Every month we put an U2 fan in the spotlights, the fan of the month December 2009 is user MacStripey. This German U2 freak is our last fan of the month this year so it must be something special. Read along!
Tell us something about yourself, who are you and what do you do for a living?
My name is Kirsten, I’m 32 years old and live some 60km away from Cologne, Germany. You’ll find me working on my family’s stud in the midst of the countryside surrounding the “Ruhrgebiet” area. I’ve mastered as horse breeder and by now co-own my parents’ stud. We have 20 horses that we all bred ourselves. It’s my job to be there when they are born, care for the mares and the foals, raise them and finally train them under the saddle and in front of a horse-drawn carriage once the horses are grown-up at 4 years. My daily work includes all sorts of farming, horse feeding and teaching lessons to young people who want to learn how to ride or drive a horse. My weekends are mostly spent with weddings, as I drive horse-drawn carriages with 2 or 4 horses in front of it. When you see a newly-wed couple coming out of church and a carriage with horses is waiting for them – it might be me Weekdays are filled with teaching lessons and working the horses. During the summertime I drive to Utrecht (Netherlands) many times, as the mares are made pregnant there in the university horse clinic.
Usually I have 14 to 16 hours work days, 360 days of the year (the few free ones go off for concerts of a certain Irish band ;p). It’s hard work, sometimes not easy, but always rewarding, as you get so much in return for what you give – from both the horses and the young people I work with. And I know that what I do, the knowledge I pass on to my “students” will accompany them in a positive way for many years to come, I like that. That’s what I do for a living.
You attended some 360 shows including Dublin, how did you enjoy the trips to Ireland?
It goes without saying that seeing U2 in Dublin is the biggest dream of every U2 fan coming true. I have dreamed of this for a long time. It’s always said that the best place to see U2 is at home. So when the 360 Tour was announced and tickets for the Dublin shows went on sale, I decided I’d try everything to see the boys at Croke. I’m grateful my parents have such an understanding for my fandom, they did everything to arrange our tight work schedule around that weekend so I could go.
I’ve been to Dublin before the 360 shows, in fact this was my 4th trip to Ireland. I was there for “only” 48 hours, arriving on July 24 for the first show and leaving on July 26 after the 2nd show, but those 2 days were the most intense of my whole 360 Tour pilgrimage so far. There is something special about the Irish celebrating their boys at home that I have since then often tried and always failed to put into words. It’s been incredible to stand in that stadium and become part of that Irish crowd. The sound of the band was carried out all over the North side of Dublin where they grew up and went to school, they’re one of them. So big now, mega rock stars, still not acting like that. It was “a sort of homecoming” and I had shivers on both nights. And I have to say that on July 25, for the 2nd Dublin show, I was way up high in the nosebleeds, and it’s the first and only time that people on seats up high under the roof were dancing and having a party just like people down in GA. It was ah-mazing. I remember that Irish gentleman next to me, asking me before the show which ones of my 360 shows was the best so far, and I said “it was last night”, referring to the Friday show. Well, after that 2nd show had ended, he asked me again, and I said “this was the one, the best. Both of them.” I left Croke Park with the feeling that now I knew why people always say that the best place to see U2 is at home. It can’t really be formed into words. It’s a feeling. And it’s shared when you’re there. I hope that every U2 will get a chance to see them in Dublin. A precious experience I will forever be grateful for.
And not to forget, Dublin itself was worth the trip for the concerts. It was overcrowded by U2 fans from all over the world, the band’s music floating out of every pub, every shop, the whole city was breathing U2, beating with U2. It was very impressive.
Did you prefer the gigs at home or abroad this year?
I can’t say I preferred any over the others. I’ve been to 7 concerts this summer, and each one was unique. Saying I prefer one would lessen the others, in a way. It was a life-time experience to travel to Barcelona for the opening night, I met so many great fans there and the show blew me away. The Spanish crowd knew how to celebrate like none other. Dublin goes without saying, it was precious. As were the two nights in Amsterdam, as the first was with my dear friend Jana and the second I made it to front row at the outer circle where Bono sang parts of Magnificent right in front of me. I love going abroad as I love going to other countries and meet people there. I’m touched to experience the warm welcome I got in other countries. It was a fantastic time, for each and every concert. But I also loved Berlin, it’s one of the best shows of the tour so far, imo, and I was there. The atmosphere was great. And Gelsenkirchen meant returning to the place where I had my very first U2 concert ever, so the circle was closing there in a way. A special night again.
Something that I only experienced with U2 so far – and I’ve been to many concerts in the past 20 years – is that I can’t say that one concert wasn’t as good as another one. They’re all special, all precious, and I’m grateful that U2 manage to do this for me.
Do you think we'll actually see Songs of Ascent in 2010?
I have hope, and I’d love to see it. But honestly I think it won’t surface until 2011. The band is busy with touring all through the year, and I don’t think they will publish an album again that is not really finished. They will take their time, and if it’s for the sake of a perfect album, I’ll gladly wait for 2011 but I’m really looking forward to it.
What do you think of Bono's charity works?
I’m all for it. He is doing what he has to do, and it’s a good thing. He uses the spotlight he has to remember us again and again of the poor, and that one concert, one gathering of politicians won’t end poverty over night. It needs constant work, and he’s a constant factor in these unstable times. I appreciate the fact that he’s not seeking the attention of each and every newspaper to let the world know he’s doing something for the good cause. He is using the spotlight where it helps but he’s no self-adoring rock star who uses the needs of the poor to keep his face in the news. It’s the other way round, and I have a deep respect for that. I’m able to say that the singer of my favourite band does things for the right reasons, for the good cause, he’s not burning money on celebrity parties and destroying hotel rooms. He’s a good man, and he’s dedicated himself to be a part of making the world a better place. In his own way, and the way he knows to do it. Yes, he can get lost in his speeches during shows, we all know how to push the “skip” button on our ipods when he talks for the x-th time about poverty during the Vertigo shows. But if he wouldn’t do it anymore, people would forget. And people would die. “He who saves one life saves the whole world” is a Hebrew saying I read a while ago. Bono is a good person, and he will be remembered for it. And I’m proud to be a fan of him. He wouldn’t be the same person if he wouldn’t do his charity works.
When I was a kid, my dad worked in Africa as a railroad engineer, so I spent some years of my youth there as our whole family lived there. I learned a lot about tolerance and love while I was there, a blond European child among black Africans. I was a guest there and they took me into their midst like their own. You can learn so much of Africans, and they’re so much more than the starving children we get to see on tv over here. They’re proud and strong people. They don’t need charity, they need justice. If Bono can help to make a difference, I’m grateful he does it.
What did you make of all the Wall controversy in Berlin?
I heard about it from a friend as I was on my way to Berlin the night before the show on November 5. It irritated me as it was a total non-U2 thing to exclude fans from watching the show who couldn’t get inside. Especially as the tickets were for free anyway. And it went against the idea that was behind the celebrations in Berlin those days. The wall had come down, and for the U2 show it was built up again, symbolically, it seemed. But when I was there, I decided for myself that it wasn’t U2, it was MTV that had it built up. It was stupid, they could have used regular fences as a barrier, if it was needed for security reasons, so at least people on the outside could have watched through it. However, there has been much talk about this. I didn’t like it, not at all. It was all done in the name of (m)tv, so for once we had to live with it.
In your opinion, what has been U2's defining moment and why?
There have been many “big” moments that people name as their defining moment, let it be Red Rocks, Live8, Slane or even the 360 Tour now. All big events, all meaningful no doubt.
But for me, the defining moment of U2 is one that had no big audience, no big venue, no media attention. It happened in a studio in Berlin and was just between the four of them. I think that when U2 were “trapped” in those Hansa Studios in Berlin and the band was threatened to break apart, when “One” came to life and they found each other again, found themselves as a band again, that was the one defining moment of U2. It all comes down to that song, to that experience. Bono once said that the song is about the band, as it was born when U2 were re-born, something like that, and that he still gets the shivers today when they play it on stage. So this is U2’s defining moment for me. Just the four of them, and the birth of “One” to help the band start anew.
How did you hear about U2start?
I wished I could remember I think I was searching for U2 bootlegs, I was only just beginning to explore the world of bootlegs and I was desperate to find audios of my first 2 U2 shows. So I browsed through the internet, coming across countless more or less useful sites, until one person (which I know no name of and never spoke to again) mentioned u2start. I came over here and found paradise for my U2 fangirl heart and I’m grateful I did. I wouldn’t want to miss it again. For the sake of great bootlegs shared here, and the fantastic people I have met here since I registered, some of them being true friends now and new fans coming along every day who I love to get to know. As I often say, best place in the internet to be.
How did you become a fan of U2, tell us how it happened?
I have listened to U2 since I can remember, that’s why I wrote in my userinfo I’ve been a fan of U2 “all my life”. But I never was that kind of fan I am today, with going to concerts and all (shame I missed Popmart and Elevation, sigh) – until my first U2 concert.
I can nail it down to the very moment I became a real U2 fan, it happened during the 2005-06-12 Vertigo show in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.
I had bought a GA ticket only a few weeks before the show, on a night where I sat bored to death in front of the computer, browsing ebay in search of any ticket of a show that would satisfy my hunger for a good rock concert. I randomly stumbled over U2 tickets (I didn’t even know they were on tour then, can you believe it) for Gelsenkirchen, which is only 40km from my place. I remembered someone saying to me that you never know what a real rock show is like until you saw U2. They were famous for being the best live band, so I thought why not try and see if they can live up to that So I found myself in the crowd that night on June 12, and I clearly remember when the show began, how I realized there was something going on between the audience and the band that I hadn’t felt before during a concert. Then came “Elevation” and the crowd was screaming E-le-va-tion, and the second time they do (at 1:29 min., as I know you desperately want to listen to it now LOL), the song goes off in a blast and it literally blew me away, inside and outside. It hit me like a lightening bolt, it really did. From that moment on, the show carried me away, touched me deeply and the band truly “lifted the roof” in the two hours that followed. On my way home that night, I sat in the car and knew something had changed – for the better.
And the next morning, to add some fake!drama to this story, I woke to the world as a U2 fan. All because of a random ticket I bought by chance. I’m so glad I did J more than 4 years later, look where I am now, and what I experienced because of and with U2. Amazing.
What are your hobbies and interests away from U2, musical or otherwise?
There are all kinds of music I listen to beside U2. Some of the bands and artists I’ve followed for a good part of my life are Metallica, Bon Jovi (never missing a tour), Bruce Springsteen, Queen and PUR (which is a German band). Rock and Alternative are my favourite genres, but I also love Irish folk as well as trance or even classic. It depends on the song, really. I’m always open for new insights, you can discover so many fantastic songs and artists you usually wouldn’t have listened to, wouldn’t it be for someone pointing you into their direction.
As for hobbies, there is not much time for that, due to my work schedule. But the time I do take off, I love going to concerts, as you might have guessed by now. Live shows are what recharge my battery and give me the energy to face every-day-life. And I love meeting fellow fans at shows, be it U2 or any other band I go to see.
Besides music, there is football (soccer) as a great passion of mine. Growing up and living most of my life in the “Ruhrgebiet” area, I am bound to be a fan of a local football team, it’s meant to be. I’m fan of Schalke 04 whose home is the Veltins-Arena U2 just played in during the 360 Tour. I usually go to several home games of Schalke during the season, supporting my team standing in the “Nordkurve”. The 360 Tour reduced this year’s games to just 1 for me so far, as I spent my money on the concert tickets.
Other than that, I enjoy a good read in the evening, there is nothing more relaxing for me than some good music, a mug of tea and a good book. It can be all from drama to classic tragedy (yes, Shakespeare and Goethe can be found in my shelfes) as well as some history books or plain drama by Nicholas Sparks or another grand novel by Dan Brown.
My greatest passion, beside U2 and my horses, is Ireland though. I’ve been there 4 times by now, and the next trip is already planned for early 2010. I’ve loved the country since I can remember, and the moment I was there for the first time I knew I would return. And this has nothing to do with U2, for a change It’s the Irish people that make me feel home when I’m there, I have many fond memories of the times I spent there, it is a beautiful country. The music has something about it that touches my heart, and the country’s history is rich and fascinating. It’s my one true love, and U2 and their music just add to it and make it grow, every day again and again.
Thanks for this interview MacStripey!
Note: Our crew members randomly pick fans of the month, you can't sign up for it.
"I was there the food was shite, I was vegetarian, full blown, verging on the vegan and so it was a difficult time. But underneath all the cultural shock I enjoyed it. So I was happy to go back".
- Larry Mullen jr, 2009, on the NLOTH sessions in Fez, Morocco
Bono and his wife Ali Hewson own a clothing line named EDUN (spelled Nude backwards) together.