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IT'S AMAZING

Everyone had heard about it. Since it had gone from invalidated rumor to much-awaited certainty, everyone had heard... everyone had followed the story. Historic Slane Castle sitting mossy and gorgeous in the green fields just north of Dublin is as much a rock and roll landmark as it is architectural... or historical.. or everything else old buildings are. Springsteen had played there. So had Dylan. And every year a new gaggle of pop and rock's luminaries turned Slane Castle into an all-day festival, famous the world over.

U2 hadn't played Slane since 1984, when they had appeared on stage the same year Dylan played. They had gone on and become one of the biggest, most influential bands in history and had not visited the venue since.

Until now.

It had been discussed more than a year before the official announcement. Would U2 finally play Slane? For the very first time headlining at the biggest concert, in the most famous venue in their home country. Would it happen or was it only a dream, a lie refusing to come true?

But then the news broke. In the yearly Slane festival, 2001 would be a special year. U2 would headline. Ireland's biggest band at Ireland's biggest musical venture.

Since I had heard the whisper of the possibility, I knew. I knew I wanted to be there for that. I knew I had to.

A long time went by. I was working and planning my summer for 2001. Maybe it was silly, but I was taking it as a given. I'd be at Slane.

The new album was released and it was wonderful. Then, the world's best took to the road again and that's when the sick shock of reality finally sunk in. North American tickets to the band's concerts were going so fast, most dates were sold out before I even knew they had gone on sale. Getting a ticket to a hometown venue would take more work than I'd imagined. So how in the world was I planning to get Slane tickets.

Official website for the band, U2.com, was holding a little promo thing where they would e-mail the registered people a password before a show went on presale. You would then use the password to log into the presale at Ticketmaster. In theory, it was a chance for fans to get tickets before anyone else. From what I've heard, it backfired. Ticketmaster is a horrible ticket seller anyway, but during the presales, there didn't seem to be many tickets on sale to begin with. Plus, the staggering demand rendered fans with poor hardware and a slow connections helpless as someone else walked away with the few tickets on sale.

It had been this way with all American concerts I tried to get tickets for. Boston. New York. Philadelphia. Washington DC. All of them. Came up empty and ended up getting tickets another way (stories of which are available at this site).

And then the big news came from U2.com. Just what everyone had been waiting for. Slane was going on sale. I got the e-mail and the password. I had been working a lot but by some stroke of divine intervention, I had that day off. 10AM GMT on March 8, 2001. Slane was up for grabs. The regular sale would be two days later. Everything was riding on this. I had to work that night at eleven so sleeping in that morning was what I'd usually do.

 

But it was SLANE and it would be this one chance. If I didn't get tickets now, I probably never would. When the clock struck 430 that morning, I was awake and sitting up in front of the computer. I dialed up (no server problems, thank God!) and sat there with the U2.com page with the links on it loaded into my browser. I really had no hope of coming away with anything. But it was worth a shot... since one shot was all I was gonna get.

5AM came and I reloaded the U2.com page with a rapidly beating heart. SLOWLY it reloaded but it was the SAME page that had been there before when it was supposed to have been updated at 5AM to show the links to the tickets. If I've ever been seized by panic, it was then as I reloaded and reloaded the page and the same thing kept coming up. Minutes were ticking by. I thought of all the long lines at all the TM venues and all the phone lines jammed with people buying up the tickets. All the business types in their offices. All the college students blessed with superfast LANs. And there I was with a slow modem connection. I had no chance.

I don't know what it was that kept me going, but I sat there for about 20 minutes reloading the same useless page. Nothing. Moments away from tears, I had an idea.

Ticketmaster was probably selling the tickets. Maybe they had a special way on their wepage to get to the presale without dealing with the U2.com server which had apparently crashed under the strain. Shaking, I typed in "www.ticketmaster.ie" into the blank at the top of the window. Ticketmaster Ireland's homepage came up fairly quickly. I clicked on the U2 link that was on the front page that day. A little dialog box asked for the password. For a dreadful moment, my mind blanked, but then I remembered it and typed it in and hit the "Return" button. The page loaded... slowly... very very slowly. The splash page for the presale. I filled out the request form. Again, in agonizing anxiety I watched the window go white and stared at the progress bar at the bottom of the page. But it was loading. Slowly, but it was working.

And then it came up. The order form for two general admission tickets to Slane. The Mastercard number, my address, the expiration date... And then I hit the confirm button. The server choked. It should have given me a confirmation number, but instead all it said there had been a problem with the transaction and I should contact the Customer Service department. The horror!

I didn't have long distance service on my phone and that was an international call. Oh, what to do??? AT&T wouldn't put me through. I was exhausted and wrote them an e-mail. Please, someone tell me if I have tickets or not!!!

Later that day, I got a confirmation e-mail saying I had tickets and the error message was their server's fault. But if I had gotten the e-mail then everything was okay.

The joy!

Several days later, I got an e-mail from TM giving me a confirmation number and saying they were sorry about that. My God. SLANE!!!

Later I heard that there had been rioting in Dublin when the 80,000 tickets had sold out in a record 45 minutes and a lot of fans had been left out in the cold. Robbie Williams had held the record for selling out Slane in three weeks the previous year. U2 ripped that one to shreads.

The biggest band in one of the biggest venues and I had tickets. I had tickets to the biggest show in the world this year and probably ever. Like another Woodstock :)

Peace!

 

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