I had always wanted to drive across the country, and I had always wanted to follow U2 on tour – the whole tour. And last summer that is exactly what I did. I wasn’t working and barely had enough money, but I packed up the car and Elvis, Cilla and I left our house for three months to drive to every U2 show in the US on the last leg of the 360 Tour. Along the way, I visited great American sights, saw 16 fantastic U2 concerts and met many great people.
We drove over 18,000 miles through 31 states – some states we drove through multiple times. We drove through and/or stayed in Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Delaware, New Jersey and Minnesota. I visited Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, and Deadwood in South Dakota, Red Rocks in Denver, Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Reno and Lake Tahoe in Nevada, the Experience Music Project and Kurt Cobain’s house in Seattle, Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, Harmony Hotel, Joshua Tree Park and Elvis’ homes in Palm Springs, took a bus tour of LA and Hollywood, visited Johnny Cash’s grave outside of Nashville, Bronz Fonz and Summerfest in Milwaukee, the Football Hall of Fame, and saw Soundgarden in Philadelphia. My favorite places were Mount Rushmore, Palm Springs, and Milwaukee.
I saw all 16 U2 360 shows in the US. My favorite moments (my squealing moments) of each U2 360 concert were the following: watching U2 walk through the crowd and walk to the stage, Larry banging the drums to open Even Better Than the Real Thing - boom boom! boom! boom boom!, when Larry and his drums turned around to face behind the stage (where I was) during Mysterious Ways, Larry standing up (back to back with Bono) banging the drums singing “LET ME IN THE SOUND” during Get on Your Boots, Larry walking around with his conga during I’ll Go Crazy, Larry and his drums turned around to face behind the stage (where I was) and then Bono rapping at him during Sunday Bloody Sunday, Larry’s drum solo during Scarlet, and watching U2 leave the stage and walk through the crowd to the tunnel leaving the stadium.
My favorite U2 360 shows were Anaheim2, Chicago, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Seattle, but each of the 16 US shows were special. The Denver show was special because it was the first U2 show in the US on the last leg of 360, it was the first time I heard Zooropa and Scarlet, it was in the stadium where my beloved Denver Broncos play, and I met Beth. The Salt Lake City show was special because I heard Love Rescue Me, one of my favorite songs, for the first time. The Seattle show was one of my favorites because I talked with Bono before the show about meeting Larry, Larry walked over to me smiling and shook my hand as he walked to the tunnel as he left the stadium, I watched the show with Jenny, and I met Chuck. The Oakland show was special because Larry sang a part of Lou Reed’s A Perfect Day and I talked with Bono again before the show about meeting Larry. The first show in Anaheim was special because it was the first time Paul McGuinness had ever been on stage. The second show in Anaheim was my favorite 360 show because U2 brought back my favorite song I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For for the first time that leg and I cried, and they completely changed the set list by opening the show with five straight songs off Achtung Baby then played Streets. The Baltimore show was special because it was the loudest audience of the tour, Larry took off his shirt on the way to his car after the show, I got the set list and I watched the show with Tasha. The East Lansing show was special because it stayed light through Elevation and U2 entered through the bleachers up top behind the stage. The Miami show was special because it was the first time U2 played North Star in the US. The Nashville show was special because it was the first time U2 played The Wanderer, in honor of Johnny Cash, they brought up a blind guitar player at the end of the show to play All I Want Is You, and it was the first time I saw Larry get out of his car at the stadium. The Chicago show was one of my favorites because it was the first time I had ever heard One Tree Hill, which was completely spontaneous and the first time it was played in the US since 1987, U2 played Out of Control for the first time in the US that leg, and I shook Edge’s hand before the show. The Philadelphia show was special because U2 brought back the original version of Magnificent and moved it down in the set list, I watched the show will old Elevation friends, and I met Natasha. The St. Louis show was one of my favorites because of the amazing energy both from the audience and U2, and I got a little shout out from Bono about the Larry Mullen Band. The New Jersey show was special because it ended with Out of Control, it was the longest show of the tour, and I met Anisha. The Minneapolis show was special because it was the only show in the US that leg that it rained, a drenching downpour complete with lightning, and I danced in the rain throughout the show with Deb and her husband. The Pittsburgh show was one of my favorites because it was the last US show, Matt and Melissa danced on stage during With or Without You, U2 closed with Bad (one of my favorite songs which was played for the first time in the US that leg), watching the show with Abbey, and my favorite moment of the entire tour was when Larry hugged me on his way to the stage.
I had the best summer of my life on the U2 360 Tour. I learned there really is humidity in Southern California, to never drive around Chicago or Atlanta (especially on July 4th weekend), don’t avoid an outdoor concert in Miami in the summer because you think it is going to be too hot because the shows in St. Louis, Baltimore and Nashville were much hotter, and U2 fans really are the greatest. But the most important thing I learned is to always follow your passion, even if you think it’s impossible or impractical. If I had thought logically and practically, I would have skipped the second Anaheim show to make it an easier drive from California to Maryland to make it to the Baltimore show, but then I would have missed my favorite show of the tour. And if I had been thinking logically and practically, I would have never even gone on the trip to begin with because I couldn’t really afford it, but then I would have missed out on the best summer of my life On the Road with U2 on the 360 Tour.