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U2 Rock Band Gives Free Concert As Mock Benefit

November 12, 1987

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ A surprise 45-minute mock benefit concert to ″Save the Yuppie″ by Irish rock band U2 drew at least 20,000 fans on two-hour’s notice.

The band, which has concerts scheduled Saturday and Sunday at the Oakland Coliseum, performed Wednesday before a crowd of tourists, teen-agers and business people at a plaza near the city’s financial center.

Lead singer Bono jokingly called the show a ″Save the Yuppie″ concert. He said the band had wanted to do a benefit since the Oct. 19 stock market collapse, but it ″had to be in a cool city like San Francisco.″

″The group arrived here Monday night and they wanted to do something for the people. We thought it would be great, so here we are,″ said promoter Bill Graham.

He said there was no advance publicity because ″we didn’t want people to stay here overnight. We didn’t want people to get in trouble. So we wanted the people to know about (the concert) this morning.″

Radio stations provided all the publicity necessary to more than fill the Embarcadero Center’s Justin Herman Plaza, which spokeswoman Sandra Sloan says holds 15,000 people.

Throughout the performance, spectators stood on hotel balconies and restaurant roofs and peered out of office buildings.

″We’re not supposed to be here,″ said one high school student from San Rafael, who said he did not want to be identified because he had skipped school for the 1 p.m. performance.

The band played some of their own hits and sang ″All Along the Watch Tower,″ written by Bob Dylan for Jimi Hendrix, and songs by the Beatles and Curtis Mayfield.

At one point, Bono spray-painted ″Rock’n Roll, Stop the Traffic″ on a sculpture that is part of the plaza’s Vaillancourt Fountain. Sloan said Graham’s company agreed to clean the sculpture, adding, ″It’s not a major thing at all.″

Sloan said the event was peaceful, with no arrests or injuries reported.

The concert also was political, with Bono condemning South Africa’s racial policies and the recent bombing in Northern Ireland by the Irish Republican Army that killed 11 people and wounded 63 others.

″I believe Ireland will be united one day, but without rifles,″ he said in the middle of the song ″Sunday, Bloody Sunday.″

Ann McColgan, a member of the U2 fan club in San Francisco, said after the show: ″You know no other band would do this.

″It’s hard to find bands (giving free concerts and getting involved in politics) today - back in the ’60s maybe. Now, they’re starting up again, but they are a little more controlled,″ she said.

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