Local Current Blog

Here’s the contract for U2’s 1982 show at First Avenue

Illustration by Allegra Lockstadt for The Current

Today, Minnesota is buzzing about the show U2 have just announced for U.S. Bank Stadium on Sept. 8. As we anticipate the upcoming show, we thought we’d look back on U2’s second local show: at First Avenue on Feb. 21, 1982.

They’d previously played the venue in 1981 — when it was still known as Uncle Sam. The 1982 show marked the first time The Current’s Bill DeVille ever went to First Ave (“wearing my fatigues, because that was the thing back then”). Bill remembers a night of huge energy with the band, who were promoting their sophomore album October but still had so few songs that they played their hit “I Will Follow” twice. “There was definitely something special” about the band, remembers Bill.

The encore began with a cover of Neil Young’s “Southern Man” (a regular cover for the band back in those days), and Bono had to call an audience member up onstage to help him remember the lyrics.

The Star Tribune’s Jon Bream was also at the concert. Writing years later, he remembered that he wasn’t particularly impressed. “At First Avenue, Dave (the Edge) Evans’ guitar — he hadn’t yet entered the realm of stage name only — sounded like sonic experiments. The band didn’t really rock like a U.K. punk band. U2 seemed to owe more to the modern-rock school of David Bowie and Roxy Music, only with more anthemic ambitions. The singer, Bono Vox (he wasn’t mono-named yet, either), was intriguing but not commanding.”

The band’s contract and ticket sales accounting for that night are available in the First Avenue archives at the Minnesota Historical Society; thanks to Simone Cazares for retrieving these. Scroll down for a glimpse of what life on the road was like for U2 in 1982.

The band’s guarantee was $2,500 — about $6,100 in today’s currency. These days, the band make several million dollars for every concert…but then, they probably don’t get half of that amount handed to them in cash before the show, like they did in 1982.

Update 6/7: Although the contract stipulates that the band be paid this amount prior to the show, Steve McClellan — then general manager of the venue, who signed the contract — clarifies that in fact, “the band was paid AFTER the concert an amount that included the remainder of their guarantee (as 50% had been deposited with their agent several days prior to the concert) AND the bonus monies they earned in percentage.”

McClellan adds, “the concert did sell out and the number of pre-sale tickets far was greater than the 153 shown sold at the Cheapo outlets. And, because the band received an additional $500.00 on top of the bonus monies, they certainly collected more than suggested” by the documents below.

Also notable is how modest the band’s 1982 rider was. All U2 needed for provisions for themselves and guests were one to two dozen beers, one bottle each of red and white wine, “light refreshment” (a deli tray is offered as a mere suggestion), and “abundant orange juice and Coke.” They also asked for coffee and tea, which didn’t even have to be prepared in advance — just ready for the band members to make.

The band also asked, politely, for food for their crew. “There are 4 persons in our roadcrew and we would be grateful if provisions for a hot meal for them could be made as it is unlikely that any of them will escape from the venue after get-in time.”

Setlist (via U2 setlist archive fan site)
Another Time, Another Place
I Threw a Brick Through a Window
A Day Without Me
An Cat Dubh/Into the Heart
Cry/The Electric Co.
I Fall Down
I Will Follow
Out of Control
11 O’Clock Tick Tock
The Ocean
Southern Man
I Will Follow

  • Judd Larson

    My friend Jimmy Griggs provided the food for U2 that night. I will try to get him to post his story. It is great.

  • Stephen Thomas McClellan

    Unbelievable – to read history about the venue so inaccurately stated AND, yet, seemingly written as though accurate – it’s unfortunate the person who “donated this contract to the MHS didn’t also donate the settlement sheets that went with it. The facts would show that the band was paid AFTER the concert an amount that included the remainder of their guarantee (as 50% had been deposited with their agent several days prior to the concert) AND the bonus monies they earned in percentage. Details, details, details –

    I guess “alternate facts” are now being distributed outside of Washington DC these days.

    • The Wickerman

      Quite irresponsible for The Current to publish an article like this without talking to Steve.
      People who weren’t at these shows shouldn’t try to write about them.

    • Thanks for the update, Steve — I’m sorry the post was misleading, and really appreciate the clarification. I’ve updated the post to add these details you’ve shared.

      • Stephen Thomas McClellan

        No worries Jay, I have people correcting me all the time because I certainly DO NOT have the memory that others have and always need assistance getting it straight – AND, I PAID THE BAND both dates …. I am actually curious whether MHS has the “settlement sheet” for this concert because when the file disappeared from the offices years ago – they got every show item in the file……..

    • MnVoiceofReason

      Wow. Someone should lose their job, huh Stephen?

  • Paul Haga

    My accountant was the fan that got to sing Southern Man with them that night. I have a copy of the board mix of the show and it is really good. They were incredibly tight, even back then!