1. In this series we will be regularly interviewing fans during the tour to ask them about their personal experiences. Today we have an interview with Paul, or pllsaph, who most recently attended the first and third Boston shows. Paul is a longtime U2 fan who first saw the band on The Joshua Tree Tour and attended the legendary ZooTV St. Patrick's Day show in Boston. Here, he gives great insight about how he's seen the band and shows change over the years and how the band has impacted him personally. Sit back and enjoy his excellent stories!

    I'm really excited to share my thoughts with you on something I've been incredibly passionate about most of my life.

    First off, a little background. I'm middle-aged guy in his mid-40s with a wife, 2 beautiful daughters, a house, a dog, and a few chickens. U2 has been my favorite band since I was 13 or 14 and I first saw the video for Sunday Bloody Sunday on MTV. I can still picture that very moment as a kid when that video came on the television set with Bono singing with everything in his being, in the pouring rain at Red Rocks. Something hit me very, very deep inside that day, and every time I hear them, I return to that very instant.

    I count myself extremely lucky to have grown up in the Boston area. And the 1980s were a wild time to grow up here. The music industry was still rather vibrant and fan-driven. We had one of the best radio stations in the country, WBCN - The Rock of Boston, and, as you may know, Carter Alan, was one of the premier DJs at that station. So my formative years were spent listening to him and others at BCN back then. I'm sure I heard U2 before that day I saw the Sunday Bloody Sunday video that day, but it was that video that reached inside me and grabbed hold. Little did I know this band would turn out to be something so much more than "just a band" I liked. It grew into a love affair, an obsession, and a rather large collection.
    With that, on to the questions!

    Since you’re such a longtime fan, how did these shows compare to others you’ve seen?

    My very first show was 2 May, 1987 at the Worcester Centrum in Worcester, Massachusetts, which is a city in the center of the state about 40 miles west of Boston. Interestingly, I don't recall a whole lot about that particular show, but it was just one of well over 20 I've seen and hundreds I've listened to.

    These most recent shows in Boston, where do I start? I guess, my first thought is, "WOW!". Really, it's impossible to really describe, words really don't convey all that I felt, saw, heard, experienced.

    I'm pretty impressed with this tour over all. As I said in my review on the site of Boston 1, after 30+ years together, it's rather amazing to think these guys can put on what I consider to be their best show ever. First off, their show is about an hour longer than any other show I've seen them at, clocking in at 2:45. That alone makes you feel like it was worth it. Then there was the deep, deep digging into their older stuff. The past few tours I've seen them they seemed to only reach back to Joshua Tree, so it was mind-blowing to hear Electric Co., I Will Follow, Sunday Bloody Sunday. Of course, for me, the most incredible thing was hearing both Bad and 40. Bad is my all-time favorite U2 song, and to me, every show needs to be closed with 40, Red Rocks style. That is one thing I remember from the Joshua Tree tour was that they closed with that and it was a religious experience when everyone just kept singing the refrain down the ramps and out onto the streets. That didn't happen this time, but it was great to hear 40 close out the show that first night.

    Comparing the two nights I saw them on this tour, Friday and Tuesday (Boston 1 & 3) is tough. They were totally different experiences from beginning to end.

    That first Friday night for me had that "coming home after a long trip" feel to it. Being back in a small venue after so many years, and close to a decade, since I had last seen them live brought with it it's own level of excitement and energy. And, despite knowing what the set list was up front, I was still blown away visually by what they accomplished and the slight changes in the set list from the bootlegs I had been listening to from the first part of the tour. And of course, they played Bad and closed with 40, so that was huge thing for me.

    Tuesday night's show, Boston 3, was totally different on so many levels. First of all, to realize that I am at U2 show *with my kids* kind of freaked me out a bit. To look over at my oldest daughter and see her standing up, dancing, and singing was both awesome and scary at the same time. To suddenly see my kids thrown into the sound track of my entire life was bizarre in so many ways I can't quite explain it. At the same, I was ecstatic to share this with them, to discuss the imagery and the meaning of what Bono was talking about, yet, somewhat subdued by having to do so. Also, the energy of the section we were in somewhat dampened the mood a bit, yet, the view of the stage, the set list, etc. balanced that out.

    Possibly the most important part of either show to me was during Iris when I noticed my oldest daughter standing up with me and she was singing along, with tears in her eyes, which of course, brought tears to mine. Possibly the coolest thing I could have ever asked for was have something like that to know my kids were touched in some way by this band as I have been over the past 35 years.

    I mentioned this on the Boston forum, so I apologize for repeating it here, but it's a moment I will never, ever forget. It is as etched in my memory as the day she was born and that very first time I saw Bono in that Sunday Bloody Sunday video.

    What was the best performance of the nights? Did they play a song you didn't expect to hear? And did you expect any song that didn't get played?

    That's a really tough one. I was pretty ecstatic when I heard Bad. I was a little disappointed Bono didn't go off into a long tangent of Maggie's Farm/Ruby Tuesday/Sympathy For The Devil, etc. But hey, I'll take Bad any way I can get it!

    Possibly my favorite song on this tour is Even Better Than the Real Thing. I just can't get enough of Larry's drums in this new version. It's almost tribal, and it gets the place going. I just wish he got more of a chance to play them. I think I might like to hear them release an instrumental version just so Larry can pound on those drums more!

    One disappointment I had was that though Bad and 40 were played on night one, they weren't played on night 3 when my kids came. I'm a little bummed out of the 4 nights they played Boston, the night my kids were they neither 40 nor Bad made the set list. One or both were in all three of the other night's shows.

    Also, Boston paid tribute to the anniversary of Live Aid on Saturday night, and his Bad tangent reflected that; something I thought was missing from Friday night's version.

    But really, I can't complain. Both nights were absolutely incredible experiences. And it was interesting and fun to note the differences in the set lists and the displays. The intermission display was more ZooTV like the second night which also surprised me. It seems like of all the things they could play around with, the intermission would be rather static. Why bother with it? But of course, they know their fans attend multiple shows, and they want to make it interesting for them. So, yeah, that surprised me.

    Did you like the stage and how it contributed to the whole show experience?

    Absolutely. In fact, I think it's possibly the best set they've ever had. Well, except for the giant lemon. But even compared to that, I think they did a much better job of using this set to connect with the audience.

    Bono, since the earliest days at the Paradise, has needed a connection to the audience and always had a penchant for "climbing things" in order to be closer to the fans. This tour provides an outlet for that penchant and does the best job of creating that connection I've ever seen, whilst keeping Bono far safer than the early days of climbing balconies.

    The most effective use of this, I thought, was after the intermission when Invisible came on. The entire band was *in* the screen. And of course, you could see them because of the display. They *were* invisible. I'd guess most people thought it was just a continuation of the intermission since the volume wasn't much different than The Wanderer was for intermission. But wow, did the crowd go crazy when they finally figured it out, and as Bono sang "I am not invisible" suddenly, there they were IN the screen, in plain sight! Perfectly executed, as you'd expect from Bono, the master showman that he is.

    U2 have a special history in Boston; did you get a sense of that during the shows? How were the other fans? Was there a good vibe?

    Absolutely! I was fortunate to see them at the old Garden in September of '87, and then again St. Paddy's Day back in back in '92. Talk about connecting with the audience! And Irish band in Boston on St. Paddy's Day? Tough to beat! Really tough. But they managed to come really close. Bono, of course, reminisced about the early days with Dennis at Red Rocks and told the story of the 40 refrain. But before that he discussed the even earlier days of being in Boston and playing at The Paradise, at which point the place erupted in cheers. He joked, "You weren't all there!" And he discussed how young they were, not even being old enough to drink and that Carter Alan, who's floor they slept on back then, had to babysit them. And thus, Boston is like their second home.

    During the discussion of how peace was won in Ireland he also began comparing his youth to now and how terrorism was something he grew up with, and something which has spread from being a local thing to a global one. And he brought it home to Boston, which was very painfully touched back in 2013, and discussed the Boston Marathon bombing event. And, right at that moment, the big screen when black and then flashed a giant #BOSTONSTRONG. The place exploded. We Bostonians are, if nothing else, a very, very close and passionate people! So, yeah, I guess he did beat St. Paddy's Day. It was definitely one of the defining moments of the show, and certainly made Twitter explode as well.

    You have children that you brought to the shows. How was the show experience for them?

    That's tough to say. They've grown up with U2 in a way I didn't. For them, I think they very much think of U2 as "Daddy's music". But at the same time, my oldest daughter very much connects with Songs of Innocence.

    And, if I may go on a bit of a tangent myself, I have to say, regardless of all the complaining by people who didn't want their precious iTunes space "taken up" by this album, I think it was a brilliant marketing move by the band. My kids have always heard U2 when I play them around the house or in the car, but it's always me putting this music on. In much the same way I never opted to listen to my parents' music, I never expected them to voluntarily listen to mine, despite the fact they claim to like it and have certain favorites (my youngest absolutely LOVES U2's version of Pop Muzik and often requests it in the car). But with the free release of this album to iTunes, both of my girls now have it on their iPads, and as a result, they listen to it, and often! In fact, a couple days after the show my wife texted me at work to say, "The kids are blasting raised by wolves downstairs". Pretty cool!

    But back to the question, how was their experience. Overall I think it was great for them, and I know they really enjoyed with. My oldest is a teenager, so she's going through all that middle-school drama and I think she really connects with some of the songs on the album, especially Iris. She's really close to own mother, and to know and understand that this is Bono's way of expressing grief at losing his is something that really touches her deeply.

    My youngest on the other hand, well, she's a drummer. So she's all over the percussion, and of course, was fascinated to be able see Larry's set from behind and get to see him play up close when the showed him on the big screen. She really loved Even Better Than The Real Thing as well with the deep percussion. I think she was pretty intrigued by Adam as well. Of course, what's not like there? The guy is one cool dude!

    Something that has really surprised me is how emotional this entire experience has been on so many different levels. U2 has been the sound track for my entire life. I can, and have, listened to nothing but U2 for months and years at a time. I have pretty wide and varied tastes in music, though all the music I love has a common thread; it's all extremely intense and passionate. And I think this is why U2 has had such a profound impact on my life from the time I was the age my oldest daughter is now. They were what I listened to when I was sad, when I was celebrating, when I was bored, when I was in love. They were something my first girlfriend and I had in common, and they are what brought my wife and I together.

    This album is the band's reflection on their youth, and the tour is connecting that youth to their present. As such, it's a reflection on my youth as well. And this has really come out in the time I've been spending on the U2Start forums, connecting with others who are as crazy about this band as I am. And the more I connect, the more I reflect. It's interesting to note how in the show, they've paired certain songs to convey a then and now connection; I Will Follow with Iris, Sunday Bloody Sunday with Raised by Wolves, etc. As a result, I find that I'm getting much more out of the songs.

    This connection with all the great people here at U2Start has also lengthened the tour experience for me. Before all this technology you'd get your tickets go to as many shows as you could, and when they left town that was it. Boston was almost 2 weeks ago. As I type this, I'm currently listing to the 4th show via Periscope and chatting on the boards about the show. I've been listening to bootlegs as they pop up, so I've heard almost every show on this current tour. So, almost daily I'm have new U2 experiences.

    My wife even commented the other day about it and how it reminds her of when we first met. Which, if I might detour for a minute, is a great story. Back in 1992 they were playing in both Worcester and Boston. I went to school in Worcester, but wasn't able to get tickets to that show. I was working an over night shift the night before the show. And, at the time, was also working with my now wife's older sister, who was coming on-shift at 8:00am to relieve me. We had been working together for a while and I knew she liked U2, so asker her if she was interested in going and I'd gladly buy her a ticket since I was going right from work to Centrum box office for tickets. She declined, and I ended up with 2nd row seats off the corner of the stage!

    Two weeks later she invited me to a party at her sister's apartment. We met there, I met her younger sister, and we all went out to a local pub for dinner and drinks. Another colleague of ours who had been showing some interest in dating me also showed. Over dinner, though, my (now) wife found out I had gone to both the Centrum show on the 13th and the Garden show on St. Paddy's Day and started asking me about how the shows were. We ended up talking for over 2 hours over dinner to the complete exclusion of her sister and our other colleague. In fact, the other girl left, since she had the overnight shift that night, and I hadn't even noticed. We eventually went off to the party, drank a lot, and talked about U2 all night long. Thus began what has evolved into a 23 year relationship, and it all started with common love of U2!

    And recently, we've been re-connecting all over again because of this common love with this uncommon band!

    Thank you so much for letting me share my thoughts and love of U2 with you all.

    Thank you, Paul, for your great stories and insights!
  2. These stories are great. It's amazing how U2 actually brought you and your wife together. My favorite here is when you talk about how your daughter reacted to the shows - it's good to start them early.
  3. Great Interview. I went to the 3rd and 4th shows and was blown away by how great they still sound. I also would like to say that i'm jealous - I couldn't get to Zoo TV (I was 11 and my parents wouldn't take me) and also have been exposing my children to U2 since birth.They are 8 and 5. Even though they both have Autism they both lock on to the music especially my 8 year old daughter who emphatically sings the lyrics to 'Miracle' and 'EBW' just as she does with BD, Vertigo and Elevation.But I'll save that full story for my interview.
  4. Great Story!!

    Reminds me of discovering U2 myself, after also seeing the clip of SBS at Red Rocks on MTV.

    Unfortenately no kids, but I have taken my dad (65) to 360 in Gelsenkirchen and now at 71 he is joining me to Cologne.
  5. Originally posted by AllBecauseOfU2:These stories are great. It's amazing how U2 actually brought you and your wife together. My favorite here is when you talk about how your daughter reacted to the shows - it's good to start them early.

    It is kind of amazing that my wife and I really connected over this band over 20 years ago now. In some ways it sounds kind of silly that I fell in love with her because of a band, but, when you think about it, all successful relationships are grounded in a set of common interests and ideals. And what better commonality could there be than music, especially that of a band like U2

    As for how my daughter reacted, yeah. Just thinking about it still brings tears to my eyes. She'll never really know just how much that moment means to me. At least not until she's older and has something similar happen with one of her own kids. It was definitely a moment I'll cherish forever!
  6. Originally posted by achtungceda:Great Interview. I went to the 3rd and 4th shows and was blown away by how great they still sound. I also would like to say that i'm jealous - I couldn't get to Zoo TV (I was 11 and my parents wouldn't take me) and also have been exposing my children to U2 since birth.They are 8 and 5. Even though they both have Autism they both lock on to the music especially my 8 year old daughter who emphatically sings the lyrics to 'Miracle' and 'EBW' just as she does with BD, Vertigo and Elevation.But I'll save that full story for my interview.
    I know how you feel about being too young to go to a concert! My parents told me I could see them on the UF tour the day *AFTER* the show left town! I really can't imagine what it would have been like to have seen them on that tour!

    I think it's fantastic you're kids love music. Autism is a very tough thing to deal with (my sister has a severely autistic son and 3 older daughters who all also on the spectrum in varying degrees). But music certainly seems to be one thing that transcends that. I'm so happy that you and your kids are able to make a connection through music and it's got to be even more special that it's with U2. What better music to have that connection with

    I can't wait to read you interview! I'm sure it's going to be amazing!
  7. Originally posted by ferrari:Great Story!!

    Reminds me of discovering U2 myself, after also seeing the clip of SBS at Red Rocks on MTV.

    Unfortenately no kids, but I have taken my dad (65) to 360 in Gelsenkirchen and now at 71 he is joining me to Cologne.
    Wow! What a great thing to be able to share this with your dad! Those are memories you'll have forever. And, in my opinion, there are no better memories than being able to share a U2 experience with a loved one!

    Thanks for sharing that!