My reflections on over 1,000 concerts attended (a Conspiracy of Hope)

Not my first concert but definitely the first concert I attended where I felt totally overwhelmed.  Was I having an out of body experience?  Did The Police just reunite? Was that Bono, and Sting, and Lou Reed, and Peter Gabriel? Am I dreaming? I might faint. Wait I’m a teenager and it definitely would not be cool if I faint.

In 1986 I may have been the biggest U2 fan in this country.  I was obsessed with them. Ask anyone that knew me, I was with them from the start and I knew they were great.  I didn’t care a whole lot about the rest of what was going to happen when this show was announced, but I knew U2 was playing Chicago and I was going to be there!



I was addicted to seeing U2 in concert. Seriously it was like heroin.  Seeing that band live was so thrilling.  The goosebumps that I got when Bono would speak, saying things like “sing it for John Lennon.” Paving their own way to classic rock royalty with the tar of those incredible songwriters that came before them.

I will admit that many of my reflections on this show are triggered by other’s reflections and I thank all of you for that.  Again it was overwhelming.  I was a teenager and going through many things at that age.  I had done a few things that would label me a man but I had much more to learn.  I was witnessing my favorite band in the world.  But I was also becoming aware of the world that I lived in and was a part of.  I started to realize that maybe my voice could make a change.  If this many like-minded people could gather in the Rosemont Horizon for a show like this then maybe we could connect on a larger scale.  I am sure this was also what Al Gore was thinking whilst in his basement creating the world wide web. Maybe like-minded music lovers would create world peace through something called a blog? A blog named Spool Going Round.

It is because of this W.W.W. that I have heard some of the stories from other attendees of this show.  Sparks that have ignited my own memories of one of the best rock and roll shows to ever happen. Peter Gabriel was great. He was enjoying a good string of hits. I didn’t even mind the short set from Bryan Adams.

It was Friday night, June 13, 1986. We had seats on the side and you could see all of these artists lining up. Some coming to the side just to see how the band on stage was doing. One thing I strongly remember was the buzz going through the audience that The Police were going to reunite on stage tonight.  Again overwhelmed. When they hit the stage the stadium went insane. Little did I know that 13 years later I would interview Sting.

The Police Set List:

message in a bottle
spirits in the material world
king of pain
driven to tears
wrapped around your finger
every breath you take
invisible sun with Bono

I had totally forgotten about Robin Williams’ performance until a recent article mentioned his work with Amnesty International and mentioned his live performance at the Chicago show.

Finally my favorite, U2, Bono with long hair and tasseled jacket seemed a Jesus-like figure that could write the best songs but was also out to save the world. He picked up the spot light and shined it on us. He wanted to help, we wanted to help, so we all sang The Beatles “Help” in what may be the best 40 minute musical set ever. Bono pulls the girl from the audience up with him and we all lose our minds. Little did I know a year later in the same venue I would be seeing U2 from the 3rd row and Bono would pull the girl seated right next to me up on stage with him.

U2 Set List:

MLK, Pride (In The Name Of Love), New Year’s Day, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Maggie’s Farm / Cold Turkey (snippet), Help, Norwegian Wood (snippet) / , Bad / Walk On The Wild Side (snippet) / Biko (snippet) / Candle In The Wind (snippet) / If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free (snippet) / Sexual Healing (snippet), Sun City with Lou Reed

As the Chicago Tribune reported it by Lynn Van Matre:

The Chicago Tribune, June 15, 1986
By: Lynn Van Matre, Pop Music critic


“The traveling all-star musical marathon billed as “A Conspiracy of Hope” rolled into the Rosemont Horizon Friday night with a twofold purpose: to make people aware of Amnesty International, a human rights organization which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and to make some good rock and roll.It’s hard to know just how much consciousness-raising was accomplished Friday, but the quality (and quantity) of the music was never in doubt. Nearly five hours of rock and roll produced several standout performances and a couple of surprises.Sting, for instance, was billed as a solo act, but when he took the stage to close out the evening’s entertainment lineup, he was accompanied by his old Police mates, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland. Lou Reed, who had done a set of his own earlier in the show, returned to the stage during U2’s set to be joined by Bono and the rest of the band in the anti-apartheid song, “Sun City.” And comedian Robin Williams turned up unexpectedly to do a number of manic jokes (none of them particularly funny) about dictators, TV evangelists and giving birth.

Dick Gregory also stopped by to offer a few words about the work of Amnesty International, and a dozen or so other celebs did their bit via videos which were shown during set changes. It’s hard to argue with most of the group’s goals: to work to free those who have been persecuted and imprisoned for their beliefs (“prisoners of conscience,” as Amnesty International refers to them). But according to one of the celebs on video, Amnesty International also opposes the death penalty anytime, anywhere, a philosophical stand that plenty of people might have serious problems accepting.

The music, however, sometimes spoke as loud or louder than the messages Friday night. One of the concert’s most memorable moments came when singer Peter Gabriel ended his set with “Biko,” a haunting tribute to slain South African poet and activist Steven Biko.

The show, featuring Sting, U2, Gabriel, Reed, Bryan Adams, Joan Baez and the Neville Brothers (with concert producer Bill Graham as master of ceremonies), opened with a brief, two-song set by the Nevilles. The New Orleans group is currently trying to widen the audience for their musical gumbo of funk, blues, jazz and Mardi Gras sounds, but there wasn’t much opportunity for them to strut their stuff in the limited time alloted them. Next up was Joan Baez, who performed “The Times They Are A-Changin’ ” a cappella and talked about torture chambers, then teamed up with the Nevilles for a few numbers including “Amazing Grace.”

With Baez, the obligatory “do-gooder,” out of the way, the crowd was happy to move on to some rock and roll ably provided by Lou Reed. One of rock’s genuine originals, Reed and his band performed “I Love You, Suzanne,” “Turn to Me,” and “Walk on the Wild Side” to the crowd’s appreciative cries of “Loooooooo.”

Reed was followed by Gabriel, whose synth-driven rock sound has recently reached the mainstream via his current hit single, “Sledgehammer.” That song and “Shock the Monkey” were crowd pleasers Friday, but Gabriel’s somber “Biko” was what brought down the house. A short intermission followed Gabriel’s set, with the second half of the concert consisting of Adams, U2 and Sting. Adams reprised his Top 40 hits, including “Straight from the Heart” and “Summer of ’69,” and drew a particularly strong response from the crowd. But the biggest reception of the evening was accorded U2, featuring lead vocalist Bono and a guitarist known as The Edge. The band’s anthemic sound has never sounded better, and Bono was in particularly good spirits.”

© 1986 The Chicago Tribune. All Rights Reserved.


Thank you to Lynn Van Matre, music critic, published in the Chicago Tribune.

It’s not too late to join Amensty


About Spool Going Round

If you like my blog and have access to programming and would like to do a radio/internet show together, please contact me. My name is Mike. I am an on-air radio DJ. I fell in love with radio in Chicago and then took that passion to someplace where I could actually get on the air. My travels took me to Seattle, WA, Eugene and Portland, OR and Washington D.C., where I was able to have my own morning show. I've had crab cakes with Warren Zevon, sat backstage and interviewed Sting, had Melissa Etheridge sing to me from the front row and I loved every minute of it. That passion for music still burns strong in me and I love to talk music and be turned on to music. Sharing new music with people is what got me interested in radio in the first place. It is wonderful to be able to talk music with you. "Go ahead you're on the air..." Read more:
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One Response to My reflections on over 1,000 concerts attended (a Conspiracy of Hope)

  1. Pingback: My reflections on over 1,000 concerts attended (Nirvana) | Spool Going Round

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