Hammersmith Palais, London, England – June 9, 1981
(57:12) Carry Me Home, Twilight, I Will Follow, I Fall Down, An Cat Dubh, Into The Heart, Fire, Another Time Another Place, The Cry / The Electric Co. / Yankee Doddle, Things To Make And Do, Stories For Boys, Boy-Girl / I’m A Believer, 11 O’Clock Tick Tock, The Ocean
U2’s debut album, Boy, was full of angst due to the bands early days as a young band in Dublin where they came heavily influenced by not only traditional rock music but also the punk movement where emotion ruled over musicianship. What would separate U2 from other bands was indeed the musicianship combined with a unique lyrical vision, much due to their spirituality and belief in Religion. These themes combined with Bono’s sense of loss at a young age (his mother died when he was just 14) made for lyrics that would not only appeal to youth, but would appeal to the older generation as well. When one looks at the first record, it holds up well and the bands unique musical fingerprint was evident from the very beginning. The tour to support would find the band playing a long seven month tour with the band playing to some very new markets, with a focus on Europe and for the first time America. Long grueling tours is what usually makes or breaks bands, U2 rose to the challenge and put their stamp, be it a small one, on the map.
This new release from the Eat A Peach label documents the last date of the tour to support Boy, the band were coming off a long American tour in the spring of 1981 and would play a short four concert tour in early June of 81 highlighted by a performance at Holland’s Pinkpop Festival. The date that is the subject of this release comes from the day after Pinkpop where the band played the Hammersmith Palais, a 2,500 capacity venue built in 1907. The recording is from a mono (rhymes with Bono) audience source of very good quality. All instruments and vocals are clear and well balanced, if anything it lacks dynamics upper frequencies. There is also a bit of hiss, thankfully the label did not try to suppress it as it would have ruined the recording as the tape picks up the ambiance of the event perfectly, the audience is very into the show and make for an exciting listening experience, being an end of a tour the band is in great form.
The main highlights of this concert are many, the first being only the second known recording and version of a song that has never been released, Carry Me Home (the other version is from June 6, 81 in Aylesbury). While being a rarity, it is really just a rather bland song and after hearing it it’s no wonder it never made it much past this point. The other cool things about this are the soon to become standards from the, as of then, not yet released second record October, I Fall Down and Fire. The rest of the highlights are literally the rest of the show, and as with many recordings from this era, the band seem to have an endless abundance of energy.
The band have an almost intimate relationship with the audience, he talks of this at the end of a crowd pleasing version of I Will Follow, he talks of playing the Marquee and doubters who said they could never bring that atmosphere to a larger venue, “well it’s here” is his answer. The band then plays I Fall Down to no fanfare.
An Cat Dubh is introduced as “The White Cat”, taking away from its original translation of The Black Cat, a typically great version that segues into Into The Heart. The instrumental Things To Make And Do, B-side to A Day Without Me and Boy-Girl are also cool additions, the latter has Bono throwing in a bit of the Monkee’s I’m A Believer and the audience finish the lyrics! Always great to hear rare songs that helped the band to flesh out a headline performance. I found this recording to be a great listen, I found the tape hiss to be a non factor, it instantly gets lost in the superb performance. The 60 minutes go by so fast, you instinctively push play again… and again.
The packaging is simple mini LP style sleeve adorned with posed and live shots of the band who look bright eyed, the rhythm section look punk rock serious for sure. The live shots are great from this era, the punters were right onto of the band, very small club in your face. What a contrast to the current 2017 bootlegs that have been in and out of my player as of late. For U2 fans this is an essential recording and title to own.