U2 make me think about death

I went to see U2 last night. They weren’t very good. Part of it was the sound – maybe it’s just me, but when I go to see a four-piece guitar band I quite like to hear the guitar and bass guitar – and part of it was that they seemed a bit lacklustre. Most of it, though, was me.

I used to love U2. The Edinburgh leg of the Joshua Tree tour was my first big gig – a hugely happy memory – and the 1992 Zoo TV tour remains one of the most incredible gigs I’ve ever seen. I used to buy the music press to find out what Bono had to say, for crying out loud. And then I stopped loving them and started to detest them.

U2. Nice telly.
— U2. Nice telly.–

I stopped loving U2 in 1997 when they were touring the Pop album. It wasn’t a great album, which is something even U2 admit now, and with hindsight going to see three consecutive gigs – two in Dublin and then one in Edinburgh – wasn’t very clever. The first night was okay, but it was no Zoo TV; the second night was rotten, because Princess Diana died and the band paid tribute mid-gig. That was a bit too Elton John for my liking, and when they did it again in Edinburgh – at least, I think they did; Murrayfield’s legendary acoustics meant they could have been paying tribute to Hitler for all I could hear – that was the end of my U2 fandom.

Naturally, I decided to hate them instead. For a good few years they provided plenty of reasons to, as Bono got more and more annoying and the records got patchier and patchier. Old B-sides dug up and performed with Boyzone? The band who came up with The Unforgettable Fire churning out dross such as Elevation? Pffft.

There’s a – sadly untrue – story about U2 that cracked and still cracks me up: the band are playing Glasgow, and after one of the anthems Bono stands stock still, clicking his fingers. He does this for a while, saying nothing. Click. Click. Click. “Every time I click my fingers,” Bono says in his most pompous voice, “Somebody in Africa dies.” There’s a pause, and then one of the punters yells out: “Well, stop fucking doing it, then!”

Heh heh heh.

The thing is, though, I still secretly wanted to love U2. I was like a teenage boy slagging off an ex-girlfriend while secretly hoping she dumps her boyfriend and comes running back. And from time to time, there were flashes of the U2 I used to love so much. Beautiful Day is wrapped in joy for me – it was the soundtrack to an extraordinary trip with the lady who is now Mrs Bigmouth – and the first time I heard Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own, in circumstances I’d rather not share, I burst into tears. There was the odd flash at last night’s gig too. Stuck In A Moment… was the U2 of old, a staggeringly beautiful few minutes of music. But there weren’t many bits like that.

And that’s because U2 aren’t the same band I fell in love with. They’re not the hungry band who toured the Joshua Tree, or the panicky reinventors of Zoo TV; they’re four middle-aged millionaires whose fans turn up to hear the songs they wrote 20 years ago, babysitter permitting. Creatively, they’re moving/have already moved into Rolling Stones territory: you go to the gig for the spectacle and cross your fingers that they don’t play too much of the new, rubbish stuff.

Third song of the sell-out gig.
— Third song of the sell-out gig.–

And I’m not the person who fell in love with U2 either. You’re more likely to find me teaching Baby Bigmouth the “ma ma ma” bits of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face than poring over sleeve notes to work out what it all means, man. Musically, I’m moving into Dad territory: with the odd exception, the bands I’ll be listening to – and annoying Baby Bigmouth with – in a decade are the bands I was listening to a decade ago.

For me, then, going to see U2 again and hoping to be blown away was like meeting up with a girlfriend twenty years later. In your head, she’s young and beautiful. In her head, you’re slim and sexy. In the flesh, she’s got an arse the size of Belgium and crow’s feet deeper than the Grand Canyon, while male pattern baldness and alcohol abuse mean you look like a sick potato. And when you talk, you soon discover that the only thing you have in common is that you both own your own legs.

The defining moment of the gig for me wasn’t musical: it was when the screens showed baby-faced drummer Larry Mullen Jr, rock’s very own Dorian Gray. And he looked old. Of course he did: he is, and I’m not far behind him. In the end it wasn’t really a gig: it was a reminder that I’m not young any more, sponsored by BlackBerry.





0 responses to “U2 make me think about death”

  1. mupwangle

    If you remember you tried to persuade me to go to this gig. The difference between you and me though is that I knew all of this without actually having to go. I loved the Celtic Park gig and spent most of the Murrayfield one bored to tears.

  2. Is this the summer of great bands doing lacklustre gigs? We caught Simple Minds at Edinburgh Castle a few weeks ago. SM are “our” band and normally their shows have us on the ceiling for days. But that night it was more Robert Goulet than rock and roll. We kept looking at each other with that “um, WTF?” look.

    Admittedly part of my disappointment was because we’d seen Bruce Springsteen & co at Hampden just four days before. The only bad thing about it was knowing that I may never see another gig that good again in my life. Unless he comes back to town!

    FWIW I use the Robert Plant-Alison Krauss album as the lullaby CD. She never makes it past track seven – although she does sing along with Robert Plant. Clearly I’ve trained her well.

  3. Did Springsteen play two nights?

  4. Well, Belgium is not that big ;-)

  5. Gary

    Haha :)

    Since I typed that line about a giant arse, my internal jukebox has been alternating between National Express by the Divine Comedy and Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-A-Lot. Damn you, internal jukebox! Damn you to hell!

  6. Gary

    Mupwangle, it wasn’t really persuading: I said “do you fancy seeing U2?”, you said “no”, and I said “okay” :)

  7. Springsteen just played the one night, which, cough, clear throat, etc…


  8. Gary

    > Is this the summer of great bands doing lacklustre gigs?

    I think it’s more the bands reaching the same point – they know they’re turning into the rolling stones, but they don’t want to turn into the rolling stones. They need to learn from AC/DC :)

  9. Lis

    I think U2 is caught in their own moment of not being ready in any way to take Option B. The public (theirs anyway) seems to be far from ready for Option B which is to not record or tour anymore. I imagine as long as there’s hope that the music will be better live than the new tired recorded music, that they’ll bring a new spark to the old faves, they’ll sell tickets. You went for the same reasons I’m going (though am slightly less ethusiastic), some hope that at least part of it will make the time and cost worthwhile. In my case, I add in the joy of spending time with old friends as a U2 tour gives reason for seeing each other again.

    Despite my estrangement from the band, I still succumb to the fan behavior that justifies their cutting a mediocre record every four or five years and put on an epic tour.

    I wonder if they shouldn’t take a page out of Bono’s pseudo play book and actually stop being a band for awhile, be friends and get involved with the causes and charities they support. I don’t mean concerts for a cause but actual hard on-site work. Perhaps there will be relevance or a deeper meaning to their song writing or even a true edge that will come to their music. All are old enough and for the most part plain-looking enough to go into parts of the world as any embedded journo. I’m being rather idealistic but I don’t think it’s impossible to spend time not being a millionaire in the south of France but rather a genuine person existing in the world they want to write about. But they likely can’t or won’t, as they are (for the most part) fathers too.

  10. Lis

    err..forgot to add in my point which is when complete apathy sets in and the desire to be proven wrong sets in, they will have a valid reason for sticking with Option A. A friend of mine said at dinner last night, “I didn’t even realize U2 had a new album out. I never hear them on the radio.” In that case, that former fan is basically in apathy mode and was unmoved by the news.

    btw, I can’t believe your spam check makes me do math this early in my morning.

  11. Gary

    It’s not very hard math ;)

    Some good points there but I’m up to my neck in a job just now, so I’ll come back to this tonight/tomorrow.

  12. mupwangle

    Having BBC Radio 2 on in the background in the office, I’ve heard U2’s current single twice in the last 4 hours. Couldn’t tell you how it goes though. Could’ve quite easily have been a mashup of random U2 songs.

  13. Heather >>Springsteen just played the one night

    I was aware of that. I found it all a bit ‘meh‘.

    I have a memory that I went to see U2 in Nightmoves. I was there for the support: The Alarm. But, I cannot for the life of me remember actuzally seeing them. I do remember the spiky welsh blokes though.

  14. There is of course a well established Option C. It involves years of silence, extensive property portfolios, reality shows, and tours of the casino-and-leisure-resort circuit.


  15. Lis

    lol well I see Option C under the “Do nothing worthwhile for the foreseeable future” umbrella. At the risk of sounding like a 14 year old anti-social youth, it’s the Yoda Deal – Do or Do Not, There Is no Try. I’d really like it if they did cruise ships though :-D

    It’s interesting they play the single in the UK. If it gets any play in my corner of the States I don’t hear it. Last night I was at an Irish joint with homages to U2 on the wall. All I heard was a Fly remix and Dancing Barefoot, no new stuff (or even theirs for that matter).

  16. mupwangle

    I’m not sure you’re allowed to write a review claiming someone’s an “unprofessional git” when in the same paragraph you fail to spell “bus”. ;-)

    (“Rest” only has one “r” in it too.)

    Sorry for being a pedant. :-)

  17. richie9579

    I was there with you last night and I too felt disappointed with the lacklustre approach of a band that earns mega bucks from a performance like that. Staging was was pretty impressive but the sound cutting out and the lack of guitar/bass was dreadful!A few of my customers from work where there and all thought it was amazing. One friend who had seen U2 at Slane castle (even the dvd is amazing) thought this was the best he’d ever seen them.

    Is it just me? Am I not prepared to stand in the pissing rain on a tuesday night drinking expensive cheap lager and not being entertained? No i’m not.

    I think Bono showed up to the wrong glasgow stadium last night!

  18. andi

    in 91 the edge discovers the wah pedal 2 years after evveryone else, also in 91 a 3 piece from seattle relaese ‘smells like teen spirit’, nuff said, u2 have being has beings ever since, plus it was tuesday csi was on

  19. It isn’t just you getting old, you’ve just got too much experience/taste/judgment. You care to much about good music to swallow that kind of tripe.

    As a former sound man, I’ve never ever understood the point of paying musicians who can’t be heard. The first rule of sound reinforcement is: make sure everyone is heard. No exceptions (well maybe one for Linda McCartney) and no excuses. With all the sound gear and techs they have it is inexcusable, no matter how bad the acoustics were.

    In U2’s defense, I must say that it is hard for any musical act to age gracefully, particularly one whose initial image was based on youthful rebellion. Dylan reinvents himself every night, yet still has to deal with his “oldies,” but on the basis of making meaningful music, not projecting a marketable image.

    Sponsored by Blackberry- sheesh! The businessman’s PDA. Not much rock ‘n roll passion in that, I’m thinking.

  20. Gary

    Sorry, still buried under deadline mountain so just enough time for a quick reply: Prof. Batty, I wonder if part of the problem was the venue. Only other gig I’ve been to there was Eminem, and the sound for that was even worse. A rap gig where you can’t hear the rapper.

    Then again, you’d think if they spent that much money on the stage they might have worked out how to adjust the sound too…

  21. Gary

    Come to think of it, the pitch area seemed really empty for most of the gig – wonder if that was a factor.

  22. Gary

    I dunno, they’re interesting in that respect: when they stopped essentially reheating the old stuff the sales started to drop; when they went back to playing safe everybody was happy. Must be utterly stifling to be in that position. Then again, Radiohead don’t appear to be losing much sleep over whether anybody gives a toss about them or not.

    Maybe that’s it: U2 are too needy :)

  23. Gary

    Richie, I think gigs are as much about what you bring to them as they are about what happens on stage. So if you’ve been looking forward to a gig for months and you lurrrrrrve the band, then you won’t really notice flaws. Whereas thee and me were saying pre-gig “this’ll probably suck. Here’s hoping it doesn’t”.

    That said, we moved about the pitch a fair bit and the sound was ropey wherever we went – where we started off there was no bottom end at all, and when we moved to a place where there was finally some low-end thump it was bass drum and bass drum only. I could have sworn U2 had a bassist. Maybe not.

  24. Gary

    Professor, I love the idea that I didn’t enjoy the gig because I’m a higher being, but that probably isn’t true :)

    I guess I’d hoped for something more than a U2 gig by the numbers. Stage set aside, it was basically the same gig I saw in Dublin in 1997, with the bad songs from Pop replaced with the bad songs from …Horizon. Horrible extended dancey bit? Check. Tedious Important Political Bit? Check Etc etc etc. I didn’t feel the stage set did anything, given the incredible cost of designing, building and staging it. I mean, Def Leppard played in the round years ago :)

    Definitely a problem of expectation on my part. There had been loads of hype about the stage, and Q’s reviewer said it was a “spectacle unlikely to be topped in my lifetime”, or words to that effect. It wasn’t. It was a U2 gig with a funny-shaped stage. And for most of the audience I’m sure that was perfectly brilliant. Just not me.

  25. Gary

    Just coming back to the “revisiting the music of your teens and twenties makes you think about death” thing, it’s not just U2, or completely losing interest in bands: so much of music – maybe almost all of it – is about context. For example, I was obsessed with OK Computer when it came out because it really struck a chord (no pun intended) with how I was feeling at the time. Don’t feel like that any more, and I don’t think I’ve listened to it at all for years. I skip it whenever it comes on the iPod.

    On a related note there was a nice piece by David Hepworth in The Word recently where he argued that we’ve confused “genius” with “touched by genius” – that is, we call people geniuses when in the past, we saw genius as something external and ephemeral rather than part of an artist’s make-up. Hepworth argues that the old idea was the right idea.

    That makes sense to me, and it explains why, say, a band can make a couple of albums of consistent brilliance – Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby in U2’s case – but produce pretty patchy stuff the rest of the time. You’d expect musicians to get better as they get older – more proficient, more influences to draw upon, more life experience etc etc etc – but more often than not artists’ later albums are technically brilliant but missing the vital spark that was in their best stuff. I’m not suggesting that genius is some sort of spiritual force; more, context: sometimes artists become complacent, or weighed down by self-imposed pressure to beat their previous stuff, or determined to be seen as relevant, or too happy in their lives to summon up the pain and despair that leads to an Unknown Pleasures, or whatever. And there’s the external context too: politics, the state of the world, musical trends and all that.

    It’s like the Beatles thing: there will never, ever be another Beatles, not just because of the chemistry between them or the particular talents they had, but because everything else in the world – from music to the media environment – is completely different.

    Does that make any kind of sense whatsoever? I’m sure there’s a coherent point in there, but it may be hiding.

  26. Maybe not a coherent point, but a cloud of semi-coherent ones. The mystery of music is why it can communicate so directly, yet the magic of it is pretty much undefinable. After I stopped working in music in my late 30’s I almost stopped listening as well. Now that I’m in my late 50’s I’ve had a resurgence of interest, although not in rock or pop per se. (I’m into the Icelandic scene, although that may be due to a larger interest in Icelandic culture as a whole- Sigur Rós’ Heima is as much a cultural statement as it is a musical one.)

    Not dead yet.

  27. Nah, OK Computer has always been balls. Don’t let realising that get you down

  28. “OK Computer” always reminds me of the last episode of Father Ted, when Father Kevin finally gets his spirit back only to hear the album and lose it again.

  29. Lis

    It could be the antennas are screwed up too – I had that thought when you mentioned skipping OK Computer on the iPod. My reaction to that was “well, I skip 99% of what’s on my iPod at any given time” but I’ve been in a rather (musically) vacuous state. I look at it as a case of “I don’t have an ear or mind for it right now.” You kind of touched on that with the Beatles analogy about the state of their environment. If that same music came out today, it might not be remotely seen as genius. But it made me wonder (and I understand I’m opening my opinion up to a field day of sarcasm) if U2 released their current album when Achtung Baby was released if it would have been a landmark album? I mean, if music is such a personal experience then perhaps the music is only a soundtrack to what a person or a community is feeling. What would happen if Achtung Baby was released today? Would it sound the same or mean anything at all?

    I’m not going to defend this as a solid explanation.. I just think it’s interesting to pursue the question of “is it them or us?” rather than just taking the easier and more plausible explanation which is their new stuff is bollocks.

  30. Lis

    Just after I hit submit, I thought of one possible piece of evidence that no matter what U2 put out (JT or AB or WhateverIsOutNow) it would be crap..

    For better or worse, there are still the die-hard fans who love this band without reason or standards. If U2 did it, it’s the greatest thing ever. I know people like this and I am baffled by their love of songs that include directions on how to remove an unwanted document frozen on a Mac. But they think it’s genius and on-going brilliance. Given the personal enjoyment factor of music can’t really be prescribed, it seems reasonable to assume that there just were a larger number of people ready to hear what they had to say in the late 80’s/early 90’s and we MIGHT have gobbled up this current album the way we did JT/AB etc.

    I don’t think I need to point out there’s no way to know. I’m skeptical about this idea but I’m interested in it.

  31. Gary

    > if U2 released their current album when Achtung Baby was released if it would have been a landmark album?

    I don’t think so. Not just because of context, but because sonically AB is a much richer and more surprising record. And it was a big development from previous albums. I don’t think there’s much of that album where you can go “aw crap, that’s just a poor man’s version of X”, where X is an older U2 single.

    AB didn’t sound like a U2 album, so for example the first time I heard The Fly my reaction was “What the fuck is that?” – in a good way. Horizon *does* sound like a U2 album. First time I heard Magnificent I was genuinely racking my brains trying to work out which old b-side it was.

    You can see the difference if you take two songs beginning with M: Mysterious Ways on AB, and Magnificent on the new one. In the former you’ve got Edge cutting loose with his effects, you’ve got dance-inspired beats, you’ve got some interesting textures – and you’ve got that for the whole song. Magnificent starts a bit like Numb, brings in the synths and then bottles it completely: musically, lyrically, sonically, the song could be from any stage in their career. Know what I mean?

    I’m not slagging them here, and it’s entirely possible that all U2 fans are sane and I’m a cloth-eared get. I do think like any other artist they’ve reached a creative peak, and that forever more they’ll be trading largely on past glories – but fair play to them, they’ve hit creative purple patches not once but twice. Most artists don’t even manage once.

  32. Gary

    Or you could put on your cynical hat and point out that lots and lots of bands do the shiny guitar anthem thing, so they don’t necessarily need to listen to U2. The Killers’ When You Were Young is a fantastic U2 record, for example.

    I dunno, I think it’s a great big mess of things. More fragmented music, for example. Skipping iPods instead of listening to entire albums. The world already having lots and lots of U2 albums, so there’s no pressing need for another one – which is right back to the Rolling Stones. Quick, without googling – what was *their* last album called? And single? :)

  33. Gary

    That killed me. Best radiohead gag ever.

    Not that there are very many radiohead gags, mind you.

  34. Gary

    I’ve got such a backlog of stuff to listen to that I get intimidated. Haven’t even listened to the new radiohead track yet.

    I’ve found that I have less and less time for music these days. Used to listen when I was working, but can’t concentrate if I do that now; used to listen in the car, but these days it tends to be talk radio of some description. The only times I really listen to music now are when I’m getting a bus into town, when I’m mooching down to the pub or if I’m doing a really long car journey. In that last one, thank God my wee girl prefers pop and rock to kiddie CDs. They really are the worst things in the world.

  35. I think whatever it is that I enjoy in music tends not to be what other people enjoy. Especially with U2. They’ve gone downhill of late, yes — haven’t usually got that special spark that used to infect so much of their music any more — but I can’t even imagine them getting so bad that they record another song as bad as Bullet The Blue Sky, which is such a huge favourite with fans that there’d be a riot if they didn’t play it.

    Saw Zoo TV in London — it was my first stadium gig. Thought it was very good. But nowhere near as good as Popmart in Edinburgh, which remains the most spectacular thing I’ve ever seen apart from maybe a middle-of-the-night lightning storm in the Alps a few days ago. And I remember one of the things that impressed me about Popmart was the sound, which was the best I’ve ever heard in a stadium.

    As for the Princess Diana tribute, I think you’re forgetting the hysteria of the time. That gig came close to being cancelled because no-one was allowed to do anything happy or celebratory during The Great National Despair. They pretty much had to do the tribute, and it may well even have been insisted on as a condition of the gig going ahead.

    And I still think Pop is U2’s best album. Having heard the re-recorded versions on the best-of CD, I take the band’s point that the production wasn’t properly finished on the originals, but I still think it’s their only album with no filler or crap on it. For me, Pop was the moment where they took all the promise of the ideas and experimentalism of Achtung Baby and got really confident with it and got it dead right. And their subsequent repudiation of that experimentalism and rebellion against it is what’s led directly to the dull dross they’ve recorded mostly since. Hey, even if you don’t like the end result of the mucking around on Pop, you’ve got to admit they were still trying new things at that point.

    When they do play stuff from Achtung Baby live, they tend not to play what I think is the best stuff on it: So Cruel, Love Is Blindness, Acrobat. And they do play Until The End Of The World and Even Better Than The Real Thing, both pish on stilts.

    > There was the odd flash at last night’s gig too. Stuck In A Moment… was the U2 of old, a staggeringly beautiful few minutes of music.

    See, I think that song’s utter dross.

    Professor Batty, you’re right:

    > It isn’t just you getting old, you’ve just got too much experience/taste/judgment.

    Definitely, with emphasis on “too much” as opposed to “good”. I find myself going off records because I’ve been listening to music too analytically for too long for little things to get by without annoying me. Like Muse: fantastic band, but I can’t listen to their records ever since the way Matt breathes in started to annoy me. For fuck’s sake. Exactly the sort of thing I wouldn’t even have noticed when I was eighteen, and I’m sure I was happier for it. It’s not good taste or bad taste: it’s just having an overdeveloped musical ear that picks out little details. Which is great when I notice nice little details and really annoying when I notice something that puts me off music that I’d much rather get on with enjoying.

    I reiterate what I’ve been saying about OK Computer since the week after it was released: nowhere near as good as Pablo Honey, let alone The Bends; a great four-track EP with a load of shite stuck onto it.

    Gary, have you heard the James Roberts album? It’s pretty damn beautiful.

  36. Gary

    (quickly peeks out from under deadline mountain)

    I’d forgotten that you’re the only person in the world who thinks U2’s best album is Pop :)

    (back into deadline mountain again)

  37. Squander Two

    No, not the only one; there are three of us. I formed a band with one of the others and married the other one.

  38. Thinking about this a bit more (you know what I’m like)…

    > stopped loving U2 in 1997 when they were touring the Pop album. It wasn’t a great album, which is something even U2 admit now

    What U2 admit now is that there was a problem with the production of the album, not the songs. I may have missed it, of course (I don’t bother keeping up with Bono), but have they actually said that the Popmart tour was crap? Last I saw, they were saying that the problem with the album was that the songs weren’t half as good on it as they were live.

    Anyway, they haven’t disowned the album in the way that, say, Blur have Modern Life Is Rubbish. I bet they played Gone and Discotheque and Staring At The Sun the other night, didn’t they? Great songs.

  39. Gary

    Here’s Mr Bono in Rolling Stone:

    The film PopMart Live From Mexico City is the best thing, audio/visually that U2 has done. Eclipsed only by U2 3D, in my view. It’s better than Zoo TV, it’s better than all of them. It’s really, quite shocking. It’s unfortunate that we weren’t able to play that well at the start of the tour as we did by the end of it, by the time we got to Mexico.

    As regard to the album, yeah, I have some regrets and I think we fell in between two stools on that album — we neither made a dance or a combo album. And we also lacked editing and the hooks weren’t good enough, but I think I really liked the subject there and I really liked, what I attempted for.

    > I bet they played Gone and Discotheque and Staring At The Sun the other night, didn’t they?

    Nope. The set was very new-album heavy: Setlist here.

  40. Gary

    > For me, Pop was the moment where they took all the promise of the ideas and experimentalism of Achtung Baby and got really confident with it and got it dead right. And their subsequent repudiation of that experimentalism and rebellion against it is what’s led directly to the dull dross they’ve recorded mostly since.

    I agree with the second bit of that but not the first – to me, it was a failed experiment. But of course this is all personal preference, so naturally I disagree with you about OK Computer – especially the Pablo Honey bit. Now *that’s* an EP with shite filler :)

    > [stuck in a moment] See, I think that song’s utter dross.

    I do too – it’s a turd of a record. It was really nice live, though.

    > I find myself going off records because I’ve been listening to music too analytically for too long for little things to get by without annoying me.

    Yeah, I get that too. Not with muse, though, because they still make me laugh a lot. I think it can work both ways, so for example the production of Lady Gaga’s Just Dance or some of the Biology-era Girls Aloud stuff makes me like the songs even more; other times a perfectly good song can be ruined by one wee think, like Matt Bellamy’s breathing ruins things for you.

    And of course there’s an age thing to music too. It gets you in your teens in a way it simply can’t later on, with the odd exception.

  41. Bloody hell. No wonder you’re so pissed off. That’s a shit setlist, that.

  42. > [stuck in a moment] it’s a turd of a record. It was really nice live, though.

    Fair enough. The worst thing on Pop is If You Wear That Velvet Dress, and I was amazed by how good that was live.

  43. Gary

    Yeah. A bit disappointing, that.

  44. Interesting reading all the posts here.

    Zoo TV at Celtic Park was my first stadium gig (I was 12) and I think it is still the benchmark, just cos there were so many mad flickering monitors and so many ideas on show. I have never seen anything like it since. Prince at the o2 was a wonderful spectacle but overall didn’t get close.

    As for Popmart I didn’t really like just one big screen – plus I agree with Gary that the sound at Murrayfield was poor. And they didn’t play Stay, very disappointing.

    I too read the Q review, and in combination with the fact that the Unforgettable Fire was on the setlist, I was right up for this gig. I haven’t bothered getting Horizon (I imagine it’s sub-Achtung Baby stuff) but I think the Blackberry ad song is catchy! It kinda rips off an old Journey song but it’s great. U2-by-numbers perhaps, but if it was so easy to knock out such a catchy melody then how come everybody else isn’t doing it?

    Overall, as I say I was right up for this, and would have went had I not been at Celtic Park – I expect that’s why the gig didn’t look full. 60,000 Glaswegians were at the Celtic match which unexpectedly clashed.

    When it comes to dishing out big tunes and putting on a show nobody can touch U2.


    ps Gary I went back and listened to sometimes you can’t make it on your own a wee while ago and it had a very surprising effect on me too! That Bono eh, talks a load of gibberish but really nails what he calls “the ache and the melancholy” too!

  45. Gary

    > 60,000 Glaswegians were at the Celtic match which unexpectedly clashed.

    Yeah, pretty poor planning on that front. There’s a definite overlap between the two audiences.

    > if it was so easy to knock out such a catchy melody then how come everybody else isn’t doing it?

    Maybe everyone else is, but Blackberry isn’t plastering said melodies all over their ads ;-)

    > That Bono eh, talks a load of gibberish but really nails what he calls “the ache and the melancholy” too!

    Oh, I agree. When they’re good, they’re very good.

  46. Heard the new Chris Rea single yesterday, and was pleasantly surprised. He appears not to have got Aged Rock Star Syndrome yet. Of course, he’s never actually been young, which maybe helps.

  47. DARLA

    U2 didnt actually write ACHTUNG BABY,this is a well known fact here in ireland.They ripped off a talented unknown back in 1989 and she spent years trying to get them to pay her.All of the U2 wivesk now about this and so does Paul McGuinness.

  48. Isn’t that a well-known fact in Ireland about every single one of their records?

  49. DARLA

    I dont know about any of the other records for sure,this is the only one i am sure of.

  50. Oh, well, then. Must be true.

  51. DARLA

    I was there when it was written.

  52. So why on Earth are you hanging around bitterly on the blog of anyone who happens to mention U2, when you could be updating Wikipedia’s page with all the juicy details? Come to that, why aren’t you appearing as a witness for the plaintiff in court?

  53. darla

    Knowing and proving are two very different things my dear;).

  54. darla

    You saw what they did to LOLA CASHMAN and she could prove she knew them.I think they really did themselves more damage than good with that case.I was a bit mystified that their manager didnt talk them out of that, he is normally very smart in the business arena.

  55. For a songwriter, proving is easy and cheap. You record the song and send it to yourself via recorded mail and keep all the packages. Any serious songwriter who isn’t doing that but is promoting their songs to the extent that musicians of U2’s calibre are going to hear them is screwing up badly.

    I might add that Achtung Baby was a big change in direction for U2 as far as production and fashion were concerned, but not songwriting: the songs all sounded distinctively U2. If your friend wrote them, she was ripping off U2’s songwriting style something chronic.

    As for U2 ever having done themselves more damage than good… yeah, I can see their career’s suffering.

  56. mupwangle

    I’m a bit puzzled that you seem to suggest that this person is *not* suing U2 because they believe that their lawyers are too good to beat, yet you don’t have any fear of making potentially libelous posts about them.

  57. darla

    The songwriter had been friends with the band since she was a child and so she did not expect the rip-off.She is now very aware of the laws on copyright but back then,well,she was not so well educated.
    As to the theory of imitating the bands songwriting style,well,at the time,the songwriter in question was actually very influenced by Sting and David Bowie.
    All this happened back in 1989 when U2 had a lot more power than they have now.
    If you think they are still as popular,well,explain the tickets still available for the American tour.
    To give you an example of a U2 court case scenarion,Lola Cashmans barrister actually walked across the courtroom and asked Bono for his autograph when his client had just lost.

  58. darla

    In Ireland,when you want to sue someone for theft of copyright, you have to do so within a year of the release of the record.The writer was unaware of the deadline at the time.She is still contemplating suing for loss of potential earnings but again,the burden of proof is on her and it is so many years after the event.20 years in fact…