ABOVE: Acrobat has been following U2 for years, and Monday night the tribute band got the opportunity of a lifetime. Peter Kim reports.
TORONTO — School teacher Mark Baker has attended 35 U2 shows, and he says they never seem to get old.
“Sometimes something special will happen. There’s always a moment in the show where the band reaches out and does something with their fans,” said Baker.
Monday night that “something special” involved him and his friends who are part of Acrobat, a U2 tribute band that’s been performing for two years.
“We were pulled up onstage by Bono, by U2, and we were asked to perform a song. So we performed “Desire.” And it was a dream of a lifetime really,” said Baker. “I’m still processing everything as we speak. My hands were shaking.”
“Our singer Gabriel, our Bono, was really hamming it up with the crowd and really getting into it.”
Gabriel Pate is the lead singer of Acrobat – the band’s “Bono” – who looks eerily similar to the Irish rocker.
“The glasses seem to help quite a bit. I think we have similar noses, so that helps. The silhouette is quite similar,” said Pate.
Monday night’s experience was even more special because Baker’s parents were in the seats attending their first U2 concert.
“They were just surprised. They couldn’t believe that their son was onstage.”
Pate has been a U2 fan since 1982. “The first thing I got hooked on was The Edge; he has a signature guitar sound. And I really like Bono, he’s a very inspirational guy and his music has really been a soundtrack to my life,” said Pate.
Baker has turned the basement of his home into a makeshift U2 shrine adorned with framed photos of their eight meetings. One of the most recent was in Montreal during another concert.
“I was brought up for ‘Mysterious Ways,’ and we were dancing and having a good time and all of the sudden Bono said, ‘pick me up’ and all of the sudden he was in my arms.”
Bono and Baker are even on first name, or first moniker, basis.
“He calls me Mirror Ball Mark,” said Baker, who dons a flashy mirror ball hat to snare the artist’s attention in large crowds.