Philadelphia, PA at
the First Union Center, show#1
June 11th, 2001
U2 in Philadelphia.
This was the first time the guys had been in the same city I lived
in. It was a strange feeling... something like privilege. It was
also the continuation of the longest, most intense weekend in my
We had dragged
ourselves out of the Copley Hilton in Boston, hit the road and were
back in Philly that Sunday afternoon. The U2PhillyFan group had
a get together, and Theresa and I met the others for the dinner...
bedraggled, exhausted, but doubtless with stars in our eyes. So
how had the Boston show been? The breathless expression on our faces
must have told the whole story.
It was something
we had spoken about for ages, it seemed like. Maybe the whole reason
the group had been born anyway. And now... we were on the brink
of everything and suddenly all our planning, all our scheming, all
our time suddenly seemed so inadequate. Like we hadn't done enough.
Like *I* hadn't done enough. One of those things you want to have
be PERFECT and nothing you do seems to be good enough. The fact
that it was all upon us was almost overwhelming.
I don't think
we talked much that evening. We were all just enjoying the moment,
tucked into a private snug in an Irish pub in downtown Philadelphia.
Not many people had GAs for that first date, though. Of the regulars,
it was just me and U2PhillyFan's list manager. We agreed to meet
by the subway stop close to the sports complex the next morning
at 5AM. No one thought this was strange at all. The most natural
thing in the world.
We broke pretty
early, having a big day ahead of us. When I got back to my apartment,
no one was there. My little sister and her friend were in town visiting
but were apparently out for the night. Philadelphia's 76ers were
embroiled in a desperate struggle for the NBA crown with LA's misnamed
Lakers. The two chickies were out watching the game someplace. I
left the lights on in the living room and crashed in bed, still
tired from the Boston marathon. I remember turning the dial on the
bedside lamp. I still remember what the dark room looked like that
night, and the view of the Logan Square fountain not far from my
window... and the bulk of the Four Seasons beyond. Months earlier,
we had discussed hanging out outside U2's hotel and waiting for
the band and all that. We didn't do that now. It didn't matter now
for some reason and it seemed dreadfully intrusive. Only being in
the front mattered now.
The drone of
that horrid alarm clock I've had since 5th grade when my life started
getting too serious woke me up. 430AM. It was still as dark as night
out there. But I have never had such an easy time getting up so
early. Dressed quickly and grabbed my backpack that had the most
obscenely useless things in it (I'm so useless in a pinch, it's
embarrassing) and a grocery bag with water, juice, granola bars,
and apples in it... whatever was left over from Boston. Hell of
I can still
tell you exactly what the early morning breeze felt like out on
the dark Philadelphia streets. The receptionist at my apartment
building must have thought I was certifiably insane for being out
that early, but she didn't say anything. I was wearing a plain black
t-shirt and jeans. Stupid clothes, now that I think of it. But I
wasn't thinking straight. I was just numbly following the path that
led to music, to U2, to Bono, to the Voice.
morning felt as if it had been created ages before in the ages before
there was day or night, as if this was a script written by an unseen
hand before any of the players in this drama had even graced the
earth with their presence. Every footstep I took that morning down
to the subway stop underneath City Hall had been counted, measured,
planned for me and I had no say in how all this went. And I remember
feeling so calm. Like I knew nothing I did could change anything.
station was nearly deserted. A janitor was cleaning the platform.
There were one or two other people there waiting for the first train
of the morning to South Philly. The subway came clanging into the
station, breaking in the track for another day of activity. It felt
like an eternity as all the stops were made, and people got off.
I was the last one left on when the clanking caterpillar squirmed
its way into the final stop. Patterson.
The sky was
beginning to get light as I stepped out of the station and out on
the southern end of Broad Street and looked for Ron as we had decided
on the previous night. It was about 515AM and there was no one there.
There are about three above ground entrances to the subway station
there all in a row. I ran around them, front and back, trying not
to panic. Where was he??? Damn him. DAMN it! Not a good day to be
I waited about
15 minutes, but when the clock was creeping to 530AM and the light
was much more now, my impatience got the better of me and I gave
up on Ron. Patience isn't one of my faults. It was killing me. I
needed to know how many people were already in the queue.