The Unforgettable Hire: Boston musician in running to join U2 on stage this weekend in Paris


Back in July, the Knock Ups singer/guitarist Gretchen Shae performed live on stage with U2, banging out a sweet rendition of “All I Want Is You” right in the center of a packed TD Garden. It was a special moment in a rather routine exhibition: At each stop along U2’s iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Tour of North America, the iconic rock band would invite a fan up to the stage during a song. Most of the fans, however, would simply dance along as U2 played, usually during an extended part of “Mysterious Ways.”

Shae, however, actually played guitar with the band.

“Lots of women get up and dance,” Shae tells Vanyaland. “Few play.”

Now Shae is in the running to join U2 on stage once again — this time, this Saturday in Paris, for a show set to be live-broadcast on HBO. It’s up to a public vote in a poll titled Who’s Going To Paris This Weekend?, and in the running are nearly 60 entries — pretty much everyone who joined U2 on stage — but Shae is a rare case of actually performing with the group.

We assume that if Shae wins, she’ll be able to jam with U2 once again. Because when the moment presented itself back in July, Shae, a teacher at the Boston Conservatory, was more than ready.

“I have been trying to play with them for years,” she tells Vanyaland when we asked how the initial guest spot happened. “I sang ‘Moment of Surrender’ to Bono outside the Four Seasons during their 360 tour. I said, ‘Please let me come up and sing tonight. I can really sing!’ Bono said, ‘I can hear that!’ It didn’t happen. Back in 1997, I gave him a 7-inch of my old band, Black Barbie. Shane McGowan was on the front holding our demo. Bono got a kick out of that. In short, I have been trying for years!”

Shae met the band outside the Garden before their soundcheck the night of July 14, and she gave them a Knock Ups CD. “I asked Bono again, ‘Could I come up and play guitar?’ He winked and said ‘You never know how these things will turn out.’ [During the show] I was pulled up! I wasn’t scared at all — I’m missing the shy chip. I tried to be respectful and took a step back during Edge’s solo. I also handed the guitar back immediately and gave my hugs. I didn’t want to overstay my welcome. The next night Adam Clayton wore a Knock Ups t-shirt on stage. I guess I did OK.”

To campaign for votes, a Facebook page has been created, and a friend of Shae created a promo video soliciting fans to vote her way. We don’t know when the polls close, but since the show is this weekend, it’s probably soon.

Watch video of her performance — and the promo video — below. And in case you missed it, here is the link to vote.