U2 - musical gods. Discuss. No need for a discussion, I had already seen the Irish foursome on two separate occasions when they announced they were to tour again. The only trouble was that while the Joshua Tree shows had all been at mega-sized stadiums - I had seen them at both Wembley in London and Cardiff Arms Park - the Zoo TV tour would be a limited number of small venues. In London it would be a two-night tenancy at Earl’s Court and nothing else. It would be, in terms of people trying to get tickets, like trying to fit a herd of elephants in the back seat of a Mini.
And so it proved. I arranged with my London-based football mate Bob to get in the queue early and take turns in line until one of us got to the front. We reckoned getting there a good two hours early would see us fine. He got there at six o’clock on the Saturday morning, and I tootled along at around nine, fully expecting to find a beaming Bob near the front, so we could just pick up our tickets and head off to the Arsenal for the afternoon’s football match. Poor deluded fools that we were!
I started at the front of the queue and scanned the faces, looking for Bob. Most of the people at the front had sleeping bags, and one or two were actually rolling up tents and lighting up camping stoves as I arrived. I followed the line along the front of the building and down the side. Then further down the side, and along the back, across the service road and behind the Earls Court 2 Exhibition Hall. There, about six miles from the front of the queue, sat Bob on a small folding stool, reading The Guardian.
“Arses,” I said.
“We’re not going to get tickets,” he said.
“Arses,” I said in agreement.
We sat around for a while, deciding what to do. A clock struck ten in the distance and the line moved forward about five feet as the ticket office doors opened.
“Did I ever tell you,” asked Bob, “that used to work here?”
No, he hadn’t.
“I’ll be right back.”
He headed over to the corner of the building that was being used as a communal toilet by the waiting thousands. And disappeared. Bloody great. Not only am I standing out in the freezing cold drizzle, but now Bob’s walked out on me. I might as well go ho...
Minutes later he was back, coming round the front of the building with a furtive smile on his face. That must have been one hell of a piss, I thought.
“Come on, we’re going,” he said quietly.
He folded up his picnic stool and headed for the tube station, me scuttling along behind him, wandering what the hell was going on. As we reached the Picadilly Line to head on up to Arsenal, he stopped, opened his wallet and pulled out four tickets for the gig. Fourth row back, centre of the aisle. Result.
“How the bloody hell did you get those?” I asked.
He had made to go for a piss, and simply followed some stage hands through a back door. Once inside, he legged it across the hall and out into the ticket office just as the doors were opening. Four tickets and sixty quid later (I’m still trying to work this one out, as the maximum was for two tickets per customer) he walked out the front door with the goods, proving for once and for all that it sometimes pays to be a bit naughty.
As for the gig - well, I’m sure you’re expecting me to say that it was a complete disappointment, spoilt by a poor performance and crappy choice of venue. So I’m not. It was bastard brilliant, one of the most intense gigs I’ve ever seen with innovative stage design, and inspired setlist and performances that were out of this world. Sorry. Bob recorded the whole thing, if you’re interested...
And close up, that Bongo’s got a bastard huge nose.
While we’re on the subject...
My favourite U2 story is the one surrounding how the band members came to get their nicknames. It’s common knowledge that Bono Vox got his name from the sign above a hearing aid shop. However, many people believe that The Edge is so called because he has “the edge” on other guitarists. Not so, claims Mr Vox. The reason young David Evans became The Edge is simple - he’s got a square head. I should know - one of my best friends at school was called “Mallet” for exactly the same reason. He was shit at the guitar though, proving that an angular cranium is not a passport to musical talent, as anyone who’s heard Sophie Ellis-Bextor will attest.
Next week: A return to explosions, juvenile mayhem and a better than 50% chance of public nudity.