Thursday, 9 May 2013


What, you haven't heard of these two 2-CD live sets? Perhaps a look at the covers might help.

Now obviously some of you aren't U2 fans and it would be unreasonable to expect you to have been aware of their existence. But I am a U2 fan, ranking them up with Neil Young, The Grateful Dead, Sandy Denny, and Bruce Springsteen up at the top of my musical favourites, and until a couple of weeks ago I'd never heard of these albums either.

The reason is that, unknown to the world at large (or maybe it's just me), every so often U2 release a live album through their fan club and available solely to its members. I only learned about them when reading U2s entry on AMG (All-Music Guide, the best music reference work on the web) and suddenly sat up and went WTF! And then: want, want, want!

The natural place to start looking was Ebay and, sure enough, I found a few. However, before I start detailing my adventures (me? use hyperbole? never!) in obtaining the two albums which are the subject of this post, here's one of the fundamental rules of economics: an item is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. When I first started selling on amazon Marketplace a few years I put up a rare lavish Blues box set for £750 and that was the lowest price. I've gradually reduced the price since then and it currently stands at £120 and it still hasn't sold.

So I looked around and read reviews where I could. AMG suggested that Rock's Hottest Ticket was maybe the best of the lot but to be aware of boots and similarly titled albums which only consist of one CD. I finally found one on Ebay as a Buy-It-Now for £47.95 plus postage, from Holland, a seller with a high rating, and not a boot, honest meinheer. I swallowed and pressed the button.

It turned up, well packed, in a reasonable time, and as described. The case and inlay are a bit worn but the discs are fine. It was produced in Italy, presumably under license or by the Italian branch of the fan club, and it doesn't feel like a boot. It's an entire concert recorded in Chicago on April 29, 1987 and it's great. 

I then went after Go Home, an Irish concert recorded a few years later.  A seller had one up with no minimum bid and no bidders. So I put one in to find out that there was a reserve price. After going up to £25 I sent a message to seller asking what the minimum bid was. She replied: £65.00.  Good luck with that, I thought. When I checked a few days later it hadn't sold. I went after another copy, minimum bid £8.00 and stopped at £13.00 when I was the highest bidder. Now obviously I didn't expect to get it for that price so what I decided to was wait until the last 20 seconds and slam in a bid of £32.00. Nobody else would be so clever. Except in the last 20 seconds two people outbid me and it went for £39.95.

In the meantime I'd put in a minimum asking price bid of £27.95 (plus postage) for U22, and, much to my surprise, I got it and it arrived this morning. Advertised as new, it was exactly that. But what I didn't realise was the sheer size of it. When I first looked a the unopened packed I thought, bugger me they've sent a vinyl version. But it wasn't, the booklet was simply the size of an old LP.  Slim, not long, with large effective photos and comments on each track by the bass player. A very attractive package. Unlike RHT, the tracks here are from a variety of shows across the world from 2009-2011 and from a choice of 50 songs played during the long tour, the 22 here were selected by members of the fan club voting for their favourites, rather than the band picking them and it seems to have worked.

Okay, finally, the music. I like live albums and have them by the other artists I mentioned above, perhaps too many by The Dead but what the hell. Neil Young on stage with Crazy Horse just blows the walls down. With U2, many of their songs are anthemic anyway and suit a large stadium. The live versions are often looser, have more guitar, and are usually longer. There's a sense of space about the playing while Bono draws in the audience and, let there be no doubt about it, he has a powerful distinctive voice though he well knows a whisper can sometimes be more powerful than a shout, and immense charisma. I'm familiar with nearly all of the songs and just looking at a title I can hear it in my head but these live version add something different and it's the closest most of us will get to a live show bar watching a DVD which isn't the same.

Anyway, enough is enough. Given the cost of these albums I think I'll stop here.

Well, maybe if I can pick up a copy of Go Home at a reasonable price...


And suddenly I'm tripping over live U2 albums. I discovered Live From Paris, a 1987 concert released as an Itunes download (for a mere £7.99) in 2008. Of course, I've bought it but that really is the last one for a while.

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