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5 Responses to “U2 Really Means It”

  1. LaFours said

    I’m not quite sure what your feelings on U2 as a whole or individuals are after this. It’s both complimentary and critical, which is fine.
    And just a few points that seemed to be jabs. They didn’t give themselves nicknames that would be a little gauche, no? Bono got it from a friend, alteration of bonavox, “good voice”. Bono gave Dave the name The Edge.
    Who else is gonna get ten of thousands of people together in one spot almost everynight and sign the up for the one or red campaigns?
    Generally men in western countries wearing turbans are sikh, so I don’t know if I would assume he was muslim.
    And I hope your not serious about the Dee Dee and Joey being brothers.
    That’s about it, I was gonna go off on a rant about Bruce and Dylan, but that would take up way too much space.

    • green4sd said

      Thanks for letting me know about the Ramones typo.
      The whole point of the essay is in the first sentence. They should be my favorite band, but they aren’t. All the other stuff gets in the way. I don’t even mind their “politics” – they aren’t even really politics, more basic human kindness. It’s the relentless “over-the-top-ness.”

  2. 1) Their experiments with electronica, glam rock and club music were failures.

    I don’t agree. And it seems Stereophonic would disagree with you too. Take a listen to Devil.

    2) Their newest album, “No Line on the Horizon” … has neither the sustained quality of the last two albums nor the urgency of their finer songs.

    I find the very opposite.

    3)… Bono is talking about eradicating poverty and debt forgiveness he’s leading a tour that is more than a little ostentatious.

    What you call ostentatious I call making sure people feel close to the band
    no matter where they’re positioned in the stadiums.

    4) As enamored as U2 appears to be with the excesses of fame and fortune there are no tales of philandering, drunken rages, destroyed hotel rooms or drug abuse. Quite the opposite actually. Bono has been married for over 25 years. Larry Mullen, Jr. is similarly committed. The Edge is deeply religious and once thought of forming a Christian band.

    And Adam is very grounded, connected and present.

    5) The knee-jerk reaction is to tell Bono and his mates to just shut up and play. Indeed, there are times when watching U2 feels like you’re attending one of those 1/2 credit continuing education courses mandated by your employer.

    To ask people who aren’t talking to shut up is crazy. Bono´s mates don’t campaign on stage. And as to Bono doing so you nailed it already, it’s never just about music.

    6) Maybe Bono would be better served if he actually went to Tehran and marched in the streets. Or maybe if he had stood with the protestors in Bali to demand action on climate change. But he hasn’t.

    Maybe even if he kept working on his causes and supported the ones you mentioned some people would still expect more and more.

  3. green4sd said

    Your recommended song from Stereophonic actually is evidence of failure rather than success. Stereophonic sounds like 20 other bands who emerged from the UK in the late 90s. They are a better version of Oasis. In the US we have the same problem with male singer-songwriter who are “sensitive.” Go to any college town and you’ll find coffee houses playing them on the PA or live.
    Stereophonic and Manic Sreet Preachers and Franz Ferdinand and many others are based on the wink and a smile to their audience and to various pop/rock conventions. When U2 tried to adopt this ironic, self-referential tone after Achtung Baby, it didn’t work, because as the title of my essay suggests, they really mean everything they do. Bono, in interviews, admits as much when talkng about the Pop/ZooTV era. U2 doesn’t do irony. That said, loyal fans like yourself stick with bands through their experiments so you probably won’t agree with my labeling that a failure. It’s always interesting when I read album reviews; the rock press often castigates an established band for producing “more of the same.” Then they criticize a band’s attempts to branch out. As a Springsteen admirer, I like albums (Lucky Town, The Ghost of Joad) that mainstream fans and the rock press kind of shrugged their shoulders at.
    Regarding the current album, only time will tell whether it holds up with their best work. I stick by my assessment.
    This tour is not intimate. And that’s been U2’s choice. They could have opted for a stripped down arena tour-like Elevation-but didn’t. They went big. Hell, not big, huge. While the design of the stage allows for the band to distribute themselves on one level, it’s canceled out by the massive screens. This is true for any band, not just U2. When the overwhelming majority of fans in attendance-who paid money to see the band “in person”-watch the performers on a screen or through some other instrument, there can be no substantive connection. And in U2’s case, because they are such a dynamic live band, it’s particularly unfortunate.
    In listing the backgrounds of the band members I purposefully omitted Clayton for the simple reason that when it comes to contributions for what U2 is/was he checks in at a distant fourth. I’ll admit freely that is a cheap shot. But, hey, it’s my blog.
    Finally, U2/Bono’s politics would be admirable if they were a little more courageous. It’s not that expect them to do more for the causes they care about, it’s that in choosing the causes they have (debt-forgiveness, specifically), they have left themselves plain for charges of hypocrisy. How can you seriously talk about a financial motivated cause when you’re already a billionaire and are now adding rather significantly to their personal wealth. Which is fine. I have no problem with them being rich and famous. They are uniquely talented. If they stuck to human rights issues (Aung San Suu Kyi, Iran protestors) at least they would avoid charges of hypocrisy. In that vein, none of their stances could be considered the slightest bit brave. They haven’t taken a stand on Kashmir or universal health care or gun rights. They haven’t even been outspoken as say, the Dixie Chicks. My feeling is, if you’re going to speak from your rather substantial forum then say something that requires a little fortitude. But U2 isn’t wired that way; maybe they recall the backlash they received from Rattle and Hum and don’t want to deal with that again. Ultimately though, what is great about U2 is that they can prompt detailed discussions about issues beyond their music. Few, if any bands can say that.

  4. […] cool man…to like both of them.” I was relieved to hear this and it got me thinking about the last concert I attended. Such a discussion about band loyalty would be considered a triviality when the artists playing […]

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