U2 Rock Fordham University: On the Ground at the 'Secret' Set

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Jenn Pelly, Rolling Stone

"I joined a rock & roll band so I could get out of going to college," Bono told students at New York's Fordham University at 8 a.m. this morning, during a somewhat-secret six-song U2 set at the school's picturesque Bronx campus that was aired on Good Morning America. "Maybe if it looked like this, and felt like this, things could have been different," he added.

The show -- which capped the band's first-week publicity blitz for its new No Line on the Horizon -- took place on the steps of the university's gothic Keating Hall, in front of a snowy, packed quad of Fordham students and staff. A Fordham ID was required to enter the School of Rock-esque spectacle. "Edge, what would have been your major?" Bono asked. The guitarist's response: a "Major key."

Bono and Co. tore through three tracks off of No Line on the Horizon ("Get On Your Boots," "Magnificent," and "I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight"), receiving an overwhelmingly positive response from the crowd of ecstatic students who may have still been in shock that classes were canceled for a surprise U2 concert at "Edward's Parade," a popular quad where students usually play Frisbee or catch rays. "I hope you like our new direction," Bono told students before jumping into their second song. (Check out photos from U2's Fordham gig -- and the rest of their big week in the Big Apple.)

Students lined up as early as 1:30 a.m. to land a spot close to the band, and started chanting for "Bono!" as the sun came up. Despite their sleeplessness, students went wild, jumping around with Bono and maintaining their high energy throughout the show. Most of the college crowd seemed unfamiliar with the new songs, but ecstatic about the performance nonetheless. "Everyone probably downloaded U2's new album last night," said Andrew Inks, a Fordham junior.

"This song was written about Fordham University's campus," Bono said before introducing one of the new tunes. "Particularly Friday nights at the Fordham University campus. It's called 'I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight.' " Students caught onto the words ("Every generation gets a chance to change the world") and appropriately screamed along.

"We started our band in high school. This is exactly where we come from," Bono said during a brief interview with Good Morning America, which took place halfway through the set. Edge added, "We ended up recording in Morocco, New York City, London. We follow the inspiration, so here we are." Larry Mullen Jr. also explained that his father would be pleased that he finally made it to college. Following the interview came "Beautiful Day," "Breathe," and "Vertigo," all of which kept the student body singing along madly.

Good Morning America chose Fordham for the segment for its location and "warmth." But as a Catholic and Jesuit university dedicated to graduating "men and women for others," it is particularly fitting that U2 would perform at Fordham. "U2 transcends rockstardom," said Fordham-president Father McShane, S.J. "They are deeply committed to social justice and advocacy." McShane added that the band represents a group who display "great joy in life by giving back to others." U2's performance brought Fordham into 4.5 million homes this morning, "rightly putting Fordham on the map," McShane said -- and helping the campus justify its 2007 Newsweek title of "Hottest Catholic School in America."

© 2009 Rolling Stone.

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This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on March 6, 2009 8:33 AM.

High quality version of U2's Letterman performance of "Beautiful Day" was the previous entry in this blog.

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