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Throwback Thursday: I Was at that Concert — U2?

UAlbany students cheer the hot new sound from Ireland and its young exciting lead singer. (Photos courtesy of University Archives)

ALBANY, N.Y. (February 2, 2017) — It was a warm and sunny May 7, 1983, and on the lawn behind the Campus Center where now sits the Science Library was the annual Mayfest concert, featuring three bands. The third of these was a group from Ireland, called U2, which that week had its first top 20 album in the U.S., with War.

The crowd of about 10,000 realized quickly, if they had not known beforehand, that this group was special, and particularly so its dynamic lead singer, Paul David Hewson. Known simply as Bono, he was then three days short of his 23rd birthday.

Bono and U2 at University at Albany

U2's impetuous lead singer Bono climbs up and sings upon the scaffolding.  

According to one alum, “Like most of the crowd, I had heard 'New Year’s Day' on the radio once or twice, but otherwise knew nothing about the band. After a 90-minute high energy, passionate performance, I was hooked."

Bono at one point during the politically charged "Sunday Bloody Sunday" climbed up the stage scaffolding and waived a white flag. The UAlbany crowd went wild in one the few outdoor concerts the band gave on their North America tour supporting War.

At the end of the show, Bono shouted out "Thank you…we will never forget this day!”

Celebration '83 was the third year of a purposely scaled down version of Mayfest, which in 1980 had drawn more than 18,000 and finished so late that it was impossible to clean up the trash on the lawn. The "Celebration" series sold tickets, limited their sale, stopped promotion on WCDB, put up fences and increased security.

But the enthusiasm in 1983 was hardly dimmed, even with the addition of a raised drinking age: to 19.

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