U2? Me too!

U2 "3 Nights Live" ticket

The odds of me getting that ticket were so infinitesimal, I almost didn’t try. Seriously.

Look, I’ve been in this game a long time now, and I’ve gotten hooked up for some pretty exclusive gigs, but U2 in a tiny Boston-area theater, playing for less than 1,000 people, most of whom were contest winners from around the country? I know rejection when I see it, and this was rejection on steroids with a tire-iron in its hand, just looking for an optimist it could clobber the hell out of.

But I had to give it a try, right?

First, I emailed the group’s publicist. I’m still waiting for her to get back to me.

Then I carpet-bombed everybody at the band’s label. Again, no reply.


“Well, at least I tried,” I told myself.

Wednesday morning rolled around. The day of the show. There was not a single person in the state of Massachusetts who wasn’t aware that U2 was in town for an ultra-exclusive performance. You would have thought an alien spacecraft had landed in downtown Boston and that the E.T.s flying it were promising scenic tours of heaven.

Every radio station, television station and newspaper was wall-to-wall U2. There were multiple articles in both of the major Boston dailies, one of which—titled “No Bono for you, Boston bigwigs”—specifically addressed just how impossible it was to secure a ticket to the show, no matter how much juice you had in the city of Boston.

So, of course, I decided to give it one more try, because few people are more incapable of recognizing when to quit than yours truly.

I carpet-bombed the label folks again. A short while later, my cell phone rang.

“Hi, Jon, this is [Saint] Lisa from Interscope. I emailed you yesterday to tell you that I have you on the list, but your email bounced back ‘undeliverable.'”

[INSERT SOUND OF 5,000 PHONOGRAPH NEEDLES GETTING DRAGGED ACROSS A VINYL RECORD (and if you don’t know what a “phonograph needle” or a “vinyl record” are, ask someone who grew up in the ’70s.)]

In the roughly decade-long span that I have been a music journalist, I have sent and received hundreds of thousands of emails. I can’t recall ever running into a situation when a correspondence sent to my work email failed to arrive—you know, except for THAT ONE TIME WHEN A REPRESENTATIVE FROM U2’S RECORD LABEL EMAILED ME THE NEWS THAT I HAD SECURED THE SINGLE MOST DIFFICULT-TO-OBTAIN TICKET IN THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE.

And this woman, this wonderful woman—no, this wonderful saint of a woman—who was being inundated with requests for this show, and who could have leveraged a pair of tickets for a free vacation at the Turks & Caicos Club (yes, I’m serious; scroll down in that “Boston bigwigs” article I told you about), instead picked up the phone and called me.

Which is how I came to be standing in front of this window later that same day:

U2 Guest List window

Now, as I’ve discussed previously, when you’re on the guest list for a high-profile show, things often go awry … and if ever there was a show at which things were likely to go awry, it was this one.

Which is why I was utterly amazed when, while waiting behind another guest-list recipient, I could already see sticking out of the pile of guest-list tickets the envelope with my name on it. Yes, that is how smoothly this whole thing went.

So I’m thinking my seat is going to be located, like, here:
Somerville Theater seating map
and certainly not, like, here.

But, hark, what is this I see? The usher to whom I have handed my ticket is leading me down the aisle … and, man, this is a small room … and, wow, we’re still walking … and he appears to be telling me I’m seated in the third row.

And it is at this point that I am expecting Ashton Kutcher to appear, and everyone in the room to start pointing at me and laughing while it’s all captured on camera for a special episode of “Punk’d.”

But Ashton Kutcher does not appear. No, the celebrity who appears is Bono … and he sings his ass off for five songs while The Edge and Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. play the hell out of their instruments, and I’m taking shitty pictures of it all with my BlackBerry (which, as it turns out, is still more than the contest winners can say, because they were required to park off site and surrender any camera phones before boarding the buses that transported them to the venue).

Now, I will be brutally honest with you here: The band’s five-song performance was the balls. Complete and utter awesomeness. Unfortunately, however, the performance was just one part of an hour-long radio special that aired live during the event. So, after blowing the roof off the place, Bono and company left the stage, then returned a few minutes later, sat down and were interviewed by MTV veejay Sway, who talked too much and asked the guys moronic questions that a handful of audience members had submitted before the show.

And I can assure you that there was not a single, solitary soul in that room who was glad that, instead of rocking out while the band played five or six more songs, they were instead hearing Bono get asked when he lost his virginity courtesy of a question submitted by a 16-year-old, and no, I’m not kidding.

Chances are my displeasure with the lame interview segment was exacerbated by the fact that, seated where I was (because everyone sat during the snoozefest, er, I mean, interview), I could see the backs of two cameramen, the enormous belly of the security dude assigned to my aisle, and Sway. And perhaps you didn’t notice, but the folks I just listed? None of them are in U2. So that kinda sucked.

It was not lost on anyone, however, that all of the band’s gear was still set up throughout the interview, and when the radio broadcast ended and the guys left the stage, we all erupted in a boisterous chant of “One more song!” And I could totally tell that they were going to play at least one more song, because the roadies weren’t breaking down the gear, no, they were double-checking to make sure everything was just so, and the drum tech was placing Larry’s in-ear monitors lovingly atop the snare drum so that they’d be at the ready when Larry sat back down to kick out the jams, and the chanting continued, and the excitement swelled to a crescendo …

And the houselights came on and some canned music sprang from the speakers, and it was time to go home. Damn.


I was there.

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  1. Posted March 14, 2009 at 2:52 am | Permalink

    Awesome …five songs and third row ! Sweet deal! My husband will be so jealous!

  2. Frannie
    Posted March 14, 2009 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    Good for you! That is karma, and just what you deserve for being the “worst” daddy in the world.

  3. E
    Posted March 14, 2009 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Do you have a songlist?

  4. Posted March 14, 2009 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Wow, wow, wow. That’s fantastic. Good for you and damn I am jealous, but you seem to have sufficiently enjoyed it so, you’re forgiven for being a lucky b#$%^^$#@!

  5. Posted March 14, 2009 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    It is so good to be you some days! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Posted March 14, 2009 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    I thought I was lucky when I saw them at SPAC and Bono walked out on the catwalk I was smooshed against.
    I did have the honor, however, to pour water for, and bus the table of, Adam Clayton while I was working at Canyon Ranch in high school. One instance when it paid to be a busgirl in a tacky uniform.

  7. Posted March 14, 2009 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Awesome…sounds like you had the opportunity of a lifetime to see the backs of two guys and the belly of another!

  8. Catherine
    Posted March 14, 2009 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    Since you posted on Dooce something about not having as many readers and I had definitely seen your name before and THEN YOU HAD A POST ABOUT SEEING BONO… I love you and I have added you to may daily repertoire of blogs. Peace out.

  9. Catherine
    Posted March 14, 2009 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    … not having.. typo

  10. Lindsey
    Posted March 15, 2009 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    That’s amazing! Being in Boston myself, I’m even more jealous! Also, about facebook, try clearing your cache and cookies–happens to me sometimes, and that usually works.

  11. Posted March 15, 2009 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    That is such a great story. There are some bands that you just must try your all to go and see! It’s like watching a piece of history happen. I just sat in awe when I went to see Tina Turner in concert this fall. I never thought I’d get the opportunity, but she came out for one last tour and my mom was able to snag 2 tickets, up close and personal. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven!

  12. Posted March 16, 2009 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Congrats on scoring those tickets, and even better you
    had the Blackberry! Last time U2 was in town, friends
    of friends fell ill and could not use their tickets. We gladly
    coughed up a quarter of our mortgage payment to sit in front of the
    stage. And when you see Bono that close, you really do
    become his BFF. I get that.

  13. Posted March 16, 2009 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Amazing. You are one lucky sod!

  14. Melanie
    Posted March 16, 2009 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    You so suck. 😉

  15. Posted March 17, 2009 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Just popped over from PW’s site and had to comment on this! I mean, how awesome is that? I have had tickets to see U2 three times, but only got there once, the last time they appeared in Ottawa. And I have seen many, many concerts due to years of working security detail and U2 was by far the best performance I have ever had the opportunity to watch. I would have stopped at nothing to try and get tickets for the show. Good for you for holding out and not giving up. Five songs is way better than no songs.

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