Jun 22 1983
Tampa, FL, US / Curtis Hixon Center
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An interesting encounter
The Curtis Hixon Hall located in Tampa has long since been razed, but in it's day, it was hailed as the epicenter of cultural events in the downtown of this sleepy backwater. As a young man visiting the town from NYC, I was bewildered by the fact that there was no long queue streaming from the doorway entering the facility on the afternoon of a U2 show that evening. After all, I thought, this is U2, and a general admission show - why is there no long line of eager fans queuing hours in advance in effort to get as close to the stage as possible? Who cares? I took position at the head of the line, first at the door, and with a camera bag in hand. An hour before the show, the line had grown to about 50 people. A security guard approached me and explained that I would not be allowed into the show with the camera. As I returned to my car, having secured my place in line, I walked down Ashley street and noticed a young guy walking towards me, sipping through a straw the contents of one large McDonalds cup. It was Bono - or Bono Vox, if you will. We exchanged hellos, shook hands and I wished him a great show. I was the first person who entered the hall that night once the doors were opened. I dashed to the front of the stage and took position with my hands firmly clenched around the scaffolding that held the stage about 5' in the air. I stood at the edge of the stage through the opening act The Alarm. 68 guns and all of that. U2 bounced to the stage and let loose with War. A stark setting on the stage, large white banners on flag poles made up the extent of the scenic accents. The music was thunderous, unbridled energy that exulted the crowd. The set list that night would read like classics today. I recall most vividly a rousing version of I Will Follow with Bono leaning into the crowd while I supported him with my shoulder. Edge approached me encouraging a tap on his Gibson. I Will Follow! F'ing magic. Now it is 26 years later. Tampa is now my home. I have since seen the band a half dozen times and am preparing once again to see them tonight October 9, 2009. I will follow, indeed.
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