Saturday, July 4, 2015


'Wherever you are, from the Pride Parade all the way to the 4th of July, the Irish are with you and your families. We are with you. '

Final night in Chicago and what a run it's been. 'The end of an 'incredible ten days' as Bono put it, and surrender was again the big idea, the band surrendering to the 'good people of Chicago', the good people to the good music.

Two songs played only sparingly on the tour to date.

'I try to sing this song
I, I try to get in
But I can't find the door
The door is open
You're standing there, you let me in...'

Gloria was unexpected and breathtaking, only its second performance in ten years. 
Then, later, this, written thirty years on.

'That’s how I know 
And why I need to know that there is no end to love
All I know and all I need to know is there is no end to love..'

California sounded beautiful on the 'e' stage, caught between Mysterious Ways and Ordinary Love, a song Bono introduced like this...

'Ok so this song is a special song to us. I was speaking earlier about the man it was written about, we were blessed in our life to get to know and spend some time with Nelson Mandela. 
'We’ve been working for him as a band since we were 18 yrs old, i think it was 1978 we did our first anti-apartheid show for Nelson Mandela, he was like our  boss, got us into debt cancellation and lots of other stuff. 
'Him and the Arch… Archbishop Tutu these were two great heroes of ours, this is an aside, but it was the Arch’s wedding anniversary yesterday with Leah his missus, 60th wedding anniversary... that's pretty cool. What are the odds of these two men coming from the same neighborhood. That's pretty incredible.  Alright, this song came second at the Oscars...'

Sounded like a winner tonight, but then the whole night sounded like a winner, these five shows. Thank you Chicago...

All the way down to the final song, an ancient song, the one we all left the building singing.
'How long to sing this song...'

Friday, July 3, 2015

U2 @ United Center

U2Where: United Center
When: June 24th, 2015
Grade: 4.5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed and Photographed by: Neil Miller, Jr.
If there is one lesson learned walking away from U2’s opening of a five night stint at the United Center this evening, it’s that U2 is more than just Bono (and his signature sunglasses). Like many monumental rock bands of the last several decades, the frontman often becomes the band to a lot of people.  Until tonight, I was one of those people.  After witnessing U2 perform to an arena the size of the United Center, however, the way the band functions as a unit while still managing to make every person feel like they have a front row seat, is really a sight to behold.  Before this evening, I was more of an old school U2 fan — I grew up with their first few albums and, of course, The Joshua Tree made a huge impact on the music aficionado in me upon its release — but the Innocence + Experience show was immersive and captivating enough to inspire me to really dig into their last ten years’ worth of material.
As one would expect, tonight’s festivities were catered more towards U2’s newest album, the unavoidableSongs of Innocence, but the show was tailored to include all flavors of their fanbase from the casual listener to the U2 fanatic whose favorite tunes are all deep cuts.  The latter, for instance, probably got a nice kick out of the band’s inclusion of Boy treasure, “The Electric Co.” as well as Achtung Baby fan favorite “Until the End of the World.”  The band’s performance, though, was more of a standout than any one song on the setlist.  It doesn’t take a music historian to know that The Edge is one of rock’s most fervent and inventive guitarists.  Once you actually watch the man play guitar in the same room as yourself, only then can one really understand the extent to which this man is some sort of guitar mad scientist.  The way he plays is less about crazy riffage and more about allowing his instrument to create a unique atmosphere that is truly all his own.  Watching him pummel out the riff to “Cedarwood Road” was more impressive than the crazy business that was happening on U2’s massive stage setup.
The stage set-up, however, was just as much a star of the show as the music and the band.  The way U2 serves up their music on this tour is impressive to say the least, but the show seemed to really be designed with the audience in mind.  The band’s gigantic walkway made of see-through screens allowed everyone to see nearly everything that was happening onstage.  Whether the band was performing inside of the set-up or scattered across the catwalk, there was rarely a point at which every member of the band wasn’t represented to the folks even in the nosebleed seats.  While this was quite a visually intense experience, it seemed scaled back compared to previous U2 tours, which wasn't a bad thing.  The presentation of the show fit the music perfectly, especially the toned down version of “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and the softer moments in the show like “Every Breaking Wave” and their tribute to Nelson Mandela, “Ordinary Love.”
Having never seen U2 until tonight, it was hard to not be overcome with emotion when the band finally ripped into classics like the emotional “With or Without You” and the soaring grandiosity of “Bullet the Blue Sky.”  The latter was especially memorable for The Edge’s blistering guitar work — he performed the slide heavy song as if it was the band’s first time playing the tune.  The only time U2 touched on landmark album The Unforgettable Fire was to perform – you guessed it – “Pride (In the Name Of Love)” and although it would’ve been great to hear another song from this album, Larry Mullen, Jr.’s drum performance was just as passionate as Bono’s vocal delivery that it made me forget my minor griping. 
It begs mentioning that the band didn’t perform “New Year’s Day,” which was hardly the only setlist snafu that comes to mind, but it's the first to enter my brain as it is indeed my favorite U2 cut.  But this tour is hardly centered around U2’s setlist choices.  The best thing you can do is to drop any expectations at the door and immerse yourself into the spectacle that the guys in U2 conjure up for their audience every night.  Whether you’re a lifelong fan, a kinda-sorta follower who appreciates the radio hits, or even if you’re a U2 hater – you will leave their show feeling as if you just saw a monument to rock music.  And that’s precisely what their Innocence + Experience tour is — a testament not only to the staying power of rock'n'roll’s most impactful band, but also the artists and causes that have inspired them to make it this far.  U2 may very well be the biggest rock band in the world next to the Rolling Stones (who were apparently present for this evening’s festivities along with Chris Rock).  But unlike the Stones, U2 pushes themselves further and further out of their comfort zone with each album and tour and this current cycle finds the band breaking the mold once again.  If you have a chance to see the band on this tour, do yourself a favor and go — it’s sure to be one of the most exciting rock shows you’ll ever witness.

All Access: U2 iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Tour 2015

U2 has brought it back inside arenas, playing multiple dates in various cities, again with huge, stellar production values. Mix caught the fourth date of the iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Tour at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., where a ramp extended from the main stage all the way down the center of the arena to a circular B-stage, where the band performed several numbers. There’s also a huge LED video wall over the ramp that has a catwalk for the band to perform. Helping to make this all happen is the tour’s show designer, Willie Williams, and Production Manager, Jake Berry. We spoke with the band’s longtime sound engineers about the tour’s audio. - 

“Jo Ravitch is the best systems engineer there is,” says U2 FOH engineer Joe O’Herlihy. “We have relied on each other for over 30 years now; that is what working together really means. The FOH mix position has been the subject of many a solid debate on this tour because the P.A. system supplies a totally omnipresent sound in the arena—you can realistically put the FOH mix position anywhere. We’re up in the seats this time around, and it’s brilliant being with the audience because they are the people you spend your entire career trying to reach with perfect audio. “My console is a DiGiCo SD7,” he continues. “It’s extremely creative and reliable, which is why I have used DiGiCo the past 15 years. Across the whole audio team on this tour we are using a total of six SD7 consoles. We’re using all of the available processing power and we are running at 96k. I don’t use any Waves DigiGrid plug-ins. While the onboard dynamic processing on the SD7 is fantastic, I prefer the real deal—lots of vintage processing Manley VOX Box, Avalon 737SP, Summit Audio DCL200s, TC2290 DDL, TC D-TWO, SPX1000, Lexicon 480L, Lexicon PCM 70.” - 

“The band has been using Clair systems for 30-plus years and for this tour we’re using the new Clair vertical array system called the Cohesion 12,” O’Herlihy explains. “My sound design concept for this tour was based upon our show design brief from the band—that the main stage, the runway stage and the round stage were to be entirely used throughout the show. The P.A. system is typically set up using a stereo image across 12 vertical arrays equidistant from one another, complemented by eight hangs of three Cohesion CP-218 subs using the cardioid method for bass steering into the arena. The P.A. system also incorporates the Cohesion 8, which is distributed as a downfill and center fill system above the front of the main stage, the runway stage and the round stage; we also use the Cohesion 8 as front fill following the same line of the various stages at stage level to maximize the audio quality on the arena floor areas.” - 

“As I essentially have one mix to focus on, I submix my inputs through stereo audio groups assigned to the center faders to make it feel closer to how I mix in the studio—drums, bass, guitars, etc.,” says monitor engineer Richard Rainey. “I get to spend a lot of time on details that maybe in a traditional setup you wouldn’t be able to. As a lot of Edge’s playing requires very precise timing, the feel of the mix is very important, as is obviously giving him the best timing info I can to play off, which is probably my main focus during the show. After that it’s just turning up the quiet bits and turning down the loud ones till he looks happy.” - 
The Edge’s vocal headset is a Shure Beta 54. He has two Vox and one Fender Harvard guitar amps miked with Shure Beta 58As, and two Fender Deluxes miked with Shure SM57s.  

“Bono uses a standard Shure Beta 58A,” says his monitor engineer, Alastair McMillan. “Then I have an analog chain that goes directly into an SSL X desk to be summed with the SD7 outputs. It’s very clean in that classic SSL way and has loads of headroom, which was an important feature as his vocal is very dynamic. There’s something about his voice that hits the compressors and effects in a unique way. It’s impossible to replicate during setup! So I just have to start with a basic setting and dial it in once he starts singing.” For in-ear monitors the band is trying something different—the JH Audio JH-16s for everyone except for The Edge and his engineer Richard Rainey, who opted for the JH Roxanne in-ears. - 

“The DiGiCo SD7 I’m using is extremely powerful and reliable. It can do anything we throw at it,” says Bono monitor engineer Alastair McMillan, pictured at left with monitor engineer CJ Eiriksson (Larry Mullen, Adam Clayton) and monitor engineer Richard Rainey (the Edge), each of whom also has an SD7. “We’re using all of the available processing power, which is quite impressive for a four piece band! I’m a big fan of the new classic EQ option and especially the multiband compressors. With those two features I have everything I need so I decided not to opt for the Waves grid. We’re all running at 96k. I am hooked up to Pro Tools via two Madi bridges which are able to sample convert in real time. This way we can run our Pro Tools sessions at 48k, making them a much more manageable size.” - 

“We have a fairly traditional mic setup for Larry [Mullen’s] drums, from Shure 421s on toms, to 57s on top and bottom snare, and Audio-Technica 4050s for overheads,” says monitor engineer CJ Eiriksson. “We keep the mics fairly close and tight on everything, which helps keep the arena bleed out of drums as much as possible.  - 

“For this tour Adam [Clayton] has simplified his whole setup,” Eiriksson continues. “We have ditched the bass subs and only have an Ampeg B15 on stage. There are a couple extra DIs and another amp selection running under the stage, but they are only used when needed for different flavors on particular songs.”  - 

Article and all photos by Steve Jennings

Thursday, July 2, 2015



Kyle Meredith flew to Chicago recently for the very rare chance to get to talk with one of the biggest bands of all time, U2. Below is both the audio and transcript of his interview with The Edge and Adam Clayton.

Kyle Meredith: I’m here on the front line of rock and roll with The Edge and Adam Clayton from U2.

Adam Clayton: If this is the front line, we’re pretty comfortable, I guess.

Kyle Meredith: I don’t know if that’s true. It seems throughout your entire career, no matter how good the record is or what’s going on, you’ve always had to defend yourself. Like there’s always been some defense with what’s going on with you guys. It must be exhausting to be in U2.

Clayton: I guess it means we must be irritating someone somewhere. Maybe that’s a good thing. It’s good to be an irritant.

The Edge: The worst thing to be is unobjectionable.

Clayton: Unnoticed.

Edge: It’s just part of what we seem to generate in the audience, a type of extreme response in a positive or negative direction. Thankfully, still a lot of people really love what we do, but even from the very beginning there were always people who just couldn’t take it. Weren’t open to it. Our music is very up front. It’s not a detached music. It’s passionate. It’s kind of in your face and if you’re open to it and you want to accept it then I think it’s an amazing thing. But some people are just not ready for that. My attitude is that if you don’t like U2 you’re just not trying hard enough.

Meredith: You guys have made it pretty easy for a lot of people like you. There have been so many diffrent sounds through the years anyway. With this new album, Songs of Innocence, I know a lot of the theme is about looking back or celebrating your youth. When you’re doing that, and maybe it’s more lyrical with what Bono is doing, do you find that there is any kind of closure when you have to relive your teenage years over and over every night on tour? It would seem to me like there would be a point where you could close that door.

Edge: I think the songs take on a different meaning the longer you live with them. It’s funny how a song like I Will Follow started out as a quite an abstract lyric. No one really knew quite how it had come from or what it was about. Looking back now you can see exactly, that was the moment Bono lost his mother and became as he’s now saying during the show, became an artist. Certainly it was probably the spur that gave him the ambition he has and the sense of having to use music as a way to make sense of the world and define himself. That song kind of grew in depth and our understanding of it over the years. I think this album is no different. There’s a lot of songs that are very personal, but there’s nuances and lyrics that we’re still figuring out. The songs are really taking on a life of their own live in a way that always happens, but they are becoming really powerful in the live context. The show is very weighted towards the new songs and it’s holding up. That’s what’s really kind of exciting. These are new songs, but they’re standing alongside our best work. We’ve created with this show really new, unique live moments where the songs really start to come through in a very powerful evocative way.

Clayton: I think in some ways being in U2 is like having a living diary, because every time you look at those early songs, you are reminded exactly what your experience was, what you were thinking at the time, and what you were doing. And now, when you go back to those songs and you play those songs with a different perspective, it’s like, “Ah, ok. Now I know why I’m here. Now I know what it’s about.” And in some ways we play those songs better now than when we first wrote them. Certainly with a different energy.

Meredith: It unfolds like a play on the live show, and it looks like it was meant to do that. With that in mind, musically, if you’re going into the album thinking this may be what we’re going to be doing thematically, I look at a song like Every Breaking Wave that kind of harkens back to older sounds of U2. A little bit of Joshua Tree in there. I know it doesn’t have to be like that because there’s the acoustic version which sounds nothing like that. Is that part of it? Do you say lets’ do those fun little tricks?

Edge: I think we actually quite mostly do the opposite. We try and avoid direct references. But it is the same four guys and the music that turned us on, and so formative for us means that we’re always going to move in a particular direction in songwriting and production. We like to try and keep things as fresh as possible. If things start to sound like previous albums, it’s almost against the grain of what we’re trying to achieve mostly.

Meredith: It seems like it’d be so hard. You’re known for innovation. By the technology, by the style of music. I had an argument with a friend talking about U2 as arguably the greatest band of all time, in the sense that if we’re going to put you up against another band, it’s gotta be The Beatles who changed the world twice, with their first record and Sgt. Pepper. But you guys did it with Joshua Tree, with Achtung Baby, and then with All That You Can’t Leave Behind. To have that on your shoulders, to constantly try to innovate forward musically, and there are so many new sounds on here like the song you do with Lykke Li, and the castoffs Lucifer’s Hands and Crystal Ballroom. How do you do it? How do you go into that and go “Alright, we’ve got to come up with something new. We’ve gotta be U2.”

Edge: First of all, to compare us to the Beatles is an unbelievable idea and I don’t think anyone could ever be a comparable band to The Beatles. They, for me, they stand in a different sort of a universe to anything else, but to even be in the same sentence is like just amazing to me. But in terms of the drive within our group, we always sort of seek out that feel new and fresh. It’s almost the only time we really start to get very excited in the studio or live is when we feel like we’re doing something unique and different. That’s just, we’ve had that from the very beginning I suppose because we came through in that era of punk music where everything was being reinvented. We’ve never relied on a knowledge of traditional forms within rock and roll. We’ve actually tried to avoid them most of the time at all costs. Few exceptions like on the Joshua Tree, we definitely were playing around with some blues ideas and Rattle and Hum, but it’s most of our work is dedicated to trying a new point of view that hasn’t been explored before and that goes through to our live productions and a lot of other things that we do.

Meredith: It seems with the idea that there are only so many notes, it becomes more about what new sound can we put on those notes. It’s just mind blowing that you’d have 30 some odd years in that you’re going, “Alright, no we can still do this different. This can be done different.”

Clayton: I think we’re very lucky because we can get very excited about the potential of those notes and that we think we can find another note in there amongst all of them.

Edge: And I think we can. I really genuinely think we can. Rock and roll as a form is pretty simple. When I listen back to our early records, Boy album particularly, hearing these nuances and compositions, I think “Where did that come from? That’s so out of the box of rock and roll.” I can’t think of a reference for it. I remember at the time a lot of it was we would just be in the room trying out some ideas. We knew so little about music composition that we would try a lot of experiments. It was through that playfulness, trial and error, that we would hit on these new compositional ideas that were coming from some complete different world and yet they sit on that album quite easily. I think it was that moment where music was really, everything was up for grabs. The rulebook had been torn up, so it was like just see what you can do.

Meredith: With all that’s been said about Songs of Innocence, reviews, great, bad, all of it, do you think now that it’s directing or re-directing how you’re looking at Songs of Experience as you go into that?

Clayton: I don’t think so. We’re very happy with what this record is and what these songs are. Songs of Experience will obviously be from a different perspective. We’re trying to make it a little rawer as a sound, the production a little rawer. But until it’s done, it’s really hard to comment on.

Bono on Cedarwood Road


10 Cedarwood Road is the address of Bono’s childhood home in Dublin. For the U2 song "Cedarwood Road," Bono looked back to his life there as a teenager, when skinhead culture seeped into his neighborhood via the Seven Towers, housing projects that were built around that time. In this episode, Bono traces the arc from those memories to the lyrics of "Cedarwood Road," and The Edge breaks down the process of how the music was written, with the original demo and the isolated tracks from the final recording.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Who's the greatest, U2 or the Stones?

The Rolling Stones vs. U2. Mick vs. Bono. Keef vs. the Edge.

Who is the world’s greatest rock ’n’ roll band? Baby boomers might argue the Stones. Gen Xers might advocate for U2.

Last week, this baby boomer had the rare opportunity to see these iconic bands on back-to-back nights: the Stones on Tuesday in Milwaukee, U2 on Wednesday in Chicago.

How were the shows? Outstanding. Was one better? Yes. Which band was the greatest? I’ll answer that later. First, impressions and experiences.

Just given their ages, the four Stones, 68 to 74, have to be in the autumn of their 53-year career. U2, a quartet ages 53 to 55, are in midcareer — year 39, to be exact — sort of like the Stones in the mid-1980s. U2 is coming off two slow-selling, hits-devoid albums, the latter of which, “Songs of Innocence,” resulted in bad karma because it was sent for free last year to hundreds of millions of iTunes users, some of whom saw it as unwanted spam.

Songs from the new album, which was produced by trendy hitmakers including Danger Mouse and Ryan Tedder, are the focus of U2’s current Innocence and Experience Tour. The Stones, by contrast, haven’t released a studio album of new material since 2005 and their ZIP Code Tour is a corny euphemism for Just Another Greatest Hits Tour.

Although both bands are onstage for about 2 hours and 10 minutes, the shows are as different as Mick Jagger, the athletic businessman extraordinaire, and Bono, the stocky, soul-searching activist. The Stones were inspired by American blues, U2 by American idealism.

Sir Mick and the Stones just want to have fun — like a bunch of carefree but handsomely paid guys gigging in a rock club. Seeing them at the Marcus Amphitheater (the smallest venue on their stadium tour) was almost like seeing them in a large club. The stage was smaller than at Minneapolis’ TCF Bank Stadium, the runway shorter. From the 13th row, I had little sense of the 25,000 people behind me.

The Stones were loose, mostly devoid of choreography though they had color-coordinated outfits (shades of green) for original members Jagger, Keith Richards and Charlie Watts. As he did in Minneapolis, Jagger made localized comments. “Hello, Cheeseheads,” he declared to beer-boosted cheers.

When they’re on, the Stones are a relentless rhythm machine, and they found their groove on “Sympathy for the Devil,” “Brown Sugar,” “Midnight Rambler” and the Lisa Fischer-fueled duet “Gimme Shelter.” While Jagger was the consummate frontman full of practiced charm and ageless moves, Richards provided the key riffs on “Start Me Up” and “Satisfaction” that have helped define the Stones’ sound.

The moment that may have illustrated the essence of the Rolling Stones was when opening act Buddy Guy, a 78-year-old blues legend, joined them for the blues chestnut “Champagne and Reefer.” Completely unrehearsed with Jagger ordering solos on the fly, it was truly a case of veteran musicians creating music for the sheer joy of it.

While the Stones play rock ’n’ roll, U2 performs rock as art. Their show at United Center (repeated Monday and Thursday; no Twin Cities dates) is meticulously staged, overwhelmingly purposeful and undeniably thrilling.

In his long-winded way, Bono talked about the idealism of his youth — the days of innocence — and how things have changed. He even portrayed his younger self confronting current Bono: “Who are you? Have you forgotten who you are?”

The Man for All Causes discussed the wars in Ireland and the significance of the idea that America stands for. Despite all Bono’s pontificating, the sound of these four musicians was, at turns, throbbingly powerful, stripped-down gorgeous and elegantly crafted. While the new tunes had more impact and drama live than on disc, the high points were “Pride,” “Where the Streets Have No Name” and other time-tested anthems.

What ultimately elevates the concert to greatness is the staging. The innovative presentation features two giant LED curtains hanging over a runway the length of the arena, with a catwalk between the video curtains creating a cool see-through effect of the musicians performing inside their larger projected images.

In an unexpected moment, Bono thanked Jagger for showing up at United Center — humbled and honored by being respected by one of his own heroes.

After the respective concerts, U2’s crowd was definitely more abuzz than the Stones fans, who had dropped as much as $400 for 19 songs while the U2 faithful had paid up to $275 for 24 tunes.

Years ago when I asked Richards if the Stones were the world’s greatest band, he said, “On any given night, any band can be the greatest rock ’n’ roll band in the world. There’s got to be 50 out there — at least — tonight. Everyone’s up for the title.”

Last week, the Stones were the greatest on Tuesday, but U2 was even greater on Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Bono: The goal is 'to write and make it hurt'

Ode to musical discovery

Saint-Bruno, Quebec -- Bono confides that he isn't feeling particularly spry as he settles down at a table in a small French restaurant in the countryside outside Montreal, where U2 has just completed a four-night, sold-out run of arena concerts.

He's only had a few hours sleep and "woke up this morning like someone took a blowtorch to my throat." In November, he was seriously injured in a biking accident in New York's Central Park, and is still recovering. Nerve damage has left part of his left arm feeling numb and two fingers on his left hand have limited movement, preventing him from playing the guitar.

"Feeling returns (to his arm) a millimeter a week, and I won't know for months how much of it will come back," he says, peering from behind gold-rimmed shades. "I may need more surgery to finally fret" the guitar.

But he remains an energetic figure both on and off stage. In this quiet Canadian suburb, he doesn't exactly melt into the scenery with his leather garb and golden earrings. On the current U2 tour, which arrives Wednesday for a five-night residency at the United Center, he serves as a narrator/tour guide/singer on the band's virtual journey from its deepest roots in northern Dublin into the present.

In between dates at the Bell Centre in Montreal, he found time to visit Canada's prime minister, Stephen Harper, and members of Parliament in Ottawa to lobby for AIDS relief in Africa. Though he has become a lightning rod for naysayers who accuse the band of losing touch with its ideals to cut deals with mega corporations such as Apple and Live Nation, the singer remains an effective advocate for Third World countries. His ONE and (RED) organizations have been credited with spearheading debt relief and job creation for poor countries, and securing funding to combat AIDS and malaria, and enhance education in Africa and other impoverished areas.

The current "Innocence + Experience" tour with his U2 bandmates since childhood – guitarist The Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. – is where all those personal and public threads and contradictions coalesce. The show centers on the band's 2014 album, "Songs of Innocence," and expands on it by tracing the band's growth from teenage Dublin upstarts in the '70s to conflicted citizens in a violent world. It's a personal journey that morphs into a political and social commentary on the power of community.

If nothing else, the tour finds U2 again exploring multimedia in way that expands the possibilities and potential of the arena show, comparable to the way the quartet's 1992-93 "Zoo TV" tour revolutionized the art of live performance. In an interview, Bono broke down some of the tour's and the band's inner workings:

You have to be bold enough to be emotionally direct. That's what I learned from John Lennon.
- Bono
Q: The first half of the show is really dark. Was there any discussion within the band that it might not work in an arena show?

A: Yeah, there was. But people (the fans) allow us to have that level of intensity. What I was surprised by, they seem to be able to follow a narrative that was so personal and specific, the north side of Dublin, a country immersed in a war. My tragedies are minor in comparison with so many. Edge questioned me about the lyrics – he helped me write them – he says, 'We don't do nostalgia.' 'We don't do sentimental.' But we allow ourselves to do melancholy. That would be Ireland. It's in the rain (laughs). I thought if I could be really truthful about a situation of what brought me to here and now, of what brought us, the band, to here and now, through my lens, maybe other people could relate. First love, first fight, first tragedy — the album is about those first experiences. Maybe people could relate. Edge is still, 'Ehh.' 'It's arrogant to think people can relate.' It's an extremely arrogant idea from the beginning to think that any feeling you have is important or relevant to anyone else. So should we write off every novel ever written, every poem? That's how we do this, to write and make it hurt. Something like 'Iris' (a song about his mother, who died when Bono was 14), I did myself regret it at the last minute. A few days before the album launched I tried to take the song off the record. We're doing this homage to all these punk bands we loved, and here's this song about missing my mother. How punk rock is that? I panicked, 'Let's take it off.' She died when I was 14, it was September 40 years ago. But I couldn't remember what day. I texted my brother, he couldn't remember. Texted my uncle Jack, and he made me realize that the day I was trying to pull it off the album was the same day 40 years ago that she slipped away while standing by her father's graveside. She had an aneurysm and I never saw her again or was able to speak with her again. That sort of cosmic coincidence gave me encouragement to trust my instincts. You have to be bold enough to be emotionally direct. That's what I learned from John Lennon.

Q: There's a lot of new material in the show and there aren't any hits on the album. Were there concerns that it might not connect?

A: We went out on that first night (May 14 in Vancouver) not knowing. It turned out to be an ecstatic experience. On 'Zoo TV' (the 1992-93 tour that also emphasized new material) people were wrapped in the headlights, but this was more direct. My friend Gavin (Friday) who grew up on Cedarwood Road with me, said you have to explain the narrative. Explain to people as you get up on the divider, 'Come with me down Cedarwood Road.' 'What, really, like a kid's play?' (laughs) He says, 'Explain what's going on in the songs, and it'll cohere.' It worked.

Q: In the show, your younger self has a conversation with the rock star Bono, and calls you out. He's accusing you of losing sight of what you once believed, as if he's standing in place of some of your fans. What's that about?

A: Eventually, through trial and error, you learn compromise is not a dirty word. I say to the younger me, 'I try to tell a young man that ideas deserve a plan, I try to make a better world for every woman and man … I feel like a fraud, but I know that I'm not, I try to do the very best with everything I got, which is not a lot except to not get caught with my pants down and my hands up.' I like to think I win the argument (laughs). The younger self is still shaking his head. It's not 'us and them' anymore, now it's only about 'us.'