March 6, 1981. U2 live from Boston at the Paradise. It’s their first Boston date on their first U.S. tour and it’s an instant classic.
For years, this gig was considered a “Holy Grail” of sorts for both U2 bootleg collectors and Boston rock historians. Originally broadcast on the legendary and now-defunct WBCN, fans of rock music in Boston were treated to U2 in their nascent form: their first tour away from home to support their first full-length album. Thanks to early airplay here in Boston, fans new what they were in for, and what they heard was a performance from a band that was destined to be legendary.
The excellent U2 Songs blog has the full background on the gig: how it was originally broadcast then released as a radio show on vinyl, how many of the songs ended up on future U2 singles as B-sides, and how the gig was finally made available to the masses as part of the 2004 release of The Complete U2. I remember when it dropped: I was hosting middays at WBCN. And I was able to work the live set into my radio show.
Revisiting U2 Live From Boston, 1981
For a long stretch of my six-and-a-half year run as midday host at WBCN, I hosted a daily theme lunch. Every weekday at noon, I would tell you the day’s theme, and take requests. For example, if it was a “Dead Guys Lunch” (I know, not the classiest approach; different times), I’d play requests for Nirvana and Sublime and Bon Scott-era AC/DC and the like. “Women In Rock Lunch?” Heart, Joan Jett, Evanescence. You get it.
Thursdays were dedicated to full live sets. So having a proper, high-quality release of Live From Boston, 1981 was quite the boon. It sounded great then, and it sounds great now.