1981-03-15

Country Club, Reseda, CA, USA

Set List of Show:

Main Set:

  • "The Ocean"
  • "Twilight"
  • "I Will Follow"
  • "11 O'Clock Tick Tock"
  • "An Cat Dubh"
  • "Into the Heart"
  • "Another Time, Another Place"
  • "The Electric Co."
  • "Things to Make and Do"
  • "Stories for Boys"
  • "Boy / Girl"
  • "Out of Control"
Encore:

  • "11 O'Clock Tick Tock"
  • "The Ocean"
  • "I Will Follow"
  • "A Day Without Me"

Additional Music

Snippets of Other Songs Performed by U2:

    "Cry" (U2) / "Send in the Clowns" (Stephen Sondheim) /

Show Details:

If little is known about the previous show, this show in Reseda is one of the more documented shows of U2’s early career. The band were playing a show in Reseda, California, on the outskirts of Los Angeles, as part of the Boy tour. The opening act was a band called Rubber City Rebels. Recordings of this show exist, as do posters, newspaper advertisements, and many reviews from the music press. The show was heavily promoted by local station KROQ, resulting in a large attendance, but not quite at capacity.

Bono during the show introduces the band and announces they play on staying around for a while, “We’re called U2. We’re not just another English band passing through. First of all we’re Irish. And we plan on staying here for a little while – three months actually. We’re going to knock on peoples doors, namely the radio, until they let us in, until they let you in.” During the show snippets of “Cry” and “Send in the Clowns” are part of “The Electric Co.”

Cary Darling, reviewing the show for Billboard wrote a positive review, “Often a good debut album is akin to a solid left hook and dazzles the listener, but it is an act’s live show which can provide the knockout punch. Ireland’s much acclaimed U2 left the near capacity audience down for the count March 15. Led by the extremely charismatic Bono, who jerks around the stage like a maddened puppet, the quartet weaves an eerie sound that is part David Bowie, party Roxy Music, part Doors but simultaneously the opposite of all of those.” But there is some criticism, “The drawback is material. Many of the songs sound alike and, because the audience called them back for two encores, the group was forced to perform some tunes twice in the 16-song, 65-minute set.”

Mark Cooper, reviewing the show for Sounds talks about Bono’s connection with the audience for this show, “Like Echo, Teardrop and Wah!, Bono loves to enthuse, to glisten. His eyes sparkle with a confidence and assertion as he rides the stage, clutching the mike like a staff, leading his warriors forward. The music, all of ‘Boy’ and the singles, washes over the crowd, faintly Gothic, definitely twilight. In the shadow, boy meets man. Adolescence to U2 is more an initiation ceremony than it is the Undertones world of fumbling boys and girls. For a while it seems as if U2 will falter on the passivity of the crowd. But then the con man in Bono surfaces, he begins to dramatize, to insist that this is an event, that rock is about transformation, not business. U2 need their audience badly.”

Robert Hilburn in the Los Angeles Times wrote: “But the band with the most commercial potential here may be U2, a gutty and richly talented young Irish quartet which made its local debut Sunday night at the Country Club in Reseda. Mixing the power and unabashed emotion of the early Who with the starker, trancelike guitar textures of contemporary bands like Public Image and Television, U2’s debut album, “Boy,” is a frequently exhilarating look at a subject that has been part of rock as long as Chuck Berry: youthful awakening.” Later in the article Hilburn continues, “Typical of U2’s ambition, the quartet boldly tested its drawing power and its concern impact by headlining the 1,000-seat Country Club in Reseda rather than playing the smaller Whisky or accepting a support spot on another bill. For a while Sunday, it looked as if the gamble was going to backfire. Attendance was no problem. Despite minimal airplay on the new album so far in Los Angeles, the group was able to parlay its advance press notices and the word-of-mouth reaction to the LP into a full house. Convincing that audience that the band deserves all the accolades was another matter. Without the intimacy of the Whisky or the underdog status of being an opening act, U2 had to be extra good to win the audience’s affection.”

“Things started slowly,” Hilburn continues, “Rather than play the songs in the enticing order in which they appear on the album, the group opened with ‘The Ocean’ a wistful tune that seemed unusually distant when lifted from the LP’s context. Though the audience came to life for ‘I Will Follow’ the energy level in the room again sagged as several of U2’s songs seemed too similar in tone for the audience to easily differentiate among them. Accustomed to more lively response, Hewson seemed miffed at first, telling the crowd at one point that the band could give more if the audience gave more in return. The rest of the group, however, kept its poise as drummer Larry Mullin and bassist Adam Clayton laid down strong, but unobtrusive backing for the Edge’s relentless, extremely well-defined guitar licks. Gradually too Hewson opened up, finally moving about the stage with the frenzied relish of a crazed poet. Gradually, the economy and intelligence of the music, coupled with the purity and heart of Hewson’s vocals, broke down the audience’s reserve.”

Bono himself, speaking to The Vancouver Sun after the concert in Reseda said “The reaction to our concerts here has been amazing, the audiences seem very open to new bands and new music. I really think that 1981 is going to be a huge year of change in the musical world.”

Hot Press sent in Charlie McNally to review the show, and meet with the band in advance. “The Country Club was warm but not too hot; the day had been in the low 70’s – a nice climate, pleasant on the mind ‘n’ senses. The boys had a swim in the Marquis pool and a dip in the jacuzzi – a great way to start the day, but there was a gig to get together, so John Kennedy, Tim Nicholson, Joe O’Herlihy and Paul arrived at the venue at 2pm as arranged, only to find the place closed and gig people unavailable.” The review lists a capacity of 1000 people, and say U2 took the place by storm, mention Edge’s inspired guitar, and Bono’s prancing around stage with confidence. Bono and the band put in an appearance at the after show, and then headed to the Sunset Marquis.

A note on the poster displayed above, this is an original scan of an item sold at auction a number of years ago, but the poster has been duplicated and reprinted over the years. Wolf and Rissmiller who promoted many of U2’s early western shows would produce professional looking posters for the shows like the one pictured above.

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