12 Silver Strings – The First Night With B.B. King (Godfather GR 259/260)
Tarrant County Center, Fort Worth, TX – November 24, 1987
Disc 1: Where The Streets Have No Name, I Will Follow, Trip Through Your Wires, Out Of Control, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For / Exodus, One Tree Hill, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Exit / Gloria / Silver And Gold, Pride (In The Name Of Love), People Get Ready, Bad, October, New Year’s Day, Gloria
Disc 2: Bullet The Blue Sky, Running To Stand Still, With Or Without You / Shine Like Stars, When Love Comes To Town, 40. Bonus tracks, Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ – December 20th, 1987: Helter Skelter, Help, Bad / Ruby Tuesday / Sympathy For The Devil, El Pueblo Vencera, Mothers Of The Disappeared / El Pueblo Vencera, Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) / Jingle Bells, 40 / Do They Know It’s Christmas? / We Are The World
12 Silver Strings contains the complete November 24th, 1987 Fort Worth concert. Sourced from a taper from the risers between the floor and the lower balcony six rows up from the floor about 20 ft. from the stage, this is a very clear and enjoyable stereo audience recording of the entire show. A previous release of this concert can also be found on Love In Town (Silver Lizard LACD 004/005). There is a cut after “Pride (In The Name Of Love)” and one after the final song of the set “Gloria” which also eliminates some of Bono’s introduction to the first encore “Bullet The Blue Sky,” but the tape is otherwise musically complete. The Forth Worth show two days before Thanksgiving is notable because it is the first time U2 played on stage with B.B. King. Some of the show and the rehearsals with King were filmed and used for the tour documentary Rattle & Hum.
Many claim this tour to be the height of U2’s creativity. It is certainly one of their most polemical and most overtly political with Bono getting in his opinions at every opportunity. “Where The Streets Have No Name” and “I Will Follow” open the show before Bono dedicates “Trip Through The Wires” to his clumsy self. “Sunday Bloody Sunday” is introduced as a song “I hope one day I may never have to sing again” and he mentions the film crew before “Pride (In The Name Of Love)” by saying, “We’re making a record tonight. There’s a truck parked outside. The man in the truck tells me there’s more microphones at the back of the hall than there is on the stage. He said it feels like he miced up the entire state of Texas.”
One of the more interesting exchanges occurs afterward as Bono strolls on stage strumming a guitar. “Now, this is what I call a cow-town kind of welcome. You probably know I told you the first night The Edge has been giving me guitar lessons. He taught me three chords: C, A minor, and F. He said ‘Bono, with those three chords you can change the whole world.’ I said ‘Edge, maybe not change the whole world but maybe write a song as good as Curtis Mayfield’s ‘People Get Ready.'” About halfway through Bono says, “I found a guitar player the other night here who plays guitar a lot better than I could. Tonight I’d like to find somebody that good.” He hands his guitar to someone and there is a tremendous cheer from the audience. “I thought all the liar lived in Washington. This is Texas! I want somebody who can play my guitar.” Afterwards Bono explains, “He said his name is Amber Moon and he plays in a band called Day Rune. Or maybe it’s the other way around but with a name like that you’re gonna need all the luck you can get.”
A two minute “October” serves as a prelude to “New Year’s Day” and the set ends with their early hit “Gloria.” Bono reserves his most vicious attacks during the first encore “Bullet The Blue Sky.” In 1987 the scandals of prominent televangelists Jim Bakker (caught in an affair with Jessica Hahn), Jimmy Swaggert (who was instrumental in the downfall of Bakker and who in turn was caught with a prostitute), and Oral Roberts (who claimed God would “call him home” if he didn’t raise $8 million dollars), and so were a hot topic for Bono. During the song he preaches: “I see Jerry Falwell and I know he’s looking just at me. I said Jerry, what do you want from me Jerry, my money? Oral Roberts, what do you want from me, my money? It’s funny because the God I believe in has doesn’t need that. And I see this hand coming out of the TV screen into the houses of the sick and the old, opening their bags, emptying their life savings. And I see those dollar notes disappearing back into the TV screen so it can build some glass cathedral. Fuck that! We don’t need a glass cathedral from you; you’re already a see-through soul.”
Before “When Loves Comes To Town” Bono explains, “Something special cow-town. Let me introduce to you somebody whose music I’ve come to love over the past year or so…B.B. King.” During the track he quips “B.B. King makes me walk different. He said you gotta know the blues to sing the blues.” This is the debut of the song and contains additional lyrics not found on any other version: “When the sun came up I was sleeping on the street / I felt the world was dancing and I was dirt beneath their feet / when I picked myself up I saw the devil look down / but they could not play guitar the day love came to town.”
The bonus tracks come from the final show of the year in Arizona and begin with Bono’s famous statement, “a song Charles Manson stole from The Beatles…we’re stealing it back.” “Helter Skelter” was included on the Rattle & Hum LP the following year and is followed by a slow, ninety second version of The Beatles’ “Help.” “Bad” is included from Tempe probably because the version in Fort Worth is short with little improvisation in the middle. Arizona lasts eight minutes and includes the Rolling Stones references missing from Texas. Before “El Pueblo Vencera” (“A People United”) Bono goes into a long story about traveling through South America and speaking to women who had their children kidnapped and is followed by the only version of “Christmas (Come On Home).” A long version of “40” with quick references to “Do They Know It’s Christmas” and “We Are The World” closes out the disc. 12 Silver Strings is packaged in a trifold gatefold sleeve with an insert with liner notes discussing the importance of Fort Worth and for the U2 collector is worth having.