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@U2_Moe: you're completely forgiven for following Take That ... It was all for a good cause

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Seeing U2 anywhere is kind of rare – especially when they tour Europe only twice a decade. Tonight, they perform a 4 song set at Cochrane Studios in central London ; their longest UK appearance in over six years, and to an invited audience of 200 or so.


 


Having unexpectedly been awarded production tickets less than 24 hours before the show, the usual element of thinking “I'm-going-to-see-U2-in-a-bit” is absent. Instead, it's a relaxed ramble down to the studio in Central London, picking up a Lilac wristband (numbered 7), and a gentle bite to eat in a pub. Come 6.45, it's back to the theatre, and being called back in the bands specific guests.


 


So... the actual seeing U2 part of it is both surreal, and feels.. utterly normal. There's 200 people here, and I'm near enough to the band to both touch them (which I get excited, and do, at one point), and count the buttons on their shirts if I really want. U2 are so huge, and so used to headlining stadiums, that playing a small room is probably a bit alien. Stripped of the presentation, the video screens, moving walkways, huge claws, lemons, cars, disco balls, and so on, U2 are at heart, a damn good band. They have sincerity and substance. Sometimes too much of both, and are too sincere. The performance is short, and from where I am, strange : “Raised By Wolves” is performed with me within actual touching distance of Bono, being front row.


 


Up close you can see U2 not as icons, metaphors, or avatars, but as people : with hairs on their wrists and watches and wrinkles who laugh and look at each other and spend time together. Seeing them on TV and in stadiums, it's easy to forget that U2 aren't just these megaglobalrockstars but people who – and I have seen it with my own eyes – sometimes play the wrong notes and pull silly faces.


 


There's a minor reshuffle as the band move things around, and we see Take That, and Slaves, and Songs To the Siren, and Steve Coogan. U2 come back at the end for a mini gig, with a raucous “Vertigo” that slips back into the old fashioned, and glorious world of 'blokes making a racket'. There's jumping and air pointing and all kinds of noise. The girl next to me tries to touch Bono's crotch. How much fun is that? The broadcast ends, and they slip into “Song For Someone”, which is a great ballad which reminds me so much of being young.


 


“I was told it would only hurt the first time...” he sings. Edge closes his eyes, and it's a room that seems lost in music. Afterwards, they bring out the white Explorer, and normally this would be “Beautiful Day”, but – and for me, I've only seen them play this once before – it's “Out Of Control”, the small debut single that never charted, and gets played rarely (only 7 times between 2002 and 2015, for example, and not at all between 1990 and 2000), and the band slay it, delivering it with the kind of passion and noise that bands half their age have. They may be growing old, but they're not getting stale. Yes, you can hate them, or their “Legally Compliant Tax Evasion” business practices, or perhaps the idea of their sincerity, and I get it, but you can't say with legitimacy that they ever … stopped trying, even if they didn't always suceed. With that last song, years fall away, and U2 become the band they were when they were 20 – hungry, ambitious, brave, unafraid to be stupid and make a big noise. And isn't that what music is all about?


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Reallt great you all had such a fabulous time! Thanks for sharing your reviews here, makes us feel the excitement too

Hello there, welcome back:))

Hi Anj ... how are things?

Ok thanks, how bout you?

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Reallt great you all had such a fabulous time! Thanks for sharing your reviews here, makes us feel the excitement too

Hello there, welcome back:))

Hi Anj ... how are things?

Ok thanks, how bout you?

 

All good too, thanks ... Pretty busy with a 7- and a 9-year ild running around.

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wow this sounds amazing, i didnt see the thread about the free tickets (was off work too :( but was knee high in decorating and gardening!)

 

I watched it twice and saw the extended version on Channel4 as well, great to see Zootops on TV and recognised some guys in the front row, awesome experiance for you all.

 

Enjoyed Slaves as well.

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We need new dreams tonight......

 

I was big fan of TFI Friday back in the '90s and had attended a couple of recordings and also appeared on one show. When Chris Evans announced the shows return for a 10 week run, I suspected that U2 would appear on one of the shows. I'd already applied for tickets for every show (but one) of the series. When it was announced that U2 would play on the show last Friday, there were various discussions I saw on the web about the show. Most were about the (non) availability of tickets and the location. Nobody seemed to know where it would be broadcast from, as the previously used studios in Hammersmith had been demolished.

I shared the information that I knew regarding the studio location in Holborn. As I'd found it only mentioned in one article on the web. The interaction with other fans continued for a couple of days. I telephoned the audience company to check on the progress of my ticket application and was told that I had been unsuccessful for this particular show.

 

10 mins later I saw the Zootopia tweet that said about the possibility of winning a ticket to the show. I applied at once and was surprised to see that I was the first to enter.

 

I went down to the theatre on Thursday afternoon to check on the exact location, as it was only 10 mins from my work. I was surprised that I was the only fan there. 5 minutes after I arrived I watched the bands gear arrive from Belgium and spoke with Jake, Sam, Dallas and Willie.

I tweeted some pictures of the studio and the bands equipment and also posted some to Facebook.

On my journey home I checked how many others had entered the competition. Surprisingly there were only 25 entrants. With 15 mins left before the draw closed, I messaged Phil Chambers and Alisha O'Brien and suggested they might also enter? As they had both messaged me earlier about the availability of tickets.

When I got Bigwave's message on Thursday evening to say that I was one of the nine winners, I was made up.

I could see from the winners names that Alisha had also won, but not Phil. So I messaged Phil to let him know I had won and asked him if he'd like to be my +1.

 

It was great to meet up with the other Zootopians at the theatre and some of us met Adam as he arrived and got out of his car and came to say hello.

It was also good to chat with Bigwave and discuss the shows we had been to on this and previous shows. He re-tweeted some of my pictures I had taken on the day and the day before at the venue from the @U2Community account.

I'm pleased to say that there was a great spirit amongst the U2 fans that were there and I'm very happy that all of the fans that I met outside who'd turned up without tickets, were able to still get in.

Inside the TV studio we were put directly in front of the stage, as it obviously makes good TV to have excited fans right next to the band on stage. As other fans have already said, we were close enough to see the sweat on the bands faces and even reach out and touch Bono.

The stage crew were amazing, as they swapped the equipment around for all 4 acts in the show with remarkable speed. We had been told not to take any pictures during the show. Everyone adhered to this during the live broadcast. As soon as the band started to play Song For Someone I saw that some people were taking pictures, so I took a few myself.

I did consider making my debut Periscope broadcast, then thought better of it. Instead I hit record button as the band cracked into Out Of Control. After the band had left the stage we all filed out. By the time we had got round to the backstage entrance I had uploaded my clip to You Tube.

To sum up the whole amazing experience. I would say that it took me back to the days of being alongside the B stage at several Zoo TV gigs. Since then, I've never been close than I was on Friday night. To see the band in front of an audience of no more than 200 people was a definite once in a lifetime moment. The only other show that has ever come close to that for me was The Astoria on the ATYCLB promo tour.

Thanks again to the band, U2.com and Bigwave for giving us the opportunity to be there.

Bring on the 6 night stand at The O2.... with my 50th birthday on night 4.

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