Friday, July 24, 2015

Amazing, Innovative “Innocence” Show

I can’t say U2 is taking it easy. Their “Innocence and Experience” show at MSG last night was about as exciting and innovative as you can get.
Of course, they could have called it “I’m Still Standing” as the entire floor of the Garden is General Admission– i.e. no seats. Three hours. If you go– and you must– wear sneakers and bring a cane!
Two nights ago, Paul and Nancy McCartney stood in one of the two VIP risers on the floor. McCartney, a great live show man, must have really soaked in how Bono et al re-designed the Garden in a way I’ve never seen for a rock show.
bono iphone
Last night the guests included Charlie Rose and Gayle King,actor Peter Sarsgaard, a bevy of models, designer Tory Burch, and AOL-Verizon chief Tim Armstrong.
The show, an interactive video extravaganza, turns the usual rock concert on its head. It’s at once grandly bombastic and simply intimate, with many stages running lengthwise cutting through the center of the venue. The staging reminded me a little of David Byrne’s Public Theater musical, “Here Lies Love.” Maybe that show was an influence. But it definitely relieves the rock band of the static notion of always being at one end of the stadium. Bono, Edge, Adam and Larry are able to move about freely through the giant room. And there’s no obstructed view– it’s rock in the round. Special kudos to the lighting designer.
The show also has nods– and I’m assuming pays royalties to– a variety of other composers including Patti Smith, Paul Simon, the Sex Pistols, Johnny Cash (who is literally the intermission entertainment, his animated image performing against the Berlin Wall), and Stephen Sondheim. Bono sort of knits together all of his favorite things– including the Irish troubles, Nelson Mandela, and the themes of freedom and equality.  U2’s “One” charity and “Red” products are also heavily promoted, in a good way.
The set included requisite U2 hits– “With or Without You,” “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”– as well as a bunch of cuts from the band’s latest album, “Songs of Innocence.”
The real achievement (aside from the financial– no seats and all standing means they can pack in more people) of this show is seeing how all four members of U2 function as one. Edge’s jangly guitar still sends goosebumps. Larry Mullen’s drums pound propulsively. But it was Adam Clayton’s bass that really caught my eye last night– it’s maybe key to U2’s trademark– and for some of us– brilliantly reassuring sound.
Bono remains a great show, gifted with gab and ceaseless energy, a sense of humor and that unmistakable voice. He has the heart of a crooner even when he’s belting over the sonic accompaniment of his three colleagues.

All photos c2015 Showbiz411 on a Lumix ZS20

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Bono provides glasses for underprivileged with new charity campaign

NEW YORK - Bono, who has had problems with his own vision, is partnering with a company to provide better eye care to the underprivileged.

The "Buy Vision, Give Sight" campaign with eyewear brand Revo is designed to raise $10 million for screening, eyeglasses and other assistance to the impoverished. Revo will donate $10 for each pair of eyeglasses it sells, and the U2 frontman will introduce his own line of Revo sunglasses, which he's been wearing on U2's sold-out tour, in the fall.

Bono, who was diagnosed with glaucoma two decades ago, says his eyesight is OK now. But in a Thursday statement, he said "tens of millions of people around the world with sight problems don't have access to glasses, or even a basic eye test."

Friday, July 17, 2015

Jason D Rossi  chatted with The Edge and Adam Clayton from U2 backstage before last night shows. They talk about their love of Boston, why radio is the best place for music, how they snuck their latest album on your phone, and he gives them a reason to be a New England Patriots fan. –

Click here to listen to the interview.

Boston : 4 Nights to The Top

Night # 1:

The first of four nights in Boston,  and the band were welcomed as only Boston knows how,  like it was a 'hometown show' as Bono  put it.

He mentioned that they'd played the city 23 times, the first at The Paradise in 1980. 'It’s a lucky man who can consider more than one city his hometown'.

'Like perhaps no other rock band of its era,' reported the Patriot Ledger, 'U2 excels at that mystical quality where melding words and music achieve something infinitely more meaningful than the sum of its parts. It is art that hits you at a visceral level, so that even if you may not know exactly what they're singing about, you intrinsically feel everything they're singing about.
Last night, as U2 opened a four night stand at the TD Garden in Boston, the Irish quartet had all that and more, as the Innocence and Experience Tour adds a dazzling high tech video production to the mix that gave the 20,000 capacity crowd the impression they were not just sharing the band's story, but inside of it at times.'

 'I don’t want to ruin too much for those going to the shows later this week,' reported The Boston Herald.'But the set is a revelation. It’s anti-ZooTV tour and still mind-blowing. The band can wander from one end to the other of the arena, sometimes while inside a video wall that rises 40 feet in the air.'

Night #2:

'Are we family here or not? Are we going to get out of control or not? 
We were and we did.'

This was Boston, night two and as Bono put it, after a call and response version of I Will Follow, 'last night we had a great time but it turns out that it was just a warm up for tonight... 'cus we're in Boston, more Irish than any city in Ireland.'

Special moment in Bad  and special memories, channelling the spirit of Lou Reed with a Walk On The Wild Side and a Satellite of Love. Remembering  this Saturday thirty years ago:
'We found ourselves on a stage, Wembley Stadium, in London, and … Live Aid. We played this song… we never got to finish our set…Lou Reed was watching the television that day… he heard us singing. That concert went on to save many lives… and gave us extra purpose as a band.'

Night # 3:

This can’t be a Tuesday night. Can it? Thank you for sticking with us Boston.. 25 shows over the years. You’re still here and we appreciate that'.
'When we first came to your city, we were too young to get into your bars, and in fact nothing much has changed because The Edge was not allowed into a bar last night.
The Edge gets thrown out of a bar in Boston because he’s no I.D.
'They said they weren’t sure if he was under 30… now the funny thing is, that Larry actually got into the bar, they didn’t ask him for I.D. … so now he’s really upset… bands break up over this kind of stuff.'

Great vibe at the Garden for the first show of the new week in Boston, third of four and, unbelievable as it sounds, already three quarters through the first leg of this tour. This Boston run is proving another tour highlight.

'Anyway.. some things shouldn’t change, some things have to… we’re gonna take you on a journey… our journey… from innocence to experience… and hopefully, back again… this is a different show than anything we’ve done before.'

And it was, with more changes to the set list, notably with only the second airing on the tour of The Crystal Ballroom - one of the new songs of innocence that only appeared on the deluxe edition of the record. It was introduced with a tribute to Mike Love from The Beach Boys - in the house tonight -  Bono remembering carrying their albums to the first U2 rehearsals.

'Life begins with the first glance
The first kiss at the first dance
All of us are wondering why we’re here
In the crystal ballroom underneath the chandelier...'

Chloe was the beautiful dancer who was up on the 'e' stage for Mysterious Ways and to capture Desire for the 'Meerkat Moment'.
As she stepped down, Gretchen stepped up, singer in a local band who the band met on arrival at the venue earlier - and now playing guitar with Edge for All I Want Is You. 

Night #4 

'It's no secret that the stars are falling from the sky
It's no secret that our world is in darkness tonight...'

'WATCH MORE TV.' Final night in Boston and instead of an animated Johnny Cash performing The Wanderer when the band slip off stage between 'End Of The World' and 'Invisible', the screen was alive with that electrifying mash-up of aphorisms, truisms and cliches that could only mean the return of The Fly... set to a searing, thumping, Gavin Friday mix of the 1991 classic.  'CALL YOUR MOTHER'

'Thanks for the loan of your city for the last 10 days,' said Bono introducing Iris, 'I guess we have to hand it back to you at some point. It kind of feels like our city too. I hope we didn’t make too much of a mess.'
'I'm just trying to find a decent melody
A song that I can sing in my own company...'
Stuck In A Moment was back, only the fourth time out so far, followed by this.
'Your eyes were like landing lights
They used to be the clearest blue
Now you don’t see so well
The future’s gonna land on you...'
Volcano, back after missing eight shows and illustrating a set list that's getting more and more unpredictable - not least the songs with the band gathered on the 'e' stage.

Four nights should have been fourteen...' as Bono put it later on.

U2 lights up the Garden

U2 has always been inventive in its staging, but Friday night, in the first of four shows at the TD Garden, the Irish rock quartet seriously amped up the wow factor in a spectacular, in every sense, two-hour-plus show that included more than two dozen songs.

The brilliant setup included a runway that ran the length of the arena and ended in a small circular satellite stage that transformed the rear of the venue into the best seats in the house; an oval array of overhead speakers to more evenly distribute the sound; and, most stunning of all, a ginormous central video screen that ran the length of the runway complete with an interior catwalk that allowed the band members to play inside it as images were projected on the outside.

But all the glitz was, happily, upstaged by the music itself. Two and a half months into the tour for its latest album “Songs of Innocence” — which some may recall showing up unbidden in its iTunes as either a treat or a nuisance last September — the band is clearly in a groove and it brought the firepower Friday.

Frontman Bono was in especially good voice. Whether he was softly crooning the tender, exquisite new piano ballad “Every Breaking Wave” or belting out the sustained power notes of the still vibrant classic “Pride (In the Name of Love),” he was pitch perfect.

The currently blond singer was also his typically chatty outsized self, at times endearingly self-deprecating and others eye-rollingly self-serious, veering from preacher to pitchman to political firebrand to pop star in his inimitable way. He talked between songs about everything from the band’s earliest performances in Boston at the Paradise to shouting out to supporters — including Patriots QB Tom Brady — of his various charitable campaigns.

At one point he noted that he and drummer Larry Mullen Jr., guitarist the Edge, and bassist Adam Clayton like to think of playing Boston as a “hometown show” and the sellout crowd certainly gave them that kind of welcome whether they were reaching back 35 years to their debut album “Boy” for charged takes of “The Electric Co.” and “I Will Follow” or muscling through the brawny rhythms of the new “Raised by Wolves.”

The screen was used to great effect throughout the night for everything from live shots of the band to eye-popping video including Bono taking a virtual stroll through his childhood on “Cedwarwood Road” and “Song for Someone.”

A female fan was brought on stage to bust a few moves during “Mysterious Ways” and then enlisted to shoot video of the band on the Meerkat live streaming app — to varying degrees of success — during the always ecstatic “Elevation,” with the crowd pitching in to help with the soaring “whoo-ooo-ooh’’ refrain.

That was among several songs that got an audience boost as hearty singalongs also met a stripped back and oddly metered “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” the soaring “Beautiful Day,” slow burn brooder “With or Without You,” and an encore of “One,” which actually featured the audience as the primary vocalists.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Influences from a more abrasive era continue to shape U2's sound

U2 is not usually thought of as a punk band. But they came together in the punk era.

In 1978, the pioneering punk-rock band The Ramones performed in Dublin for the first time. And all four members of U2 were there.
Frontman Bono sang about that moment in "The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)," the first track on the band's 2014 "Songs of Innocence" album, making it sound like a religious experience: "I woke up at the moment when the miracle occurred/Heard a song that made some sense out of the world."
U2 is not usually thought of as a punk band. But they came together in the punk era.
Punk rocker Joey Ramone, top right, of The Ramones, was a heavy influence on the music of U2, says the band's frontman, Bono.
"The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)" is also the customary opening song on the band's Innocence + Experience Tour, which comes to Madison Square Garden in The Ramones' hometown, New York, for eight shows beginning Saturday.
It was Ramone's commitment to his material, despite its simplicity, that impressed Bono most. "This was a really important moment in the last 25 years," he wrote in a 2001 Time magazine eulogy for Ramone, who died of lymphoma at the age of 49, "because suddenly imagination was the only obstacle to overcome. Anyone could play those four chords. … You have to be able to hear it more than you have to be able to play it. Suddenly, the grasp becomes more important than the reach."
Or, as U2 bassist Adam Clayton said in his induction speech when the group entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005, "We didn't know the blues or soul or R&B or country but we did know that together we had a chance to change the world by making a noise. This was punk and it saved [me]."
U2 is not usually thought of as a punk band. But they came together in the punk era. They cite punk icons such as The Clash and Patti Smith, as well as The Ramones, as primary influences; on the current tour, they have been inserting portions of The Sex Pistols' "God Save the Queen" and The Ramones' "Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio?" into their own songs.
Looking over the course of their consistently non-conformist career, you could argue that they are not just a punk band, but are, in fact, the ultimate punk band.
The popular notion of punk, of course, is that it's abrasive and nihilistic (two qualities that don't fit U2). And some of it is, of course. But punk is not just that. It's about staying true to yourself, no matter what the consequences are, and not letting anything — the judgment of others, or your own insecurities or artistic limitations — keep you from saying what's on your mind.
And U2, over the past 35 years, has done those things as well as anyone.
Though other bands — most, notably, perhaps, Coldplay — have been influenced by their music, U2 has never really been part of any movement. Especially when they first emerged internationally, in the early '80s, there was no one like them — dead serious, politically outspoken, almost messianic in their intensity. Then, after they got huge, they got weird and experimental in the '90s, adding electronic beats and modern pop-culture references to their music, and making their tours into big, arty spectacles. (Remember the giant lemon of the 1997-98 PopMart Tour?)
Even now, they're taking chances, and occasionally suffering the consequences. When "Songs of Innocence" came out in September, it was automatically added, at no charge, to all personal iTunes libraries throughout the world. Some felt the move was arrogant and invasive. In an interview with Los Angeles radio station KROQ, Bono defended it by saying "the punk rock thing to do is annoy people and get in their faces."
Another thing that separates U2 from everyone else is the band's unity. From Day One, it has always been Bono, Clayton, The Edge on guitar and Larry Mullen Jr. on drums, and all four credited as co-writers. It's unprecedented in rock history for a band to be around for so long and accomplish so much with absolutely no lineup changes.
But that goes back to punk, too. "We were a band before we could play," wrote Bono in the Time eulogy for Joey Ramone. "We formed our band around an idea of friendship and shared spirit. That was a preposterous notion before The Ramones."
U2's all-for-one, one-for-all philosophy makes them a throwback to a time when musicians were all essential to the band's sound, and more interested in helping their bands succeed than launching their solo careers. (Inducting U2 to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Bruce Springsteen cleverly called them "the last band of whom I would be able to name all of its members.") But though they are respectful of rock history — 1988's "Rattle and Hum" in particular, with its Beatles and Bob Dylan covers and its B.B. King collaboration, was an ardent embrace of it — they have always, primarily, looked forward instead of back.
And that's an important lesson for young rock bands of today, none of whom could play eight shows over two weeks at Madison Square Garden. You can make some money by imitating other successful bands or catering your sound to Top 40 radio. But it's nearly impossible to build a long-term career that way.
It's not totally these young bands' fault, of course. Rock doesn't dominate the world of popular music the way it once did: Pop, country and hip-hop all seem to offer easier roads to commercial success. (It's the likes of Taylor Swift and One Direction and Jason Aldean who are doing most of the big shows this summer, though admittedly some rock acts, including AC/DC and the Foo Fighters, are still filling huge venues, too).
But the first step, always, has to be creating something — a sound, a sensibility, an attitude — of your own. Having a long list of hits doesn't hurt, but the thing that is most responsible for ensuring that a U2 tour will be successful is the band's uniqueness. Their stubborn, punk-like, sometimes obnoxious but more often inspiring uniqueness.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Larry Mullen speaks about his return to U2 following the death of his father

larry mullen
RETURN:U2 drummer Larry Mullen performs onstage during the U2 iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE tour opener in Vancouver at Rogers Arena on May 14, 2015 in Vancouver
U2 DRUMMER Larry Mullen has opened up about the death of his beloved dad just days before the band’s world tour kicked off in May — insisting the “circus” had to go on despite his loss.
Larry (53) jetted back to Ireland from rehearsals in Vancouver in Canada for the funeral of his dad Larry Sr, from Artane in Dublin, who passed away suddenly at age 92 at the Bons Secours Hospital in the capital.
But grieving Larry Jr then had to dash back to Canada just in time for the opening of U2’s Innocence and Experience Tour to go ahead as planned.
“It’s part of life. It happens,” Larry said.
“We’re circus people. That’s what we do. We just get on with it.”
He said his only regret was that his dad never got to see the new tour.
LEGENDS: U2 perform erform onstage during the U2 iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE tour opener in Vancouver [Wireimage]
LEGENDS: U2 perform erform onstage during the U2 iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE tour opener in Vancouver [Wireimage]
“The only regret I have is that he’s not going to see this show because he would enjoy it,” he said.
“I’m proud of his involvement and proud of him. And I know he was proud of me. It’s all good.”
Larry’s mum Maureen was killed in a car crash in 1976, when the star was 15, but his dad was survived by his second wife Alice and Larry Jr’s sister Cecilia.
Larry continued to live with his dad after the death of his mum — but he has admitted that he and Bono, who also lost his mother at an early age, both found another “family” in U2.
Bono’s dad Bob Hewson passed away in 2001 during the band’s Elevation tour.
Bandmate Adam Clayton lost his mother Jo shortly after the band’s 360 tour ended in June 2011 while The Edge’s mother Gwenda Evans died in June 2012.