Cyndy Drue gave U2 their first exposure on American television in March, 1981 and has been playing their music on rock radio in Philadelphia throughout their entire career. Cyndi was at Lincoln Financial Field for last night's show and it got her thinking about the long history of the band in the city. Here's her review.
'It's always exciting when U2 comes to town. We were one of the first cities to embrace this band. From way back, U2 knew that Philadelphia was a huge rock 'n roll town whose fans know a good thing when they hear it.
After all, Philadelphia fans are credited with giving many acts their first support, most notably Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Yes, Genesis, Pearl Jam - and U2.
The earliest exposure came from the rock giant WMMR that's still playing them today with the station's 50th anniversary coming up next year. Bono has acknowledged that support from stage and in an interview with DJ Pierre Robert where he said, “I can't tell you what I had for breakfast yesterday, but I remember to this day, the people who supported us when we started out.”
It was also Philadelphia where U2 made their American television debut in March of 1981. U2 appeared at a small club called the Bijou Café for about 50 people, and I named them “New Artist Pick of the Month” on my TV show that aired on KYW-TV. After an interview with Bono, I gave him a ride from the TV station at 5th & Market to his gig at 16th & Lombard Streets and met the band. A snippet of that interview is on my website: www.CyndyDrue.com. (Bono had a mullet and I had a perm!)
Their rise was fast and steady, moving to The Ripley on South Street eight months after the Bijou for 500 early believers on November 18, 1981; the Tower Theater in Upper Darby for 3,000 during the War tour (May 13 + 14, 1983), and by the time of their fourth album, The Unforgettable Fire, they debuted at the Spectrum playing for 20,000 for two nights, April 22 + 24, 1985.
No matter when we became a fan and jumped in, we have held on and maintained our allegiance and commitment. The love affair between U2 and Philadelphia continues today with the 30th anniversary celebration of The Joshua Tree at the biggest stadium in town, Lincoln Financial Field, where the Philadelphia Eagles play. 70,000 tickets sold out in less than an hour.
The last time U2 played here was also at the football stadium on July 14, 2011 for the 360 tour. That stage production was much more elaborate than this one. Last night there was no claw and massive steel construction. In fact, nothing but spotlights and smoke accompanied the show's open as the four band members launched into Sunday Bloody Sunday and let the music do the talking.
And did it speak! New Year's Day, Bad, Pride in the Name of Love followed as the audience sang along. The Joshua Tree was played next, track to track, and that's when the video screens came into play. We had heard that the band's longtime photographer Anton Corbijn who shot the 1987 album cover had created some stunning films to show on a screen the size of the stage for each song on The Joshua Tree. These were a fantastic compliment to the music and helped bring the audience in closer. Eventually, the band members were shown on screen too, something we've all become accustomed to at a live show, seeing the players up close.
Hearing the songs from that iconic album – Where the Streets Have No Name, With or Without you, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, etc - created a new, more intimate connection with the band because we were revisiting it together after so many years. It's like a really good family reunion where all the memories are welcome and great to relive.
A nice long encore wrapped up the show starting with Miss Sarajevo, then, Mysterious Ways during which they showed remarkable people on the screen like Sister Mary Scullion who has been working to end homelessness in Philadelphia for over 40 years through her group Project Home.
One followed, the song that lends its name to Bono's campaigning organization The One Campaign that he announced here in Philadelphia at a 2005 rally Independence Mall. (Yet another connection we have is we gave Bono the Liberty Medal in 2007. It's awarded annually by the National Constitution Center to recognize leadership in the pursuit of freedom.)
Beautiful Day, Elevation and Vertigo whipped us up into a frenzy, closing the show.
Just like the four guys in U2 have stayed together all this time, so has Philadelphia's connection with them….
U2 and Philadelphia – still goin' strong after all these years. '