Combining travel with other passions is something I’ve been doing for a while. Many others do as well. Foodies want to go to that special Michelin starred restaurant in Paris, oenophiles want to travel to Champagne, Burgundy or Bordeaux, car enthusiasts to Porsche’s home in Germany or Ferrari’s in Italy. You get my drift. Since most of my favorite childhood bands came from the U.K. and as a child I longed to travel to Europe, once I did the usual tourist “Top 10” here and there, I started thinking of what I could do when I returned to my favorite city in such and such a country. One of the things I combined was taking in a concert of one of my favorite bands. I had an accomplice in my high school friend. She and I met by our high school lockers when she commented on my Police poster! We had one class together our entire high school career, but what brought us together was music. The Police, U2, INXS, Depeche Mode, New Order, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, etc. If you are from the L.A. area and were a teen in the early 80’s and listened to KROQ radio station, you know all these bands and several more, too numerous to name here. She didn’t have the exact tastes as I. For example, I don’t think she was into DD or Spandau, but we were generally into what was called the second British Invasion.
My first ever live concert was in L.A. at the L.A. Sports Arena. It was a concert for Amnesty International in 1985. U2 was one of the bands and they were and still are one of my favorites. My friend and I were recently reminiscing about our concert travels and I relayed to her the first time I heard U2 on the radio. “The first time I remember hearing U2, I think I was 13 or 14 and listened to the Unforgettable Fire Sunday night on KLOS’s 7th day, where they play the whole album, if you recall. (My brother and I) were listening to it. The sun was starting to go down and it was dark by the time they finished the album and we listened to it there in the twilight. One of my favorite tunes is the title song. It’s haunting, melodic – and I’m not sure that I even know what it’s about. I think the sounds stir my soul more than its content. The mixture of the strings, the drums and even Bono’s voice all get me.” U2 would tour a year after Amnesty to support their own album, the now legendary, The Joshua Tree.
So when I started traveling to see bands, it was magic. The first show I saw outside of my area, was U2. They had set up a couple of shows at Sun Devil Stadium just outside of Phoenix. They wanted to film some live shows for their upcoming movie, “Rattle & Hum”. Boy, talk about going on the cheap. I think 6 of us piled into a five seater car, drove from L.A. to Phoenix, stayed at a Motel 6 and I’m not sure what we ate, but I’m sure it wasn’t very nutritious! The tickets to these 2 nights of concerts was $5 for each night. I think my cousin paid for my tickets and the hotel. I don’t remember too much about the trip but I can remember both concerts. The lights going down and all the lighters lighting up. Yes, kids, before the lights of cell phones, we used lighters! Even those of us that didn’t smoke had one when we went to a concert. A beautiful sea of sparkling lights like you were in the middle of the desert watching the sky. Those concerts would be immortalized on Rattle & Hum.
I like a lot of U2 music that is not considered their “hits”. I even liked some of their funky stuff like Zooropa, Achtung Baby & Pop. After Unforgettable Fire, I went back and listened to War, Boy & October and was really hooked on them. I was really into the whole new wave of British/Irish/Scottish/Australian music in general. Videos were big and although we did not have cable/MTV, there was, speaking of Richard Blade, MV3! I think it was on Channel 9 if I remember correctly. I liked the exotic locations and artistic value of those videos and it fell in line with my view of wanting to go see the world, which I had had since leafing through the pages of the Encyclopedia Brittanica and the country pages which always started off with a map of the country. I always loved geography.
I would go on to see U2 many times. I believe the last time was during their 360 tour at the Anaheim Stadium in 2010. I have yet to see U2 outside of the U.S. My dream would be to see them in their native Dublin. There’s still time as the band is still together and, I’m sure, have another world tour left in them.
Later on, I would often consciously coordinate my travel around concerts. More tours to come. Stay tuned!