In October 1990, I was out of college for five months and living in Chicago, actually Evanston to be precise. America was headed to a Middle East war and the economy was going south. I was a newly minted graphic designer, who disembarked the Greyhound bus in the Windy City two months prior and holding onto everything as I worked for a little upstart company, Starbucks Coffee, just to make ends meet. My life needed vitality on my days off from work. I spent them wisely record store hopping around the city.
One afternoon, I came across a store in downtown Evanston, which housed a case in the back filled with bootleg Compact Discs. It was like an altar that beckoned me to visit. It sucked me in like a vortex. As I scanned the case, I saw a lot of old live recordings. Classic shows of Prince, on the Purple Rain tour, and Springsteen, on his Born in the U.S.A. tour, were propped up on picture frame holders and wrapped neatly in shrink wrap. I kept looking at the candy and then my scanning came to a halt. There it was – U2 Point Depot. I looked at the price and crapped my pants, $90. I knew it was out of my price range, as it would take 2 months or 3 to pay for it on my measly $6.25 an hour job. Luckily, the store would let you listen at one of three listening stations. I did just that. I listened to, and recorded it into my grey matter, every track in its entirety. Then I heard that famous quote by Bono as the show closed, “It’s no big deal, it’s just – we have to go away and … and dream it all up again.” I was crushed. Was this meaning U2 was done? This was their exit stage left? I was worried as I am sure others were too. We had no Internet to turn to find the answers to our questions. We had to unearth the right source to give us the information of band status. I asked the store owner and he looked blankly at me as I gave back the headphones to the listening station. I was lost.
As I exited into that cold, grey October day, I had no idea the band was in East Germany dreaming it all up again or at least trying to. Without any contact with die-hard fans, I was left in limbo but the show stayed with me and so did the price tag. It had been five years since The Joshua Tree had been released and exactly two years since Rattle and Hum. The music world needed U2 and the band needed us. Fear was growing inside me that they would release The Joshua Tree Part I. Actually, Rattle and Hum was just that album, if we could call it an album. U2 needed to leave the spotlight and go dream like Martin Luther King. They had been on top of the mountain and now, they had to venture back into the valley. It would’ve been ok if they left the valley behind without seeing their dream of Achtung Baby come to fruition but they had bigger ideas, “to dream out loud, in high volume.”
I eventually bought the Point Depot album on vinyl and took it to my aunt and uncle’s house to record it on cassette. Paul McGuinness would be mad at me today twice since I bought a boot and then taped the boot onto a cassette but we will get to that discussion later. For this day, I had a copy of U2’s last show on cassette and stuffed into my Walkman. As I waited for the unknown survival of our Irish heroes, I listened incessantly to the Dublin show on acetate. With the addition of God Part II and One Tree Hill plus a couple other newly minted gems, the show was very reminiscent of my first U2 show in Iowa City two years prior. I was in auditory heaven as waited like hell to get a signal that the heartbeat of the band was still an active pulse.