“The object was to close down the streets. If there’s one thing people in LA hate, it’s streets closing down, and we’ve always felt bands should shake things up. We achieved it because the police stopped us filming. Were we worried about being arrested? Not at the time…”
— Adam Clayton on the video for Where The Streets Have No Name
How close did the members of U2 come to getting arrested for performing on the rooftop of a liquor store in the middle of downtown Los Angeles? It depends on who you ask.
The video’s director, Meiert Avis, claimed that everything in the video is a hundred percent authentic and that the events show in the video happen in “almost real time.” When the police showed up, U2 was in the process of giving a live concert in downtown Los Angeles. Before being shut down by the police, the band performed an 8-song set. (Of course, four of those songs were performances of Where The Streets Have No Name.) The video’s producer, Michael Hamlyn, came close to being arrested while he was arguing with the police after they ordered the band to descend from the roof.
However, U2’s then-manager, Paul McGuinness, said in 2007 interview that the video deliberately exaggerated the extent of the band’s conflict with the police. According to McGuinness, the band was actually hoping that the police would give them some free publicity by forcefully shutting down the performance. Instead, the police apparently kept giving the band extensions so that they could finish up the video. In this telling, Bono claiming that the police were shutting them down was less about what was actually happening and more just Bono being Bono.
Whatever the truth may be, enjoy!