When U2 made their stop in Kansas City to play at the Kansas City Chiefs Stadium, May 19th, 1997, on the Pop Mart Tour, back in the days of  huge MTV video era budgets, they got this wild idea for the making of their “Last Night On Earth” video.

U2 decided to take over the entire business district mid-week, shutting down areas at random and shooting a “Mad Max style apocalyptic vision of a post-boom Gotham City in the middle of a war zone” video.

I was working downtown at the time. They handed out flyers to all the people working the day before to let us know not to go near the set and that there would be limited access while U2 was shooting their video. They must have got permission from City Hall. It was a strange thing to be working thirteen floors up and see one of the biggest rock bands in the world randomly closing down entire blocks to shoot  shots of U2 driving in an old 72 Mercury Marquis, “big iron”, screeching around corners.

They had sandbags on the bridge going down to the farmers market with military tanks sitting there. U2 was using all of downtown, shooting random picked out scenes. Kansas City looks like a worn out Gotham City straight out of the Batman movies. At least it did then. They are getting some new things now. Kansas City has huge empty skyscrapers from the forties and fifties looking for a buyer. At the same time, it is the business district, with the hustle and bustle of the 9-5 workers creating the same atmosphere that has gone on since the industrial revolution.

It was almost impossible to actually see the band, as the Kansas City Police would seal off a four block square while the band would be shooting until moving onto a different location. After a couple of hours, I asked my Boss if I could go take a look at what was going on. He was okay with it. I thought the band was already done. I walked for about ten minutes and then there were Cops everywhere.

They would stop anybody getting anywhere near the area from every direction.  It was impossible to see the band or know exactly where they were.

Now, I like U2, maybe not with the same reverence as a lot of their fans. I had got into them early because I liked the stripped down “Two Hearts Beat As One.” It was clean edgy punk pop that you could almost draw a line between Big Star and The Ramones.

U2 started eating up American music from a different vantage point instead of the Chuck Berry – Everly Brothers inspired Beatles and Rolling Stones. They wanted to be The Ramones. At least until Brian Eno shook things up with his Roxy Music-Music for Airports paradigm. They had a little of The Clash political overtones as well, from an Irish perspective. The Edge really stands out now, but, back then there was the first Cult album as well as Echo & The Bunnymen, The Smiths’ Johnny Marr, even Flock of Seagulls’ Paul Reynolds, coming from similar approaches.

It was the songs “Angel of Harlem” and the Bo Diddley flavored “Desire” that made me a little covetous. It was where U2 showed they could do just about anything. They weren’t going to just be a certain era flavor; they were going to go the distance. Like The Rolling Stones sang “Time Is On My Side,” time would be on their side.

Anyway, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to just walk on the set. In fact, I wasn’t even going to able to watch from fifty feet away. I decided before giving up on the whole idea, I’d walk a couple of back alleys and see if I could get a closer look.

I did. In fact, I came out of one of the alleys and ended up standing next to Bono and the director who were talking about the next shot. Bono smiled at me with his orange wrap around shades. He must have thought I was an undercover cop with my white shirt and tie.

It was just me, Bono, the Director and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. standing with the film crew a few feet away aimed at an old glass store front. While Bono and the Director, Richie Smyth, talked, Larry looked at me waiting for me to say something, so I did and we talked for ten minutes about filming in Kansas City.  It would have been cool to talk to Bono, but, he was busy trading ideas and figuring out the shot with the Director. I wasn’t there to bug anybody I just wanted to watch some filming and was closer than I bargained for.  I only talked to Larry because he wanted to.

If you see the video, they were shooting the scene where they crash the car out of a glass store front. I think they were stealing the car. Anyway, I knew nobody was going to believe this one. I told Larry that one of my best friends, who played drums, was a huge fan and asked if he could sign the log in my checkbook. He did.

I headed back to work after hanging with U2 for about fifteen minutes. I was actually gone over an hour from work. I showed my Boss and a couple of co-workers the autograph and told them about being on the set with Bono and Larry. It’s one of those gape open mouths “no way” kind of scenes.

I ripped out the autograph and sent it to my friend, Lynn. He is the biggest U2 fan I have ever known. He even had interviews of the band on vinyl that he had me sit and listen to back in the day. I knew it would mean more to him than me.  The memory of being there on the video set is priceless.

I noticed the link to the video was taken down at you tube so here is a making of the video video on oyu tube link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJhqPxtaOpY&feature=fvst

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

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