Saturday, April 12, 2014

U2 pay surprise tribute to The Alarm’s Mike Peters at concert last night

The Irish rockers surprised the singer with a special message during the performance with BBC National Orchestra Of Wales.

Irish superstars U2 were the surprise guests as Mike Peters recorded a special concert for BBC Radio Wales at Hoddinott Hall in Cardiff last night.

Alarm frontman Peters joined forces with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the Acquire Choir from Rhuddlan in North Wales for a performance to be broadcast on BBC Radio Wales Music Day.

The concert also marked 30 years since The Alarm’s debut album Declaration was released and Swansea-based conductor John Quirk worked with Mike Peters to orchestrate the celebrated Welsh band’s back catalogue for the first time.

And it was Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen and Adam Clayon who were keen to join in the celebration – recording a video message from their studio in Dublin for a musician who they admire greatly – ending their heartfelt message with an impromptu rendition of Declaration fan favourite, Blaze Of Glory.

In the video, Bono starts off by saying: "Congratulations, 30 years..."

Both bands have history and have built up a firm friendship forged through playing and touring together in the early ‘80s, when both groups were starting out their illustrious careers in rock ‘n’ roll.

Running through a set list that including many of the rousing anthems from The Alarm’s debut album that included 68 Guns, The Deceiver and Where Were You Hiding When The Storm Broke reworked to a stunning effect by BBC NOW, there were also a selection of the band’s classic songs such as A New South Wales, Rain In The Summertime and Spirit Of 76 which similarly pulled at the heartstrings on a night of great emotion for everyone in the Hall.

You can hear the concert in full on BBC Radio Wales on Friday, April 25 at 9pm.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

'Starting From Scratch'

North Side Story, the definitive account of the emergence of U2 in Dublin, is a limited edition publication which comes with a subscription.  Among the scores of revealing interviews is one with Paul McGuinness and in this extract he recalls his earliest days in the music business - and first meeting U2. 

'I first got involved in the music business managing Spud, who I suppose were a kind of a poor man’s Horslips. This was in the mid ‘70s. They didn’t write their own songs. They did bluegrass and a bit of trad, which was never going to be easy to sell internationally. Initially they didn’t have a drummer and that meant that they were only able to do cabaret gigs and pub gigs – so there was no future in that. And so when I started to manage them I encouraged them to get a drummer, which was pretty obvious really. But it meant that they could do concerts and it helped me to get them gigs outside Ireland.

One important thing I learned managing Spud was this. They were about the same age as I was. They were in their mid twenties and they had started to get married and have kids and so their attitude to touring was pretty limited and lacking in ambition. They didn’t want to spend too much time on the road. They needed to get home and be with their families. And so I realised that at 25 or 26 or whatever, they were too old to make it. It needed a level of commitment that they couldn’t give. One place where we did get a bit of traction with Spud was Sweden. That was a little bit to do with the exchange rates, so that you could actually go there and make a bit of money. And so for a while I became a sort of agent, booking tours in Sweden. I also managed the Thom Moore band, Midnight Well, but I knew they were never going to be a really big band internationally. So I was always looking for something else, ideally a baby band, with youth on their side, that you could start with from scratch and aim to take over the world with.

I always felt that the Horslips model was a good one. I knew the guys in the band and their manager Michael Deeney was a friend of mine. What they did in business terms was very significant. They based themselves in Ireland and had their own record label – and so they controlled the recordings and they licensed the records for release outside Ireland. So they showed that a band could be based in Ireland and run their operation from here, which was what we eventually did with U2. When the punk thing started to happen in the UK, The Boomtown Rats came along and they were very determined to get out of Ireland as quickly as they could. They were very aggressive in their approach to getting a deal. They were very good at generating publicity and at selling themselves, so there was a lot to be learnt from them. So I was observing the business and how it operates – and doing things like reading Billboard magazine. And all the time, I was on the lookout for a young band that
would have the potential to become internationally successful.

U2, of course, were very young when they started out. They formed at Mount Temple which was a very liberal school in terms of its music policy. The music teacher there Albert Bradshaw was a remarkable man and they actually encouraged bands to play. The most important thing, I would say, was that they allowed the band to rehearse there, which was of huge significance, because a place to rehearse is the hardest thing for a young band to find. They won that talent competition in Limerick – at which Jackie Hayden was one of the judges. And the prize included studio time to do a demo, which they recorded in Keystone Studios. So they had begun to make things happen.

Adam had been managing the band up to that point and he got Bill Graham of Hot Press along to one of their rehearsals, I’m not sure where. They played some songs, which Bill immediately spotted were Ramones songs, which was a bit embarrassing! But he was impressed all the same. It is well documented that it was Bill who subsequently introduced me to the band and told me that I was going to manage them. The first time I saw them was in the Project Arts Centre, in June of 1978, supporting a band called The Gamblers – who as it happens were managed by my 16 year old sister Katy. I didn’t like to say it to her, but U2 were clearly the better band.

What struck me most about U2 that night was that they had presence. They weren’t shy in the way a lot of Irish bands were shy. The Radiators From Space had come through a little bit earlier – they were sponsored to an extent by Eamon Carr of Horslips. But they were rather shy and quiet. U2 were very different in that respect. Bono was always at the front of the stage, trying to engage with the crowd, getting them to look into his eyes. And even if they were a bit unsophisticated at that point, they had an energy and a confidence about them. They looked like a proper band on stage. And when I spoke to them, I could see immediately that they were smart. They were ambitious. And they knew that you had to work hard if you were going to become successful. And they were prepared to do that, in a way that a lot of other bands weren’t.  

They were also interested in every aspect of the process. They were interested in photography. They were interested in design. And so they were good at finding people who could become collaborators. Steve Averill, who of course had given them their name,  was working with them. And though Bill Graham wasn’t a collaborator as such, he was a very big influence at that stage. So they were very intelligent and tuned in. They wanted to know how everything worked. I started to manage them that night – at least I told them that night that I would and we spent a few months skirting around one another trying to work out who was going to do what and whether we were on the same wavelength. And, it turned out, we were.'

Commissioned from the Hot Press team in Ireland, North Side Story  covers six formative years from 1978 to 1983, from the first single, 'U23', to the live album, Under A Blood Red Sky.  Running to 274 pages, this heavyweight book of rare photos, original interviews, diaries, letters and profiles comes with 'North & South Of The River, Wandering In U2's Dublin', a poster-size map charting U2's Dublin.

African Well Found: there is no them, there's only us

From April 1 to May 10, the African Well Fund invites U2 fans and others who are inspired by Bono's tireless activism on behalf of Africa to donate to the 12th Annual Build a Well for Bono's Birthday fundraiser in honor of Bono's 54th birthday. This year's campaign will benefit a community-based water and sanitation project in the Ebo municipality of the Kwanza Sul Province in Angola. The project aims to increase access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation for more than 12,000 people living in these communities. Complete project details can be found here.
The 11 previous campaigns have raised over $225,000 in Bono's honor to fund the construction of clean water and sanitation projects implemented by AWF partner Africare that are benefiting more than 60,000 people in Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Mali, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Your donation will help give the people of Ebo the tools and training needed to improve public health in their communities.

To Donate and  Sign 2014 Birthday Card go to

Every year, AWF collects messages and signatures from donors that are compiled into a birthday card and sent to Bono via Principal Management along with the total amount raised. After donating, please click the button to add your name.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Why U2 once mattered, and why U2 matter still

by Cahir O'Doherty  for @irishcentral
U2's Edge and Bono performing in Washington. Decades of Irish art and history contained in their songs. Photo by: Getty Images

They were solitary Irish upstarts, a fledgling rock band in the post-punk new wave era - which they only lightly reflected – because they were pursuing their own signals from the outset. 
 Because they were Irish they were ignored at first, which gave them enviable space to learn and to grow. In the early 1980’s U2 were in search of something. 
Greatness, obviously, but their appetite was so insatiable it made you look twice. Compare an early 80’s interview with U2 with any other rock band of the time and you’ll see how distinctive they were. 
 Hailing from a Republic on life support they were consciously and unconsciously in search of some grandeur. The saw how the romantic Irish landscape could encourage you to dream, but they also saw how quickly Irish society could throw its nets around you. Their sound grew out of the contrast, I suppose. Edge’s big booming messianic chords, the band’s calling card, were there almost from the beginning, fueled by their hunger and also fueled by their less discussed interest in born again Christianity. 
 Like a lot of young Irish people of that era U2 were looking for a future, they were also looking for parole, and they were looking for a song to guide them to a new plateau. No previous generation had done it. At the time I thought they were the strangest rock band I’d ever seen. 
To me Bono looked like a mix of bug eyed religious maniac and mountain goat. In those days he always seemed to be in search of a flag to raise and a summit to taper on. I was instinctively leery of his mullet and his ready answers. U2 was the band that your older brothers liked. I would watch Bono’s odd physicality (he seemed to either dart about or more often move in slow motion, a trick I think he learned from the other great Celtic band Simple Minds) and contrast it with the other stars of the 80’s. 
 I don’t think I really understood U2 until I heard the wall of sound guitar of Pride (In The Name Of Love) the week it was released. That song drew a line under the past. It became a national event in Ireland at the time. It quickly became a mission statement of the Irish youth of that era, who knew it the moment they heard it. It also became a sort of national anthem even before the album it came from, The Unforgettable Fire, was released. The black and white video that promoted Pride (In The Name Of Love) was a snapshot of the band and of all the young Irish of the era: all hesitation and defiance. Rarely do you see such a confluence of art and life. When the helicopter flies up over Dublin city at the end of the song it looks as if no one really lives there and nothing is going on. That was about right, frankly. 
 Although they have often listed the bands and singers who have inspired them, it’s hard to find a trace of U2’s influences in their early sound. That’s because in the end U2 have always been best at being themselves, their forays into alternatives (avatars and sounds) have rarely paid dividends. There are so many things to criticize. Ireland’s small and you could argue U2’s juggernaut hurt emerging acts. Ireland has a band, you’re not it, go home, was and to some extent still is a common attitude there. The band’s power chords and the big rousing choruses became less and less convincing over time too. 
To this day it’s still their reflex even when the mighty dreams the band once dreamed have long ago been tempered by experience. Formed by the era they erupted in, the shockwaves have carried on for twenty-five years in ways that to tell the truth have sometimes been as imprisoning as they were inspired. Certainly the bands ironic embrace of corporate symbols like the golden arch in the PopMart tour wasn’t all that ironic. 

They’re not who they were, and none of us are, but U2 are even less so. Facebook deals worth millions, speed dials to the world’s top leaders, homes in France and elsewhere. Rock stardom brings you riches if it doesn’t necessarily bring you your dreams. But the reason that U2 still matter now, the reason they will always matter, is that just like an angels trumpet blast they heralded a great change. 
They embodied that change too. Their history is inseparable from the nation they sprang from now. They were trailblazers – artists often are – but they were the shape of things to come too. It worked both ways. For years Bono looked for a messiah but ended up deciding there’d already been one and that one was enough. That was one of his early and most heartfelt quests, but U2 is bigger than Bono, thankfully. The point of every great journey is come to home and finally understand the place.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Heroes: Matt Nathanson on Bono

"I've always been intrigued by and drawn to Bono," says singer-songwriter Matt Nathanson. "He's the guy who seems to drive change in U2."
"I've always been intrigued by and drawn to Bono," says singer-songwriter Matt Nathanson. "He's the guy who seems to drive change in U2."

"Bono doesn't do anything halfway. He'll drive right into a wall to make his point."

Since releasing his debut album, Please, in 1993, Matt Nathanson has established himself as one of the most creative and popular purveyors of modern folk-rock. But the San Francisco-based singer-songwriter didn't grow up spinning The Anthology Of American Folk Music; surprisingly, he spent most of his youth idolizing bands like Kiss and Def Leppard, and he credits four guys from Ireland with opening his ears to other musical sounds and genres.
"It was in 1983, and I heard New Year's Day from the War record," Nathanson recalls. "I really liked it, but I didn't commit to the band till I bought Under A Blood Red Sky on cassette. I remember MTV was playing Sunday Bloody Sunday from that Red Rocks show. I think that was the first time I actually saw Bono do his thing, where I became fully aware of his passion and power. I remember watching him and going, 'What the hell is this? This is great!'"
A year later, Nathanson bought a copy of U2's The Unforgettable Fire. The band's experimental collaboration with producer Brian Eno sealed the deal for him. "I remember listening to it at Christmas and just losing my mind," he says. "I was tripping on how weird it was, how it resolved itself but satisfied me completely. It seemed like it was beamed down from another planet. And everything Bono was doing – his sound of his voice, his approach to lyrics, the way he just kind of jumped out of the tracks – it really opened me up and got me to start transitioning from metal to other types of music."
It's interesting that U2 – and, in particular, Bono – would make such an impression on you when you were a metal-crazed teen.
"There was something I got about him pretty quickly. Bono doesn't do anything halfway. He'll drive right into a wall to make his point. He'll be sticking his head out the window while he drives into that wall. [Laughs] Nothing gets in his way. There's a fearlessness about him that drives the whole band. I think that's something to be admired and emulated. It's certainly how I've tried to go about the music I make."
"Bono, over the course of U2's history, has been the engine that powers the band. Part of that's the role of being a frontman – you have to go heart to the hoop. It isn't about subtlety. You're not going to command the world stage by fading into the wallpaper. In my view, he's always sort of pushed the evolution of the band.
"The other guys are all brilliant and crucial to the success of U2. They're one of those bands you can't picture with any other members. It's all of them or none of them. But I've always been intrigued by and drawn to Bono. He's the guy who seems to drive change in U2. If they're doing to do something new, he's leading the charge."
Matt Nathanson © Brendan Walter
When was the first time you saw them live?
"I saw them on The Unforgettable Fire tour, and I was floored by how they connected on an immediate level with the audience even when playing some of their newer, more experimental songs. Bono's need to connect in the early days of U2 was pretty remarkable. It really hooked me. I kind of divide the band into three periods: There was sort of the post-punk passion period, then were was a passion theater period, and next was the full-on theater period we're in now. It doesn't mean there's no passion in it anymore; it just means that the spectacle has overtaken a bit from the bombast.
"And I mean 'bombast' in a good way. They grabbed you. But what I think happened somewhere in the '90s was, they realized that they had to pull it together more. They were playing these huge places – one night be incredible and the next was hit-and-miss. There were still incredible moments in their show, but it became more about delivering a consistent experience to people."
Bono has always delivered a specific worldview in his lyrics. Did that affect you early on?
"When they did The Joshua Tree, that's when they really started to embrace America – and a certain idealized view of America. It was there in their music, their appearance and their whole thing. And you know, as a kid, I didn't know who Cowboy Jack Clement was. I didn't know what happened at Sun Studios. That just wasn't my history. I didn't even know Elvis! [Laughs] But Bono would talk about them in interviews, and I got interested in all of that.
"He kind of got raked over the coals for it after a while. I was hanging out with Chris Isaak recently, and we were talking about Sun Studios – he recorded a great record there. Chris is such a fanatic about Scotty Moore and Elvis and all those guys. I told him that what got me to learn about that whole scene was reading interviews with Bono around the Rattle And Hum period. Suddenly, I wanted to learn all about Sun Studios and what went on there.
"So, yeah, Bono got lambasted for it, but I think that he and the band were just discovering their influences. They were excited and they wanted to share it. So it cracked things wide open for me. He and the band were the ones that shined that light on what had gone down in American music – for me, anyway."
U2 in 1985: (from left) Adam Clayton, Bono, The Edge and Larry Mullen © Neal Preston/Corbis

U2 ‘recording’ new album in famous Crouch End studios

Bono and The Edge with staff from Spiazzo
Bono and The Edge with staff from Spiazzo
Rumours are rife that world famous rock band U2 has descended on Crouch End to record their new album at the iconic Church Studios. The Dublin-based band is believed to be recording at the venue in Crouch Hill, taken over by British producer Paul Epwoth in October.
 It is thought the foursome are working with Mr Epworth, the co-writer of Adele’s Oscar-winning Bond theme tune, on their 13th studio album, due to be released later this year. Lead singer Bono, guitarist The Edge and drummer Larry Mullen have also been spotted dining at Spiazzo in The Broadway over the last few weeks.
 According to staff, who could not resist asking the stars to pose for a snap, they have been feasting on T-bone steak, pizza, pasta and enjoying “lots of wine”.
 Manager Marcel Ritelli said the band members have been causing quite the stir, adding: “It’s been nice and pleasurable to have them here.”

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Annual Chernobyl Children International Charity lunch

Liz O’Donnell hosts a glamourous lunch in aid of Adi Roche's charity.

Former Irish Minister for Overseas Development Liz O'Donnell hosted the annual  Charity lunch for Chernobyl Children International.

Over two hundred supporters turned out to support the tremendous work of Adi Roche’s charity.Adi who is an unpaid, volunteer CEO warmly thanked the guests for their support.

"Like all charities we are struggling to sustain our work and programmes in challenging times.

"We could not do so without the generous giving of individuals and business organisations and of course without the solidarity and commitment of our volunteers."

Ali Hewson has always been a huge collaborator of the project.

Celebrities such as Dave Fanning, , Lisa Fitzpatrick, Pat Kenny and Morah Ryan were in attendance.  

And, by the way, on 23rd it was Ali's birthday. Happy birthday!!Hope you had a blast!!!