- 20 Aug 01
A Peter Frampton cover version, a flautist and female backing vocalists were all elements of FEEDBACK’s first ever live concert performance, yet this was th eoutfit that would eventually become U2. COLM O'HARE recalls the event
Almost a quarter of a century ago – April 11th 1977 (Easter Monday) to be precise – at approximately 8.30pm, the fledgling U2 (then trading as Feedback) took to the stage at St. Fintan’s High School, Sutton, on the north side of Dublin. They were third on the bill at a “rock concert”, organised by myself and a couple of schoolmates. The headliners on the night were a popular but long-forgotten Dublin pub rock band, The Arthur Phybbes Band with support from Howth hard rock act, Rat Salad.
It was U2’s first “real” performance before a paying crowd. Over the years, accounts of their debut have appeared in various biographies — some of which had them headlining, others which had them tagged (wrongly) as The Hype. The truth was that they were added to the bill at the last minute. Prior to the gig we had sold an impressive 400 tickets at 50p each but we needed a couple of hundred more punters to cover our costs. A schoolmate (Art O’Leary), who had defected to Mount Temple from St. Fintans a year earlier, mentioned this band, Feedback, who were interested in playing the gig. What’s more, he said, they had a following and would guarantee to bring a hundred fans along with them.
Not wanting to take any chances I requested to meet up with the band before consenting to their appearance. I can clearly remember the sight of an afro-headed, Afghan-coated Adam Clayton striding across the schoolyard on the Thursday before the gig. He presented me with a foolscap set-list that included a bewildering array of styles and genres. It included versions of The Eagles’ ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’, The Moody Blues’ ‘Nights in White Satin and Peter Frampton’s ‘Show Me The Way’ — songs united only by their collective popularity at the (legendary) Grove Saturday night disco at nearby St. Paul’s School in Killester. The only vaguely hopeful number on the list was Bowie’s, ‘Suffragette City’. I agreed to have them on the bill – but with no guarantee of payment.