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"Nothing to stop this being the best day ever" are the opening lyrics of Songs of Experience. For some fans, those lyrics rang true last Wednesday night, November 29th 2017. Imagine finding yourself in a hideaway Speakeasy-esque bar in New York City sipping cocktails from teacups just like in the days of prohibition. Now add listening to U2's new album, Songs of Experience - before it's even been released - in the company of all four members of U2! An intimate crowd including some lucky winners of the U2: An Experience of Songs radio contest did just that, as we all met up and were escorted to The Back Room in the Lower East side of Manhattan to listen to the album from start to finish. After some pre-album mingle and music, the volume increased and an almost ambient 'Love is All We Have Left' began. We settled in and all thoughtfully listened as we fully took in the room, walls decorated by photos spanning the band's career to date. As 'Lights of Home' played, people could be seen swaying in their seats. Once 'You're the Best Thing' started, we began to sing along with the song that we had become familiar with over the last few weeks. As the album played on, after each song, the whole crowd gave an approving round of applause. The album had been worth the wait and excitement was growing with each song. During 'The Blackout' one fan stood up and announced they should reenact the video and several people joined him and danced through the song. When the album finished and we all were giving it a standing ovation, local film director Morgan Spurlock came to the stage to introduce the band themselves. Adam and Edge came out first and offered a little banter with the crowd ahead of Bono and Larry. After a few short moments (and Adam had convinced the crowd it was ok to sit back down), they eventually arrived and Bono greeted the crowd by asking what songs stuck out to them. You could hear almost every song title being given back to him as he repeated them back and jokingly added, "...did you say 'Frozen'?" Prior to the listening party, winners had been given the opportunity to submit questions which Spurlock then put to the band : A discussion of snippets of other people's songs that have been used in U2's music... Which songs spoke to them live? (This prompted Bono to tell how the name for 'Bad' came about, which, he added had not been shared before - he explained that the lads had watched Andy Warhol's movie : Bad and he and Andy Rowen, whom the song was written for, had gotten into an argument about it)... How they choose their setlists?... Other artists that they currently enjoy?... The political climate... Remembering the band's first US concert at the Ritz in New York (and their unsuccessful attempt at getting into The Mudd Room!)... And a question that focused on Songs of Experience was asked by a gentleman named Greg... he asked if a particular song jumped out to Bono on the new album, who explained that there were a few songs that shared lyrics with songs on its' predecessor, 'Songs of Innocence', telling us that those songs were "talking to each other" and in particular the relationship between 'Song for Someone' and '13'. After the Q&A fans were asked to gather around to take a group photo with the band and many of them got to shake hands and thank the band, who then disappeared into the night... Fellow Zootopian @Atomic Orla was also there & when asked how she enjoyed the evening, she summed it up : "I've had many incredible U2 experiences over the years as a U2 fan, from amazing concert moments, often in new cities, to making friends for life. Listening to the new album for the first time in a small New York City Speakeasy full of U2 fans, followed immediately afterwards by the arrival of the band and an opportunity to greet them and thank them, was one of those unique 'I love NY' and 'I love U2' experiences." View full article