Some 30 years after it took place, the US Festival (with “US” acting as shorthand for “United Us in Song”) has become legendary for two reasons. First, the festival, which only lasted for two years, was conceptualized and organized by Apple’s Steve Wozniak with the intention to “throw a big party in the middle of nowhere.” Despite the ’83 attendance of about 670,000 people, Wozniak lost millions on the whole thing. Second, a list of the acts from the ’83 festival now looks like a Who’s Who of some of the most famous bands in rock & roll. Van Halen was there. Bowie was there. So were the Clash, Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne, and a rising band called U2 who had just released their third album, which included the song “Sunday Bloody Sunday.”
U2’s performance of the song is included on US Festival 1983: Days 1-3, a DVD which highlights some of the best performances from the weekend. A young Bono, sans trademark glasses, introduces the song by saying, “There has been a lot of talk, probably too much talk. This is not a rebel song, this is ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday.'” The band then launches into a blazing version of the song. Bono’s vocals are as spot-on and emotional as ever. The Edge’s guitar soars. In pure U2 style, near the end of the clip, Bono marches across the stage, waving a large white flag.
In addition to U2, the DVD includes performances from Judas Priest (in which Rob Halford rides his Harley onto the stage), the Clash (Mick Jones’ last appearance with the band) Stevie Nicks, INXS, the Scorpions, Men at Work, the Stray Cats and other Eightie’s mainstays. Wozniak might have taken a bath on this endeavor, but the fans (and future generations) made out like bandits.
US Festival 1983: Days 1-3 is out December 3rd, 2013 via MVD.