September 17, 1984 – Melbourne, Victoria, Australia – Sports And Entertainment Centre
Opening Act(s): Matt Finish
Wire, Gloria, I Threw A Brick-A Day Without Me, An Cat Dubh, Into The Heart, The Unforgettable Fire, Surrender, Two Hearts Beat As One, Seconds, Sunday Bloody Sunday, The Cry, The Electric Co., A Sort Of Homecoming, October, New Year’s Day, Pride (In The Name Of Love), Out of Control. Encore(s): Party Girl, I Will Follow, 40.
The show marks the very first performances of Wire and A Sort Of Homecoming. This is the only show to ever be opened by Wire, and one of only two shows on the entire Unforgettable Fire Tour to be opened by an Unforgettable Fire song (MLK opened the October 18, 1984 show in Lyon, France).
By Andrew Menner
On the eve of U2 playing in Melbourne for the Vertigo tour, I am reminiscing big time… I think of 1984, the first time U2 played in my hometown Melbourne… Melbourne was a very different city then. Radio stations were playing a lot of new music from Australian and overseas bands (not like now)… U2 were yet to have a hit single, but for some reason, by the time U2 arrived on stage in Australia they had no less than four albums in the top 40, War, October, Boy and Blood Red Sky. This success was due to the success of the mini ep Under A Blood Red Sky which had sold squillions in Australia…What other band could possibly do this, obviously magic followed the band everywhere from a very early time…
There was a lot of hype about the new U2 album to be released very soon after the tour… the single Pride had been released around a week before the Melbourne shows, it gave U2 their first top 10 single in Australia, and another anthem that we could all lose our voices to.
N/Australian crowds were used to some very good local live acts at this time, bands that had not made it overseas yet, but were going to… To see Midnight Oil, INXS, The Church, Hoodoo Gurus, Divinyls, Nick Cave was a regular occurrence in a maturing musical city… U2 did not disappoint…
The U2 ticket I had was for Sunday 16th September 1984. Apparently Bono’s voice was not so well therefore our show was moved to the Monday 17th September…
OK, I was 16 years old and the concert was 22 years ago… but my memory is still vivid of this night… This was smack bang in the middle of the U2 flag waving era, other than the video to Under a Blood Red Sky being played a lot on commercial and ABC television, there was some other live concerts from European festivals being played often, especially one from Rockplast which included a lot of flags… therefore the Australian crowds loved the flag, in fact, imagine hundreds of flags and banners. I couldn’t believe it!
The flags were the most visual part to the lead up to the gig and created a great atmosphere… I could not help but feeling the experience of the obviously already hard-core U2 fans in the crowd, the vibe was that they new what was about to happen… U2 had already played for 3 nights in Melbourne and 9 in Australia in the previous 13 nights…
The Venue where U2 played on this 1984 tour was the Melbourne Sports & Entertainment Centre. It was the old Olympic swimming venue from the 1956 Olympics so it had a flat floor where the pool was and two sides of grandstands with U2 up one end of the pool. There was a 10 foot drop to the floor from the bottom of the grand stands, this kept the floor crowd separated form the grandstand crowd. I think the venue held between 15,000 to 20, 000 people.
With the atmosphere electric before the concert, I could not believe the vibe when the lights went down, the rush for the front of the stage was completely out of control, all I can remember is watching people pour over the edge of the grandstands to the floor 10 feet below. The security fellows had no chance of stopping the rush, I think they were just good cushions to land on.
N/After the mess of flags, bodies and security people were sorted out, it was down to a general fist pumping, flag waving crush, It was already halfway through the first song before I think people realised we were listening to a new track… It was Wire, the first time ever played live! After this, I remember Bono saying “We play a song you know”, then the drumbeat start to Gloria, at this point the atmosphere multiplied by about 10 and stayed at that level for the rest of the show.
There were too many highlights to remember, Bono grabbing a flag during Surrender and doing his March… Is An Cat Dubh and Into The Heart the greatest U2 ballads ever? The final three songs were the most exhilarating 15 minutes of my young life… New Years Day, Pride and Out Of Control… No wonder the crowd would not leave, even after the encore and the lights went on… Everyone in the venue sang “40” at the top of their lungs for at least 15 minutes while the roadies started to pack up
Walking all the way up Batman Avenue to the city, after the gig, the crowd was still singing “40”… Waiting for a tram an hour after the gig finished “40” was still being sung by a huge amount of people on Flinders Street. Simply increadible…
N/All this 22 years ago… This was U2 at their youthful best, tomorrow night I get to see the other end… Thankyou U2…