Tuesday, September 8, 2009

New Album And 2010 Tour On The Horizon For U2

t’s not been confirmed yet, but it appears U2 will return to the studio in Vancouver to complete work on their next studio album, which has the working title Songs Of Ascent, following their North American jaunt later this year.

Follow the ball here: According to an italian fansite and reported on at U2.com, Sam O’Sullivan, a drum tech for Larry Mullen, reportedly told fans the next album would be out either in December or early next year.

O’Sullivan also stated a tour of Australia and New Zealand in March is a possibility, but much will depend on the cost of shipping the enormous 360 stage to the area.

As well, it appears this North American jaunt may be the only one in the vicinity in support of No Line On The Horizon. There are no plans for a second North American leg what with a summer European tour in 2010 in the works.

In related news, when this current tour ends, the massive stage will be divided into “concert pavilions,” according to tour architect Mark Fisher.

In an interview with BBC News, Fisher said the three steel structures cost between 15 to 20 million British pounds, each used for a different leg of the tour.

“Part of the tour will finish in Australia and another part of the tour will
finish in South America, where people could use a nice concert pavilion in a park, which has an ability to take 200 tonnes of kit hanging under it,” Fisher said.

You can see U2 here:

Aug. 18 Glasgow, Scotland @ Hampden Park
Aug. 20 Sheffield, England @ Don Valley Stadium
Aug. 22 Cardiff, Wales @ Millenium Stadium
Sept. 12-13 Chicago, IL @ Soldier Field
Sept. 16-17 Toronto, ON @ Rogers Centre
Sept. 20-21 Foxborough, MA @ Gilette Stadium
Sept. 24-25 New York, NY @ Giants Stadium
Sept. 29 Landover, MD @ FedEx Field
Oct. 1 Charlottesville, VA @ Scott Stadium
Oct. 3 Raleigh, NC @ Carter-Finley Stadium
Oct. 6 Atlanta, GA @ Georgia Dome
Oct. 9 Tampa, FL @ Raymond James Stadium
Oct. 12 Dallas, TX @ New Cowboys Stadium
Oct. 14 Houston, TX @ Reliant Stadium
Oct. 18 Norman, OK @ Oklahoma Memorial Stadium
Oct. 20 Phoenix, AZ @ University Of Phoenix Stadium
Oct. 23 Las Vegas, NV @ Sam Boyd Stadium
Oct. 25 Los Angeles, CA @ Rose Bowl
Oct. 28 Vancouver, BC @ BC Place Stadium

Sunday, August 30, 2009


U2 Barcelona 2009-07-02 Electrical Storm (1st time live ever!)

U2 Lists: Top Five Places To See U2 Live

With the U2 360 tour underway, it’s time for another tour related list - the top five places to see U2 play live. I've only notched up a show at one of the places on the list (Croke Park) but I'll be making it two in October when I see U2 play in New York City. Well, kind of: it won't be Madison Square Garden, but Giants Stadium is close enough for me. So what makes a great U2 venue? I think the great venues, the ones with that certain extra something - or as the French would say, that “je ne sais quoi” - are the ones that have a shared history and strong connection to the band. They also have the right combination of ingredients to create that magic U2 show atmosphere. If you've been lucky enough to hang out with 80,000 fellow U2 fans chanting "40" or singing along to "Pride" or "Where The Streets Have No Name" at a show, you'll know what I'm talking about - that indescribable high that swells through the crowd and makes you feel like life really couldn't get any better. It's a feeling of joy, love, hope and hurt all rolled into one. It's a moment when the heart really is "a bloom." Here are my top five U2 live venues; the places where the magic is most likely to happen.

5. Wembley Stadium, London, England
It might have just been through an expensive and tumultuous rebuilding process (don’t blame the Aussie builders!), but Wembley Stadium is still considered sacred ground by music fans around the globe. The new Wembley Stadium opened its doors in 2007 and has a few claims to fame, including the most expensive stadium ever built, the second largest stadium in Europe and the largest stadium in the world that can seat everyone under cover. The original Wembley Stadium was in operation from 1923 and played host to a who’s who of modern music including Madonna, Michael Jackson, Queen, Bon Jovi, INXS, Metallica, Aerosmith, Prince, The Foo Fighters and the Spice Girls. The old stadium was the venue for the original Live Aid charity event in 1985, which catapulted U2 to international stardom. On the recent U2 360 tour, The Sun newspaper allegedly received a hand-written letter from Bono promising the band would put on a stellar performance at their new Wembley Stadium gig on August 14 allegedly saying: "I swear by the green green sacred grass of Wembley stadium that the sun will shine out of our collective arses this weekend.” The band’s second show on August 15, 2009, reportedly broke the Wembley Stadium attendance record, with 88,000 fans gathering for the event – 5000 more than the previous record set by Rod Stewart back in the old Wembley Stadium in 1995.

4. Madison Square Garden, New York City, USA
“The Irish have been coming here for years, feels like they own the place,” sings Bono in the song “New York” on the album All That You Can’t Leave Behind. And indeed, he does own a place in New York, choosing to make this pulsating metropolis his US home away from home. And if there’s one venue that’s synonymous with the Big Apple, it’s Madison Square Garden. The Garden has played host to big NYC events for 130 years, starting life as a velodrome for competitive cycling in 1879. The current Garden, located above Pennsylvania Station on 7th Avenue between 31st and 33rd Streets, opened on February 14, 1968 and has the capacity to hold about 20,000 people. U2 played the Garden as part of their Elevation tour in October 2001, not long after the September 11 attacks on New York City. Bono and the Edge have called these shows some of the most memorable and emotional of their careers.

3. Croke Park, Dublin, Ireland
There’s something special about seeing U2 play to their home crowd in Dublin. The buzz in the city before and after the show is truly amazing, especially when the crowds take to the streets to do the 15 minute walk to and from the city centre to the stadium. And of course, when the gig is over, you can party the night away with thousands of other fans in Temple Bar. With a capacity of more than 82,000 people, Croke Park is the largest sports stadium in Ireland and the fourth largest stadium in Europe. Croke Park – better known as ‘Croker’ to the locals - has played an important part in both the history of Ireland and U2. On November 21, 1920, 14 people were killed in the stadium when British army auxiliaries entered the ground and shot indiscriminately into the crowd as a reprisal for the earlier assassination of 14 British Intelligence officers. That massacre became known as “Bloody Sunday.” The song U2 wrote and recorded about the massacre - more than 60 years after it took place - turned out to be a defining moment for their musical careers and the start of their continued work towards the peace process in their homeland.

2. Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Colorado, USA
It’s an intimate concert venue – only seating about 9500 people – but everything else about the Red Rocks Amphitheatre is big: big on atmosphere, big on natural grandeur and big on sound. The breathtaking amphitheatre in the Rocky Mountain foothills, 15 miles west of Denver, was created by two 300-foot monoliths of red sandstone that dwarf the stage and provide a dramatic concert backdrop. The venue is also reputed to offer one thing all concert goers search for but rarely find, “acoustic perfection.” U2’s performance at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre on a cold, wet night in June 1983 was, according to Rolling Stone, one of the “50 Moments that Changed Rock and Roll.” The bad weather that night only added to the show’s unique atmosphere: mist rolled in from the hills, torches were lit on the cliffs and Bono waved that white flag. Magic.

1. Slane Castle, near Dublin, Ireland
A significant piece of Irish history and a major piece of U2 history, Slane Castle in County Meath, Ireland, is the ultimate venue to catch a U2 show. A favourite venue for rock music’s A-list, including the likes of Thin Lizzy, The Rolling Stones, Oasis, Bob Dylan, Madonna and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, U2 has played Slane more times than any other band, with shows in 1981 and two shows in 2001. The natural amphitheatre can hold a massive 100,000 people, creating an atmosphere and concert experience that is hard to top. I can’t think of anything better than standing with100,000 other U2 fans, in the shadow of the centuries-old castle, and hearing Bono yell “This is our city; this is our tribe.” The castle’s gothic ballroom also helped give The Unforgettable Fire its ambient, experimental sound (well, that and Brian Eno) back in 1984. All this and it’s only 25 minutes from Dublin’s airport. It’s an experience that should be on every U2 fan’s to-do list.

Column: off the record...,vol. 9-372

I've got to admit, I'm a bit sad at the moment. Saturday night was U2's last show in Europe this year. Bono sang a bit of the Welsh national anthem and thanked the Evans family for their help when the band started. It must have been special for Edge and his family, finishing the tour in Wales. So the European tour of 2009 is now officially over. To help you remember just how awesome it all was, here's a recap with some highlights of the tour and everything around it:

The BBC interview with Bono and Edge had some great moments (I especially liked the "new" old song and Bono's futile efforts to cheat his way through the U2 intro game). The not completely live, but otherwise very cool broadcast of the Sheffield gig was a great idea, they should definitely do that more often.

In Berlin three Czech guys had the time of their lives as they played "Angel of Harlem" with U2 on stage. Imagine giving your very first live performance in front of 80,000 people!

Edge celebrated his birthday in style. There was also champagne at the show in Zagreb, and the whole stadium sang "Happy Birthday" for him.

And of course, there were the Dublin shows. Great atmosphere in the city, and a superb homecoming. One of the good moments there: “The Auld Triangle.” Just Bono and Edge on stage, having fun.

One of the songs off No Line on the Horizon I really love and was hoping to hear, is "White as Snow." So I was very happy to see this blog post. It hasn't been played yet, but at least Willie Williams is suggesting it, so I'm crossing my fingers and hope it'll make its debut somewhere along the tour.

As you know, we're great Twitter fans here at @U2. If the @U2 Tweets haven't yet convinced you to get an account, then have a look at Edge's. As you probably know, he only posts photos without any comments. Many of them are quite artsy, revealing, comical, or just plain gorgeous, like this one. (Notice the woman in the back taking off her sunglasses -- this is one of those moments where you need a full and clear view).

Some of my personal Edge favorites:


U2 at the Millennium Stadium: 'The best gig Cardiff's ever had'

It was one of the most eagerly anticipated gigs of the year.

And for 70,000 fans, it delivered on every count.

When U2 rolled into Cardiff last night for the last leg of their European 360 Degree Tour, they blew the audience away.

Taking centre stage and most of the audience's breath away in the Millennium Stadium was the £20m set dubbed The Claw -- which towered over the main circular stage.

As the iconic front man Bono emerged last night, clad in black and wearing his trademark sunglasses, the crowd erupted with delight.

The almost capacity 70,000 audience made it a record-breaking attendance for any gig at the stadium, outselling Take That's 64,000 audience earlier this year.

After opening with "Breathe," from the new album No Line on the Horizon, the band treated fans to a mix of their many hits from the last three decades and new songs from their latest CD.

Highlights included "Beautiful Day," "Mysterious Ways," "Vertigo," "Pride" and "One," as well as newer stand out songs, "Get On Your Boots," "I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight" and "Magnificent."

Homage was also paid to The Edge's Welsh roots, with Bono confessing to having once had singing lessons from the guitarist's father, Garvin Evans.

"He told me to look after the consonants and the vowels will look after themselves," Bono told the crowd, who lapped up his every word.

The Edge, whose family were in the Cardiff crowd, received a rapturous applause simply by saying "Cymru Am Byth," before the band launched into "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" while the adoring masses sang along.

Of course, no U2 gig would be complete without a political message of democracy and freedom, and this was no exception.

The band dedicated their tracks "Walk On" and "MLK" to imprisoned Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu gave an uplifting video message before the song "One."

Fans hailed the gig as possibly the greatest spectacle seen in the stadium's 10 year history.

Martin Howarth, 25, from Swansea, said: "I've seen the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the stadium and the Rolling Stones but U2 were much better.

"They get such a mixed crowd because they have been going for so long. Some people knew all the words of the old stuff and others only knew the recent albums.

"You have to give them credit and say they are one of the best live bands in the world.

"I would definitely go back and see them again if they came to Cardiff."

Lloyd James, 24, from Swansea, said: "It was unbelievable. I have never seen a gig like it before.

"The sound was fantastic and the stage looked immense.

"I've been to some pretty special rugby games in the Millennium Stadium before but the atmosphere was something totally different to those.

"It's the best gig Cardiff's ever had."

U2 in numbers

1 "One" was the third single from the band’s 1991 album, Achtung Baby, and was released in 1992. Tensions almost prompted U2 to break up until the group rallied round writing the single.

2 U2 formed in Dublin, Ireland, on September 25, 1976. The band consists of Bono (vocals and guitar), The Edge (guitar, keyboards, and vocals), Adam Clayton (bass guitar), and Larry Mullen Jr. (drums and percussion).

3 Bono's nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize.

4 Days it took to install the stage, screen, production equipment, lighting rig and speakers for last night's concert.

8 Number of hours to set up the massive video screen for last night's Millennium Stadium show.

11 U2's first single, "11 O'Clock Tick Tock," was released in May 1980.

12 The cost of the official tour programme is £12.

12 Studio albums: Boy (1980); October (1981); War (1983); The Unforgettable Fire (1984); The Joshua Tree (1987); Rattle and Hum (1988); Achtung Baby (1991); Zooropa (1993); Pop (1997); All That You Can't Leave Behind (2000); How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2004); and No Line on the Horizon (2009)

15 European cities the band is visiting with the 360° Tour: Barcelona, Milan, Gothenburg, Zagreb, Amsterdam, Paris, Nice, Dublin, Chorzow, Berlin, Gelsenkirchen, London, Sheffield, Glasgow and Cardiff.

22 Grammy Awards won by the band. Their first was for The Joshua Tree and they are tied with Stevie Wonder as contemporary artists with the most Grammys.

22 The band's standing in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 greatest artists of all time.

22 Number of songs on the set list at last week's Wembley gig.

40 Also known as "40 (How Long)" is the 10th and final track from War. The song is noted for its live performances, often involving the audience singing along for minutes after the band have left the stage. The lyrics are based on the Bible's Psalm 40.

52 The highest chart position debut album Boy reached in 1980.

60 Approximate weight, in tons, of the stadium video screen.

90 Minutes taken for the first ticket batch for last night's concert to sell out after going on sale on March 20

164 The height in feet of last night’s set, which was twice as high as the one used by the Rolling Stones when they visited Cardiff in 2006.

180 Number of trucks needed to bring the set into the capital.

360 The 360° Tour features an innovative, wrap-around screens and 360° stage, which should give the audience an unobstructed view from all angles.

360 Estimated number of tour crew members, factoring in drivers and vendors in addition to ground crew.

400 The weight in tons of the set.

1,500 Starting price in euros to spend the night in the penthouse suite at the Clarence Hotel in Dublin, owned by Bono and The Edge.

70,000 Last night's estimated attendance was the biggest ever for a gig at the Millennium Stadium, beating the 64,000 who watched Take That earlier this summer.

88,000 The crowd U2 played to at Wembley on August 14.

95,000 The capacity of the Stade de France in Paris, the largest crowd expected on the European tour.

500,000 Number of pixels on the expanding video screen at last night's Cardiff concert.

20,000,000 The value in pounds of the set on which the mega band performed.

67,000,000 Results when "U2" is typed into Google.

145,000,000 Worldwide album sales.

423,000,000 Band's combined wealth in pounds sterling, as estimated by the 2009 Sunday Times Rich List.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

U2 Encourage Mask-Wearing Protest

U2 are on the cusp of their 360 Tour, and are asking fans to remember Burmese democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi by wearing a mask featuring her face.

"U2 believe the world must not be allowed to forget Aung San Suu Kyi and every night on the 360 Tour fans are being invited to wear the mask when the band play 'Walk On,' which was written for her," the band's website said today. "Put it on with thousands of others when Larry [Mullen, Jr., drums] and Edge [guitar] strike up the opening bars of 'Walk On.'"

A downloadable mask is on the site with directions, but you'll need Adobe Acrobat Reader to print the file.

"Wear it to work or college," the post on the website reads. "Wear it on the bus or the train. Wear it in the pub or at the shops. And don't forget. Bring it to a U2 show."

Suu Kyi is a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and won elections in Burma in 1990, but the military junta refused to accept the results. She has spent most of the last 19 years under house arrest.

Suu Kyi was recently tried for violating the terms of her house arrest after an uninvited visitor swam across Inya Lake in Yangon, Burma to visit her house twice. The trial was widely condemned as a sham by the United Nations and western nations.

U2 start their world tour in Barcelona on Tuesday. The tour, which is in support of the recently released No Line On The Horizon, hits Toronto in mid-September.

Top 5 U2 Literary Moments

find it intriguing that, as a topic, literary influences appear to be such a little-explored one in the world of U2 fandom. After all, references to the thoughts and ideas of various wordsmiths abound within the entire canon of the band's imagery and lyrics, from Bono's on-stage recitations of Yeats' He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven to the band's early use of imagery from Golding's Lord of the Flies during their performances, and from making subtle allusions to C.S. Lewis in their music videos to acknowledging the influence of American writers like Flannery O'Connor and Saul Bellow on The Joshua Tree and Rattle and Hum.

The lack of acknowledgement may be because this particular vein within U2's music, whether in song, speech or action, has rarely been obvious, often being overlooked in favour of the more overt political and spiritual dimensions. One arguably has to dig deeper in order to understand them. But such a venture is both challenging and rewarding, exposing a side to U2 and their music that is not often instantly associated with them. Below are a few of my favourite moments, big and small, from U2's explorations into the literary world.

1. Into the Heart of a Child

U2's first significant experiment with alter egos was arguably during their early touring days, when Bono adopted personas such as the Boy and the Fool as a means of illustrating the turbulent, and often damaging, transition from childhood to adulthood. This had its roots in William Golding's classic work Lord of the Flies, which cynically depicts the failed attempts made by a group of WW2-era schoolboys stranded on a desert island to build a functioning society. The book deals with themes such as the end of innocence, the human capacity for savagery and "the infinite cynicism of adult life," a nondescript force of corruption and evil which, the story implies, children inevitably fall victim to when they grow up.

U2 also named one of their songs on the Boy album after a chapter in Golding's novel, with the song's lyrics exploring themes of alienation, isolation and uncertainty -- ideas that hover spectre-like within the book's pages. The cry of 'Do you feel in me/anything redeeming/any worthwhile feeling?/Is life like a tight-rope/hanging on my ceiling?' in "Shadows and Tall Trees" could be lifted directly from the character Ralph's musings on his sudden loss of innocence and attempt to articulate a sense of awkwardness he can't quite define.

The subtle dangers of adulthood resurface as an idea in many of Bono's later interviews, where he warns against "knowingness." The end of innocence can bring answers to questions we would rather not ask, as the brutal and bloody fate of many of the characters in the novel illustrates; a reality from which both the inhabitants of Golding's island and the voices on the Boy album seem at times to be trying to make a rapid retreat.

2. Go Lightly Underground

In 1989 the novelist Salman Rushdie was the subject of a controversy over the publication of his 1988 novel The Satanic Verses, which allegedly contained material blasphemous to Islam. After the Iranian spiritual leader of the time, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa calling for his execution, Rushdie was forced into hiding under police protection for many years. On one notable occasion, at Bono's behest he defied his exiled status to appear on-stage with U2 at Wembley Stadium during the Zooropa tour.

The gesture was both important and courageous, as it demonstrated the refusal of the artistic community to bow down to religious extremism and threats to freedom of expression, despite the censorship that had inevitably been imposed upon Rushdie. The author also regarded the decision of the two to exchange glasses -- with Bono wearing Rushdie's literary spectacles whilst the latter donned his wraparound shades -- as a sign of their joint stand against fanaticism and an acknowledgement of the shared aspirations of many writers and musicians.

Rushdie later repaid the show of loyalty by writing the lyrics to 'The Ground Beneath Her Feet' (a track which appeared on the Japanese and British versions of 2000's All That You Can't Leave Behind), drawn from the author's novel of the same name. He continues to be an outspoken supporter of the band.

3. Religious Nuts

One of my favourite U2 photos is that of a very young Bono sitting with Bruce Springsteen. The two are apparently discussing writers, with Springsteen (who as ever appears to be ageless) telling Bono about the work of the southern author Flannery O'Connor. Despite her relative obscurity in many areas, O'Connor's influence on U2 is arguably pivotal to understanding their early musical and spiritual development, particularly with Bono.

Like the singer, O'Connor was deeply religious, but her faith eschewed that of fundamentalism and fanaticism. Her novel Wise Blood, which Bono has cited as a favourite, depicts a world of depravity where her characters' natures are explored through violent, polarising situations with good being pitted against evil. In the latter novel, those portrayed are particularly grotesque, with the main character Hazel Motes being driven mad by the religious fanatics surrounding him in his small home town in evangelical Tennessee. Here religious extremism is ridiculed through caricature, with religious institutions shown as being corrupt and dogmatic. This clearly struck a chord with Bono, who in an interview with Propaganda during the late '80s likened Motes' attempts at founding 'The Church Without Christ' to the various weird sects and religious cults that forever appeared to characterise the religious landscape of Ireland.

Similarly, O'Connor seemed to share Bono's love of aphorisms. Some of her sayings could easily have been lifted from the singer's mouth, such as "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it," and "Where there is no belief in the soul there is very little drama. Either one is serious about salvation or one is not. And it is well to realise the maximum amount of seriousness admits the maximum amount of comedy. Only if we are secure in our beliefs can we see the comical side of the universe."

4. The Very Thoughts They Would Conceal

U2's relationship with Bob Dylan has always had a slightly surreal and fragmented feel. In a well-documented moment in Neil McCormick's 2004 book Killing Bono: I Was Bono's Doppelganger, he describes how when Bono was granted the honour of singing a verse of "Blowin' in the Wind" with the folk legend at a Slane Castle show in 1984, the U2 front man knew none of the words. In an attempt at compensating, he merely sang the first thing that came into his head. Although the lyrics were socially conscious and not un-Dylanesque in their reference to the Troubles in Northern Ireland, they left the elder musician slightly scandalised at having one of his best-known songs mutilated in public.

However, the relationship clearly wasn't too soured, as Dylan later co-wrote the lyrics to "Love Rescue Me" on Rattle and Hum. The collaboration was bizarrely prophetic, as Bono claimed to have come up with the song in a dream in which Dylan was supposed to have written and presented it to him. The song was not Dylan's, but after an initial aborted lyric-writing session he and Bono produced "Love Rescue Me."

Although Dylan's status as a genuine literary figure is admittedly the product of some debate, the fruit of his session with Bono is deeply poetic beyond doubt, evoking the despair, remorse and spiritual torment of a man who, in Bono's words, "people keep turning to as a saviour, but could do with a shot of salvation himself."

In a brilliant touch, Dylan also later refers to an encounter with Bono in his 2004 memoir Chronicles: Volume One. His assessments of the U2 singer's character are simple, but wonderfully astute at the same time. He describes spending time with him as like "eating dinner on a train – feels like you're moving, going somewhere," and claiming that Bono is a "closet philosopher" with "the soul of an ancient poet." Yet perhaps most perceptively, he states that the main similarity between himself and the man from U2 is that "When Bono and me aren't exactly sure about somebody, we just make it up. We can strengthen any argument by expanding on something either real or not real." Arguably extravagant praise from one who so rarely gives it.

5. A Phone Call From Hell

The biblical phrase "Mock the devil and he will flee from you" rings true in many contexts, but it perhaps serves as a useful tagline to two closely linked characters: MacPhisto and Screwtape, the devil in C.S. Lewis' work The Screwtape Letters, who serves as a mentor to a younger devil in the act of corrupting humans. The aim of both Zoo TV and Zooropa in many ways appears to have been to poke fun at and expose modern culture for its trivialisation of the serious and its deification of the ridiculous, which in his 2001 book Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2 Steve Stockman claims is akin to C.S. Lewis' exposure of Satan's techniques for corrupting humans in The Screwtape Letters.

MacPhisto plays the part of seducing the audience into confusion, making them think that Bono has morphed into the very figure of rock 'n' roll excess and decadence that U2 had appeared so decidedly against in the '80s. But as with Lewis' Screwtape, all is not as it seems; MacPhisto's true role is to draw attention to his own absurdity, the influence of which is made clear in the video for "Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me." When the cartoon Bono is knocked over by a car, the book that flies out of his hand is The Screwtape Letters. In U2's world, the influence of the literary giant seems to serve as an indicator of order in the midst of chaos.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

U2 Tour Dates 2009 2nd Leg

September 12, 2009: Chicago, IL @ Soldier Field
September 13, 2009: Chicago, IL @ Soldier Field
September 16, 2009: Toronto ON, Canada @ Rogers Centre
September 17, 2009: Toronto ON, Canada @ Rogers Centre
September 20, 2009: Boston, MA @ Gillette Stadium
September 21, 2009: Boston, MA @ Gillette Stadium
September 24, 2009: East Rutherford, NJ @ Giants Stadium
September 25, 2009: East Rutherford, NJ @ Giants Stadium
September 29, 2009: Washington, DC @ FedEx Field
October 01, 2009: Charlottesville, VA @ Scott Stadium
October 03, 2009: Raleigh, NC @ Carter-Finley Stadium
October 06, 2009: Atlanta, GA @ Georgia Dome
October 09, 2009: Tampa, FL @ Raymond James Stadium
October 12, 2009: Dallas, TX @ Cowboys Stadium
October 14, 2009: Houston, TX @ Reliant Stadium
October 18, 2009: Norman, OK @ Oklahoma Memorial Stadium
October 20, 2009: Phoenix, AZ @ University of Phoenix Stadium
October 23, 2009: Las Vegas, NV @ Sam Boyd Stadium
October 25, 2009: Los Angeles, CA @ Rose Bowl
October 28, 2009: Vancouver BC, Canada @ BC Place

U2 Tour Dates 2009 1st Leg

June 30, 2009: Barcelona, Spain @ Camp Nou
July 02, 2009: Barcelona, Spain @ Camp Nou
July 07, 2009: Milan, Italy @ San Siro
July 08, 2009: Milan, Italy @ San Siro
July 11, 2009: Paris, France @ Stade de France
July 12, 2009: Paris, France @ Stade de France
July 15, 2009: Nice, France @ Charles Ehrmann Park
July 18, 2009: Berlin, Germany @ Olympic Stadium
July 20, 2009: Amsterdam, Netherlands @ Arena
July 21, 2009: Amsterdam, Netherlands @ Arena
July 24, 2009: Dublin, Ireland @ Croke Park
July 25, 2009: Dublin, Ireland @ Croke Park
July 27, 2009: Dublin, Ireland @ Croke Park
July 31, 2009: Gothenburg, Sweden @ Ullevi Stadium
August 01, 2009: Gothenburg, Sweden @ Ullevi Stadium
August 03, 2009: Gelsenkirchen, Germany @ Veltins-Arena
August 06, 2009: Chorzow, Poland @ Slaski Stadium
August 09, 2009: Zagreb, Croatia @ Maksimir Stadium
August 10, 2009: Zagreb, Croatia @ Maksimir Stadium
August 14, 2009: London, England @ Wembley Stadium
August 15, 2009: London, England @ Wembley Stadium
August 18, 2009: Glasgow, Scotland @ Hampden Park
August 20, 2009: Sheffield, England @ Don Valley Stadium
August 22, 2009: Cardiff, Wales @ Millenium Stadium

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

U2 - Magnificent

Monday, March 2, 2009

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Under Lincoln’s Unblinking Eyes”: U2 Welcome the Obama Era

U2 rocked the nation’s capitol as part of a pre-inauguration parade of pop stars called “We Are One.” Held under Lincoln’s statuesque presence, the daytime concert entertained thousands wrapped in winter wear and thousands more listening on the radio or watching on television. Rips of the various songs were soon available on YouTube for those of us who missed the various live broadcasts.

Away from the computer most of the weekend, I only learned of the festivities at a dinner engagement Sunday night. My friends were excited to tell me that U2 had performed, but I had to wait until Monday morning to watch the footage.

When U2’s anthem “Pride” first brought tears to my idealistic teenage eyes in 1984, I never imagined I’d watch the band perform the song on a January day on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial just hours before the inauguration of America’s first black president. While I believed then and now in dreaming the impossible, I never imagined this day would be possible in my lifetime.
The same chills and thrills that this song instilled in me some twenty-five years ago were writ larger than life on an epic backdrop as Bono introduced the song, first with the words “Let Freedom Ring,” and then, with the invocation: “On this spot, 46 years ago, Dr. King had a dream. On Tuesday, that dream comes to pass.”

Decked out in his standard spectacles, black boots, blue jeans, black sweater, black military overcoat, black scarf etched with text, and fingerless black gloves, Bono worked the crowd and the epic stage with his usual splendor.

During the always spine-tingling “whoa-oh” section of “Pride,” Bono inserted a speech we’d heard before about it being a universal and international dream, an African and Irish dream, with a stunningly current political addition about an Israeli and Palestinian dream.

While “Pride” was an obvious choice to honor this important occasion, the last song of the two-song set made infinite sense as well. After more reciting more snippets from the “I Have a Dream” speech to close “Pride,” Bono spoke over the familiar opening strains of “City of Blinding Lights,” addressing Obama directly:

“What a thrill for four Irish boys from the north side of Dublin to honor you sir, the next President of the United States, Barack Obama, for choosing this song to be part of the soundtrack of your campaign.”

Continuing to entrance the enormous crowd and take a promenade along the perimeters of the profound setting, Bono brought new lyrics to “Lights” early in the song. As reported by U2 fan Axver, “Its lyrics featured modifications for the occasion; in the first verse, instead of singing the ‘day-glo eyes’ line, Bono instead sang ‘America, let your road rise/Under Lincoln’s unblinking eyes/They’re advertising in the skies/For people like you.’ He also altered ‘I’m getting ready to leave the ground’ to ‘America is getting ready to leave the ground.’”

With the new U2 single “Get On Your Boots” out today, with the new tour later this year rumoring outdoor shows, the band welcomed the new world promised by this symbolic moment with a great show for the masses, with majesty, with magic.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Bono’s Search for a “Spiritual Mecca”: Daniel Lanois on U2’s “No Line on the Horizon”

Shirley Halperin

For the new U2 record, No Line On The Horizon (due March 3rd), Bono had a spiritual quest, says producer Daniel Lanois.

“He thought that our job was to create contemporary gospel music,” Lanois, who shares production credit on the album with Brian Eno, told Rock Daily at a Grammy Foundation event honoring music photographers Danny Clinch, Robert Knight and Herman Leonard. “Bono wanted to be at a spiritual Mecca.”

Which, for the band, meant an extended stay in Fez, Morocco (their second visit to the country — U2’s 1991 video for “Mysterious Ways” was also filmed there). So did he find what he was looking for?

New single “Get On Your Boots” offers some clues, but Lanois filled us in on the bigger picture: “We worked in France, New York and London, but Bono felt that [Morocco] was the spiritual crossroads of the world right now, so we rented out an old Riad hotel and brought in all of our own equipment.”

The result, he said, is “incredibly innovative — a lovely blend of technology and hand-played instruments. It embraces the future, but still pays respect to tradition.”

And while the album, which was four years in the making (and recorded digitally throughout), has evolved since the band’s initial north African sojourn, it stayed true to their creative mission: “That we are essentially soul musicians that look for soul in what we do,” said Lanois.

“The expectations and dreams are still intact… and the president of the record company is singing like a bird!”

U2 Until The End Of The World Live from Miami Elevation Tour

U2 performs at We Are One show 2009

Let Me In The Sound

In what's sure to be an electric refrain thundering through U2 concert venues this summer, Bono implores us (or someone) to let him in the sound and meet him in the sound. As usual, we're left asking, "What the hell do you mean?"

Rising from the vocal cords of any other performer, we'd be content to believe that the musician seeks to be transported inside and be enveloped by a set of musical notes and drum beats and guitar riffs. It would seem that he'd be asking to drown in the music figuratively, to seek baptism in a jumble of clatter. But this is Bono, and obviously, he is not. And we are U2 fans, so literal-minded, we are not.

From the early days of "I Will Follow" to the latter days of "Window in the Skies," Bono has turned our attention and our souls to something wholly other, yet something wholly familiar. As Bruce Springsteen said when he inducted U2 into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005, "In their music you hear the spirituality as home and as quest." It's the same spirit that caused C.S. Lewis to ponder that when we finally stand face-to-face with our Creator, we'll think that He is no stranger; that it's been Him all along.

With that set of creeds in tow, we slide and glide into the world of "Get on Your Boots." And what do we find? Besides the music, the lyrics are seemingly flippant at first: all this talk about "sexy boots" and "laughter" and "candy floss, ice cream." You wouldn't be penalized for thinking this is another fun song to help get you through another long commute.

But right along with the beautiful kisses under a brilliant moon, we find "Satan" and "bomb scare" and "rockets" dropping into a "fun fair" and "dark dreams" and "kids ... screamin'" and "ghosts" and "blowing up" and "wars between nations" And, finally, tucked between the waves of "let me in the sound" we hear an urgent plea: "God, I'm going down/I don't want to drown now."

We were wrong for thinking Bono wanted to be immersed in the "sound." This is one baptism he shuns; he doesn't want to drown. He cries out to God to throw him a life vest and save him from his ordeal.

So that brings us back to our original question/quest: What is this "sound"? The lines are confusing if we think of a "sound" as something you hear with your ears. But before figuring out a possible meaning, let's look at some of the hints we can glean from other "drowning" imagery in their earlier work.

The first obvious song is "Drowning Man," on U2's third studio album, War. It's a lyric about an unnamed someone crossing the sky for "your love." Bono sings about someone who promises to be there and save us from the "winds and tides/this change of times."

It's a few years before Bono resurrects that drowning theme. This time he does it with a song he wrote for B.B. King, "When Love Come to Town." It begins: "I was a sailor/I was lost at sea/I was under the waves before love rescued me." Off that same album, we're left with a promise, "You say you'll give me . . . a harbor in the tempest," from "All I Want is You."

That image of drowning resurfaces in "Lemon," off Zooropa: "I feel like I'm slowly, slowly, slowly slippin' under. I feel like I'm holding on to nothing." Later in the same song: "And I feel like I'm drifting, drifting, drifting from the shore."

This recurrent image of drowning and rescue from the waves is once again at play in "Get On Your Boots." The "going down" and "drown" references are clear enough. But where does the "sound" come from. If Bono is drowning and needs rescue and wants to be let into the sound, what sound is he singing about? We can guess that maybe "sound" doesn't mean noise—the opposite of silence—in this instance. "Sound" has many meanings, but one seems to fit a little better and works within the drowning imagery. A sound is "a long broad inlet of the ocean generally parallel to the coastline." A synonym for "sound" is "harbor."

So, when Bono begs to be let into the sound, he wants to be let in from the horrors of the storms out at sea. He wants to come into the harbor, the harbor that we learned from "All I Want is You," promises to protect us from the dark ocean's tempests and save us from drowning (just look at the cover of the album: oceans are at once pacific and treacherous -- you can splish-splash AND you can drown). The world isn't fun fairs or rockets; it's rockets falling into fun fairs; the sound that protects us from all the clamors of the world and its explosions, bombs, and screams. The sound, this harbor, protects us from the violent blasts of the rockets, the nightmares, the ghosts, the wars, Satan. By God, let him in the sound! I mean, who wouldn't drown wading around in those knee-high sexy boots, anyway?

Friday, February 6, 2009

U2 Exclusive Lowdown On New Album

U2 finally unveiled their new album No Line on the Horizon behind closed doors and under the strictest security.

But first again with the big music exclusives...Email were there to hear it.

We were invited by Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. to get a sneak preview of their eagerly awaited 12th studio album -- not released until March 2.

And it's a cracker, up there with U2 classics such as Achtung Baby, The Joshua Tree and All That You Can't Leave Behind.

The Irish supergroup took the wraps off No Line on the Horizon in the chic Saatchi art gallery at the famous Chelsea Barracks in London.

It features hot new single "Get On Your Boots," which is being played to death by radio stations across the U.K.

Before hearing the killer tracks, the select guests had to give up all belongings -- including mobile phones and any recording devices. They were only returned when the playthrough was over.

But it was worth it to get the first listen to amazing songs such as "Magnificent," "Moment of Surrender" and "Cedars of Lebanon."

On first hearing, it sounds like U2's most complete album -- to be listened to from first track to last. It's also full of brilliant lyrics and Bono's vocals have never sounded stronger.

Here is my pick of the key cuts on No Line on the Horizon.


This opens with a loud sonic drone before Bono sings: "I knew a girl who's like the sea/I watch her changing every day for me."

Then Larry's drums kick in and the song lifts off. It could be their best live stadium opener since "Zoo Station."


A future single choice which more than lives up to its bold title. The Edge's driving guitar gives the song a "New Year's Day"-style mood.

Bono is in great form when he sings: "I was born to sing for you/I didn't have a choice but to lift you up."

He's dead right because, just two numbers in, the album already has a classic feel.


Bono reckons this is one of the best songs U2 have written -- and with their back catalogue, that's saying something.

It opens with a guitar sound reminiscent of "Where the Streets Have No Name" and features a great Edge solo.

In one of his most personal lyrics, Bono says: "I've been in every black hole/At the altar of the dark star/My body's now a begging bowl/That's begging to get back."

A stunning song Springsteen or Dylan would be proud of.


An epic with double-tracked vocals, wailing Edge guitar and pounding Adam bass.

It's a musical feast with so much going on it's initially tough to take it all in. In the chant-style chorus Bono sings: "Hear me/Cease to speak/That I may speak/Shush now."

If nothing else, that's got to be another first for U2 -- a pop song with "Shush" in the lyric.


Thumping drums, pulsing bass and piano get this potential single off the launch pad.

Musically, it has all the trademarks of a U2 classic with another soaring Bono vocal and great "woo-oo" hook on the chorus.


This proves the group are huge Led Zeppelin fans because Edge's guitar riff has a real Jimmy Page feel.

In terms of being musically adventurous, it's not for the faint-hearted and definitely up there with "Exit" from The Joshua Tree in 1987.


Bono almost speaks his vocal over a more hymnal, hypnotic backing which leads to a beautiful, almost choral, hook.

Some atmospheric Edge guitar creeps in and builds the mood. This song is so good you don't want it to end.

A fitting finale to a classic U2 album.

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