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U2 - Live from My Office

Nigel Smith Nigel Smith | 19:19 UK time, Friday, 27 February 2009

I've known about U2's rooftop gig for weeks. The secret was public by Wednesday but until then we'd been pretending that the "big Irish band" who were going to perform on top of Broadcasting House were B*Witched. Few were convinced.

The Music Interactive team's office in Portland Place has the best view of U2's open air 8th floor stage so it's no surprise that we've been overrun today by a TV crew. There are wires stuffed behind the radiator next to my desk and Health and Safety have allowed the windows to be fully open for the first time that I can recall so that two TV cameras can poke out and film the band.

The mid-afternoon lull was broken at 4pm when Bono and The Edge stepped out onto the Broadcasting House balcony. A crowd on Regent Street, all hoping that their camera phones could capture the moment, let out an enormous cheer.

4pm: Bono gives the gathering crowd a wave from the Broadcasting House balcony

By the time it had got dark the crash barriers had gone up along Regent Street and a massive crowd had gathered. It was interesting overhearing their voices which ranged from "What's going on here?" to "I've known about this for days."

Before the gig started at 6.45pm the office was full of faces I didn't recognise and even some children. I should have sold tickets.

My colleagues Tim and James, who produce the websites for our major music events like Glastonbury and the Electric Proms, have been holed up in a meeting room "closed to unauthorised staff" making sure all of the content from today is published as soon as possible.

You can now watch all of this morning's Live Lounge set from the Radio Theatre as well as gems we've found in the BBC archive. My favourite is the clip from a 1981 episode of Top of the Pops which you need to watch for both Dave Lee Travis' 'comical' outfit and some special effects possibly created on a Commodore 64.

Later tonight you'll be able to watch all of U2's performance from the roof of Broadcasting House on the website and tomorrow highlights from all of today's fun and games on the TV via the red button.

Do leave a comment and tell us what you think of U2 at the BBC.

Nigel Smith is Senior Producer at BBC Music Interactive


  • Comment number 1.

    What a brilliant day. Thanks to _everyone_ at the BBC who must have worked so hard to make it so special.

    It's events like this that make me proud of the Corporation!

  • Comment number 2.

    U2 on the British Broadcasting Building ... truly inspiring & superb, both of you!

  • Comment number 3.

    I can't agree more most of these events usually you only hear about happening abroad. Well done BBC, you have done us proud this week with U2 - the roof top was fantastic.

  • Comment number 4.

    Hi Dom, I was one of the lucky few able to watch U2 in the Live Lounge after winning tickets through the ballot system . It blew me away and it will be a day I will never forget so thank you to BBC Radio 1! I also stayed in London to watch the roof top concert which was also fantastic!! Good on the BBC, I promise not to moan when renewing my TV licence next month!!!!

  • Comment number 5.

    Thanks for that chris fantastic just the thing you need on a friday night to raise the spirits and have some fun.

  • Comment number 6.

    So, er, does this mean that the Beeb is going to start doing more rooftop gigs to help promote new artists? What would be far better are some rooftop gigs for (truly) upcoming, quality artists who could do with some good free publicity far more than U2 does - I'm sure sales figures for their latest album would be just fine even if they didn't have a licence payer funded gig to help. ;)

    Just seems a little hypocritical of the Beeb flying their "In New Music We Trust" flag, then little more than a year later giving a free gig in a coveted setting to a band that's been around for twenty years... Or is this just the start of a whole series of rooftop gigs? That would be genuinely exciting to see.

  • Comment number 7.

    I think you've missed the point. To be able highlight the BBC as THE place for music with the biggest band in the world is just brilliant and I agree with the comments about license fee.

    Bono's comments in the Live Lounge regarding the BBC as being the best in the world just reinforce this and hence what they do do for new bands. Bands like U2 and Cold Play give credibility like no other and hence a brilliant platform for new bands (eg Little Boots).

  • Comment number 8.

    Cheers for a great day BBC, from Jo on Radio One, to Simon Mayo on 5 Live, then to top it all off with Chris Evans on Radio 2. Well done to all the Staff at the BBC.

  • Comment number 9.

    As the comments on this topic are being heavily moderated elsewhere, I'd too like to register my complaint about the BBC's eagerness to help promote U2's new album.

    I'm not a huge fan of U2, yet I don't dislike them either (I've brought a few of their singles over the years), yet the fact that the BBC was so eager to help promote an album (which I understand is somewhat mediocre) sits uncomfortably with me.

    As others have mentioned, I feel the BBC should be seen to be promoting new bands more than promoting artists who are already successful. At the same time, from reading the comments above, I can see this is a topic where opinion is split, so perhaps there was some benefit to the BBC taking part in the band's publicity tour. I just ask that in the future such events are not so heavy handed.

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    Did the performance compare to "I still haven't found what I'm looking for" video, when U2 decided to perform on the roof of a building, outside, overlooking Berkeley, California in the early 80s? The Bay Bridge and every street and freeway entering Berkeley from San Francisco were gridlocked for 4 hours.
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]
    Joe from Fresno


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