Story of a life journey, U2, Colombia and a fan.
Written by Sergio Suárez Gutiérrez
Bogotá Colombia, March 1987. A teenage rock fan tunes in to his local station. On the radio waves an uncommon piano and bass guitar intro to a song that will catch his mind instantly, With or Without You debuts like fire on the radio. Next get the LP ASAP. It’s the time where you had to actually go to the record store, choose that special vinyl among others and ask the store guy to let you listen to it on the headphones. This teenager was not ready for what was coming towards him: Huge church organ notes opening to one of the best guitar riffs ever played, powerful solid drums, bass and vocals presenting then selves as Where the Streets Have no Name. The guy buys the album, rans back home and listens to it on and on for weeks maybe years form Exit to One Tree Hill, on to Running to Stand Still an on. The Joshua tree has born.
This was my official fan induction to U2, from the early albums to the latest one, each and every one of them has given me something to love and hate. Songs have become my favorite or evolved from hated to lost and found.
Living in Colombia in the 80s was not a matter of waiting for the tour to hit the city, the country was under a semi-civil war between government and the communist guerrillas, drug dealers and paramilitary groups also making the scene a complete chaos. Less than little hope for a struggling third world country. This political and social conflict was a 50-year-old war that destroyed our hearts, hopes and minds, deaths, people migrated to other countries, the economy suffered, the country bleed.
Nevertheless, I followed U2 step by step to their mega-rock-star place, across albums and far away tours hoping for a chance to see them live some time, anytime, anywhere. Could that chance happen in Colombia? Dream on. As political as they can be U2 probably knew what was happening down here and in some strange way relate to what happened in their own country.
U2s following tours don’t stop at Latin America until 1992 when the ZooTv Tour hits Mexico City as part of the north American tour with 4 sold out concerts at the Palacio de los Deportes. Getting Closer.
Buenos Aires Argentina, February 6th 1998. A series of disappointing events prevented me from accepting a 6 months externship in Italy and ended up in Argentina. As if life wanted to give me a prize for this, U2 announces their first full scale tour over South America in four countries Mexico, Brazil, Chile and Argentina. Luckily, I found my way to a ticket to for the February 6th concert at River Plate Stadium in Buenos Aires. The PopMart Tour ran across my mind and soul like a freight train, never knew what happened. I was thrilled, U2 was better than I expected even though I had listened to countless bootlegs and t.v. shows of their gigs. My promise: Try to meet them again, hopefully…
By the turn of the century Colombia began to understand the path to peace, it was not going to be an easy one, but something had to be done. The country slowly began to take steps towards peace and economic recovery. War was still present but Colombians finally understood that it was our responsibility to finish the differences between us.
During 2001 U2 takes the Elevation Tour over Europe and North America only.
NYC, May 21st 2005. Luck hits again and this occasion it was that once in a life time event. A round-trip plane ticket and the chance to see U2s Vertigo Tour at the mythical Madison Square Garden. From this moment on I understood I had a very special relationship with these four guys even though they don’t know who I am. The Vertigo Tour lets me witness U2 in a very special moment in between musical trends. Lots of things had happened since that 1998 gig, this is a wiser U2, focused on their music, less pretentious. A different U2.
U2s Vertigo Tour lands in South America for the second time during 2006, again Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Chile are the lucky ones. Strike two.
Upon the 2010s Colombia is a different country. Although peace is still far away, conflict is diminished to a fraction of its past size and the country is steadily walking towards stability. The road is still dangerous but definitely less than in past years. Slowly, the country begins to insert its self on the international economical scene with growing tourism, exports and dynamism. International tours begin to visit the country.
Miami FL July 11th 2011. First time I plan a U2 concert from scratch. booked tickets and plane trip with my wife and friends and surrendered upon the magnificent 360 Tour, the biggest U2 ever. What a night, played some of my most regarded songs like Zooropa and The Fly and had best time ever. As a fan, I know my country is ready Metallica, McCartney, Madonna, Coldplay have visited us, it’s a matter of time, peace and a little bit of luck.
2011 The South American leg of the 360 Tour flies over us from Mexico to Argentina, Brazil and Chile. Strike three.
U2 hits the road again with the E+I Tour over Europe and north America. This is not the time for a Latin American tour.
Peace talks begin in Colombia and 2016 let us see something unique: Fifty years of civil war come to an end with the signing of a solid peace treaty. For all Colombians this a breaking point in our lives, although there’s still profound regrets upon what was signed, it is undeniable that this turns us into a new country and U2 knows this actually mentioning it in this post.
Could it be possible?
A different U2, maybe that one that wants to recheck everything that has been done, announces The Joshua tree Tour over Europe and North America on 2017. This time plans are not made maybe hiding that special U2 flame inside that tells you: Relax, they will be here.
Bogota, Colombia June 2017 rumors are big, people are talking, some say it will be, some say it will not. Then on a Thursday morning U2 announces their final leg of the tour: North America, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Colombia. Part of me thinks I’m dreaming, really man, wake up! But it’s true: U2 will finally play in my hometown Bogota for the first time ever. This is a little victory of life over war and death. The politically charged Irish super rock band says yes to this “new” rock capital of Latin America, a country that made the journey into peace.
Bogota, October 7th 2017, we will host U2 with a 45000 soul-packed stadium, first concert in Colombia, my fourth meeting with U2. Somehow it feels like the end of the 20-year-old road, the final moment. In the end, I would like to think it’s the begging of a new era of better things to come for Colombia and U2.
Thanks for visiting us, see you on the road again U2.