The date was October 31, 2001. You may automatically associate that day with Halloween, but I associate with U2’s Hitman, and my favorite person I don’t actually know, Larry Mullen Jr. October 31st is Larry’s birthday, and in 2001, October 31st was Larry’s 40th birthday. Coincidentally, the Elevation Tour had a concert that night at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, RI and I was there. It was an amazing night, a magnificent concert. There will never be another one like it. It was the night Larry and I shared a drink in celebration of his 40th birthday.
Immediately following the first concert in Providence on October 30th, I got in the GA line for Larry’s 40th Birthday concert the next day. I was number 7 in line. Even though it was 30 degrees on that cold sidewalk in Providence, I actually slept for about five hours. I woke up at 8am the morning of October 31st. I went up to my warm hotel room for a couple hours and had some breakfast. I stayed in the GA line all day without leaving, except to take a shower around 3:30. I made a huge orange Birthday Card for Larry and had everyone in the GA line to sign it. I put my name and email address on the back just in case. (I was optimistic back then.) I had also brought an Elvis motorcycle tee shirt to give to Larry as a birthday present.
Tasha, Paola and I all wore our ‘Larry Mullen Band’ shirts standing up front on the rail between Bono and Adam. I held up the birthday card for Larry as U2 walked on stage, but I don’t think Larry saw it. There were many signs that night including one saying, “Bono let Larry sing.” During “Elevation,” Bono sang, “Celebration” then said, “Happy Birthday.” After “Stuck in a Moment,” Larry’s 40th birthday celebration began. Bono led the audience in a chorus of “Happy Birthday” to Larry. Then a birthday cake was brought out, and Larry pretended to throw it out into the audience. Bono said, “Larry likes chocolate cake.” Larry took the microphone and came to the front of the stage to talk while Bono sat behind the drums. Larry said, “Bono can’t play the drums” then continued with “It took me 40 years to get up front. I’m glad I’m spending my birthday with 18,000 of my closest friends. I feel like I could borrow money from you.”
Bono asked for a bottle of champagne, which he shook up a la ZooTV and sprayed the audience. Edge took a swig, then Larry drank and continued to drink for the next few songs. After “Kite,” Larry got off the drums and made a B line for me. I got my card and shirt in hand so I could give it to him, but that’s not why he was there. Larry gave me the champagne bottle – with champagne still in it! I drank some and shared it with Paola and Tasha, then just hugged the bottle until the security guard offered to put it down behind the barricade until the show ended. Larry wanted to share his birthday with ME! He wanted ME to have a drink on his birthday! I was SO excited I didn’t even know U2 changed the set list and played “Wild Honey” – I thought it was “Staring at the Sun” as in the past shows. I didn’t really come around until “Please.”
After “Pride,” Larry came back over to me so I could give him the birthday card and Elvis tee shirt. I said, “Thank you. Happy Birthday.” He smiled and said, “Thank You.” It wasn’t much of a conversation, but it was very meaningful as Larry looked into my eyes just as he had in Jersey when he gave me his drum stick a few months prior. Then Paola gave Larry her Larry scrapbook, which contained the picture of Larry hugging me in Baltimore a couple weeks earlier. Later on, Bono noticed our ‘Larry Mullen Band’ shirts, shook his head and smiled. Before leaving the stage Larry took Michelle’s Elvis sunglasses with sideburns and put them on. I was so elated after the show – walking around hugging Larry’s champagne bottle.
The Providence 2 Elevation show is my favorite U2 show, not only on the Elevation tour, but my favorite U2 show ever. I doubt there will ever be another night like it. Granted it was Larry’s 40th Birthday, and I love Larry, but it was also fantastic for the rarities U2 played that night. “Slow Dancing” was played for the first time on the Elevation Tour, and only the 11th time ever. “Party Girl” and “Wild Honey” were played for the first time on that leg of Elevation – and I’ve only heard those songs a couple of times ever. There was just a great energy in Providence that night. I still have that champagne bottle on my shelf, along with Larry’s drumstick he gave me in Jersey.
Providence 2 set list 10.31.01: Elevation, Beautiful Day, Until the End of the World, New Year’s Day, I Will Follow, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Stuck in a Moment, Happy Birthday Larry, Party Girl, Slow Dancing, Kite, Wild Honey, Please, Bad / 40, Where the Streets Have No Name, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Pride, Bullet the Blue Sky, What’s Going On, New York, One, When Will I See You Again, Walk On