01 November 2005
Angel of Dallas
It's the dream of many a musician at a U2 show. At the weekend it came true for Sunjay Devarajan - Bono called him on stage to play with the band. Not only did Sunjay pull it off with style, he bagged the singers shades too.
Sunjay emailed us to pass on his thanks to the band for his moment in the spotlight and mentioned that 'the incident has made me an instant local celebrity.' As if to underline the point, The Dallas Morning News tracked down the 19yr old following his performance of Angel of Harlem, reporting how Vijay, 23, Sunjay's older brother, got the idea after a woman was pulled onto the stage in Chicago to perform Party Girl. Vijay knew that his brother could play some U2 songs and when their sister, Veena, got tickets for Dallas, they hatched their plan.
Here's how the newspaper takes up the story: 'After traveling from Austin, where Sunjay, a pre-med student at the University of Texas, and Vijay live, they headed with their sister and some other friends to AAC at 10 a.m., hoping to get as close to the stage as they could. While waiting in line, they concocted a sign that Sunjay feels was the key to his success.
The sign, written in red ink on yellow poster board, simply said, "Angel of Harlem" on it with the progression of guitar chords in the song and a note saying, "In case you forgot," since the band had yet to play the song on this tour. During the first encore, Bono peered from the stage at Sunjay and asked, "Do you know how to play it?" To which Sunjay says he screamed back, "Yeah! Yeah, I can play it!"'
Within minutes, Sunjay had been invited up on stage and Dallas Schoo, Edge's guitar tech, was handing him a guitar.
'Bono was just sort of joking around. He was like, 'You've never done this before, have you?' And I said, 'Um, no, I've never done this before.' "
As his kid brother was about to begin, Vijay looked on in awe from the floor, hoping for the best.
"I was thinking, 'Ooh - that first chord is going to be crucial,' " Vijay said. "But then I was like, 'Wow.' He was so comfortable up there, just jamming and grooving."
And then they were off. The Edge played the intro, Bono came in with the familiar, "It was a cold and wet December day/When we touched the ground at JFK..." and Sunjay was playing right along with them.
"Once we started, I felt so much encouragement from the band. They were all smiling. I looked at each one of them. I had Bono on my left. He's smiling, singing the first words to the song. I turned to my right and Edge, who's one of my inspirations, is sitting there smiling and playing with me. Adam Clayton is jamming with his bass, and Larry Mullen is having a great time. So I just felt this encouragement from the band, and that really allowed me to ease up and I really didn't feel frightened after that."
Sunjay says that Bono noticed him singing the words as he was playing and motioned for him to come up and share the mike with him during the next chorus. What followed was a scene many rock fans had seen from the greats: Paul and John, Mick and Keith. And now Bono and Sunjay.
"It almost seemed natural in the beginning. And once I finished it really hit me," Sunjay said. "And that's when I got on my knees and was doing the we're-not-worthy bow. Because, I'm not worthy. Let's get real here. I am not worthy of that."
As the song came to a close, following Sunjay's solo singing turn on the last chorus no less, there was just one last part of the mission to complete: Snag Bono's signature wrap-around shades to fulfill a promise he had made to his brother.
So after receiving a congratulatory hug from the singer, Sunjay asked him if he'd make the trade, which the singer obliged. Sunjay walked off with Bono's rose-tinted Armanis; Bono donned Sunjay's Eckerd sunglasses.
A perfect end to a perfect night. And a dream come true.'
(Thanks to the Dallas Morning News for a great story.)