- 24 Nov 17
10 Hot Press writers share their favourite U2 moments as we get set for the release of Songs of Experience on December 1. On our fourth day, Hot Press writer Valentina Magli talks about a life in search of U2.
I fell in love with U2 at the age of 13, listening to the radio in Bologna. Thus began a wonderful adventure, which finds me living in Ireland – still touched in a unique way by extraordinary music of Dublin’s most famous sons.
Italy is a country that can be praised on many levels. Art, history, food, landscape, fashion, lifestyle… but rock music certainly isn’t our thing. I was always convinced that if I wanted to find good musical inspiration, I’d have to emigrate. And I did!
Strangely though, Italy seems to be very good at importing other countries’ musical talent – and great at promoting it. That is where it all started for me. I spent half of my teenage years locked in my room listening to tons of “foreign” music.
Rock, grunge, blues, soul, electronic, alternative. PJ Harvey, R.E.M. Radiohead, Pearl Jam were invading my thoughts but no band got close to my heart in the way that U2 did. It sounds like a cliché, but it is actually true. I remember being 13 years old and turning on the radio. It was the Zoo TV years. I was so into Depeche Mode at the time that I was hardly listening to anyone else other than Dave Gahan. However, I heard Bono’s voice, not having a clue what band I was listening to, and I said to myself: this is special. “Even better than the real thing,” Bono sang in the background, and I was captured. I knew I had to go see them live. Luckily enough, the Zoo TV tour was hitting my hometown of Bologna – and it ended up being the very first gig I went to. What an initiation!
I went on a mad quest (there was no internet in my house at that time) to acquire as much information as possible about this band “with a weird name” – and found out that they were from Ireland. That led to another mad quest to find out what was so special about Ireland, a country that generates so many great artists.
Needless to say, I got hooked on Irish music – and I persuaded the whole family to come on a trip over here. That was 1994. I promised myself I would go back at some point and explore more of the green island. And so it happened that I fell in love with the place, the people, the music. I moved here in 2003 and never looked back.
I grew up listening to most of U2’s albums on a loop, including the early LPs, like Boy and October. You can feel in those records the sense of boyish enthusiasm which must have inspired Bono, Larry, Adam and the Edge in those first few weeks and months of deciding on what they would call themselves; first Feedback, then The Hype and then finally… “U2”, after a note had been pinned to the noticeboard in Mount Temple all the way back in 1976.
40 years later – and just over 20 for me, since I first caught the U2 bug – I still feel inexplicable emotions when I listen to their songs, which constantly acquire a different meaning.
The live shows are even more unique – and always eventful and communal events. There are many stories from their shows over the years, but the common denominator is always the feeling of pure joy.
Looking back, I owe a lot to U2 and their music – and to the fact that the right four people ended up sticking together, after those first few weeks of trial and error. It is strange to think that it might so easily have been otherwise…