An Adventure of a lifetime
Adventures come in all sorts of sizes, shapes and packages – What would it feel like to meet one of the biggest rock stars in the world and then getting his signature tattooed on your arm? Who says that life isn’t exciting after the kids move away?
I heard this story from a travel writer friend and it was so fascinating that I asked her to share it with you. Thanks Lori.
How I Met Bono – It’s an amazing story!
Sure, you can look back on events in your life that were pivotal…
The birth of your children.
Perhaps a peak moment in your career.
At this time in our lives, most of us have experienced all the highlights, moments that when we reflect on them we get an instant smile on our face.
Sure I’ve had those moments too, but there is one day that will forever leave a mark on me. That one story that I can tell over and over again and it transforms me into a 7th grade girl with all the emotions of crushing on Donny Osmond.
The first U2 concert I went to was in Madison, Wisconsin in 1992 during the Zoo TV tour. I was transformed that night by the spectacle of this multi media show. I really liked U2’s music before, but seeing Bono work the audience that night was mind-blowing. I have long had a soft spot in my heart for lead singers (hello, my name is Lori, I’m 55 years old and I totally fangirl over Bono!).
Think what you will of Bono, but he oozes charm, has worked hard to lobby for causes he is passionate about, is devoted to his high school sweetheart and wife Ali, has four children and has an almost intimate relationship with his fans. Not only that but Bono along with U2’s founder Larry Mullen Jr., bassist and residential “cool guy” Adam Clayton and one of the best and most original guitar players in the world, Edge, make music that speaks to me.
So, I was determined to meet Bono in 2015 in Chicago during the Innocence + Experience Tour. My goal was a hug or picture with him, but if by chance he was signing autographs I had it in my head that I wanted him to sign my shoulder and I would have that signature tattooed! Now I had no tattoos and really had no desire to get one before, but I knew I absolutely would make a Bonograph a permanent fixture on my body. The best way to get this chance was to be there when they arrived at the United Center late afternoon on show day.
Sunday, June 28th 2015 turned out special in many ways.
How do you really meet a rock star?
To give you an idea what it takes to meet one of the biggest bands in the world, here are some requirements.
- Patience– After all, you will need to wait a good part of the day.
- Endurance– Able to brave extreme temperatures and sitting and standing in one spot for long periods of time.
- Doing a little research– Finding out what entry the band uses at a venue and time needed to arrive to secure a rail spot.
- A snack bag– Unless you are able to leave and have someone hold your spot for you, you need a little nourishment to get you through the day. Bonus if you bring chocolate chip cookies to share.
- Willingness to meet people– This is optional, but I find if you put yourself out there and have conversations, it makes the day go 100 times quicker.
- A whole lot of LUCK!!!! You are never guaranteed that any members of the band will stop! Be prepared to be disappointed.
With that, here is my story and a rundown of events.
We arrived at the United Center in Chicago at about 10:30 in the morning. It was a perfect time because there were only about 15 people already at the west end entry point. Seeing this, I immediately had a good feeling about this day. We had tried to meet the band the day before, but arrived too late to get a prime spot. It was still worth it though because we got pretty up close to Larry and Bono (I was so flustered seeing Bono that I hit my daughter Megan in the face and her glasses flew off her head!).
Security let us in the gated area around noon and we took our spot along the barricades set up to contain the impending crowd. We were in prime position!!! Now the real waiting began.
Waiting around all afternoon for your favorite band to arrive proved fun in many ways. There is something incredibly special about the U2 fan community. You meet others who share your undying love for the band, which gives you an instant connection. A connection that is hard to find in your “regular life” because most fans I know have family and friends that don’t quite understand the intense obsession we have for U2.
To spend a day with people who are your U2 tribe, sharing stories, taking pictures and making connections on social media was priceless. It was great being around people who have a common bond with you. I have met people young and old alike, from all over the world. A handful of them I have met up with on every tour since and have formed some great friendships.
By 2:00 in the afternoon, you can tell that everyone got a little restless. It’s a long day and depending upon the weather (extreme heat in my case), it can be a grind and pretty tiring to stay in one place all day. Trying to meet your favorite band is not for the faint of heart!
We knew to watch for the extra security and upgraded activity as a sign that the band was about to arrive. This is where the patience comes in because there is a whole lot of waiting until that moment arrives.
Finally about 3:00 a big black SUV with tinted windows drove in, it didn’t stop. There was lots of speculation about who was in there. Rumor went around that it was Bono. My heart sank. Strange thing was that Brian, Bono’s bodyguard was not sitting in front, which he usually does. I refused to believe it was him!
After more time passed Edge came in, but didn’t stop.
Then another vehicle drove in at the end of the driveway. This time it stopped and out comes Brian. OMG my heart was pounding! This was it! My time had come!!! There Bono was! I could not breathe! My new friend Andrew was trying to keep everyone calm cause you can imagine the excitement running through the crowd, not to mention the push to the barricade from those wanting to get close from behind. I would say, there must have been 200 people by this time although it was hard for me to see behind me.
Bono started right at the beginning of the line. The incredible thing was, he took his time and signed and listened to everyone who greeted him. Megan was standing behind me and the plan was she would have whoever stopped sign my U2 map of Dublin that came with a book as a gift for fan club membership renewal. Everyone was pushing and I was plastered up against that barricade. I was trying to brace myself so the barricade would not topple over. Although there was pushing, the crowd stayed relatively calm.
Meanwhile Adam Clayton (bassist) stopped and he started greeting fans at the other end. He went through pretty fast though. When he got to me I knew he was right in front of me but I couldn’t even see him cause my face was covered with album covers and other things for him to sign. There were so many things in front of me, that he never did sign my map. I was happy Andrew, who was standing next to me, had a poster that the only signature he needed was Adam’s, So he got his wish.
The coolest thing I saw that day was him drawing and signing on a couple’s picture of their two little girls who are a product of U2’s music. They met through their mutual love of the band. They didn’t want a signature as they just wanted him to see the picture of their beautiful daughters, but he did it anyway. Very cool!!!
It really happened
After about 20 minutes of Bono inching ever closer and with my heart pounding he was right in front of me! I asked him if he would sign my shoulder. Megan was helping me hold my sleeve back. He said “yes, what would you like me to draw?” I told him I did not care, whatever he wanted (Really? You are asking me what I want you to draw? He could have sliced my arm off, I wouldn’t have cared!). He told me to hold still. OMG!!!!! I did and he drew the cool clover design with hearts I had seen him do twice before. Someone from behind me told him I was gonna have it tattooed. Everybody around me knew this was what I wanted done! My design ended up being a different variation of this clover design with his o’s being hearts!!! I was actually quite calm.
People were talking to him from behind me and my mind was totally blank!! The only thing I could think of was to ask him if they would play “Original Of The Species” live again. He replied “yes” I asked “tonight” and he said “no, not tonight”. He took his time as he drew all the while holding my arm still. He finished, gave me a smile as I thanked him and moved on.
Dreams do come true
The whole encounter probably lasted a minute, but my dream came true! After, as is typical for me, I immediately started crying! Part adrenaline rush, part insane happiness, I felt like I needed a string tied to my big toe to guide me back to earth! Later Megan told me my voice sounded so strange. Like I was trying so hard to stay calm that it was high pitched, like she had never heard before. She did get a tiny snippet of video while he was signing my arm.
After all the excitement was over we were all standing around like show and tell and showing off all the signatures. Megan and I found our friends and they shared their Bono story too! What a day. I texted my hubby with a picture and a text saying “this just happened.” Of course the written text arrived before the pic and he was confused. When he realized what just happened he was really happy for me!
Then the best thing happened! A couple came up to me to see my signature and said I really needed to have it done right now so it doesn’t have a chance to fade. I was in Chicago in a neighborhood I was not familiar with!! My plan was to wait till I got home the next day to find a place to have it done. I had no tattoos and had no idea how to go about this.
This incredible couple, Edgar and Bibi, who had some body art themselves, were from the area and were willing to take me to a place near to get it done right away! They said they would bring us back to the United Center in plenty of time for the concert later. By this time it was about 5:00. I thought what the heck I have to do this. They did not want me to take a chance that it would fade and felt strongly we should find someone to do it right.
No, I am not crazy, just on an adventure of a lifetime
So off we went, now I know that you must think I was absolutely crazy to get in a car with strangers and I wouldn’t recommend this, but in all honestly I felt perfectly comfortable and after all they were fellow U2 fans, there that day with the same goal in mind-to meet the band! I could not have met two nicer people, who took good care of Megan and I.
So after a couple of phone calls, we found a place, Native Soul Tattoos, that was open in the Pilsen neighborhood. This place was familiar to a friend of Bibi’s so all was good. We arrived and checked out the artists Rick’s work. After Bibi gave the okay, it was time to get my signature made permanent. I don’t know if I was high on adrenaline or what but I did not flinch or feel any pain at all!! 40 minutes and $82 dollars later I had a permanent record of this wonderful dream fulfilling day!! I will never be able to thank Bibi and Edgar enough for what they did that day!!! Edgar is now one of those friends that I see whenever I am in Chicago to see U2 and we stay in touch through social media.
So with my arm wrapped in plastic wrap, Megan and I arrived back at United Center for that night’s show in plenty of time. We took our seats and enjoyed the concert! I did get some looks and I proudly told anyone that commented a brief version of the day including the three people outside the hotel as we were checking out the next day.
The U2 adventure continues
Now three years and three more U2 Chicago shows later, and an upcoming dream concert in Dublin in November, this day will go down as one of the highlights of my life. Since that day, I have been lucky enough to meet and get Bono’s autograph twice, met and got Adam’s signature twice and was able to get my picture taken with the Edge and get his signature this past May. Getting that picture with Edge was also an exciting day!!
I have been very lucky and blessed that I have been able to be up close and meet this band that I am so crazy over since that first concert in Madison, Wisconsin on September in 1992. I would never have been able to imagine that 23 years later I would proudly wear Bono’s signature permanently on my arm.
Are you a passionate fan? Have you been on an adventure like this one?
Lori is a midlife travel and lifestyle blogger on a mission to inspire women to conquer their fears and follow their dreams through travel. She loves to write about Paris, her home state of Wisconsin, her book addiction, and all the challenges and joys of midlife from her newly renovated vintage camper named Beatrice.
Oh The Places I Go…Travel, Books, Life
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