On Friday, June 22, 2018, I met Bono and The Edge from U2 on a sidewalk (of sorts) in Boston.
This is a moment I never thought would happen and one that I still can’t believe actually did.
Know that I’m coming it this from the perspective of a GIANT U2 fan and I’m sharing this story because it’s a lesson in never giving on your dreams. I’m also sharing it because I think it’s amazing that Bono and Edge did this (meet fans before a show) because they certainly didn’t have to.
How did I come to meet U2 on this particular day? Well in part thanks to Instagram. But hold that thought for just a moment and let me tell you, briefly, about my love for U2 and how it all began.
A thousand years ago in the early-ish days of MTV I saw this video and couldn’t believe my eyes and ears. I immediately bought a copy of the “Under a Blood Red Sky” EP and soon after “War,” “October” and “Boy.” My love for this band was instantaneous and immense. There’s a handful of junior high friends out there that might remember the sleepover when this clip came on MTV and I acted out Bono’s flag-raising and lip-synced along like it was the most important moment of my entire life.
The first time I saw U2 live was on “The Unforgettable Fire” tour. To this day, that first time seeing U2 live was one of the greatest night of my life. Since then I’ve seen thousands of concerts and I’ve seen U2 about a dozen times through the years. But that first time…my oh my.
Then of course there was last summer when I saw them on the 30th anniversary tour for “The Joshua Tree.” That too was one of the greatest nights of my life. You can read about it here.
OK so getting back to that moment in Boston on June 22 of this year. I got wind of the fact that members of U2 would sometimes come out and say hi to fans before shows by way of Instagram Stories. An ember started burning in my mind and since my buddy Colin and I were already going in early to Boston to secure a “good number” in the general admission floor seats line, I mentioned to him about what I had seen on social media and said something along the lines of “Um, maybe we should see if this is happening when we go to Boston.” He was of course totally on board.
On the day of the show we arrived in Boston via the Amtrak Downeaster at around 11 a.m. and immediately acquired the all-important numbered bracelets. Then we were able to establish where to go to wait in case the miracle of the band actually stopping to say hello was going to happen.
In a medium-sized paved area by what I’ll call the “artist entrance” to the colossal TD Garden we came across about 25 fellow U2 fans. They were all very friendly and helpful and they included Rebecca from San Francisco, Maggie from Rhode Island, Leah from Australia and Josie from The Netherlands.
It was a bit of a downer to hear that the day before (night one of the two nights of Boston shows) that the make-shift meet & greet didn’t happen because the band was running late. But still we persisted because a. today was a new day and b. what else we were doing ? Colin and I had packed water and snacks and it was really fun trading stories with other huge fans about previous shows and such.
And the hours passed…
A few fans knew the deal from previous stops on the tour and told us that the first thing we needed to keep an eye out for was U2’s head security guy who, if this thing was going to happen, could at some point appear to survey the scene.
Somewhere around 3 p.m. he did indeed appear and this was the first moment I experienced a massive rush of nervous excitement and the first moment that I thought to myself “holy shit, this might actually happen.”
From there it was a lot of “hurry up and wait” and as the minutes ticked on I went in and out of losing hope and just staying calm and present.
More and more security personnel started assembling and some barriers were put up on either end of the line of fans and a black rope was stretched in front of us .
And now it’s 4:45 going on 5 p.m. and there are maybe 200 of us out there. I can’t deal at all. My new pal Rebecca and I both enabled one other’s stress and talked ourselves out of it and reminded ourselves that no matter what happens, we were going to see a spectacular concert in a few hours and all would be OK.
Then right around 5 p.m. two miracles occurred. A pair of huge black Escalades pulled up, doors were opened and out popped Edge and Bono.
As you can only imagine, I am beside myself at this point.
Here’s the moment of Bono’s arrival:
Bono walked right by me and made his way to the far right side of the line and Edge made his way to the far left. I was pretty much smack dab in the middle.
Everything was happening pretty quickly at this point and yet time also stood still.
I looked to my left and saw Edge approaching and I looked to the right and Bono was getting closer. With my heart in my throat I started snapping photos and here’s a collage of the scene unfolding right in front of me of their approaches as well as some pics I snapped when they were literally RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME along with a”I couldn’t help myself” selfie once I had had my moment with them:
If I never take another photo for the rest of my life I think I’ll be OK because I managed to get this one:
Colin and my new friends and I all shared photos with one another and I’m very thankful because otherwise I wouldn’t have these two to share. The first one is the moment I shook Bono’s hand. I knew full well that if I was able to speak with him at all it would be very brief. I also knew that an autograph wasn’t something I needed to ask for. Honestly, I just wanted to shake his hand.
And so the moment came and I said hello and asked if I could shake his hand. He said hello and something like “of course” and we did indeed shake hands. I had not planned what I was going to say to him. What came out was “Thank you. I guess I’ve waited for this moment for 35 years.” This was for me all I needed to say to one of my heroes. I also got to say thanks and get a handshake with Edge.
This other photo I couldn’t believe when it was texted to me. Someone (was it you, Colin?) managed to get this shot of the back of me with Edge and Bono smiling at me and honestly, I can hardly look at this without my heart growing about 1,000 times bigger and I get a little teary too, such was the gravity of the moment.
A few minutes after all these photos were taken I called my spouse Tracy back in Maine and told her, with my voice shaking, that I had just met Edge and Bono and then, for real, I started crying.
I thought about it later and realized the tears came from many places but were mostly because I have loved this band so much for so long that it was almost an existential moment to actually meet them. Along with David Bowie, they are a primary reason that my life has centered around music for so long. They’re one of the reasons why I am a music writer. They’re one of the reasons that music is essential to both my happiness and sanity.
So in as much as Edge and Bono are just humans like the rest of us, for me they’re also something else. They represent what it feels like as a 14 year old kid to love a band’s music so much that you know that you’re going to feel that way forever.
When I stood there in Boston and shook their hands I was 14 again. But I was also 40-something me. And as I sit here and finish this post nine days after the moment happened, I’m again overcome with emotions. And that’s the crux of it isn’t it? Feeling that emotion, acknowledging that despite years of being a writer, at the end of the day I’m still a fan who loves music and really loves the band from Dublin, Ireland called U2.
As for the concert later that night, it proved that they’re still the best live band out there.
Thanks for taking the time to relive this moment with me. It truly meant everything to me and if you’re a music fan at all, I know you get it.