Achtung Y'all

Every morning I rise from bed, put on the running gear, and have at it. These are some of the most spiritual moments of my life, in part because the music of u2 forms the soundtrack for most of those runs. On this blog, I share that love with you.

Monday, August 31, 2015

u2 Prepares for Belfast Gig

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August 26, 1997, Tuesday

As Ulster prepares to open a new chapter in it's live music history, U2 tour manager Jake Kennedy has hailed tonight's record-breaking PopMart concert at the Botanic Gardens as the sensation which has even "stolen the fire and the thunder from their home-base Dublin gigs."

PopMart, with its famous golden arch and record-breaking screen, are all in place for the Botanic Gardens spectacle.

Kennedy, speaking behind the scenes yesterday, said: "All the guys are a bit dejected by the whole Dublin experience. They didn't expect so much hassle trying to play on home territory.

"I think they really see Belfast as the 'big one' as far as Irish dates go. That is why they insisted on coming here at such short notice."

U2 last appeared in Belfast 10 years ago at the King's Hall, but failure to secure planning permission has forced them to abandon Ulster in recent years. But it's a problem that didn't hound the Irish supergroup this time.

"Bono said we want to play in Belfast and we got an immediate thumbs up," explained Kennedy. "Belfast City Council has been absolutely brilliant and the whole experience has been pretty straight forward.

"The whole process of setting up a concert like this usually takes up to six months. The whole Belfast thing took about two weeks. It's like nothing we have ever attempted before."

A stage crew of over 600 worked through the night to ensure every detail was in place for tonight's show.

Fans attending the concert will be treated to a sight of record breaking proportions. The world's largest LED screen will ensure that even those at the back of the 40,000 crowd will have a superb view

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Bono, Ono, Edge Honor John Lennon

Peace signs: The Edge, Yoko Ono and Bono flashed peace signs on Wednesday during the unveiling of a tapestry honoring John Lennon
Yellow submarine: The tapestry depicts Manhattan as a yellow submarine in reference to the Beatles song

Bono and Edge unveiled a tapestry in honor of John Lennon Wednesday at a ceremony on Ellis Island, in the presence of Yoko Ono and Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty.

The tapestry was commissioned by Art for Amnesty founder Bill Shipsey to thank Yoko for giving Amnesty International the rights to record cover versions of John Lennon’s post-Beatles songs in 2004. Bono, Edge and Jimmy Iovine have donated the tapestry to The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation for display at the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration.

"We’re humbled to stand in the presence of Lady Liberty and of course I’m referring to Yoko," said Bono. "When I think of New Yorkers (and I consider myself one), I think of this spot… Because I’d like to live in the land of the free… this is the place I want to be," he quoted John Lennon.

Bono noted that Lennon in the tapestry was shown giving the same peace sign that he famously flashed in front of the Statue of Liberty after succeeding in his immigration case.

The U2 frontman said he was only a teenager while Lennon was fighting to stay in the United States despite political opposition from President Richard Nixon.

Ono during a speech said she remembered Lennon's fight to stay in the country and that he knew it was important to spread his message of peace in the US.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

u2 Discusses the "Crazy Tonight" Remix

In the most jarring transition of the night, "Crazy Tonight" moves directly into "Sunday Bloody Sunday," which the group has effectively re-contextualized by adding footage from this summer's Iranian protests. ("We tried just using green backgrounds," says the Edge, "but it was too subtle. People thought, 'Ireland.'") 

Images from Iran begin to appear on the screen as Bono sings the final chorus of "Crazy": "It's not a hill/It's a mountain/As we start out the climb." At that point, as Bono sees it, the second and more political section of the show begins. "The first act is a sort of personal narrative, about overcoming obstacles," he says. 

"Suddenly, from this song about hedonism and self-destruction ...  you're on the streets of Tehran. 'It's not a hill, it's a mountain/As we start out the climb' — your personal odyssey is thrown into harsh relief with what's going on in the outside world. Maybe this is how I've sorted my life — all the saddest people I knew were people focused on their own well-being. 'I, I, I, I, I, me, me, me, me.' 

The way I found a route out of depression, the way I found a route out of idiocy, has been the harsh juxtaposition of other lives, be they around me or in the wider world. I love that moment in the show — I really understand that feeling."

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

U2 Discusses Get On Your Boots

The one new song every crowd knows is No Line's first single, "Get On Your Boots" — which the band plays in a more straightforward, harder-rocking arrangement live, stripping it of its electronic elements. U2 love playing the song, but three out of four members now acknowledge that it was the wrong choice for a first single (Edge continues to defend it). 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

"This is My America"

As is often the case at a U2 show, the boldest moment of the night came when, towards the end of the set, the band played “Bullet the Blue Sky,” a dissonant Joshua Tree deep cut that’s become a live staple. The album version is about the United States’s involvement in military conflict in El Salvador, but on subsequent tours the band has tailored it to addressing whatever political issue has them riled up at the time: religious violence, the NRA, Nazism.

On this tour, in keeping with the whole “innocence and experience” theme, it becomes a dialogue between a 19-year-old version of Bono and the modern-day one we’re seeing onstage, who has “100, 200, 300 times” more than he needs. The criticism, though, eventually turns outward: Bono ended the song, powerfully, at the lip of the stage, shouting to the crowd, “Hands up, I’m an American. I can’t breathe, I’m an American.” And though this is the kind of thing we’ve come to expect from U2, the moment felt genuinely confrontational. They then launched into a soaring rendition of “Pride (In the Name of Love),” as the crowd blithely pumped its fists to a song that it may or may not know is about the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

"This is my America," Bono exclaims.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Bono Discusses No Line on the Horizon

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"I walk out and sing 'Breathe' every night to a lot of people who don't know it," says Bono. "I'm a performer — I'm not going to hang on to a song that doesn't communicate and add up to something. They're great songs live, and I think it's a great album. I think it will be seen as 'Gosh, one of their more challenging albums.'"

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Rethinking Pop

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Irish Voice

October 10, 2007 - October 16, 2007

IT goes against the grain for a music reviewer to say the next three words.

I was wrong.

Allow me to paint a picture. I was in the backyard of a musician friend of mine. We love impressing one another during monthly listening nights with our encyclopedic knowledge of music as we create mixes of old and new music on our hard drives.