Wednesday, December 17, 2014

U2 video being filmed in New Lodge area of north Belfast

Wednesday 17th December 2014, Belfast, Northern Ireland - U2 FILMING IN NORTH BELFAST Pictured is the set in the Newlodge of the new U2 video Picture Credit : Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

It seems the appeal of the New Lodge area of north Belfast is just too much for music industry figures to resist.

Images of a film crew shoot in the area today have been posted online.

It is understood the footage they are recording is for U2's song The Troubles.

So far, Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen have not been spotted in the area.

Wednesday 17th December 2014, Belfast, Northern Ireland - U2 FILMING IN NORTH BELFAST

Pictured is the set in the Newlodge of the new U2 video

Picture Credit : Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Edge sends message, instruments to Warren Lincoln school

WARREN, Mich. (WJBK) - A member of one of most famous bands in the world delivers a personal message to some local music students.

U2's "The Edge" made an appearance at Lincoln Middle School, via video link. 

He's co-founder of the charity "Music Rising" a foundation which donated instruments to help save the middle school's music education program.

Every student gets a chance to play an instrument, even if their families can't afford it. 

The Lincoln middle school music program now has 170 students - and growing. 

"If I know that band is something that they are ignited and passionate for, and that's getting them in the door for school," said Tom Torrento, music director. "If it allows all the other teachers to have a successful experience in their room and makes the school environment warmer, the more band kids we have, the better Lincoln Middle School will be."

Bono back in town...and nursing his injured arm

U2 frontman Bono nurses his injured arm as he walks down Grafton Street in Dublin on Saturday. Photo: Peter O’Doherty
Bono nurses his injured arm as he walks down Grafton Street in Dublin on Saturday. Photo: Peter O’Doherty

Bono stepped out in Dublin over the weekend for the first time since he had an operation on his arm. 

 The singer underwent surgery after he fell off of a bike in New York last month. He held his arm under a heavy black jacket as he tried to protect the injury from the cold on Grafton Street on Saturday. The fall resulted in three fractures to his left shoulder blade, a fractured little finger and a break to his funny bone that saw the bone fracture in six places and tear through his skin. In total, he needed three metal plates and 18 screws inserted during the lengthy operation. Bono was forced to miss the band's performance at a World Aids Day benefit concert in Times Square, New York, earlier this month.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Albums That Defined 2014: U2′s Songs of Innocence release reveals the true master of your music collection

Albums That Defined 2014 - U2

500 million people downloaded U2's newest album, whether they wanted to or not.

The Albums That Defined 2014 explores how this year's most influential records have shaped and reflected the wider music landscape. Today, how U2's brand partnership disguised as an album release revealed a future where corporations determine what you listen to and who gets paid for it. Or, rather, a present.

On September 9th of this year, U2’s 13th studio album, Songs of Innocence, appeared on the computers and mobile devices of 500 million people, released as part of a branding tie in with Apple for the launch of their Apple Watch and iPhone 6.

It was hardly the first time we’ve seen an artist enter into a major branding effort with a corporation (Bono described this release as a “[celebration] of the ten year anniversary of [U2’s] iPod commercial”) or even the first time an artist has tied an album release to a vaguely sinister overreach by a company that makes cell phones (recall the give-away-cum-underhanded-data-mining-operation that Jay Z orchestrated with Samsung around the release of his 2013 album Magna Carta Holy Grail), but the Songs of Innocence release felt like a raising of the stakes. And that includes the backlash against it.
In retrospect, Apple and U2 are perfect partners. It probably shouldn’t be surprising that a band and a brand with long track records of outsized self-regard and penchants for grandiose gestures would lead the charge in the continued blurring of marketing and popular music, but the near universal opprobrium heaped upon them seemed to catch them off guard. Apple was sufficiently embarrassed into creating a link that would allow users to reject their unwanted “gift,” while Bono displayed as much self-awareness as he could muster: a passive-aggressive apology delivered during a Facebook-branded Q&A session.

Bono says his main regret was that Apple’s unsolicited gift-giving was “rude.” It was, but the criticism frequently cast it as something more insidious. In thinkpieces and Twitter screeds the move was hyperbolized as an almost Orwellian intrusion, one that implied, in the words of journalist Chris Richards, “the utopian philanthrocapitalist democracy that Bono is always stumping for will also be a place where your belongings are chosen for you.” What Apple CEO Tim Cook called, “the largest album release of all time” was objectionable not because a major rock band and a major corporation engaged in a self-aggrandizing co-promotion, something we’re surely all used to by now, but because two major players in the music industry displayed just how far their reach extends.

On some level it’s perhaps unfair that Apple and U2 have been subject to such intense criticism. Just over the past year we’ve seen a broadening recognition that major brands have almost entirely annexed SXSW, the continued ascent of Spotify, a company that offered significant equity (reportedly close to 20%) to the major labels in exchange for allowing the streaming service to expand their market share while depressing royalty payments, and a protracted lawsuit in which Google-owned YouTube attempted to strong arm independent labels into accepting a cut rate deal to avoid being shut out of its new streaming service. Apple’s mistake wasn't leveraging their power and money to determine what music gets heard and by whom, but by doing so without enough guile.

In spite of all of this it seems likely that both Apple and U2 will ultimately count this exercise as a success. For U2, whose last two albums, 2004’s How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb and 2009’s No Line On The Horizon, sold 9 million and 5 million copies respectively, the 500 million people exposed to their latest effort represents a big step up, and the $100 million they were reportedly paid by Apple is likely more than they would have made from the album with a more traditional distribution model. For Apple, $100 million is a small investment, small change for the media attention it drummed up for their product launch. It doesn't hurt that it aligned them with a band who, if Rolling Stone’s recent designation of Songs of Innocence as the best album of 2014 is any indication, at least remain on the cutting edge of relevance as far as older white men are concerned.

We might not see a campaign quite like this again, but  it seems all too likely these kinds of efforts will become more common in 2015.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Sing Bono's Band Aid 30 Lyrics to Help Fight Ebola

The organizers behind Band Aid 30 – the latest incarnation of Bob Geldof's charitably minded supergroup Band Aid – have issued an "Ice Bucket Challenge"–style viral video call to action to music fans. Using a free iOS app called WholeWorldBand, Band Aid 30 would like people to record themselves singing Bono's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" line, "Tonight we're reaching out and touching you," and then nominate three friends to do the same on social media. The U2 frontman delivers the line at the 1:52 mark in the song's official video.

The app allows users to create a video mix of themselves and up to five other people singing along with the song, which can be uploaded to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #BandAid30. The organization will collect £1.40 (about $2.20) for every person who participates in the challenge and put it toward the fight against Ebola in West Africa.

"We need to keep up momentum," Geldof said in a statement. "I want us to raise about £5 million but we need people to understand that we've only got three weeks to make a difference."

Geldof and "Do They Know It's Christmas?" co-writer Midge Ure released a new version of the iconic 1984 hit, under the Band Aid 30 moniker, last month. In addition to Bono, the new version also features Coldplay's Chris Martin, One Direction, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, Ellie Goulding, Angelique Kidjo, Seal, Sinéad O'Connor and many more artists performing the tune.

Ure recently spoke with Rolling Stone about why they decided to resurrect Band Aid. "It was the hideous synchronicity of the Ebola crisis and the way it's escalated, and the fact that we had this 30th anniversary coming up that everybody was asking us about," he said. "A month ago, this wasn't in the cards. Then Bob got a call from the U.N. saying, 'Can you do it again?'"

Regarding introducing a new generation to the song, Ure contended that they already knew it "because they've heard it blasting out of radios every Christmas since they were born." The hard part would be getting them involved in the charitable side of the cause. "All we can do is hope that Ed Sheeran and One Direction and everyone else plead with the fans not to stream this, not to download this for free," he said.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Inside U2’s Ambitious Upcoming Tour Strategy

Despite album backlash and a battered Bono, the band preps its first road run since 2011.

The announcement on Dec. 3 of U2’s Innocence + Experience Tour was a blast of confidence for a band that has experienced a bumpy past few months. Setting aside mixed consumer reaction to its Apple give-away of new album Songs of Innocence and frontman Bono’s Nov. 16 bike accident in New York (he shattered his left elbow, fractured a humerus bone in his left arm and injured the orbit of one of his eyes), the trek will begin May 14.

“Like any good football team, sometimes you have to adjust your game plan at halftime,” says Live Nation’s Arthur Fogel, promoter-producer of all of U2’s tours since PopMart in 1997 and 1998, noting that he would have liked to make a splashier announcement tied to a high-profile TV play, no doubt in reference to U2’s planned (and scrapped) five-night residency on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. But “given all factors, we’re OK.”

It’s a pivotal time for a band that, nearly 40 years after forming, remains consumed with its relevance (“We don’t ever want to become a heritage act,” The Edge told The Hollywood Reporter in February). The new tour will arrive with an ambitious strategy in which U2 plays two dates in each market (and four at both Los Angeles’ Forum and New York’s Madison Square Garden) with different sets on consecutive nights -- one representing Innocence, the other Experience (an indication that U2’s already confirmed next album, Songs of Experience, may be previewed or even released by then). Songs of Innocence has struggled to find success at radio, but many touring executives think U2’s track record as an elite live act will lure fans. Consider its last outing, 360°, which grossed $736.4 million from 110 shows to become the biggest tour in history, despite an accompanying album (No Line on the Horizon) that sold a third of its predecessor (1.1 million in sales versus 3.3 million for 2004’s How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, according to Nielsen SoundScan).

“I have a lot of confidence they could pull it off,” says Chip Hooper, worldwide head of music for talent agency Paradigm, of U2’s dual-night approach. “There’s a sense that they’ll deliver again.”

Affordable pricing should help generate early sales, too: A large percentage of floor seats will sell for $30 and $65, “which is kind of ridiculous, in a good way,” says Fogel. The configuration splits the arena floor in half, with a rectangular layout, though Fogel wants to keep certain details of the production secret.

After the enormity and spectacle of the stadium-based 360°, with its spider-like in-the-round stage, some insiders predicted the band will scale back on its next run. Indeed, indoor arenas serve the introspective, personal nature of Songs of Innocence well. “No matter what size the venue, they create an atmosphere and community that’s really unrivaled,” Fogel says.

As for the consumer blowback to the Apple promotion, Fogel remains undeterred on its potential tour impact. “It’s noise, frankly,” he says. “These are great songs, and they’re going to translate incredibly well live.”

Only stops in North America, the United Kingdom and Europe were announced, and Fogel is tight-lipped on future plans, but it wouldn’t be out of the question for the tour to run as long as three years, returning to North America and Europe, along with visits to Asia, South America, Australia and other territories. 

Additional reporting by Andrew Hampp.

This article first appeared in the Dec. 13 issue of Billboard.

By Ray Waddell


Complex – "Every Breaking Wave" by Robin Rhode
Dazed Digital – "Cedarwood Road" by Maser
Dezeen - "Iris (Hold Me Close)" by Chloe Early
Juxtapoz – "The Troubles" by Todd James 
The Nerdist - "California (There Is No End To Love)" – D*Face 
Nowness – "Raised by Wolves" by Vhils  
NPR - "Song For Someone" by Mode 2
Paper Magazine - "This Is Where You Can Find Me Now" by DALeast 
Pitchfork – "Volcano" by Ganzeer
Rolling Stone - "Sleep Like A Baby" by ROA
Stereogum - "The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)" by Oliver Jeffers.

With the political murals of Northern Ireland as a reference point, U2 chose the artists and gave them complete creative freedom to create personal responses to the music of their new album. The result is an exhilarating display of diversity in approach, style and commentary. 
Powerful and cognizant, Films of Innocence takes these artists and their works from the streets to the screen, as they scale the globe, play with time, and weave between heightened reality and animated dreamscapes. The result is an essential visual counterpoint to the album.

The Films Of Innocence collection will be available for purchase via iTunes and Amazon.