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Part 2. Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own 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!)