How I met Bono: My teenage adventure to see U2 in Christchurch in 1984

Publish Date
Thursday, 7 November 2019, 8:27PM
Getty Images

Getty Images

Ahead of U2's Auckland concerts this weekend, long-time fan Lisa Currie recalls her teenage adventure to see the Irish rock legends play in Christchurch during their first visit to New Zealand in 1984.

As a tired Mum, squinting back at my teenage years, my heart skipped a little beat, when I heard U2 were returning to New Zealand.

Let me take you back. In 1984, as a sixth form student at Mosgiel's Taieri High School I boarded a bus to Christchurch with five girlfriends - fellow 'rebels' - after intense negotiations with our parents to go to the U2 concert in Christchurch.

We were all total music junkies - obsessed with Split Enz, The Exponents, The Mockers and (even more exotic) U2, Echo and the Bunnymen, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and The Cure - to name a few.

There's nothing unusual, I don't think, in teens' obsession with their music idols - but I think it was different in those days. You pawed over the albums. The covers and album labels were scrutinised. We raced to Carmody's Bookshop every Friday for the latest music mags - I can't even remember what they were called - but the glossy A3 pull-outs were to die for. It was all so different back then.

Anyway, I digress from my story: My friend Emma's Mum, had written a cheque and posted it to the Christchurch Town Hall to buy our six tickets for the concert. We each contributed our hard saved cash for our portion of the tickets.

On arriving at the Town Hall (decked out in our grungiest op-shop best) we were swiftly told that our cheque had never been received and we had NO tickets. The concert was, of course, sold out.

Shattered, we hung about the Town Hall foyer, angst ridden and slipping into deep depression. Unbeknown to us, U2 were inside the auditorium doing their sound check.

After a short time, one of their roadies wandered out and recognised a couple of us as those bothersome girls who hung about back stage at Split Enz concerts at Dunedin Town Hall. After a quick exchange they offered to sneak us into the auditorium to watch.

AMAZING! We sat in the dark, in the very back row, and watched - breathless, as Bono strut his stuff (dealing with his recovering voice - he'd lost it on the flight over) bellowing out his vocals, and shouting orders at the sound crew.

Our roadie mate shuffled us out a wee while later but suggested that we hang about the back entrance to the Town Hall after the gig that night and that he'd try and sneak us in.

We left there absolutely buzzing and planned our evening out in the big smoke around being back at the Town Hall by 10.30pm. So, finding ourselves at the back door later that evening, we received the news that U2 had left the building. Our roadie mate again appeared at just the right time, gave us the wink and nod, and we knew to stick it out and hang about a bit longer.

Sure enough, before not too long Bono strutted out, along with The Edge (in his velvet coat), Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton. WOAH!!!!! We each then scattered to collect all the boys' autographs.

I remember sidling into a stretch-limo with the Edge - much to his disgust - he just wanted to get home! I wanted his squiggle on my green A5 piece of paper (a nightclub flyer.)

When I got to Bono, he asked how we'd enjoyed the concert. I recounted our sad tale about my friend's Mum's cheque and the tickets which never were. He was so sympathetic and in honour of our sad plight autographed my piece of paper and added: "6 went down to the sea". I still have that piece of paper today.

It all seems a lifetime ago, but on googling the band's history I suspect they were only in their mid 20's at the time – not that much older than ourselves.

Looking back on the experience now I am reminded not only of a great adventure but also of the great bond I shared with my school friends.

Thirty-five years later, I'm hoping to arrange another encounter with the guys and get them to update my treasured autographed piece of paper with fresh signatures.

Either way, I'll be at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday night and can't wait to hear them run through all the classics from The Joshua Tree.

This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission