Every month we put a U2 fan in the spotlight. The fan of the month for May 2018 is user jheath. Read along for the interview we had with this U2 fan.
"I saw U2 supporting The Police from Gateshead and thought Bono was a nutter and he certainly got my attention climbing up the scaffolding."
Tell us something about yourself, who are you and what do you do for a living?
Hey. I’m Jon Heath, married with 3 children and I’m a self employed barber. I started hairdressing when I left school aged 16 in 1983. This month will be my 35th anniversary in the trade, scary thought I know.
How did you become a fan of U2, tell us how it happened?
I first heard of U2 back in 1981 when I saw them perform Fire on Top of the Pops. They didn’t grab me on that night as I was into more electronic/synth pop music in those days. One band I really liked then, and still do was Simple Minds. And over the next year the british music press, which would’ve been Melody Maker,N.M.E and Sounds kept saying if you like SM you should like U2. I saw U2 supporting The Police from Gateshead and thought Bono was a nutter and he certainly got my attention climbing up the scaffolding. When I heard New Year’s Day in Jan 1983 I thought I really like that single. But didn’t buy it at the time. Then one day, on a Friday night I rushed through my paper round to get home to see The Tube on Channel 4. U2 closed the show and had blown off everyone who had previously appeared on The Tube. I remember thinking “wow, they’re really good”. Once War had been released the radio were starting to promote U2 a bit more, but I thought Two Hearts Beat As One was ok. I liked Sunday Bloody Sunday, which was the first song I’d heard that had a political message (that I knew about then). The game changer for me was when The Tube showed the Red Rocks concert highlights. Then I was converted, but wouldn’t of known then they would be such a big part of my personal soundtrack for the rest of my life. When Under A Blood Red Sky was released on vinyl it would be my first purchase.
You have seen U2 live shows since The Unforgettable Fire tour, can you share us some of your memories from those eighties shows?
By the time I saw U2 live for the first time on The Unforgettable Fire Tour I had played the Red Rocks video, which I had on Laser Disc constantly, think of a 12" dvd. Also I’d been to concerts regularly since seeing Madness in 1980 so kind of knew what to expect from gigs. I can’t tell you how much Red Rocks moved me at the time and was amazed how there was hardly any lights at the Red Rocks gig but knew U2 didn’t need any of that, because I’d heard Bono say they didn’t play wall paper music and it was about songs.
Still when U2 started with 11 O Clock at my first U2 gig they confirmed to me this was the best live band I’d seen. By then I’d probably been to about 75-100 gigs. The Longest Day at Milton Keynes was my first open air gig in front of 50,000. It seemed to rain all day and I was down the front in the mud bath, it didn’t matter, although I was worried about falling over in the mud.It was across between a football match and almost a gospel experience to me. When I walked back to find my coach home everyone in those days would still be singing “How Long…” for 30 minutes after the gig had finished. That was different. The good thing in those days U2 were still a cult band, albeit a successful cult band. Couple of weeks later U2 performed at Live-Aid and I’d been banging on about how good they’ll be on the day, well the rest as they say is history. In those days before the world wide web the only way to find out about set lists etc you would either read the music press live reviews or I’d go to record fairs and study the bootleg cassettes covers. It was like going on rollercoaster ride not knowing what songs was next in the set. By the time I saw U2 on the Joshua Tree Tour at Wembley Arena I’d bought the Chicago Rosemont Horizon bootleg from April and knew what to expect but they still lived up to my expectations seeing them indoors. The following week I saw them both nights at Wembley Stadium and remember being on my mates shoulders for the whole of Bad on the Saturday gig. He, bless him was sweating and shaking like a leaf. It really didn’t matter to me then they’d become one of the world’s biggest bands, unlike the new romantic bands that I thought had gone commercial years earlier. I was proud to have followed them for a few years before they went mainstream.
You have seen all big tours since 1984, what was your favourite and why?
That’s a tough one for me as I have always considered U2 tours in different era’s. The Eighties, probably Lovetown in Paris as that felt like a pilgrimage because they didn’t play in the U.K and there were flags from many countries. It was electric.
Haven’t got a fav from the 90’s as both Zootv tours were really fun and Popmart was, well Popmart, took fun to another level.
I did try and get a ticket for the warm up gig outside the Astoria in London in 2000 but £800 was out of my league financially.
The 2000’s Tours. I flew to Dallas for my first Elevation Tour gig and to see an old mate who lived in Dallas in those days. It was then I asked my girlfriend to move in with me during the intro to One. She said yes and we got married the following year and are still happily married today.
Twickenham was my first gig where I stood just behind the barrier at the front and that was special, being able to see Adam’s, Bono’s, Edges and Larry’s faces, instead of the screens.
360 were all equal to me.
By the time i&e came around I’d stop getting excited for gigs, as I now know what to expect. Thanks to periscope e.t.c. But those shows reminded me of why I still consider U2 as my fav band.
What does your U2 collection look like? What kind of stuff do you have and how is it organised?
My U2 collection is mostly kept in the Attic nowadays as everything is kept on my hard drives.
Does anyone in your family or one of your friends like U2? If so, did they introduce you to U2, or did you "convert" them?
Yes my family love U2, which is just as well and so do my best mates . I took my son who was 15 at the time to 360 at Wembley, he loved it. Seeing him sing along with me did make me feel emotional, I don't mind admitting. My12 year old son sings along and sings U2 beautifully but won't let me record him. He loves the Paris i&e dvd. I find him playing vids on youtube regularly too.
If there would be only one U2 song you could hear the rest of your life, which one would it be?
It would be a toss up between Streets and Bad live, push comes to shove I would have to go for Bad, just though.
What do you think of Songs of Experience and what are your expectations of this years tour?
For e&i i'm expecting by the time I get to see them in London the set might have changed, like 360 at the end. I'm hoping for Streets and Bad. I know most people are not happy that Streets hasn't been rehearsed yet ( I wrote this out on 30th April) . I think this tour reminds me of when Pink Floyd played The Wall live in 80-81, that was all you got, nothing else. A lot of their fans were not happy the didn't get to hear any Dark Side songs. That went down in history as a complete theatrical show and I think this along with i&e will be considered a modern day version in years to come.
How different is U2 compared to other artists that you like?
I have a very eclectic taste in music. So anything from Gary Numan, Floyd, Beatles, Depeche Mode, Pearl Jam, The Who.Then 90's dance acts like Leftfield, Underworld, Chemical Brothers. Losers,Syntax,Bjork to Massive Attack. As I said earlier most of the 80's synth pop band from the early 80's. And even some classical, one of my fav albums is Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds.
What are your hobbies and interests away from U2, musical or otherwise?
My hobbies include Music composing and producing, remixing e.t.c. I have a studio which is my man cave. I was doing D.Jing on a monthly podcast up until the end of last year. I'm currently getting over from a shoulder operation and will be starting my first solo album once I'm fully fit. A few years back I played in a duo doing our own electronica tunes at a few festivals. Played live on BBC introducing on the radio and got session of the year for BBC Radio Solent which I'm really proud of.
Sport wise I run and play golf and being a barber it helps if your know a bit about all sports. I like football,F1, Indycar (went to watch the Indy 500 last year for my 50th) Boxing, which I use to train at for nearly 20 years. I failed my medical because of my eye sight so didn't get to box in a ring. Loved the discipline and working out and being super fit. But age catches up with you in the end.
This was a bit longer than I anticipated but I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did reminiscing. Thanks for asking me to be fan of the month. It's been an honour .
Thanks for this interview jheath!
Note: Our crew members choose the fan of the month, you can't sign up for it.