June 16, 1997

[U2] Bono's

Autograph session outside Commonwealth Stadium turns into rare treat for U2 nighthawks
Journal Staff Writer

U2's Bono had little to say about his stop in Edmonton, but offered a big smile and gave a solid two thumbs up to the city.

With his weary eyes shaded behind sunglasses and nursing a sore throat, Bono emerged from the Hotel Macdonald late Sunday afternoon wearing his traditional black hooded uniform and black jeans.

To the crowd of nearly 200 fans, the Irish rock star offered no autographs but stopped briefly to shake hands with those who waited hours to meet their idol.

He graciously accepted a teddy bear from one of his many fans that swarmed around him.

Half a block from the hotel, Bono unrolled the window of the limousine, stuck out his arm and gave one last thumbs-up followed by a two-fingered peace sign.

U2's friendliness has impressed many fans, especially Anthony Barbagallo.

The Toronto native had already seen U2 in Las Vegas and San Diego before heading to Edmonton. He will see them perform again in Massachusetts followed by Toronto, Detroit and Montreal.

But the Edmonton concert was extra special for Barbagallo. Waiting outside Commonwealth Stadium after Saturday's concert, he and a crowd of 20 others met Bono and The Edge at 5 a.m.

Bono signed Barbagallo's guitar and serenaded him and the others before calling it a night and heading back to his hotel.

"Now I have a $1,400 guitar and I can't play it any more," said the 22-year-old who plans on having his guitar encased in glass.

"My final thing is to hopefully invite them to my house for an Italian dinner, and give back to my favourite band."

Earlier, guitarist The Edge, donning his now-infamous cowboy hat and blue jeans, waved to the onlookers before checking out of the hotel.

"Brilliant. The best," he said of Edmonton fans.

Dan Thomas is a U2 devotee. For him, a slight meeting with the Irish super-stars was worth the all-night drive from Manitoba.

Thomas and four friends had seen U2's Winnipeg concert Thursday, but hungering for more Bono, they headed for Edmonton.

"I'm here to see the greatest rock and roll band in the world.... He's (Bono) up there with Bob Dylan and John Lennon."

Tamara Pusselle and Neil Murphy camped outside the Hotel Macdonald since they flew in from Vancouver Friday. Their persistence paid off as they repeatedly met the band and garnered autographs.

"They mean a lot to me. Their music's helped me through a lot," said Murphy showing off a CD signed by Bono.

"I just can't believe how friendly they are," added Pusselle.