Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Songs of Innocence


U2 - Songs Of Innocence

So the epic tale of U2’s recording odyssey through 13 studio albums and 35 years reaches the present day — and, as ever, the only direction is forward.

‘Songs of Innocence’ finds the four lifetime friends in unfailingly dynamic form. These new songs, some of the most autobiographical of their lives, brim over with energy and inventiveness. They, and the band, are road-ready, as U2 prepare to take these new-born sons and daughters for a spin around the world, in the company of some much-loved older siblings from their incredible catalogue.

Now that the mists have cleared from the endless attention over the album’s ground-breaking digital release, what emerges is the much more important element: the sheer vitality of its content. That’s been underlined by the unprecedented demand for the iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Tour 2015, set to start in Vancouver on May 14.

Two and a half months of North American shows will culminate in an awe-inspiring eight dates at Madison Square Garden in New York, in late July. Then the tour relocates to Europe for a sold out itinerary of more than two months that will include six nights at London’s 02 Arena.

While other bands trade entirely on former glories, the lifeblood running through U2’s veins is the need to stay new and relevant, to themselves as well as their audience. That was central to both the creation and execution of ‘Songs of Innocence,’ as Edge explained when he spoke to Rolling Stone.

He described what the band have learned about the digital age, after the free release of their new album to half a billion people, in a month-long digital exclusive via iTunes. “We're in the dawn of it,” he said. “The thing it's easy to forget when you live in modern times is that they're modern for about another 30 seconds, more so than ever.

“In a few years we'll look back on this time like we look back on VCRs and rotary phones. When the radio arrived, everyone thought that was the end of sheet music. I think music has become devalued and disposable in the commercial world – but not to music lovers or the people who make it, and not all big tech either. Apple – and U2 – fight hard for artists to be paid.

“In the future, technology has to be a better servant of music, and not its slave master. We can take advantage of the benefits of technology, and we do, but it's also beholden on those of us who have been so well rewarded by music to figure out a way to preserve the ability for artists to create and thrive.”

There may have been a five-year gap between 2009’s ‘No Line On The Horizon’ and ‘Songs of Innocence,’ but the spectacular U2 360° Tour didn’t reach the last of its 110 shows until July 2011. The new record’s evolution took in a variety of studios, with production credits going to Danger Mouse, Paul Epworth, Ryan Tedder, Declan Gaffney and Flood.

There were no fewer than seven settings for this new experience, with sessions at Electric Lady Studios, The Church, Shangri-La, Strathmore House, Pull Studios, Assault and Battery and The Woodshed. When the album emerged in September 2014, reviewers heard a rich synthesis of all of the band’s varied influences from different times in their career, made whole by the experiences gained across four decades of invention.

“’Songs of Innocence’ reconnects U2 with the strident, searching, wide awake band of their nascency,” wrote Mojo magazine’s Tom Doyle, “reminding not only us but themselves of their against-the-odds beginnings. The result is their best and most thematically complete album since ‘Achtung Baby.’ By turning towards their past, U2 have found their way back to the future.”

Those themes of looking homeward, and of the 1970s Dublin that the group grew up in, were evident from the robust, uncompromising and infectious opener, ‘The Miracle (of Joey Ramone).’ It was a tip of the hat to the lead singer of the Ramones, one of the very reasons U2 chose their career path in the first place. “I was young, not dumb, just wishing to be blinded by you,” sang Bono in tribute. “Brand new, and we were pilgrims on our way.”

Elsewhere, there was further acknowledgement of another guiding light for the young U2, The Clash, in ‘This Is Where You Can Reach Me Now,’ dedicated to Joe Strummer. ‘Every Breaking Wave’ rolled to the shore with an assured restraint in the spirit of ‘With Or Without You’; ‘Volcano’ bubbled like lava.

‘Iris (Hold Me Close)’ was yearningly anthemic, named for and inspired by Bono’s late mother, who died when was he was only 14. Swedish pacesetter Lykke Li contributed vocals to ‘The Troubles,’ while ‘Cedarwood Road’ typified that cohesion that occurs when every individual on a record is doing something great. Again, its reference points were real and personal, with a lyric about the cherry blossom tree in the garden of the Hewsons’ neighbours, when Bono was growing up.

“It’s us trying to figure out why we wanted to be in a band in the first place,” Bono told the Irish Times. “The relationships around the band and our first journeys – geographically, spiritually and sexually. It was tough and it took years. Put it this way: a lot of sh*t got dragged up.”

This series of album essays has travelled a million miles around the world and back, on a road that continues to stretch ahead enticingly. The ‘Songs of Innocence’ track ‘Song For Someone’ contains the lyric: “There is a light, don’t let it go out.” U2 never have, and never will.

Paul Sexton

http://www.udiscovermusic.com/

Thursday, March 19, 2015




Edge shared his thoughts on Songs Of Experience during a radio interview today on TodayFM's The Mix Up show (starts around 29:00). 

"The question of when the album gets finished is very open," he said, adding that the band is busy with tour prep right now. "We are pushing hard to try to get the album done and out within, we hope, 18 months or so, but it's so hard to predict. ... (W)e don't want to release anything that we haven't had a chance to really finish to our satisfaction. ... It's not a case of putting six weeks aside to make an album. It's that we want it to be everything we want it to be."






http://www.atu2.com

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Auction has The Edge with acoustic guitar sale


A simple-looking Spanish guitar that might not otherwise be worth €30 could be worth more than 100 times that thanks to the signature of its previous owner: U2’s The Edge.

The Hokada nylon-string instrument may well have been the first used by a young David Evans, but it had served its purpose by around 1980, when his mother Gwenda sold it to a teaching colleague in Scoil √ćosa in Malahide, Co Dublin.

U2 only had one single under their belts at that stage and neither party to the sale could have imagined they would become the world’s biggest rock group.

More than three decades later, and her own guitar lessons well and truly behind her, the purchaser has placed it for sale in auction later this month. The acoustic guitar is estimated to fetch €3,000 to €5,000, — helped by the fact that The Edge signed it years after his mother sold it for around the same price she had first paid herself.





http://www.irishexaminer.com/

Ali attended a fundraiser for Chernobyl Children International

Ali Hewson at Liz O Donnell's annual fundraising lunch for Adi Roche's Chernobyl Children International at Fire Restaurant ,Dublin.




As one half of Ireland's most generous power couple, the mum-of-four proved her generosity once again at the Liz Lunch at Mansion House, raising funds for Chernobyl Children International (CCI).

Wearing a ball black ensemble, the brunette beauty led the charge of famous faces out to support charity board director Liz O’Donnell and Adi Roche.

RTE star Kathryn Thomas, wearing an Orla Kiely summer dress, was joined by her boyfriend Padraig McLoughlin, while Morah Ryan took her 2FM DJ daughter Lottie.

Guest MC Lisa Fitzpatrick kept guests entertained and also helped raise funds for the CCI.


Ali Hewson,Liz O Donnell and Adi Roche  at Liz O Donnell's annual fundraising lunch for Adi Roche's Chernobyl Children International at Fire Restaurant ,Dublin

Picture: Brian McEvoy
The charity's CEO Adi Roche said:

“Thanks to the overwhelming support of everyone here at Liz’s Lunch today, (when put alongside the almost 30 years of work and enduring commitment of thousands of volunteer workers and donors North and South), we will be able to send a team of international paediatric cardiac surgeons to the region in the coming months.

"We are also looking at setting up a dedicated children’s cath lab in the cardiac unit atKharkiv Hospital, Ukraine," she added. This will greatly speed up the scale of the operations and reduce waiting times for these seriously-ill children."

http://www.independent.ie/

Friday, March 13, 2015

Monday, March 9, 2015

ONE: 'Poverty is sexist' letter

Ali Hewson


Humanitarian and global activist Ali Hewson is part of a cohort of influential women across the world, including Meryl Streep, Beyonce, Sheryl Sandberg and Lady Gaga to back advocacy group ONE's campaign for world leaders to put girls and women centre stage in 2015.


This year, world leaders are aiming to agree new global goals to set the development agenda for a generation, and a group of the world's leading female lights have put their signatures to a powerful letter demanding change.

The letter has been written for the attention of Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chairwoman Dlamini-Zuma - who are key decision-makers this year, and are hosting conferences on the topic - and it powerfully asserts how "poverty is sexist".

The women in the campaign say girls and women must be at the heart of the fight to end extreme poverty, and explain that unlocking women's economic potential could improve the lives of everyone.

In the letter they write that change needs to come: "For the girl who can't go to a decent primary or secondary school or access healthcare; for the mothers threatened with death when they give life and who aren't allowed to decide when to have their next child; for the women who can't own or inherit the land she farms, nor open a bank account, own a phone, access electricity or the legal system; for the infant girl who doesn't legally exist because her birth wasn't registered and the government hasn't the capacity to collect data on her or her village; for the women and girls who can't take those who are violent towards them to court nor access justice - let's make sure they all count. Put simply, poverty is sexist, and we won't end it unless we face up to the fact that girls and women get a raw deal."

In June, the chancellor and chairwoman will chair key summits in Germany, and South Africa, which will be followed by the unveiling of new goals in New York in September.

Read the whole text here.
Sign the petition here.


Join the ONE Campaign


http://www.independent.ie/

Monday, March 2, 2015

U2's Last Word on 'Innocence' iTunes Release

The Edge and Bono


Bono and the Edge react to a new study indicates digital listeners are spinning a lot of U2 on their iOS devices. Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic/Getty
"It'll be a battle to be match fit for May 14th," Bono confesses, referring to the opening date in Vancouver of U2's impending tour. Asked to describe the state of his health after the bicycle accident in New York last November that left him with multiple injuries, including a facial fracture, the singer says, "My southpaw is a bit tricky, but my right hook is ready to rumble for sure." As for the shows, dubbed the Innocence and Experience tour, with alternating set lists each night, Bono promises, "We've got something beyond incredible planned. And I'm ready to fight for it."

Bono's comments about his recovery and return to the stage came at the end of an e-mail interview this week, with U2 guitarist the Edge, prompted by the release on February 23rd of a survey by the digital-data research firm, Kantar, which found that almost one-fourth of music users on iOS devices listened to at least one U2 song in January 2015 (making them the most-listened to artist during the period of the study). And nearly all of those users, 95 percent, listened to at least one song from last year's Songs of Innocence. Issued last September as a giveaway on iTunes, the album received wide critical praise – it was Rolling Stone's Album of the Year – while its delivery – straight to iOS users' mobile devices, prompted a firestorm against the band, particularly complaints about violations of privacy.

But according to Kantar, which sampled 978 iOS users drawn from a larger panel of more than 2,500, 23 percent of them listened to U2 in January. In comparison, 11 percent listened to at least one song by Taylor Swift. "Haven't got a clue!" Bono admits when asked about Kantar and its methodology. "I guess it's possible they could have randomly selected thousands of individuals with impeccable taste," he cracks, "who are not unduly influenced by the feeding frenzy that the blogosphere seems to become if there's a spot of blood in the water."

He and the Edge went into greater, more serious detail in response to the following questions. Six months after the troubled release of Songs of Innocence, they have not given up on those songs and their future.


With the information from survey, and some time to reflect, what would you have done differently in releasing Songs of Innocence? What could you have done that would have highlighted the music over the technology and the giveaway?

The Edge: Lots of people, including me, don't read the instructions. When you select automatic download on iOS, you're signing up to be pushed free content. It's not exactly small print, it's just a box you tick or don't. I understand how and why people got annoyed. But really, with all that's going on in the world. . .come on. Apple and U2 were genuine about this whole thing. Apple were being generous and we were trying to do something different to get through the noise. There's always a few teething problems when you're in new territory. . .One of which was that people thought we were giving the album away, that we'd suddenly become all about free music, when the opposite is true. We fervently believe all artists should be paid for their work. But we, like every musician, have to look at other models of getting paid. We were in the position where we can take a chance like this and weather the storm.  There's some phrase about breaking eggs and omelets that's probably appropriate here.  

What have you learned about the digital era – particularly the value people now put on music. And the way they listen to it and care for it – from the iTunes release and now this survey? How will they affect the way you release new music in the future?

The Edge: We're in the dawn of it. The thing it's easy to forget when you live in modern times is that they're modern for about another 30 seconds. . .more so than ever. In a few years we'll look back on this time like we look back on VCRs and rotary phones. When the radio arrived, everyone thought that was the end of sheet music. I think music has become devalued and disposable in the commercial world – but not to music lovers or the people who make it, and not all big tech either. Apple – and U2 – fight hard for artists to be paid. In the future, technology has to be a better servant of music, and not its slave master. We can take advantage of the benefits of technology, and we do, but it's also beholden on those of us who have been so well rewarded by music to figure out a way to preserve the ability for artists to create and thrive.    

The results suggest that Songs of Innocence has had a quiet staying power. Were you surprised by that, given the blowback that followed the iTunes giveaway? Specifically the fact that many people did not delete the album and, in fact, came back to it after the furor died down?

Bono: It sounds boring, but our drug of choice at the moment is songwriting, and trying to take U2's to the next level. I know craft can be a dangerous thing. . .but we have been a bit prone to relying on the magic in the room when we play together. A special guitar part, a strong thought or mood. But as you get older you get harder on yourself, looking for eternal melodies, searching for a coherence to the lyric. . .There's a nagging question in your head, which demands an answer you have to find in a song. Why would somebody else be bothered to listen? Leonard Cohen calls it "the tower of song." Which suggests removal from the street, from the life of being a passer-by yourself. These songs took a while, but I know they have staying power. I'm still holding on to some of them quite tightly myself.



 http://www.rollingstone.com/