Cleveland, Ohio, April 26, 2013
When you wake up happy, the sound of the alarm doesn’t hurt so bad.
I always love interview days—it’s one thing in life I’ve always felt I do well, so my nerves are typically those of anticipation; not dread. As I was getting dressed in my red-and-black suit (U2 colors, of course) for my Friday Funday, I couldn’t help but reflect on how damn lucky I am to have opportunities like this. I don’t ever want anyone to think I take a moment of it for granted, because I don’t, and sometimes I almost have to pinch myself to believe it’s actually happening.
Anyway, in my fuzzy, happy mood I went down for a quick bite with Sherry and then straight to sound check. Somehow, in the midst of it all, I unfortunately forgot my glasses. After a few jokes from Matt about guests being asked to write their audience questions out on a stone tablet for me to read them, Marylinn graciously offered to run to my hotel room and retrieve my glasses. She saved the day (as usual) and had them up to the stage by the time Matt was introducing me.
Former Rolling Stone Editor/Writer Jim Henke opened the session with a presentation about the U2 exhibit he brought to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in 2003 when he was curator. He had wonderful photos of sacred artifacts, such as the first U2 T-shirt (which Larry screen-printed in high school art class); numerous tour outfits and the trophy the band had won in the famous St. Patrick’s Day competition.
With that as a foundation, I began the interview, first discussing the current state of music journalism and the impact of social media. The band not being active on the most popular platforms seems to be a hot topic amongst fans, so the audience responded well to the dialog. I also touched on Jim’s association with the band, and he shared his role in Bono’s writing of “Pride (In The Name Of Love).”
What I gleamed most from his responses was the fact that after all these years in the industry, he’s still a fan of the band—both as musicians making quality albums and men who make the world a better place. In fact, that was a common thread amongst all of the conference guests who are associates of U2; they all say the same thing: They’re great guys.
The audience asked some wonderful questions, I exhausted mine and before we knew it the time was up.
Following the presentation, I was approached by a woman I had the pleasure of attending the Slane castle concert with back in 2001. We hadn’t seen each other since then, so it was wonderful to have her in attendance and see that she’s still as passionate of a fan as she ever was.
Next up was Matt’s interview with former U2 publicist Brian O’Neal, who told wonderful stories of the band in their prime. The way he lit up during the conversation made the audience (myself included) hang on his every word. If only his session had been longer!
Following that presentation, the girls and I decided we needed some fuel, so we asked the front desk for a restaurant recommendation and got a wonderful one.
We landed at the Blue Point Grille, where we enjoyed (amazingly priced) lavish lunches in a bright, classy dining room with phenomenal service.
It’s times like those, when it’s just a small group of us, where we have the ‘real’ conversations that separate friends from acquaintances.
Part of the joy of attending events like the conference are seeing new faces and learning about other fans, but what many people don’t realize is that some of us have been friends for over a decade and we seldom get to see each other outside these settings. We know about each others’ families and careers, and it’s nice to have a few moments where we’re not discussing our dream setlists or what Bono might be wearing on the upcoming tour. U2 brought us together, sure, but they’re not necessarily what keeps us close.
When we returned to the hotel, Marylinn had work to do, Michelle wanted to head to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame early to see the exhibits, and I needed to pretty up for my next round of duties…