U2 – The Hammersmith Master (Golden Eggs EGG-144)

The Hammersmith Master (Golden Eggs EGG-144) 

Hammersmith Palais, London, England – March 22, 1983 

(79:59) Gloria, I Threw A Brick Through A Window, A Day Without Me, Seconds, Surrender, New Year’s Day, Sunday Bloody Sunday (w/ Steve Wickham), The Cry / Electric Co. / Send In The Clowns, I Fall Down, October, Tomorrow (w/ Steve Wickham), Two Hearts Beat As One / Let’s Twist Again, Twilight, Out Of Control, Party Girl, 11 O’Clock Tick Tock, I Will Follow, 40 

The first leg of U2’s tour to support the recently released War album was a 29 date trek through the United Kingdom, with three of those dates taking place at London’s 2,500 seat Hammersmith Palais. Audience recordings exist for all three of these performances with only the March 29 being previously bootlegged on War Tour (Wardour-023). The master tape surfaced for the March 22 concert in 2017 and is the source of this excellent new release from the Golden Eggs label. 

The audience recording is of excellent quality, it sounds like it was recorded close to the stage as it has an “in your face” quality yet is very intimate at the same time. The balance is excellent with all instruments and vocals being clearly heard in the mix with very little crowd noise near the taper. For a recording that is 38 years old, it sounds great at all volume levels and sounds great when played loud. What’s interesting about this recording is that despite its age there is a freshness to the music, you can feel the energy bristling from the band. 

The set list is a cross section of music from their first three records, Gloria is a natural opener followed by a defiant I Threw A Brick Through A Window from October and finally A Day Without Me from their debut Boy. They then get into a nice chunk of tracks from War and based upon the audience response, they are familiar with this new music. The Edge starts the song off building until the others join in, this has a very intimate feel, The Edge takes the vocals on the first part as on the album, and he harmonizes more with Bono. Interesting to hear his voice so clear in this recording, like a less powerful and raspy version of Bono. Surrender has a lush feel in comparison to Seconds, The Edge’s leads are almost dreamlike. 

The first single from War follows, New Year’s Day. The Edge seems to easily switch from keyboards to guitar, the song has been in the set since the December 1982 Pre Tour European dates. Bono already uses the iconic “This is not a rebel song” intro for Sunday Bloody Sunday that would be immortalized on the Under A Blood Red Sky LP. I can remember getting that record for Christmas 1983, it was impossible not to be caught up in the energy from the music of U2, even though my music preferences was Hard Rock and Metal, the music transcends these boundaries. Irish musician Steve Wickham joins the band and adds electric violin to the sound and it is an excellent addition to the sound giving it an Irish feel. He also joined the band at the previous nights performance, March 21, also at the Hammersmith Palais. 

The pacing is roller-coaster like, The Electric Co. is definitely like going down a steep hill, full of energy and passion and contains the “Send In The Clowns” variation again immortalized on the Under A Blood Red Sky LP, this snippet would be removed from latter pressings and CD versions due to copyright infringement. Bono turns in an excellent vocal on October, the band is again joined by Steve Wickham whose violin transition the song beautifully into Tomorrow and gives the already dark song an even more somber edge that is stunning to say the least. Two Hearts Beat As One again raises the energy level, the chorus of “Can’t Stop The Dance This Is My Last Chance” are defiant war cry bringing the crowd to a fever pitch. Twilight and Out Of Control finish the main set, the latter featuring Bono adding All I Want Is You lyrics and the crowd grasps onto and start singing it back to him. 

This concert is unique for having the longest version of Party Girl known to exist clocking in at 6:40, Bono tries to get a punter to sing but it doesn’t get off the ground so he takes over. The song features an interesting rap by Bono about Joe and Jill, a fan comes up onstage and you can hear him clearly in the recording, while the middle section looses its way they get the ending together. This rarity has appeared on old vinyl bootleg titles like I’m A Record, Leda Atomica, Live At Pinkpop Geleen 8-6-1981, and War & Peace as well as the 3 disc compilation The Dream Come True Volume 1

An excellent version of 11 O’Clock Tick Tock follows with Bono turning in a very strong vocal performance full of his boundless energy, this energy would continue and be the war cry of I Will Follow. 40 is the closer, the band eventually fade backstage save for Larry Mullen who keeps the drum beat going getting the audience to respond by clapping along, this also fades as the music is played over the PA and the recording ends. 

The packaging is the standard tri-gatefold sleeve that features live shots of a very young looking U2. There is a picture of the venue that was sadly demolished in 2012, a ticket stub, and the first leg tour dates. How this recording has managed to stay under wraps for so long is beyond me. Thankfully the Golden Eggs label have released it, excellent performance, excellent packaging, excellent release. 

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