The Marquee Club was on Wardour Street in Soho… ah, in London. It was made legend for many, many reasons. Many extraordinary acts played there. Um, The Who, was the band that we held to be the most sacred. Um, on arriving Monday morning in a white VW van our crew found Lemmy from Motörhead still there from the night before, locked in as it were, playing Space Invaders as it was. He offered to help with the gear is the story they tell and I believed ‘em. If you haven’t seen Lemmy, the movie, you should. I’ve seen it a few times. Great lyricist and a great man, if you ask around. Um…certainly a great metallic onslaught with his whole bomber division of riffs and beats.
Anyway, the Marquee Club on Wardour Street was to be the site of a residency for U2. U2 would play every Monday for four weeks. The first Monday was half-full. The second Monday was nearly full. The third Monday they had to turn people away and the fourth Monday there were queues around the block, across the road, and Wardour Street looked like an A-bomb had landed on it. That’s a Jam reference if you care.
Um, of course we thought this was the Irish invasion. It’s incredible what a few hundred people believing in you does for you self-confidence.
The band were naïve in the extreme, walking though London’s redlight district. We had our eyes out on sticks. We were do-gooders even then, trying to talk pretty faces out of the oldest profession and into a newer, higher calling, spending the money they didn’t have to come and see us play.
Um…some Polaroids, some pictures in my head:
Well, me and Larry, looking up at a statue of Eros in Piccadilly and realizing that U2 would be our backpacking years. Me walking off the stage through the crowd, um, on the last song, em, and getting a taxi home, thinking that was quite a punk thing to do. Um…rumors of Phil Lynott, the Black Panther of Thin Lizzy, appearing in the crowd. I’m pretty sure that’s not true, but he was recording his genius album, Solo In Soho, at the time. …Adam thinking he could jump as high as Pete Townshend. Nobody can be as high as Pete Townshend in our book. Edge’s guitar parts?…they were everywhere, sort of surround sound and as angular as his chin. (And it has to be said, with quite a lot of hair.) Larry?…ah…Larry…just kicking the shite out of the crowd and kicking me up the arse with this relentless martial percussion of his.
Songs were so fast as well…and this is, this is before crack was known to the area. It’s like that scene in Tarrentino’s Pulp Fiction where John Travolta sticks a hypodermic needle through Uma Thurman’s breastbone to revive her, if you remember that, and boom! She’s off. Anyway. That’s what it felt like. Certainly what I felt like for most of the show and why I’m not so sure the singing is up to much, or even, even the lyrics. But the ideas are sublime. In a rock’n‘roll that was obsessed by the defacement and deflowering of innocence we were celebrating the holding on to it. And we thought, that is a punk rock thing to do.
Em…songs like Twilight, lyrics ‘in the shadow boys meet men’ ‘a boy meets man’… Stories For Boys. Boy-Girl…special songs from a special time. There is with hindsight, as well as near sight, some unusual content. As I say the lyrics are just sketches but the places that they sketch are interesting, I hope.
Um, but anyway the real strength is the music, which to these ears in 2015 still sounds fresh and modern. The bass playing is just unlike anything that ever came before it…except it is a little like Peter Hook, Paul Simonon, and J. J. Burnel. Em, that’s because Joy Division, The Clash, and The Stranglers were, were our heroes. Even if they didn’t want heroes, em, or to be heroes.
Um, Adam, Adam’s style is still very, very unusual. He’s a very naturally avante guarde man. Em, I have a picture of him holding the same note in, em, Into The Heart, just for an age holding the same note. I think of Edge’s guitar riff at the start of An Cat Dubh, the malice of it is really overpowering.
I haven’t heard this stuff for a very long time. I’m really glad that the band have agreed to let you see them. Four boys in their nappies.
Forgive the hyperactive child. The shouting head who is doing more eyeballing of the crowd than singing to them. One thing is clear. He’s not singing for his livelihood, this boy, rather for his life. Staying alive is the key. And for me, Edge, Adam, and Larry, were, and still are, a reason to be…a reason to be.
Em, we’ve decided to dedicate this set of songs to the Harlesden boys. They were a group of hard core fans that used to follow us around at the time. You can actually hear their shouting, uh, their exhortations and their insults from the crowd, while you listen to this.
I hope, I hope you like the monster you created, you Harlesden boys. This is for you.