1. Every month we put a U2 fan in the spotlights, the fan of the month August of 2020 is user Jick. Read along for the interview we had with this U2 fan.

    "But as soon as the opening sequencer of Bad played and Bono spoke the Filipino greeting “mabuhay,” many in the crowd got goosebumps with the realization that U2 was really on Philippine soil."

    Tell us something about yourself, who are you and what do you do for a living?

    I’m Jovi Neri, 42 years young from Cebu City, Philippines. I’ve been married for five years now to my lovely wife, Crystal, who is not a U2 fan but has tagged along with me in some U2 shows. My username in most U2 forums is Jick, sometimes Jicko, and in the earliest days during the late 90’s it was simply J.

    How did you become a fan of U2, tell us how it happened?

    I chanced upon a Rattle and Hum VHS tape in `93 when I was in high school. The U2 songs that I was somewhat familiar with suddenly sounded even better live. The grunge bands popular in my generation were the opposite because their messy and meandering live performances on MTV were vastly inferior to the album versions of their hits. So I decided U2 was it! Thereafter, I bought a cassette tape of Zooropa, which was their latest release then. Months later, HBO broadcast the Zoo TV Sydney show which only reinforced my conviction that U2 had no equal in the live setting. I became a fan for life.

    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?

    My 24-year old nephew Pio Neri is certainly the biggest U2 fan of his generation. The Edge is his hero. Years ago, I uploaded videos when he was still 15 playing U2 guitar parts. I’ve been around U2 forums for decades and have never seen anyone as young as he is who can dial in those U2 songs note-for-note in The Edge’s sound, settings, and style. It’s because he studied The Edge like a mad scientist. Check his playing on youtube.

    (Here’s the video of Pio when he was 15-years old playing “The Fly”:

    His fandom started during a family Christmas party in 2000 when we uncles formed a band and performed Beautiful Day. As bad as we were, it created a strong impression on Pio who was only 4 years old then. When his family was vacationing in the USA that following summer of 2001, he forced them to listen to All That You Can’t Leave Behind in repeat mode in that long car drive from the LA to Las Vegas.

    Pio and I have watched four U2 shows together already. He always guesses correctly the upcoming song during The Edge’s guitar changes just by seeing the make and model. In Singapore, we heard a few notes of Elevation during soundcheck. He insisted that based on the plucking, it is The Edge playing and not a roadie. True enough, when we peeked inside the stadium, it was really Edge! As an accomplished guitar player who knows The Edge’s sound better than anyone in our neck of the woods, many a local band who want to cover U2 have invited him to play with them.

    How big is U2 in the Philippines and what was it like when they announced they would play there for the first time ever?

    Filipinos have always liked the Eighties New Wave movement. Since our culture has strong family ties, the musical tastes of the elders get passed on to the next generation. Since U2 are a European band, they have - perhaps wrongfully - been categorized here as New Wave. Hence, they have always been very popular here!

    The hour U2 announced a show in the Philippines, I got so excited that my adrenaline made me type so fast a stream of consciousness post in Facebook entitled “U2 In The Philippines: All You Need To Know.” I wanted to share my previous U2 concert wisdom to my countrymen who would finally get to see U2. It was just little things most hardcore fans take for granted that first-time concert goers won’t know like: the GA system; the enormity of the screen and how its visuals sync to the song; and, the fact that for half the show the band are in the B-stage.

    That post got viral as it became a reference point for Filipinos in choosing the appropriate tickets to fit their respective budgets and preferred vantage points - whether main stage, b-stage, or just sit back to enjoy the awesome 8k visuals. The concert promoter then shared my post on their page. The local newspaper also put it up in their website and my U2 post got more engagement and views that even the regular news for that day. It then got published in print in the following day’s newspaper. When a U2 concert article gets more hits than daily news reports in a newspaper website then you know that U2 are quite big in the Philippines!

    (Here’s the link to my article is our local newspaper’s website:

    What was it like in the moments leading into the show and the actual show itself?

    Before the show, it was pure chaos and madness – from the car traffic to the difficulty of getting people inside the Philippine Area. The venue’s staff were probably not prepared for U2, because the show eventually set a concert venue attendance record in that arena. The show started an hour late just to get people inside the arena!

    But as soon as the opening sequencer of Bad played, and Bono spoke the Filipino greeting “mabuhay” which gave many in the crowd goosebumps with the realization that U2 was really on Philippine soil. Bono acknowledged the show’s delayed start: “we know it took long to get everyone inside this arena, but it took us only 40 years!” That definitely put things in perspective and immediately lifted the mood of the crowd. When the Philippine flag flashed on the screen during One – it was truly the realization of the Filipinos’ 40-year wait.

    (Here’s the video of U2 playing “Bad” in Philippine Arena, compiled/mixed/edited my me:

    The days and weeks that followed that historic show, many friends and even acquaintances tell me how they enjoyed the show and how my article was a big help. There was an American U2 fan who attended every show of that tour and she said the Philippines was the best because of the crowd energy and the fact that they were all locals.

    What does your U2 collection look like and what are your favorites?

    My collection is nothing out of the ordinary. It’s just concert merchandise, official boxed sets, and unofficial bootleg cd’s. I do have one very treasured item -– a guitar pick that Edge’s guitar tech Dallas Schoo handed to me in the GA rail in Paris 2018 after I told him I flew all the way from the Philippines to watch U2. I framed that along with a collage of photos I took from that show. (Please add link to the images I shared for the Paris innocence shows – September 9 & 10, 2018)

    (Here’s my published review of the Paris 2018 show:

    For the Philippines show, I wore a U2Start.com custom shirt which I managed to order before the sale of those shirts were stopped because of possible copyright issues. That shirt is a definite rarity and probably now a collectible in itself too!

    You created an amazing tribute to Bono for his 60th making a drawing of him and the other band members. What inspired you to do so?

    Our city was on lockdown because of the pandemic as Bono’s birthday was a week away. My original intention was to draw fitting tribute to Bono only, for all the great and inspiring lyrics he has shared to the world. But I finished drawing Bono in one day! So I drew Adam and that one finished in a little over a day. Somehow I completed drawing all four members two days before Bono’s birthday! What supposed to be just one drawing turned out to be four!

    The drawings turned out to be meaningful because I referenced them from The Joshua Tree Tour 2019 photos I took and which I have also uploaded here in u2start.com.

    I drew it in black and white to give it a Joshua Tree feel. I am also offering high resolution scans of these drawings for free to U2 fans who want to make prints. You can download them here (zip file).

    What are your hobbies and interests away from U2?

    My favorite sport I play all the time is the one U2 vowed to never play: golf. I also have a little workshop where I dismantle, tweak, and assemble golf clubs. To get a good sweat, I jog a lot – completing usually around 30 kilometers a week. I’m a superhero comic geek and collect original comic artwork. To relax, I play the piano. And of course, I love to draw.

    (Here’s a link to my original drawings:

    Which U2 song do you feel the most "attached" to?

    “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” is my quintessential U2 song. Lyrically, the journey to find something that seems unreachable but to present it in an upbeat way mirrors how I approach life. Musically, it fits the words perfectly because of that ringing major 7th note in the verse that signifies the chord is just half a step from being complete but it never gets there. It also displays the band in full flight: Bono singing at the top of his vocal register reaching to hit the notes; The Edge using his signature style: economic, repetitive, delay-filled, but distinctive; Adam with a seemingly simple bass pattern but instantly recognizable on its own; and, Larry as the unsung hero with his somewhat awkward but unique beat that I’ve never seen any cover band successfully copy yet. Thematically, the song also showcases the U2’s religious side. For a song that muses about searching but never finding completeness, it’s a pretty complete U2 song because it showcases all of the band’s signature elements.

    What differentiates U2 from the other artists you like?

    With other artists, I simply enjoy their music while U2’s music influences the way I live. One example is that relatively obscure song – Grace. Because of the depth of its themes, I sought out Phillip Yancey’s book which inspired the song - “What’s So Amazing About Grace.” My more profound grasp of the concept of grace changed the way I treat others who may have wronged me, and how I approach dire situations. I learned to basically “find beauty out of ugly things.” But that’s just one example, I could go on forever with many more.

    The entire dichotomy of innocence and experience in U2’s last two albums were presented so well in the music, lyrics, and live show that it helped me reconcile the seeming incompatibility of the maturity I have gained to the principles I set during my youth. I guess to sum it up, I consume other artists’ great music for my entertainment but U2’s music is different because it is the soundtrack of my life.

    Thanks for this interview Jick!

    Note: Our crew members randomly pick fans of the month, you can't sign up for it.
  2. from Philippines?
    U2 fans are a big family
    Regards from Uruguay
  3. Thanks for sharing Jick. Edge is in fact a golfer. It's Bono that thinks it's a sin.
  4. I guess to sum it up, I consume other artists’ great music for my entertainment but U2’s music is different because it is the soundtrack of my life.

    So true; and a great interview Jick.
  5. Great interview! Enjoyed it so much, thanks for sharing. And the drawings you did of the band just before Bono’s birthday are incredible!
  6. I think the story is Edge has just tried playing golf, but I don't think he is an active and regular golfer.


  7. Thank you! Just for clarification, the drawings are the side profiles behind me in the frame. The one I am holding is a collage of photos from Paris 2018 show where I got the guitar pick from Dallas Schoo.

    You can actually see the pick attached to the frame - it's between Bono and Edge and looks kinda light brown.


  8. What an awesome read! Great stuff! Love your drawings! Super stuff!
  9. No
    But I saw U2 in Argentina, twice during The Joshua Tree Tour 2017.
    Great interview, btw
  10. Nice interview and good to see there are still fans that do like Grace. It's a very underrated song.