U2 at the Paradise

u2 in boston

Photograph by Philin Phlash

December 13, 1980

“I was going to see this band from Ireland—I had heard about them and I knew their single from Boy. I was big on being Irish and going to support these Irish kids; they were an opening act for this band called Barooga Bandit.

I had a flash that connected to my camera with a cord—they called it a potato- masher flash back then. I wore big, baggy Army pants with side pockets, and I would stash the flash in the lower side pocket. At the door they would say, ‘No flash.’ And I would show my camera and be like, ‘I don’t have flash.’ When I started as a photographer in, say, ’78 and ’79, the three-song limit came into focus, meaning that you could only photograph a band during the first three songs. A lot of times I didn’t want to photograph the band then. The later it gets, the better it gets, and this great band deserved every shot I could sneak.

U2 was definitely nobody then. And all of a sudden it was a different story. There were shows at the Paradise a year later that I couldn’t get into. They were sold out, or I wasn’t shooting for somebody so I didn’t have an in. As far as I am concerned, their love of Boston came from that first show. In that photograph, even though Bono has his eyes closed, he’s clutching the microphone and there’s a real energy that conveys what transpired. I’ll never forget the feeling of seeing U2 that first time.”

—Philin Phlash, photographer