a team of about three dozen fans that work on various aspects of the website, and many of us are in Dublin for this week's shows. We'll be there, of course, to enjoy this incredible Innocence + Experience tour -- but also to share it with U2 fans around the world who can't be with us this week.
That's always been our purpose: "to bridge the distance between the band and its fans." That's a quote from the 17-page "welcome guide" that we give to U2 fans when they first join our staff. (Yep, we really have such a document and it's really 17 pages. I'm Irish. Brevity has never been a strength.)
When @U2 began 20 years ago, we bridged that distance primarily by posting news sent in to us by fans around the world. The snowball effect kicked in quickly: The more news we posted, the more new readers came to the website. The more new readers came to the website, the more they sent in additional news to be posted. That attracted even more readers, and on and on it went. In the late 1990s, based on reader requests, we started writing original news stories, commentaries and personal essays about U2, the music, concerts and even about being a U2 fan. In 2001, about a week before the tragic attacks of 9/11, we started posting a weekly column called "off the record....".
More than 14 years later, that column is still going strong and is one of our most popular features. Today, @U2 has a library of more than 8,400 articles about U2, including what we believe is the first newspaper article ever written about U2 -- a March 1978 piece recapping the band's victory in the Limerick Civic Week talent contest.
Today, we still take great pride in our news reporting, but we're much more than just a U2 news site. We have a group of fans working on our Tours site, going back and listening to every known live recording of U2 concerts to confirm that our setlists are as accurate as possible. We do a weekly podcast. We have a complete U2 lyrics site, a calendar of upcoming U2-related events and -- lest anyone think we take U2 or ourselves too seriously -- we have 15 years worth of hysterical U2 cartoons in a feature we call Achtoon Baby.
We've also become pretty well known for our live events, which date back to 2003 when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum asked us to co-host an international U2 fan party during their U2 exhibit. We've hosted numerous album- and tour-related parties since then, including one this summer that made headlines around the world when The Edge and Adam crashed our 20th anniversary celebration and played two songs with our special guests that night, the tribute band Unforgettable Fire. It was an amazing and unforgettable night for all of us, and we don't consider it just a gift for @U2 -- it was a gift for the entire online U2 fan community. It was U2 doing their part to bridge the distance between band and fans, and doing it in amazing fashion.
That party, and really this entire year of Innocence + Experience, has been a real blessing for all of us involved with @U2. We were there in Vancouver to watch it begin, and we're thrilled to see it wind down this week in Dublin.
Tonight, Sunday November 22nd at 7pm in Fitzroy Church In Belfast (77 University Street BT7 1HL) there will be an unpacking of the #U2ieTour Belfast concerts that took place earlier this week - the first time the band has played in the city for 18 years.
Fitzroy players and singers (Christopher Wilson, Dave Thompson, Jonny Fitch, Chris Fry, Shannon Clements/Peter Greer and Andy Patterson) will perform songs from the current tour set and Steve Stockman (Walk On - The Spiritual Journey of U2) will unpack the songs, visuals and the emotional, political and spiritual soul of the setlist.
Steve told us :
"Fitzroy is renowned, across the world, for its evenings on Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springteen, Bob Dylan, Christy Moore etc. They recently built their entire morning service around the hymns and songs of Van Morrison, the day before his Cyprus Avenue concerts. They have done U2 before but this evening will be a very specific look at these Belfast shows. New voices and new thoughts will be added to the mix. We are thrilled to have Angela Pancella (atu2.com) with us to compare and contrast the North American and Belfast shows!"
"Local context was all over the Belfast shows. The political murals, the naming of the most bloody events and, of course, Raised By Wolves and Sunday Bloody Sunday. Even the debris pages that fall from the roof every night during Until The End Of The World was a pointed political comment right on the cutting edge of this week’s news".
If you cannot be there they hope to broadcast the event live on Periscope - http://periscope.tv/fitzroypc
Steve and Janice Stockman meet Bono just before the first U2 Belfast Show in 18 years