1. Every month we put a U2 fan in the spotlight. The fan of the month for April 2017 is user mattfromcanada. Read along for the interview we had with this U2 fan.

    "After Mysterious Ways, [Bono] comes over…."Here’s the dude….are you the player? Come up.” And the rest was just amazing."

    Tell us something about yourself, who are you and what do you do for a living?
    My name is Matthew Berg, born in 1980, and live in Grimsby, Ontario, Canada. I’m a carpenter by trade, and now work in project management for an off-site modular construction firm. I’ve been married to an amazing woman for 15 years, and we have a wonderful 2 year old daughter.

    How did you become a fan of U2? Tell us how it happened.
    My brother & I were coaching a little league baseball team when I was 15. As we drove to & from the practice, I kept hearing this song on the radio that I couldn’t get out of my head – “In the name, of love…..” I had to ask who it was, and eventually found out it was this band called U2. I’d heard about them, but really couldn’t name any songs by title. A trip to the local record store found the song on an album called Rattle & Hum. I was a little disappointed to find out it was a live version, though my taste would later much prefer the live to studio. At the time I was learning to play drums, and playing along to an album seemed a good idea. So I got another one of their albums. Then I found out my dad had The Joshua Tree on vinyl. A few trips to the record store again saw the beginning of my U2 collection. On my 17th birthday my dad managed to find (8) U2 45’s through a friend; I think they were 11 O’Clock Tick Tock, Two Hearts Beat As One Promo, The Unforgettable Fire 2 Pack, New Year’s Day Promo, A Celebration, Gloria, Fire, and a rare Canadian Promo for I Will Follow. I ultimately traded the I Will Follow promo for a copy of U2 Three – Bram de Bruin if you’re reading, I hope it’s treating you well!) I did get that copy of U2 Three signed by Bono in Toronto during the Elevation Tour stop in May 2001. That vinyl collecting lead up to my first concert at PopMart Toronto, October 26, 1997. It just sort of went from there! As the years progressed, and I'd gone to the point of getting nearly all the music on vinyl in some form (though I'd lost a copy of All That You Can't Leave Behind on vinyl when a "friend" used my name to purchase my copy that was on hold) I was delighted to discover U2Start.com and was able to expand my Bootleg collection and continue the passion. Inspired by the artwork created for the Elevation Tour (that is, a single format overall) I endeavored to create a similar template for all tours. It took the better part of about 2 years and some great collaborations to complete, but I was able to make individual artwork for all tours from The Early Days through U2 360. I have to say, it looks pretty slick in my iTunes. I still get lost in the bootlegs every now and then.

    You were lucky enough to play onstage with the band! Tell us more about that, how did that happen?
    I’ve always been a fan of the old days of U2, and used to love listening to bootlegs from The Unforgettable Fire. I loved the way that Bono used to pull fans on stage as a way of connecting with the audience. I like to tell people this when I tell the story because there are literally hundreds of people who’ve had the same privilege; some bands might do it once or twice in their career, let alone make it a staple of their concerts. Obviously this was shelved as the band grew in the 90’s, but I thought it was so neat to see the shift from band to audience during the Elevation Tour where the fans took the initiative. And what was even cooler was that the band responded, and got that connection again with the audience. I think better too, because the fan was the one who initiated, and the band wasn’t in a “look how awesome we are” position. I did try my luck at Hamilton Elevation, but Arun was the lucky man that day (People Get Ready). Fast forward a few years, and I was able to secure a ticket to Dublin 06-25-05 on the Vertigo Tour. Already on that tour, they’d brought fans on stage, so I thought “why not?”. So I fashioned a sign that had a picture of a guitar and said “I flew from Canada to play Party Girl”, learned the three chords, and then went to bed before waking up early for my flight. That’s literally how fast it happened. Between my actual decision to give it a try, and when it happened was probably 30 hours. I remember my wife thinking I was adorable for being so optimistic. I got to Croke Park, and managed to snake my way through to the front row. Then every time Bono came by, I held my sign out. I honestly think it was that my sign was very specific – who I am, where I’m from, and what I want to do. All Bono had to do was agree. During Where The Streets Have No Name, he intentionally slowed down, looked at me, and gave me a smile and a thumbs up. I thought “wow, this going to happen!” After Mysterious Ways, he comes over….”Here’s the dude….are you the player? Come up.” And the rest was just amazing. I remember it all very clearly. Bono asked my name, introduced me as mattfromcanada (a username was born!), the crowd cheered, we walked up to the main stage. I leaned in and thanked Bono for all their music, and tried as best as I could to tell him what it meant to me (tough to do in 5 seconds!) and he made intentional eye-contact and said “you’re welcome.”. During some technical difficulties, we had to wait until they found the guitar, so I talked to The Edge. Again, trying to say thank-you. He said “What song are we playing?” I said “Party Girl, but I don’t know the solo…can you handle it?”……”can you handle it?”…..I’ll say that again, I asked The Edge if he could handle the guitar solo for a song he wrote. With a smile, he said yes. The guitar came, Bono gave me the go, and off we went. I will say, for three minutes, I honestly felt like I was just playing with four guys from Dublin. It did not feel like 80,000 people were even there. It felt like these guys gave me the spotlight, and enjoyed the fact that I was enjoying it. They are humble guys at the heart, no one can tell me different. Three minutes later, fist bump in the air, I was back into the crowd. I got The Edge’s and my guitar picks (which were stolen shortly thereafter, boo) and a Set List (I’m guessing The Edge’s but not sure). The next day touring around Dublin was great as I met some great fans! The experience was more than I’d ever hoped for. I know I did myself proud, and I hope I did them proud too.

    You have attended all tours since Popmart and Elevation is your favorite tour. Why is that?
    For several reasons. In no particular order, it’s the first concert I took my then girlfriend / now wife to. She’s not big into music the same way I am, but she does know that U2 holds a special place for me. It was great to experience it with her. I saw four shows on the tour (Toronto x2, Buffalo, Hamilton). It was my first GA experience (Hamilton) and the first time I heard many of my favourite U2 Songs – Out Of Control, Bad, Angel Of Harlem, The Fly. There were very special moments at Hamilton too as result of the 9/11 attacks which made for a great experience.

    What are your expectations and hopes for the Joshua Tree 2017 tour?
    I actually am going to avoid as much online reviews as possible. I’ve never been truly surprised by a setlist because I’ve always followed the tour. I have (2) GA tickets for my wife and I in Toronto, and I actually plan on standing toward the back of the GA crowd, and just take it all in. As for specific hopes, I hope that they do play the entire album, ideally in order. I’ve never personally heard anything from the entire second side of the album, so that will be exciting. As for the remainder of the concert, I’d love for them to celebrate their old catalogue. Perhaps start with some Boy-The Unforgettable Fire selections, and finish off with a Rattle & Hum – Songs Of Innocence selection. Mostly, I want to see U2 enjoy the concert.

    What do you expect for SOE? Do you think the band can still produce a hit in the charts?
    Tough question, because I have my answer that I truly believe, and the one I want to tell the U2 world so as not to offend anyone! I honestly don’t think U2 will ever produce a “hit” in the way they have done in the past (With Or Without You, I Still Haven’t Found What I Looking For, One, etc). I’m not sure anyone can do that anymore as the industry has changed so much, though I’m not expert. That doesn’t mean I don’t think they’ll produce good music because I think they can and will. I feel that No Line On The Horizon & Songs Of Innocence had some great songs on them, and I actually felt that No Line On The Horizon was their most complete album in and of itself since Achtung Baby. I like to compare them to an aging athlete who graduates from playing the game to coaching the game. It doesn’t mean that they’re irrelevant, or not part of the overall picture, but the dynamics have changed. U2 I think is now in the mentorship phase, and they are fortunate enough that they don’t have to tour to support themselves; they can take the time to do the music they want and hopefully it produces something the fans will love. Songs Of Innocence was a good album for the lay person, but if you knew a little bit about U2’s history, it’s a great album for the fans! I hope Songs Of Experience just continues that.

    Does your family share your love for U2? If so, did you play a role in that?
    The closest I probably have to a family connection is that somehow during high-school my brother & I adopted Out Of Control as our official driving song. Summer day, windows open, lungs blaring (neither of us can sing). That truly culminated in our GA experience in Hamilton when he & I went to the show, and they played that song, and we were just to The Edge’s side of the tip of the heart.. One of my top 5 U2 moments for certain.

    Bad is your favorite song. What does this song mean to you?
    I’ve never been able to find the words to describe how I feel when I hear this song, nor do I think there ever will be. There was no big life moment that it ties to. It was one of the earliest U2 songs that I latched on to and went “oh wow….”. There is just something about the simplicity of it, and the sound just takes me away and I get lost in it. I think that U2 gets lost in it when they play it, and maybe that’s part of it.

    How different is U2 compared to other artists that you like?
    Not incredibly different. I didn’t listen a lot of music of my own choosing growing up because I simply wasn’t interested at the time. My dad played The Beatles and some other 60’s / 70’s stuff, my mom played Elvis & Disney. I still love all of those. When I discovered U2 I only had three CD’s (The Aladdin Soundtrack, Collective Soul’s first album, and ‘The Phantom Of The Opera’ soundtrack). At the start I was just listening to U2, not much else (I had 8 albums, EP’s, and 45’s to catch up on!) but eventually I started discovering who U2 influenced, and also who they influenced. It sort of went from there. Now, lets just say there’s always a song in my head, and a lot of times it’s U2.

    What are your hobbies and interests away from U2, musical or otherwise?
    No typical hobbies in terms of ‘every night I go for a run’ type thing. My wife & I used to travel as much as we could before our daughter was born, and have been to a lot of exciting places. Hopefully one day we’ll get to travel more! My very favourite thing though is to spend time with people I love, or getting to know new people. Nothing gives more fulfillment than enjoying my family time in the evenings and weekends. I love “dating” my wife as much as possible, and my daughter is so amazing right now; a 2 year old dancing to Disney’s ‘Main Street Electrical Parage’ on 45 is a lot of fun. She even knows how to turn on the record player! And yes, I put Beautiful Day on the radio when we drove home from the hospital! I enjoy a good board game night (Ticket To Ride & Settler’s of Catan are personal favourites) or enjoying a good beer / wine / scotch with friends. I enjoy carpentry projects every now and again to keep my skills sharp, and I enjoy the odd respectful discussion about politics or religion; if it gets to the point of raised voices or when the argument becomes “you’re an idiot, no you’re an idiot” I wrap it up and move on. Give me an episode of Fraiser any time (I watch the entire series about once every 2 years!). I do like to read and enjoy C.S. Lewis, The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, Harry Potter, Dilbert, Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader, and other stuff, and yes I also love playing music. I’ve never been in a band, but I’ve regularly played drums or guitar at church since I was about 17. Beyond that, I just love taking a slice of life.

    Thanks for this interview mattfromcanada!

    Note: Our crew members choose the fan of the month, you can't sign up for it.
  2. Thanks for sharing your incredible experiences Matt! What an amazing moment in Dublin!
    Congratulations for having such a beautiful family.
  3. ...but....but...I'M Matt from Canada!

    Just kidding (well, I am from Canada and my name is Matt) but your stories are much more interesting than mine!
  4. Awesome stories Matt. Great stuff!

  5. As soon as I saw "mattfromcanada" my first thought was Dublin 25/6/2005!

    I was literally about 3 or 4 people to your immediate left on the front rail of Edge's b-stage catwalk and saw it all happen, it was an amazing few minutes in an amazing three nights that will be permanently etched on my brain, must have been mind-blowing for you!

    As Bono says, it pays to advertise! And that really paid off for you! Managed to capture a few pics of this part of the show myself, nothing quite as high quality as the pics you posted though, here's one (if it works...).. PM me on here and I'll happily get the others to you.

    Real nice read man, hope you have good adventures in Toronto on TJT! PS also a big NLOTH fan too, I think its a really solid album and I'm surprised it didn't get more love than it did.
  6. you sound like such a laid back guy! loved to read this, and of course especially enjoyed reading about your stage experience what a night for you!
  7. I talked to The Edge. Again, trying to say thank-you. He said “What song are we playing?” I said “Party Girl, but I don’t know the solo…can you handle it?”……”can you handle it?”…..I’ll say that again, I asked The Edge if he could handle the guitar solo for a song he wrote. With a smile, he said yes.

    HAHAHAHAHA, incredible But paradoxically, that's precisely the solo which he fucks up in the UABRS album and video, so your question -as funny as it might sound- wasn't entirely out of place

    Great interview and so good to get to know you a little better. Hope to meet you along the road!
  8. nice reading stuff
  9. Thanks all for the kind words and various PM's! It was great to recount how I got into U2, playing 'Party Girl', and some great memories I haven't thought of in quite some time. I completely forgot too that The Edge did in fact mess up on UABRS when I was writing my responses, so I got a great laugh out of it all! I truly hope you all have a great time at TJT2017! I'll be at Toronto, hanging around. Swing by if you see me! Cia

  10. Originally posted by mattfromcanada:Thanks all for the kind words and various PM's! It was great to recount how I got into U2, playing 'Party Girl', and some great memories I haven't thought of in quite some time. I completely forgot too that The Edge did in fact mess up on UABRS when I was writing my responses, so I got a great laugh out of it all! I truly hope you all have a great time at TJT2017! I'll be at Toronto, hanging around. Swing by if you see me! Cia

    Guitar hero!
  11. This was a really enjoyable read Matt! I loved your anecdotes and insights !
  12. Great read Matt, what an experience you had