Me striking the same pose as members of U2 in this photo at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Me striking the same pose as members of U2 in this photo at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame


It’s not a book post, I know, but if you’ve been a reader here, you know I’m also passionate about U2 and I recently had a pretty cool U2-related experience.

Over the weekend, I attended a U2 Conference. As one of the other attendees expressed, when most of us told people we were going to a U2 conference, the conversation went something like this:

Us: I’m heading to Cleveland for a U2 Conference

Them: A concert? I didn’t know they were touring again. That’s awesome.

Us: No,  a Conference

Them: Funny look.. “Oh. Well, is the band going to be there?”

Us: No.

Them: Even more incredulous look “Okayyyy.”


We went anyway, even knowing that some of our friends and family think we might be a bit crazy. Or obsessed. Or something like that.  About 130 U2 fans descended on Cleveland, Ohio to talk about the band we all love. While the bulk of attendees were from the States, we had people come from as far away as South Africa, Australia, and Norway.

So what does happen when 130 U2 fans get together for not-a-concert and no appearance from our favorite band?  Lots of fun, enlightening and entertaining discussions, and rocking out to an awesome tribute band.

Although the official start of the conference was Friday morning, many of us arrived in Cleveland Thursday and kicked off the festivities unofficially at a pub that evening.

I knew of one other person attending the conference, but really was there by myself. So walking into Flannery’s Thursday evening, I simply asked if I could join some folks at their table, and thus began the adventure with new friends and the tribe that is U2 fans.  That’s just a small part of what made the whole weekend so special- it was easy to make instant connections. We were guaranteed some conversation, which is a great icebreaker.

Friday and Saturday, we had a choice of a number of Academic panels and mainstream panels for each part of the conference.  Not being able to be in two places at once I generally chose the Mainstream panels. We heard from journalists who have interviewed the band, publicists, documentarians, and graphic designers. This is cooler than I make it sound here, because these are people who have known the band for years and were able to share insights we had not heard before.  We were able to screen films about the fan experience, and learn how U2 constructs their sound. Special thanks to Jim Henke, Brian O’Neil, Bill Carter, Steve Averill, Natalie Baker, Michelle Regina Iacobelli, and the guys from Unforgettable Fire for taking the time to travel to be with us and share their history with U2. Full details about conference content, for those interested can be found here.

To close out the conference, the longest-running and arguably best U2 tribute band, Unforgettable Fire ( treated us to more than three hours of U2’s best live cuts and songs that only “real” fans typically know in a show at Cleveland’s Hard Rock Café on Saturday night. I think we all agreed that the only way it could have been better is if it had been U2 themselves there, but Unforgettable Fire are really class act guys, and true fans themselves. Thanks to them for making the evening really special.

With Craig (Adam) Kiell from Unforgettable Fire after Saturday morning's session where the band showed us how U2 makes music

With Craig (Adam) Kiell from Unforgettable Fire after Saturday morning’s session where the band showed us how U2 makes music


One of the panels was called “Stories for Boys and Girls” where some conference attendees shared their stories of the impact U2 has had on their life. I was one of those to share my story.  I was a little worried that there would be a lot of “I met the band when…” stories, and that’s not the type of story mine is.  I was surprised to find that instead, everyone’s stories involved real life; true instances where U2’s music had provided comfort in times of tumult or loss; ways that U2 has been a constant in peoples’ lives; ways that U2 have metaphorically saved people.


We had wonderful, informative panels. Some great information was shared. We learned a few cool tidbits about the band. But more than any of that, I believe that  the best thing about the U2 Conference was the people- the connection among people gathering as mostly strangers and leaving as friends. Not everyone of course, but I made several new friends- people I’ll be interacting with via Twitter and Facebook, and plan to see when the band tours again.  I won’t say that U2 holds a monopoly on this type of connection among fans, but I think what this tribe has is something special. I’m still exhausted from the weekend, but so glad I went, and already looking forward to the next one.

For more information see:   Unforgettable Fire