Hold On Tightly (Godfather Records GR438)
Lloyd Noble Center, Norman, OK – June 10th, 1983
(74:16): Out Of Control, Twilight, An Cat Dubh / Into The Heart, Surrender, Two Hearts Beat As One, Seconds, Sunday Bloody Sunday, The Electric Co. (Send In The Clowns), I Fall Down, October, New Year’s Day, Gloria, 11 O’Clock Tick Tock (Drowning Man), I Will Follow, 40. Bonus tracks, Colorado State University, Bolder, CO – June 6th, 1983: A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall (w / The Alarm)
U2’s tour for War in 1983 was a important for establishing the band as one of the best live acts. MTV exposure and relentless touring helped, but the concert video U2 Live At Red Rocks was produced at this time and is considered to be one of rock’s legendary performances.
This is U2 at the point when, as Devlin Donaldson writes, “To see Bono Vox lead U2 through a 90-minute set is to feel that you have been let in on a big secret that everyone else will soon know. U2 is destined to be mentioned in the same breath as the Beatles, the Who, and the Rolling Stones” (Contemporary Christian magazine, 05/31/1983). Hold On Tightly on Godfather is a new release with a tape from the June 10th, 1983 Norman Oklahoma show, a week after the video.
This is an excellent mono audience recording from the master cassette which is, according to the taper, in a theater setting on “Floor Row D, inside isle” so the sound is very clear and enjoyable. And except for a tape flip after “October,” it is complete. The taper states concerning the sound: “My seats were very close to the stage and much of the high end seemed to go over my head and carried the vocals with it, I think switching this year from a graphic eq to a parametric eq finally gave me the ability to tweak the vocal range and high end range exclusively just enough to give a final version that I am finally satisfied (at least to my ears) with and I offer it here. Hope you enjoy this new remastered version directly from the master tape.”
Godfather is the first silver pressed edition of this concert and it’s a great job on their part. It has the same setlist as other shows in the tour but is much looser than the more well known. It starts off with “Out Of Control” and “Twilight.” Bono tells the audience, “the last time we played here was in a small bar. … I think there were only about forty-five people” before “An Cat Dubh.”
A highlight comes in the middle with extraordinary version of “Two Hearts Beat As One” and “Seconds,” with Bono scat-singing and Larry and Adam emphasizing the heavy funk influence in the arrangement. But the center of the set belongs to the pathos of “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” Containing all of the hallmarks of the U2 sound, it also provides the pathos in the performance.
“This group does not play old music or new music, but U2 music” Bono says before “I Fall Down,” and about how the song is about “trying and failing and still trying.” The set ends with “New Year’s Day” seguing into “Gloria.” The final encore is a long version of “40” with a drum interlude in the middle.
The bonus track is U2 and The Alarm, who supported them on this tour, playing a cover of Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall.” It is a very good but slightly distant audience tape from the June 6th Boulder show. It was played in reference to the previous evening’s show in Red Rocks which was supposed to be rained out but wasn’t. Hold On Tightly is a superlative release by Godfather and worth having.