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    "It doesn’t matter how long it takes to get where you wanna go as long as you get there in the end" -Bono, Manila, December 2019

    "It doesn’t matter how long it takes to get where you wanna go as long as you get there in the end" -Bono, Manila, December 2019
    Bono's quote back in December perfectly summed up my thoughts on my trip to Australia in November. My journey there was a 30 year bucket list dream that finally came to fruition. I will save you from the holiday slideshow; but if you do want to see some of  those photos, I have posted some in the Amazing Pictures thread in the Adam Folder.
    Apologies in advance to those who have heard this before, but my best friend and I became friends when we worked at a movie theater when Rattle and Hum came out in 1988. We would always take our breaks together and go sit in on the movie whenever we could, usually during "Streets" or "Bad". In retrospect, it's a bit funny because prior to the movie being released, I thought she disliked me and vice versa; but through the love of that film, we formed a lifelong friendship. In full fan mode, we searched out any and everything we could and the next year, saw the "U2: Love Town" documentary about U2 in Australia on the LoveTown Tour. We decided then that we would one day hopefully make it to Australia to see the band there. Over the next 30 years, life happened; but when the tour was announced in 2019, we decided this was our "now or never" moment to make that dream come true. She had just turned 50, I'm not far behind and have, with my husband, successfully raised our kids to the self sufficient stage. So we took off on our musical journey, picking up several of our friends along the way, all of whom we became friends with right here in Zootopia, and the show in Melbourne became the night our bucket list dream came true.

    The Melbourne show felt like I was home again. Something I still have not been about to pinpoint is that for me, the shows on the 2019 tour seem more complete or polished than the ones on the 2017 tour. I can't explain what or why that is, maybe it had more to do with me. Sadly, due to circumstances, it was not my favorite show. I will just leave it at I will never in my life understand why people go to concerts and get so intoxicated that they will never even remember the show the next day. Despite that, the actual show was great and it was good to see the band in full force.
    Not wanting to make the trip solely about U2, we made sure we had time to see some of the beautiful country that Australia is. After our few days in Melbourne and the Melbourne show, we took off. We traveled the Great Ocean Road, then moved on to Sydney for a few more days of sightseeing parts of the city, The Blue Mountains and one of the wildlife preserves.
    One thing that we got to do while we were in Sydney was to attend The U2 Conference. If you have never heard of the U2 Conference or not sure exactly what it is, it is educational and lots of fun and I highly recommend going to one if you ever get the chance. The U2 Conference was created by Scott Calhoun and the Sydney one was the 4th one ever and was organized by Naomi Dinnen and they did a great job putting it all together. This particular one was a day of exploring some of Bono's lyrics and their relation to the Psalms, dissecting the sonic construction of "Mofo", having a look at tattoos that were inspired by The Joshua Tree with Beth Nabi's U2 Tattoo Project, looking at touring statistics (which I was amused that my one hometown show made one of the slides as one of the places in the US that they have ever been just once) with Andre Brett, U2gigs very own Ax,  and getting to listen to some very special guest speakers.
    The first guest speaker was The Edge's guitar tech, Dallas Schoo. I have always adored Dallas from watching him do the pre-gig guitar checks and seeing how he connects with the fans too. (I have often wondered if other bands' fans connect with their roadies like U2 fans do.) He's relaxed, he's funny, he's professional and he has a book's worth of stories. He talked to us for about an hour and I could have listened to his stories all day...and he probably could have talked all day too. Most of the stories he told, I feel he told with a sense of "what gets told in this room stays in this room", so I don't feel like I can really share most of what he said, but I can say that I will never hear Mister Mister again and not think about how U2 "stole" Dallas from them.

    The second guest speaker of day was Richard Lowenstein, director of "U2: Love Town" and most recently, the "Mystify: Michael Hutchence", both of which we got screenings at the conference.  He also had some great stories surrounding his relationship with the band, especially during the time that he was working on the Love Town documentary. He did a formal 'meet and greet' before the screening of "Mystify: Michael Hutchence" and autographed movie one-sheets. As I said earlier, one of the reasons I had wanted to go to Australia was from seeing his documentary "U2: Love Town" in 1989. I was able to chat a bit with him and tell him that it was his documentary that started the spark of the dream.

    Sydney 1 and 2 were some of the most epic U2 shows I have ever seen. Sydney 1 had quite the rain shower before the show, which locals assured us that Michael (Hutchence) was making his presence known. Stories have it that after Michael passed away and U2 were there for one of their tours and Bono was singing MLK and it started raining as he sang the lyrics "let it rain" and it was Michael letting Bono know he was there in spirit. The story seemed plausible since Sydney 1 was the 22nd anniversary of Michael's death. The rain did subside before the band hit the stage, and the band and the fans who loved Michael felt something very special that night. I do feel like Bono was singing his heart out for Sydney and for Michael. The show was especially powerful and emotionally charged and the tribute to Michael with "Stuck in a Moment" was heartbreaking.


    Sydney 2 had the same energy and fire to it. The band was in amazing form and seemed relaxed and happy to be there; and the songs sounded wonderful and I was completely lost in moment. Everyone that knows me, knows I'm a crier at shows and oh how I cried at that show. I cried because I still couldn't grasp that I was actually in Australia seeing them. I cried because it was my final show for the tour, the last time I would ever hear The Joshua Tree played in full, the last time I'd hear Red Hill Mining Town live, fully realizing that I had heard it 6 times more times between 2017 and 2019 than I ever in my life thought I would. I cried because I didn't know if/when I'll ever see them again. Most of all, I cried because I made a dream come true. It took me a long time to get there, but I got there in the end.

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    If I set off now (with an extra 20 minutes to pack a bag, make some sarnies and a flask of tea), google maps tells me I could be in Auckland. NZ in around 18 hours or thereabouts, given a fair wind…That would give me time to walk up to One Tree Hill, have a couple of #U2Pints with fellow fans in Doolan Brothers or O’Hagan’s in Auckland City, have a wash and a big plate of Hangi… and rock up to Mount Smart Stadium, get in line for a bit and plant myself in front of that magnificent Joshua Tree-shaped stage ready in time for the support band ahead of the main event this Friday. I am tempted. Even with this bad foot I am carrying. The weather looks so inviting. New Zealand has always had an appeal, those Lord Of The Rings landscapes do look so magical. Bring me my magic wand and a broom and maybe… (it is the season of spells and wizardry after all!).

    If I set off now (with an extra 20 minutes to pack a bag, make some sarnies and a flask of tea), google maps tells me I could be in Auckland. NZ in around 18 hours or thereabouts, given a fair wind…That would give me time to walk up to One Tree Hill, have a couple of #U2Pints with fellow fans in Doolan Brothers or O’Hagan’s in Auckland City, have a wash and a big plate of Hangi… and rock up to Mount Smart Stadium, get in line for a bit and plant myself in front of that magnificent Joshua Tree-shaped stage ready in time for the support band ahead of the main event this Friday. I am tempted. Even with this bad foot I am carrying. The weather looks so inviting. New Zealand has always had an appeal, those Lord Of The Rings landscapes do look so magical. Bring me my magic wand and a broom and maybe… (it is the season of spells and wizardry after all!).   #U2TheJoshuaTreeTour2019 is the hashtag I will be keenly looking out for instead (or is it just #TheJoshuaTreeTour2019 or #TJTT2019 … or something like that one…?)  Online. Like many other fans I am already online watching things develop. Kerfuffle in the GA line via Facebook… Guitar chimes ringing out on Instagram… Pretty pictures and pauses from exotic locations en-route where the wise ones on Twitter stop a while to breath…   We are on the 5…4…3…2…1 countdown phase… the U2 digital team teasing us, band stop and chats getting relayed back by the techie fan broadcast brigade (of which all of us who are unable to be there are eternally grateful)… we have come a long long way since that Christmas Day announcement back in 2016, hinting at this whole thing that turned into The Joshua Tree Tour 30+ years on.   I got to see some of it in the not-too-distant past… had some of the greatest U2 days following it about for a bit,,, not all of it just stood watching the band play the greatest album of all time in its’ entirety in a new and timeless fashion. Some of those great days were spent just hanging out on cool places with hot fans, savouring the time we were having while we could. There is nothing like it. It’s an odd community the U2 fan folk. It exists online, and it really does exist offline too. It is made up of individuals, smaller and bigger tribes that collide every now and again when the band is in town (and even sometimes when they are on the other side of the World!) I do know this : we are happy & grateful that our band is on Tour again (even though this 16 stop version is too short for many of us), AND the latest fan club gift - U2 Live Songs Of Innocence + Experience is dropping on our doormats this very week. Special times!   So, if you are lucky enough to be going to Auckland, or Australia, or any of the other cities in Asia or India these next six weeks, then I am sure yo don’t need me to tell you to suck it all up… take some moments to savour, taste it, don’t spend too much time fretting about getting in, quelling up, all that stuff that other folk are paid to take care of, see the local sights instead, go to one of the fan events that happen pre and post main gig, call your mother…    Wonder if the moon will actually turn red this Friday, over One Tree hill…. we shall know soon   Safe travels ya’ll.

    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!)

    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!     Full Setlist: ------------- Video - Intro Out Of Control The Electric Co. / Send In The Clowns I Will Follow / Raised by wolves Heartland Street Mission 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 Zooropa Acrobat 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) October 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 Lemon 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 Pride People Have The Power (with Kafra's Blues Band, Kike Portolés, Karen & Monty Peiró) 40   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!

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