Travel Music 4: In the open air with Genesis and U2, 1987.


The trip in 1987 covered quite a lot of ground over a period of four months. It also offered the first opportunity to witness major musical concert events while traveling abroad: Genesis live in Budapest, Hungary in early June, and two months later, U2 in Cork, Ireland.

Genesis was at the pinnacle of its 1980s pop phase, and perhaps “fashionable” only in a locale behind the Iron Curtain, where Queen played a groundbreaking show the year before. The group’s Invisible Touch album was ubiquitous on the radio, and it became the soundtrack of my extended stay in Hungary. The track chosen here is Abacab, off an earlier album, and a far better song when performed live. The dual drumming conclusion is classic.

On the other hand, U2 as yet was traveling an upward arc, somewhere in the middle of a year-long tour to support the band’s Joshua Tree album. Like the Genesis gig, the concert was outdoors in a soccer stadium. My memory is decidedly pre-Zoo TV; the crowd was massive and reverent, and there was a spiritual vibe that later dissipated when U2 became iconic. “Where the Streets Have No Name” competes neck-in-neck with “Still Haven;t Found What I’m Looking For” in my personal lexicon of travel metaphor music.