Finding Rock Gods: Meeting Bono and Adam

Ok – exactly 14 days later and it feels like forever and in amongst the miserable U2 tour withdrawals, I can’t stop grinning like a crazy person because, this hand?

hands

Minutes before this very picture, it shook Bono’s hand, this smile said hi to Adam…

Music Fangirl Confession #6: I know some of you will never believe this, but I am not actually a stalker of Bono and the boys… I’m not.

Yes, I go to multiple shows and travel to do so, but I don’t hide in plants at their hotels or follow them covertly in the shadows… Up until recently, I never even went to the meet and greets at the arenas on show days. (These are where fans gather at the venues at the spot where U2 are likely to enter the arena, in hopes that the band come out to say hi and maybe sign things.)

I was content to keep them on their rock god pedestals, them in their reality and me in mine.  But life is short and getting shorter; and being a part of an online fandom means reading an abundant and steady stream of wonderful stories of fans meeting members of the band and how gracious and lovely they are with the fans.

With each story, each friend I make that has met them and gushes over the awesomeness, the warm fuzzies they’ve experienced, I am becoming more curious, more hopeful that someday, I too will meet them for the chance to say in a few perfect, heartfelt, meaningful words how much they mean to me, how much this new album means. (Yet fully expecting the words that come out of my mouth to be more along the lines of “uhnnggggghhhh.”)

This is my band, the ones I have called my loves for almost 30 years…Other than my bank, they are my longest lasting relationship 😛 Why wouldn’t I want to meet them!?

You can’t win if you don’t play the game, so I started going to the meet and greets…. my first was in Dublin during the Joshua Tree tour (2017) and I managed to see them driving into Croke Park, but they didn’t come out to meet and greet.

My second time was June 25, 2018 at Madison Square Garden in New York.  My friend and I showed up at 3ish, just in time to see Adam come out and greet fans, signing things and pausing for photos, but only just through the mass of fans already gathered there, peering between arms reaching out to Adam, trying to get a glimpse. So close.

Adam Clayton Fan Meet and Greet June 25 2018 Madison Square Garden NYC
Adam Clayton Fan Meet and Greet June 25 2018 Madison Square Garden NYC

But so far away. So the next day, June 26 – the day forever imprinted in my heart –  we go again, this time at noonish and we get a spot on the rail. Its a different kind of rail (to that of stage rail), but holds just as much meaning and significance, this tiny metal barrier between fan and rock god… loved and beloved.

It’s a familiar feeling, this experience of waiting, rails, and the boys. It’s a familiar feeling, enduring extreme weather in the name of this love. And the things I’ll make my body suffer for them… This time, intense heat, a nasty sunburn, probably a tad bit of sunstroke, a bit of starvation, dizziness, nausea and dehydration.

But the payoff is worth the effort… Oh it is so worth to effort.  No pain no gain, as they say…  Even when there’s no payoff in the form of seeing the band, there’s the spirit of community, camaraderie amongst the fans waiting together – an air of joy and happy tension in the possibility.

In my three trips to meet and greet, I’ve run into so many familiar faces, friends I’ve made along the way and I’ve met new friends at these gatherings, just chatting with the people around me.  There is something wonderfully bonding about enduring these conditions together for a mutual affection.  It’s probably the easy recognition of like-minded, crazy, super-fan (or at least curious) souls. LOL.

All in all, its not a bad way to spend a beautiful day, regardless of whether the boys come out or not.

But, then, this happened:

Adam.

Adam is liquid silver – smooth, calm grace.
A purposeful, jovial stride over to the crowd.
Sunshine smile, sincere and warmhearted,
like he’s happy to be there, happy to see us.

 

 

(Apologies for the crazy video – I was trying to organize my phone (videoing), sharpie and CD liner notes for easy signing :D)

I wonder to myself, as Adam heads straight in my direction, if they ever, or still, have moments of apprehension or anxiety when they approach hordes of fans. Overall, I think we are a pretty nice, respectful bunch of people, us U2 fans. Passionate in our love for this band, but respectful of their time and space. However, there are those who are not so respectful. Some are aggressive, some are overzealous, gropey even, and it can’t be easy to face hundreds of adoring fans in a much closer, face to face proximity…

Adam Clayton Fan Meet and Greet June 26 2018 Madison Square Garden NYC
Look how joyful he looks! Adam Clayton Fan Meet and Greet June 26 2018 Madison Square Garden NYC (That’s me with the green glasses.)

Yet they keep coming out to us.  And from the look on Adam’s face, he is glad to see us.  This is the band that used to sleep on the couches and floors of fans in the early days, the band that historically and still does what it can to connect with us beyond the records, tours, and official business.   This band and us fans have a unique, symbiotic relationship.  The love and affection flows to and from.

That connection is tangible for me as Adam walks by and says hi, eyes smiling. He doesn’t stop at our little section, but seems to hesitate as if he wants to.  I am slightly sad but much more than this, I am warm.  My heart is glowing like an atom bomb (or… an Adam bomb… ah ha ha). This is one of my boys.  My loves, right there in front of me.

And then he is gone.

 

And, then, this happens.

Warm, soft, strong hands… reaching out, grasping mine, shaking mine.
Ocean blue behind blue-coloured glasses… eyes shining bright.
That unfeigned, magnanimous, adorable smile that lights up a room even if you aren’t in a room (cus we weren’t, we were outside…)
Honeyed voice, slightly raspy from the previous night’s gig (and hopefully not a cold), offering a heartfelt apology for not being able to take the time to stop and sign things or to talk.

Meeting Bono June 26 2018 MSG NYC
That’s my red hair meeting Bono June 26 2018 MSG NYC (stillshot taken from the youtube video below)

Bono. Bono, my love. Bono walking up to me, walking by me, shaking my hand, saying he’s sorry he can’t stop.  Me saying Thank you.  Just “Thank you.” (Well, hey, it wasn’t “Unggggghhhhh”).

Holy crap.  I just met Bono….

(Wait! Stop the blog, does that mean my search for rock gods is over???? Nahhhhh….  There’s so much more to do.)

Sigh… swoon! He is so lovely, Bono….

Since this happened, a fellow fan posted this video above (Thank you Angela KM!) of Bono walking around the crowd.  As it turns out, my interaction with him was maybe three seconds long (I meet him at about the 5:00 mark – that red hair is me) but it felt like forever.

Time really does slow down in these moments – I’m a little shocked that it was only three seconds, it felt much longer, and he really does have that gift of making you feel like the most important, maybe even only, person in the room (or fenced off area).

Bono Meet and Greet June 26 2018 Madison Square Garden NYC
Bono Meet and Greet June 26 2018 Madison Square Garden NYC Seconds after we shook hands… shockingly, I am still standing up 😛

As he approaches, he looks you in the eyes and gives you his full attention, even if just for those few seconds. I am a naturally shy and introverted person, I thought I would be blushy and tongue-tied if I ever met him. But in those seconds, he had me instantly and completely at ease, even before he reached me.  His warmth and charisma spreads out like wings, comforting and encapsulating. I could see what I already knew from other fans’ stories: he truly is genuine, caring, and loves, and is a bit in awe of, us fans.

If my heart exploded in the warmth of an Adam bomb, it was mended and expanded by Bono.  This man… This band…

Three seconds of my life, a warm hand shake, two smiles, a chance to pour out my thanks for the 40 years of music, for the inspiration, the community, the lessons in loyalty, leadership, love, devotion, charity, action, and so much more, in  two words only: “Thank you.”  Thank you. Thank you.

Three seconds of my life (and five hours of waiting, but thats not poetic :P) and now I have a smile that will never be far from my face.

But yes, I have washed my hands…

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