Wednesday, 2 February 2011

29 U2, "The Longest Day", Milton Keynes Bowl, Saturday 22 June 1985


My first big outdoor concert; and it rained! A dank horrible mid-Summer day greeted myself and 60-odd thousand folks as we arrived at this huge amphitheatre, parking up in the mud and failing to sell our spare ticket. Bah! Met up with my brother there - he, sensibly, went by train.

Openers THE FAITH BROTHERS were again rubbish. BILLY BRAGG however controlled the huge audience well, and performed a largely political song-based set. SPEAR OF DESTINY, next, impressed with a set of powerful rock with big choruses and big vocals from Kirk Brandon, but the real support card treat was the late afternoon appearance of THE RAMONES. The first time I'd seen da Brudders, they were just as I'd imagined, blasting through 30 songs of dumb sing-along surf punk in about an hour, all at breakneck speed! Moshed frantically down the front and got soaked in both rain and sweat.

Needed a breather after that, so went for a walk during REM's set. A band I'd later come to love fervently, they played a dull and dour set as bleak as the slate grey leaden skies overhead. The only notable number was the MTV-friendly "So. Central Rain (I'm Sorry)", from a poor set, which my brother spent hurling bottles of piss at Michael Stipe!.

U2 the headliners seized the day with gusto, starting with "11 O'Clock Tick Tock" and ripping through a brilliant and brilliantly chosen set of their euphoric, passionate rock. Right at this point, they were in a different league from the rest, for power, passion or indeed anything really! This was their moment and Bono, the supreme and sincere frontman, and the band took it perfectly, not even allowing technical problems during "Bad" to affect their performance. Brilliant stuff from a young band on the up and up.

The set was as follows; "11 O'Clock Tick Tock", "I Will Follow", "Seconds" ("a message to Margaret Thatcher, a message to Ronald Ray-Gun..."), "MLK" (dedicated to Coretta King), "The Unforgettable Fire", "Wire", "Sunday Bloody Sunday", The Electric Co.", "A Sort Of Homecoming", an appropriate "Rain" (the Beatles number, interspersed with snatches of Bob Dylan's "Hard Rain"), "Bad" (after a false start due to the synth breaking down), "October", "New Year's Day" and "Pride"

Encores were "Party Girl", a brilliant "Gloria" and finally a sing-along "40" to end the sodden yet superb day perfectly.

12 comments:

  1. Nice review!
    I remember Bono saying"This is Bad,really bad!"

    ReplyDelete
  2. When the synth broke down I remember Bono inviting some guy from the crowd to come on stage and tell a joke, it was' what's the biggest joke in England .....WHAM! Great gig from U2 as always but I wish I had taken more notice of The Ramones - to me they are legends now!

    ReplyDelete
  3. the most spiritually massed gathering ever,this was the day of legends.been to hundreds of gigs this wont be topped.

    ReplyDelete
  4. It was a pretty grim day only just saved by a great U2 performance. The mud slides down the banks of the bowls were the second best bit about it! I remember Billy Bragg getting pelted with piss-filled bottles throughout his performance and at the end he said, "I'd like to dedicate this last song to the bloke who invented the plastic bottle because he's just saved my fucking life!"

    ReplyDelete
  5. Somewhere I've got a bootleg double vinyl album of this gig - my first big gig too, only seen the Alarm before this.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for the memories David. Excellent lineup. Wish I'd appreciated REM more back then. I remember the crowd about me saying "get off baldy. We want U2". But Stipe was in his Nosferatu tribute stage at the time and it was the longest day! Took us all night to slip and slide out if a rammed car park :) Happy days!

    ReplyDelete
  7. remember the mud side,pop pickers

    ReplyDelete
  8. It was a great concert with U2. Even today - more than 30 years afterwards - my oldest son listens to the bootleg.

    /Anders from Sweden

    ReplyDelete
  9. It's #LoveMK day today - this gig first time I ever visited the home of concrete cows. Great review, just as I remember it, except in my 19 naivete I never realised it was piss being chucked about

    ReplyDelete
  10. I remember it well. people were actually selling bin liners for rain coats!!!!! Not to mention the spectacle of people sliding down the muddy banks NAKED !!!!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Wet day, I had a wander when the Ramones played (not big on punk) I also though Sprear of Destiny were brilliant. Billy Bragg was top. Got back in Manchester early hours as bloody train broke down, great days though

    ReplyDelete
  12. I remember it well - it should have been the greatest day but in the end was indeed the flongest day because some nobhead decided to chuck food at an Irish flag at the front, even though just about everyone was there to see U2. The upshot was several hours of people pelting each other with food and drink (or piss). In this running order, Spear of Destiny, Billy Bragg and the Ramones (especially - 29 songs in 45 minutes!!) were awesome. REM got a bum deal because people were tired of waiting for U2 and I recall Michael Stipe saying: "Thanks - it's been a slice" (i.e. of shit). What spoilt the U2 set for me was Bono coming on and saying the reason he loved playing in Britain was because the fans were the best. After what I had see all day at the gig, it made me realise for the first time that Bono was a bullshitter, which is a shame because I loved their music. But I'm so glad I got to see the Ramones once in my lifetime.

    ReplyDelete