EDGEmonton - June 1st, 2011

It seems like forever ago that I’d started making a typo when spelling out the name of the capital city of Alberta, Canada.  As I write so much about U2 online, I couldn’t get the extraneous GE to disappear after starting a word with ED, thus, EDGEmonton was born.

My friend Heather actually jokingly wrote a letter to her city councillor asking if the city would consider changing the name on June 1, 2011 to EDGEmonton instead – and she didn’t get a response.

As we arrived on the Monday before the show, it was clear that he should have considered her request – U2 mania was in full swing with the Edmonton media’s constant coverage of all things U2 for days leading up to the concert.  However, instead of the band being the story on May 30/31, the fans actually became the story.  I suppose when you can’t get an interview with Bono, you have to settle for us!

I was in the restaurant at the Hotel Magnificent on Tuesday morning when I saw the first major article – and amusingly enough I knew all three of the fans featured – Heather Wallace, Joe Ahorro and Cathal McCarron; I’d just seen them as a group the night prior at O’Byrnes pub for our U2 Karaoke night.  I’d even got a mention in one of the articles as the fan who sent out a live feed via my iPhone to U2 fans around the world.  Sadly, the data signal completely died at Commonwealth Stadium during the Edmonton show and I was unable to provide a live stream to the fans who were looking so much forward to it.  I hope to do it again when possible – and those reading can count on me to be technically ready when I do (no dead cellphones here!) – there’s just so much riding on the network, unfortunately. (U2, again, can you please not help us out here?  We’d love another round of Cape Town and Sao Paulo!)

The GA line started on Tuesday morning and the media coverage continued – it was beautiful to know nearly a third of the people in the first 20.  It would have been a great place to do GA with this group – but I had a very special place to be – I was lucky enough to pull the coveted Edge-side Red Zone 1 tickets in the auction way back in November of 2009, and there was no place I’d rather be for this particular show.

Tuesday was a write-off day – after the Monday I had driving from Winnipeg to Regina (6 hours) at 5:30 in the morning and a 3pm flight to Edmonton (all on about 45 minutes of sleep followed by a night out doing U2 karaoke with fans), the rush of the U2 experience finally caught up to me.  Tuesday was sleep and recoup day.  When I plan these trips I firmly believe that one should always arrive two days prior to the show… the first day is for travel and hopefully a fan get-together of some type, the second day is for rest/exploring and the third day is for the show.  Sometimes it doesn’t work out that way, but when it doesn’t it can get pretty exhausting pretty quick.

On Wednesday morning at breakfast I received a message on Twitter asking me to call a reporter at the Regina Leader Post to tell my U2 story about all of the concerts I was going to.  I’d joked a few weeks back about how they should interview me before I go on this rock and roll journey, but I ran out of time to contact them legitimately before I left for Winnipeg.  I did a lovely interview by telephone with reporter Andrew Matte from the Hotel Magnificent in Edmonton, and he asked me to send a few photos for publishing.  He expected it would be in the paper on Thursday and I was thrilled to be able to read my article on my iPhone Wednesday night while waiting for the support band in Edmonton, the U2-niverse sending me all kinds of mentions when it first hit the newspaper’s website.

Today my friend Jolie awoke me fully with the news that not only was I in the newspaper, my story had made the front page – a picture of me flanked with a photo of none other than Paul Hewson and David Evans, if you please!  Now that was pretty cool.

Even though I’m going to 11 shows this year, I’m hardly in the upper echelons of traveling U2 fans.  Cathal McCarron can’t even remember how many shows he’s been to, and a large percentage of the traveling crew I see at these shows has seen well over 50 each spanning all eras.

Security was tight - the password was "Howell"

Security was tight - the password was "Howell"

Seeing the concert from the Edge side Red Zone was a real treat – I’m really loving my Red Zone experiences so far.  Unfortunately, unlike I’d done in Winnipeg I couldn’t claim 1st in line for the Edge Red Zone in Edmonton.  I had a Sharpie to write #1 on my hand and all, but I just can’t lie to you, can I?  We were 5-7 though, just behind one family of 4.  The father in the family was  a bit of a know-it-all and explained a lot to me about how these U2 shows work.  At no point did he ask where we were from or if we’d seen U2 at all, something that I always find an essential conversation starter in any lineup involving a show – merchandise lines, GA lines, port-a-pottie lines etc.  Amusingly to those who know me, he thought he was a real trivia master because there’s no way anyone else could possibly know that The Edge married the woman who danced during Mysterious Ways on the ZooTV tour.  I highly doubt he would have picked her out through a fence 250 ft away in Winnipeg, but I guess if you didn’t take the opportunity to get to know me I have to cut you some slack.

We ended up completely scooping them on the best spot on the rail – so justice was served and all was right with the world.  The Edge really does favour ‘his side’ during the show, and very often plays turned to the Red Zone.  I’ve only seen the show up close from the front row catwalk rail in 2009 so I could see him at all times, but it clearly makes a very big difference in the Red Zone you pull if you’

re interested in seeing him a lot.  Adam’s Red Zone in Winnipeg was great of course, but for me, being on Edge’s side was pure bliss and a big requirement for an Edge afficianado like myself.

The forecast leading up to the show was nothing but Beautiful Day, Beautiful Day, Beautiful Day and suddenly the evening before the show, the forecast became a horrific 50k wind with a 90% chance of rain.  We tried not to stress out too much but that’s never a fun prospect – rounding up rain ponchos and deciding on the right shoes to get you through the night.  In the end it was a bit on the cool side but nothing matching Winnipeg – and although it did actually rain a bit, it added that special something to the concert that everyone has been promising me happens – and they’re right.  It only rained through City Of Blinding Lights and part of Vertigo, but it was hardly a pouring rain… just enough to get us a “Singing In The Rain” snippet and some amusing Bono-with-umbrella dancing during Crazy Tonight (at this point the rain had stopped completely though, but that didn’t bother him).

A small magic moment came when that guitar player I rather enjoy was walking over the bridge during Until The End Of The World. I was told that he saw my flag and smiled and nodded.  Funnily enough I was so caught up in the music that my husband needed to tell me this – I hope to be able to see it on the video and I’ll be pretty thrilled if I do.  I’m still going to bring it back to a few more shows and would like Bono to get a laugh out of it too if I can – and a more noticable smile from Edge – can you believe I didn’t catch it myself?

Speaking of videos, I went camera free to this show – just brought the video camera which was considered high contraband to the security staff of Commonwealth said the signs, yet I managed to divert attention enough to get it through.  It never matters when you’re actually IN the venue which is ridiculous to me, and I must admit I’m getting quite tired of seeing people with things that I could have brought but was scared to (SLRs, being the number one disappointment).  I’m happy they got them in, but how does one ever know what the guy on the door will say when you get there, especially if you’ve been standing in line all day?

Videos will follow when I have the chance to upload them which unfortunately with my crazy U2 schedule the next three days may not be until the middle of next week.  My videos are a bit disjointed and weird, but there’s a few great moments on them – including the greatest ever Bono dance move ever captured on film – wait for it.  I also have a few grainy crappy pics in my gallery taken by my video camera as it does stills.  Not well, but there’s some amusing things in there if you’re interested.

The band again put on another fantastic performance – the setlist was identical to the one in Winnipeg so I’m really hoping for something different this weekend in Seattle, but if I saw the same set every show I wouldn’t regret having done them all.  Each city and group of fans brings something special to the experience.  As I meet all kinds of people who do take the time to ask me where I’m from and why I’m ‘here’, I found my answer last night in a taxi back from the pub.  ”It’s not just the concert – I don’ t think I could go to 11 shows unless I got the chance to meet all the fans I have the pleasure of getting to know.”  And that was after 3 shots of Jameson, too – a big fat “I love you guys” to all.

At the time of writing this I was currently on the plane to Seattle, in which a small child is climbing on the back of my seat and touching THE HAT.  I know that it’s going to go through a lot worse than that this summer, so I’ll let it slide. After all, I’m still riding on the euphoria of my Edmonton show experience and looking forward to seeing my good friend Tracey in just a few hours… I’m ready for what’s next!