It was very exciting this afternoon to open the box of programmes for the U2 Conference that starts in Belfast tomorrow afternoon. I am delighted that we in Fitzroy will be hosting some of the events. I am thrilled to actually be taking part in the Conference.
This is the 3rd U2 Conference. The previous two in 2009 and 2013 have produced two books Exploring U2: Is This Rock 'N Roll and U2 Above, Across and Beyond: Interdisciplinary Assessments. The Conference aims to appeal to academic and general audiences and this year’s theme is based around the Pop album and Pop Mart Tour.
Coming to Belfast is all about coinciding with 20 years of Northern Ireland’s Good Friday Agreement which brought political peace to the country. U2 were very much a part of that historical moment when they appeared along with Ash and political leaders John Hume and David Trimble at a Pro Agreement Rally in Belfast’s Waterfront Hall.
Speakers are arriving from all over the world and personally it will be a thrill to meet U2ophiles that I have engaged with for years but never met in person. Sessions will be at Queens through The George Mitchell Institute For Global Peace, Security and Justice in the mornings and at Fitzroy in the afternoons.The keynote speakers are Catherine Owens artistic collaborator with U2 and world renowned Belfast rock journalist Stuart Bailie.
On Thursday evening Fitzroy's finest will be singing their versions of U2 songs and delegates will get an opportunity to speak some commentary. Even more exciting, for me, is that on Friday I will be in conversation with Andy Rowen. Andy is the subject of two U2 songs Bad and Raised By Wolves. In a communal way Cedarwood Road is about him too as it is about his home and family where Bono found refuge and salvation after his mother passed away.
Raised By Wolves is about the UVF bombs in Dublin on May 17, 1974. Andy was 11 and he and his father got caught up in the bomb. As Andy told me there was no post trauma counselling in 1974 so he was back in school on the Monday as if nothing had happened. Sadly for Andy his way through that trauma was alcohol and drugs and Bad is about that.
Indeed the original lyrics of Bad, turning up in a U2 Exhibition at the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame in Cleveland was one of the ways that God threw his arms around Andy Rowen and brought him back form the brink of addiction.
Andy’s story is inspirational and what I love most about his story is that Andy’s parents took a young teenager into their home when he needed salvation and thirty five years later a lyric written by that young man became the means of their own son’s salvation.
It should be a movie! Someday it might be. Come along and hear it from Andy Rowen himself at U2 Conference 2018!
So, one more big sleep, and we will be started. If you fancy dropping in to a session or two, then personal message me and I will get you a guest pass for that or those events.