Saturday, December 22, 2012

No. 530 – Even Better Than the Real Thing

Performer: U2
Songwriters: Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr.
Original Release: Achtung Baby
Year: 1991
Definitive Version: None

Yep, when I saw U2 in the Pontiac Silverdome in August 1992, I was King of the World. Funny thing, my throne was in the upper balcony, about 150 yards from the stage. You’d think the King could wrangle better seats, right? No matter, considering how much I paid for them—nothing aside from picking up the dinner tab—and, more important, the company. Believe me, I wasn’t complaining.

Aside from being with Jenna—and how unbelievably hot she looked—I was geeked to be in the Silverdome. One of my favorite recordings had been the Join Together medley on The Kids Are Alright. It was recorded from a show at the Silverdome in 1975. As I learned more about The Who, I came to learn that that show was considered one of their greatest (more-complete recordings bear that out). Just being in the same building where that show took place was enough.

Before U2 came out, a DJ played songs over the PA. (My understanding is that Bono with a tweaked voice so you didn’t recognize him did the honors.) The crowd reacted depending on what was played. Early on, Owner of a Lonely Heart came on, and it drew good applause, which surprised and pleased me.

Later, almost before the lights went down, Even Flow came on, and the place blew up. I had just found Pearl Jam myself only months before, so I was right with everyone else on that one. The only roar that was louder was when U2 hit the stage.

I don’t remember much about the show itself, actually, aside from a few songs. It started with a funny video of President Bush cut as though he were saying, “We will rock you,” which segued into Zoo Station. (I recounted the video collage of Clinton during Desire many moons ago.)

I particularly was pleased that U2 played New Year’s Day and Sunday Bloody Sunday, because on an earlier swing through Detroit, they didn’t play anything older than The Unforgettable Fire—in other words, at the time, none of my favorite stuff.

Jenna was disappointed they didn’t play Acrobat, which was her favorite song on Achtung Baby (a sentiment I have come to agree with—SPOILER ALERT). They played almost everything else off that album, however.

After a song the title of which I can’t remember, Bono grabbed a remote and said, “let’s see what’s on TV.” He pointed at the big screen behind the stage and a bunch of different images flickered on the screen until an image of Garth from Wayne’s World appeared—much to the crowd’s approval.

Bono and Garth had a bit of funny interplay, and Garth asked if he could play along with U2 on their next song, which was this one. I loved Wayne’s World as much as the next person (the bits on SNL more than the movie), and I thought, how cool that U2 got Dana Carvey to work up a bit for the show. 

When the show was over and we left the Silverdome—the only time I ever made it to the now long-gone stadium, it turned out—it had started to drizzle. Caught without either jackets or umbrellas, we just walked through it the mile or so back to my car.

As she walked, Jenna used her jean jacket as a makeshift umbrella, which was an awesome idea considering that underneath she wore a white tank top that became see-through in the rain and thus apparent that she wore nothing beneath her shirt. And she looked as good as I had imagined she did.

The drive was quiet and uneventful, and we wound up back at The White Horse for one more round at last call before splintering off into the night. I walked Jenna to her car, and she pressed herself up close to me as she gave me a kiss for the ages, interrupted by Red letting the last of the patrons out of the bar. He gave a knowing nod and a thumbs-up. Yep, King of the World.

The punch line: A few days later, I chatted with Scott after he got home from visiting a friend of his at UCLA. Scott said he was just a block from Pauley Pavilion, where the MTV video awards was held. They weren’t able to get in, but he said the event was pretty cool. By the way, he asked, how did you like Garth with U2?

How do you know about that? Ummm … it was on the show.

Wait, what?

Yes, dear reader, or even readers, it wasn’t a prestaged bit at all; it was live and part of the MTV broadcast. I had no idea at any time until then that a live linkup was planned, and that was back when I still watched MTV on occasion.

So, if you see the video somewhere, at the part where Bono picks up the camera and holds it to the crowd before spinning around on stage, look way up in the top balcony in front of the stage. The guy in the black jacket with the three smokin’ hot babes—you can see him, right? That’s me.

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