Monday, 29 April 2013

Monday Memories: My first concert.

Well, I guess its open to interpretation really as I didn't actually pay to see this show (all will be explained). Although I did see the show in its entirety so I personally count it as my first gig. That minor disclaimer done and dusted, its time to go back sixteen years in time...

I want to take you all back to August 26th, 1997. It's the tail end of the summer holidays and the Autumn season is just approaching. This doesn't matter one iota to me though, I had just turned three years old and still thought that school was for big people. Elsewhere in the city, U2 are preparing to unveil their extravagant PopMart show to their Northern Irish fanbase, in Botanic Gardens specifically. That morning, mum takes me on the very short walk from our old residence in Annadale flats, down along the embankment of the River Lagan where I can hear a thunderous din. I don't know what on earth is going on, but I don't like the sound of it. U2 are sound-checking, but the sheer loudness scares the absolute wits clean out of me. I start screaming and crying and I beg mum to take me home. Sadly, I would have to wait a few moments - mum meets a friend and talks to them briefly. That wall of sound is scaring me to the point where time slows down however. In reality she would have spoke to her friend a moment or two, but to me it felt like centuries. Anyhow, I go back to my quiet home.

Belfast 1997. Not my image.
Later that night I venture out again: this time for a total free view to the show. Across from our old flat, there is a hill. The hill overlooks Botanic Gardens where the gig takes place. And due to the angle of the stage, you can see the whole stage in all it's extravagance. It's not just us there though, many people come out in force for this free viewing. We probably get a better view than most of the paying audience to be perfectly honest. And a striking show it is too. With it's semi-McDonalds M and giant lemon, it's sure to leave a lasting visual imprint even on the eyes of this three year old. I ask mum is that really Bono there and why on earth is there a giant M type shape, and I spend the entire evening dancing around and thoroughly enjoying myself.... its my first foray into live concerts...

And now back to 2013. I wish I could give you more detailed memories of the show, but unfortunately my memories of the show are very hazy to say the least. I can distinctly remember dancing a lot and asking mum questions out of sheer bemusement and not much else. Looking back at the set list for the first time in years though, I honestly wish I could remember more. I've always really liked U2 - I loved The Sweetest Thing when it was released and I'd cite Achtung Baby is one of my favorite albums. I even really like Pop, the album that PopMart was supporting. They performed songs that I would in subsequent years grow to love like Mofo, Pride and Where The Streets Have No Name. They would even perform a cover of a song I'd consider one of my most favorite ever: The Doors - Break On Through. Sadly the music was lost on me at that age: it was more about the overall experience of being there. Not to mention I spent more time being entertained by the zany stage design. Not the flashiest first gig experience I know, but its my first gig experience nonetheless!

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