Saturday, February 19, 2011

U2 at the Maple Leaf Ballroom/1981

U2 played the Maple Leaf Ballroom on February 11, 1981. I was there. The Diodes were the opening act and despite trying to provoke the audience with their "punk" attitude" everyone was there to see U2 promoting their first album "Boy. At one point the Diodes lead singer tried to jump onto a mirrored disco ball in front of the stage and crashed to the floor. The band stopped playing and waited while he drag himself back up.
U2 came out and were great, when the crowd called for an encore they came back out and admitted that they didn't know any more songs... so they played the entire set again! It was even better the second time around. Before the show I saw them being interviewed across the street in a coffee shop or a Mr. Sub. That interview can be seen below.



The Diodes playing their hit, Tired of Waking Up Tired.

An old matchbook from The Maple Leaf Ballroom, courtesy of Chuckman's.
The current state of the Maple leaf.
The restaurant across the street where the interview took place has now been demolished. Queen's Dairy Family Restaurant.

13 comments:

  1. I missed this show - I was at high school just a few blocks away, and couldn't afford tickets. I did have tickets for the Specials/Mods show a year or so earlier, which was originally booked into the Maple Leaf, but got moved to the Palais Royale - my introduction to the lakeside dancehall where my mom had gone dancing in the '30s and '40s. Perhaps a post on long gone Toronto dance halls is in order - the Palais is an obvious one, as is the Palace Pier, but there were plenty more, I'm sure.

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  2. Good idea. I'm collecting info on Sunnyside.
    We used to go to a lot of parties at the Palais Royale. I've been to a couple of weddings there recently and they've done a nice job on the renovations.

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  3. I also seem to remember that they played the Ballroom because someone(Adam Clayton?)was too young to play in a bar....

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  4. I saw that U2 show there and their very first Toronto gig at the El Mo, still have autographs on the back of a Rob McConnell Boss Brass flyer!!! Saw the Pretenders 1st @ the Maple Leaf(incredible!!!) and Adam & The Ants(ridiculous). God Bless Ms. Styrene, RIP

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  5. I didn't see the El Mo show but Bono tried to hit on my girlfriend (or so she said..)

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  6. Folks - I have a shot from that show which is part of a charity auction at The Spoke Club on December 19th, 2012 - email me at gary@BigSmokeRising.com if you want a ticket. We have this U2w show and a ton of other Toronto shows by The Police, Ramones, and many others from the 60's, 70's, 80's.

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  7. Someone has ID'd the restaurant location as the Toronto Deli which then became Queen's Dairy. I think they may be right. Here is the link:http://www.onvaughan.com/articles.php?id=1709

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  8. Hey - this is great stuff, thanks so much. Does anyone know if The Diodes opened more shows for U2, or just this one?

    BTW, U2 was on tour in Europe on Feb 11., 1981 -- this Toronto show was March 11.

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  9. Myself & 2 friends blew off class and drove up from Buffalo for this show...after being turned on to U2 by the good folks @ Play it Again Sam's.
    Well worth the trip!! I do remember the Diode's singer trying to get crowd fired up & literally crashing for his efforts. We also stumbled into the Bono interview @ Mr. Submarine because we were starved after the drive and ducked in for something to eat. After their set, we stuck around and wound up chatting with the band and they could not have been more genuine and gracious. One of many great, TO concert memories from 80's!

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  10. Just found my ticket stub for The Specials and The News (formally The Mods)at the Maple Leaf Feb 24 1980. Interesting how the poster above mentions it was moved to the Palais. I remember them at the Palais, and always suspected the Maple Leaf Ballroom show was lost to me in a cloud of fragrant smoke. Good to know that ain't the case!

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  11. I am so pleased to have found this blog. I was at that concert, but the opening act was not the Diodes, according to my memory, it was Foot in Cold Water. I stood at the very front next to the stage. The singer of Foot in Cold Water was very athletic. He jumped up on the giant speaker stack and lept up to try to swing on the mirror ball, but the cord broke and he fell to the floor right at my feet. I picked him up and helped him back up on stage. I didn't know who the next band was, I didn't think anyone did. I did notice that several people in suits started to fill up the balcony, I thought one of them was Cindy Lauper. When U2 began playing I was blown away. I am a bass player and the strong bass line was fantastic! I also remember the guy introducing them did not say their name but just said they were a new band from Ireland. I also remember that at the end them saying they didn't know anymore songs but played again one or two they had already played. I think I didn't find out till later that they were U2. I remember telling friends about it but for a long time could not find anything on line to back up my story. In fact I found several articles saying that U2's first gig in North America was somewhere else. I think that this was their first gig in North America.

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    1. Um , naw, it was the Diodes all right, I was there. I am the bass player, everything you describe happened

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  12. I am so pleased to have found this blog. I was at that concert, but the opening act was not the Diodes, according to my memory, it was Foot in Cold Water. I stood at the very front next to the stage. The singer of Foot in Cold Water was very athletic. He jumped up on the giant speaker stack and lept up to try to swing on the mirror ball, but the cord broke and he fell to the floor right at my feet. I picked him up and helped him back up on stage. I didn't know who the next band was, I didn't think anyone did. I did notice that several people in suits started to fill up the balcony, I thought one of them was Cindy Lauper. When U2 began playing I was blown away. I am a bass player and the strong bass line was fantastic! I also remember the guy introducing them did not say their name but just said they were a new band from Ireland. I also remember that at the end them saying they didn't know anymore songs but played again one or two they had already played. I think I didn't find out till later that they were U2. I remember telling friends about it but for a long time could not find anything on line to back up my story. In fact I found several articles saying that U2's first gig in North America was somewhere else. I think that this was their first gig in North America.

    ReplyDelete