Saturday, February 18, 2017

U2 Joshua Tree Exclusive In Latest MOJO

U2 HAVE OPENED UP to MOJO magazine about their reasons for suspending work on a new album to take an old one – 1987’s The Joshua Tree – out on tour.

In a detailed, revealing and exclusive cover story in the issue that hits UK stores from Tuesday, February 21, the group explore the songs and the circumstances of their 30-year-old masterpiece, an album that grappled with the myths and realities of an America they were just beginning to discover.

The Joshua Tree seemed to in some ways mirror the changes that were happening in the world during the Thatcher/Reagan period,” reflects U2 bassist Adam Clayton. “It seems like we’ve kind of come full circle and we’re back there with a different cast of characters.”

In 1987, that cast included Arizona Governor Evan Mecham, whose refusal to acknowledge the Martin Luther King Day holiday U2 vocally deplored, prompting death threats against Bono in Tempe, AZ. “The FBI came down,” the singer tells MOJO’s Tom Doyle, “and we were all spoken to: ‘Do you wanna go ahead with the show?’ And we did.”

In 2017, the elephant in the room is President Donald Trump, whom Bono criticised directly during the election campaign. It was an unusually forthright stance from the singer – noted (and often slated) for his eagerness to find common ground with those in power, even the most recent Bush administration, in order to advance causes including the ONE anti-poverty campaign.

“It was a matter of conscience for me,” explains Bono. “[Trump’s] threatening of protesters with violence had me on guard, as I’m naturally one of those protesters.”

Bono claims he has already received advances from the new administration, but is still weighing his response.

“I had a messenger from a long-time associate of President Trump come to me and say, ‘Look, we’re not thinking about the past, we’re thinking about the future, and please be ready to work together.’”
30 years ago, U2 were not yet so prized for their political juice, although they were prominent at Live Aid and on Amnesty International’s Conspiracy Of Hope tour, and Bono’s related visits to Africa and Central America were reflected in the songs The Joshua Tree would comprise.

“The trips to Salvador and Nicaragua were really eye-opening,” Bono tells MOJO. “I went with this sort of leftist Christian group who were smuggling people out. But we also went into rebel-backed territory and got a fright when we witnessed, I guess from a distance, the firebombing of rebel territory.”

Corralling the voices of co-producers Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois and Steve Lillywhite plus U2’s then-manager Paul McGuinness, to augment the recollections of the band, MOJO brings the making of The Joshua Tree to life, exploring the creation of U2 favourites including With Or Without You, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For and the tortuous genesis of Where The Streets Have No Name.

“It was a ridiculous saga, that song,” laments Eno. “God, it was terrible. I estimate that 40 per cent of the time was spent on that one song. It became a kind of weird obsession.”

After the recording came the original Joshua Tree tour, where U2’s mounting fame sparked self-destructive jags and tequila madness. With upward-spiralling album and ticket sales came unprecedented attention – both welcome (from Frank Sinatra) and less so (from Michael Jackson). It wasn’t without its dangers. “You become a bit of an asshole,” Clayton confides to MOJO.
If nothing else, re-engaging with The Joshua Tree will remind U2 of a time when, as regards their relationships with the global political, financial and cultural establishments, they were still outside the tent, pissing in.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Auction - 2017 Les Paul Standard T Guitar – signed by U2’s The Edge

 The Edge Sign guitar

2017 Les Paul Standard T Guitar – signed by U2’s The Edge auction 
We are thrilled to be auctioning a USA 2017 Les Paul Standard T guitar, which has been very generously donated by Gibson Guitars UK to raise money for Help Musicians UK.
This amazing guitar was signed by U2’s The Edge, at the Q Awards at London’s Roundhouse, in November 2016, for which HMUK were charity partner. It’s an opportunity for you music loving public to bid on a fantastic auction piece and own a special piece of rock and roll memorabilia!
Go to our eBay page, place your bid and help us to support musicians across the UK!
Happy bidding!

Gibson guitar

Bono at the Munich Security Conference in Germany


Bono, (Paul David Hewson), 56, is the lead singer of the band U2 and co-founder of „One“, a campaigning organisation which fights to end poverty and preventable diseases. This is the English version of Bono’s Op-Ed which was published in Süddeutsche Zeitung on February 17th, 2017.

Germany should be leading in an initiative of the G-20 states in terms of development and security.
If your eyes roll at international gatherings like the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Summit this week in Bonn or the Security Conference I’ll be attending this weekend in Munich, let me confess, mine used to as well. But after nearly two decades of harassing and attending such gatherings, I’ve discovered the dirty little secret of these events is they’re often not just talking shops. For example, the last three G8 or G7 summits hosted by Germany were turning points on debt cancellation, fighting AIDS and promoting food security.
At a time like this, when the very concept of global cooperation is being bizarrely questioned, Europeans like myself give thanks for such German leadership. In the humanity of its response to the refugee crisis, Germany has turned the thought of Europe into a feeling. In having the foresight to place strategic cooperation with Africa centrally on the G20 agenda, Germany is showing leadership again by identifying both the economic opportunity of Europe’s massive neighbouring continent while acknowledging the stability risks that may lie ahead if this partnership does not go well.
The civil war in Syria makes this only too clear in the upheaval not only to human lives but to our collective institutions and our shared understandings, upending the very idea of Europe. And Syria is not the only country on the fault line of chaos, not the only ungoverned space where violent extremism is on the rise. Keep in mind: Syria is—or was—a country of roughly 20 million people. Egypt, however, has a population of 93 million. And Nigeria, 186 million. What would we do if a country ten times the size of Syria combusts? I saw the situation in Northeast Nigeria a few months ago – and witnessed the destruction wrought by Boko Haram in the eyes of Amina, a 20-year-old displaced mother of 6 malnourished kids whose husband had been lost to Boko Haram. How Amina raises kids rather than extremists is not a distant concern. I don’t think Nigeria is going to burst into flames—though that is the stated objective of Boko Haram. But if it does, our countries are not prepared to handle it—politically, economically, or militarily. That’s what I hear from every military leader and security expert I talk to.

Security without development is unsustainable

They also say this: prevention is cheaper than intervention. By “prevention,” they’re referring to our non-military tools—the tools it takes to improve human conditions on the ground, and bring stability to fragile states. We need to unite our security strategy with a development strategy that ensures that these countries will put their people first and provide what the healthcare, education and infrastructure they need. Development without security is impossible, but security without development is unsustainable.
If we get this wrong, fragile states become failed states, and their problems become our problems. But if we get this right… their success will be our success, too. Their stability will aid in our own.
So how can the G20 help these countries succeed? Ask the people of Africa—as we at ONE have—and you hear three things: education, employment, and empowerment. Here is what that could mean in practice, if the G20 rolls up its sleeves and implements some plans.
Education: we need a plan to make sure all girls can go to school. If this seems obvious, 130 million girls in world wide would disagree; to them, it’s a dream. For every extra year a girl goes to school, her income goes up 12%. If she learns to read, her future child is 50% more likely to live past the age of five. Some studies suggest that providing education to youth can reduce a country’s risk of conflict by 20%.

Africa’s workforce - a missed opportunity

Employment: Africa’s population is set to double from 1.2bn to 2.5bn by 2050. This energetic restless generation finds work or it’ll find trouble. The continent’s rising generation will be a demographic dividend if and only if African leaders and partners scale proven jobs initiatives while implementing reforms to harness their own resources. This dividend can and should be mutually beneficial to Germany. I’m told only 1000 of the 400,000 German companies operating abroad are engaged at all in Africa. There’s no way to see this as anything other than a missed opportunity. Minister Schäuble’s “Compacts with Africa” is course correction.

Empowerment: Reform is key to empowering citizens and encouraging more investment. More than any disease, corruption is a killer—draining money that is supposed to be spent on education, health care, and employment. Germany is the deciding player to ensure European laws support the fight against corruption and capital flight. That’s why it must lead the EU to expose who owns dodgy shell companies and trusts, and lead the G20 to offer increased cooperation and investment conditional to governance. This can help fast-track the anti-corruption agenda, turbo-charging the transparency movement of connected young people who wield their phones as tracking devices.
I’m excited to talk about these ideas in Germany this week, because there’s no country that understands the connection between development and security as Germany does. Polling shows that 84 percent of Germany support more financial support for African countries. Compassionate and smart. Perhaps this enlightenment is the enduring legacy of the Marshall Plan, which helped lift this country out of destruction and despair, and helped put this continent on a stable footing for the past half a century? Maybe that’s also why we’re now hearing some in Germany echo African leaders, like Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest businessman and philanthropist, and Akin Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, who call for a modern Marshall Plan. The details and circumstances are of course so different, but the level of ambition is accurate, because the stakes are equally historic.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Adam: ‘I always thought music and art went hand in hand together’

Adam Clayton of U2 talks to Francis Outred, Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, about his passion for the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat, a drawing by the artist offered in our London sale, and how art inspires the band

Francis Outred: When did you first become interested in Jean-Michel Basquiat?
Adam Clayton: ‘I first started to seriously learn about him in 1990 — I had some time off and had moved to New York to explore the art world, meeting gallerists and artists. It was just after his death, and there was a lot of energy around his work. He had been quite a character in New York — he would turn up to places in his Comme des Garçons suit splattered with paint and was very much part of the underground nightclub scene. He was around the same age as the musicians I was interested in, and would have been the same age as us. There was a group of artists — Basquiat, Keith Haring, and obviously Warhol was the granddaddy of the whole movement. The idea that these young painters without any gallery experience could make their mark on the streets of New York — could go to the hippest nightclubs, could mix with musical culture — was very exciting to me. It was where I came from — I always thought music and art went hand in hand together.’
FO: Can you recall your first encounter with this particular work?
AC: ‘I was on 57th Street in the Robert Miller Gallery — they had just taken over Basquiat’s estate and were looking through the inventory. I definitely responded to the kind of work I would call ‘biological’, where there was a lot of archaeology in the skeleton and the bones. I had already selected a large painting that I thought would be a really great piece to share with the band and have in our studio, and we started to look through the works on paper. They were generally very complex, with lots of lines and activity, and this work stood out because it had a very tragic image — it’s clearly an unobscured self-portrait, with what looks like a tear drop coming from the eye. It seems to me it’s not just about Jean-Michel — it’s about being African-American.’ 
Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960–1988), Untitled, 1982. Oil stick on paper. 42⅝ × 30 in (108.3 × 76.2 cm). Estimate £1,000,000–1,500,000. This work is offered in the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction on 7 March at Christie’s London
Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960–1988), Untitled, 1982Oil stick on paper. 42⅝ × 30 in (108.3 × 76.2 cm). Estimate: £1,000,000–1,500,000. This work is offered in the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction on 7 March at Christie’s London
FO: The scale of the work, and the fact that it’s been walked over and lived with for such a long time in Basquiat’s studio, makes it very special. I’m interested that you hung a painting in your studio — did you and the band members share a passion for Basquiat?
AC: ‘In New York and in musical culture there was this shift happening towards much more dance-orientated music. It was the very early days of rap and hip hop, which was a very exciting time because it had a real energy, and it also indicated — finally — that the African-American voice within music had a really strong identity of its own. At the time people were talking about Jean-Michel as being the Jimi Hendrix of painting and I think that’s true — he was an African-American artist in a sea of white artists, but doing something very different and extremely his own.’
FO: Obviously your music transformed a lot at this time —Achtung Baby  was really a big breakthrough and quite a transition from Joshua Tree
AC: ‘With Joshua Tree  we were looking at a lot of US music and trying to reinvent the form, and at the same time tackling the darker side of what was going on in America. With Achtung Baby, which came a couple of years after, we were thinking about a different sound and the technology at that point meant you could add more computer sounds — you could sample sounds and generate them. This was all happening within club culture, so it felt as though we were all working off the same palette.’ 

FO: Do you think that living in New York changed your perception of Basquiat’s work?
AC: ‘It was a great time to be in New York as a young creative, because everything was possible at that point. There were underground clubs, the gallery system didn’t exist downtown in the way that it does now, and if you were an artist you were pretty much free. There wasn’t a system that you had to be part of in order to have access to collectors, and I think that was very much part of Jean-Michel. It’s also part of young artists; they don’t want to work the system as much — they actually just want to make the work. It was the very early days of what the art world was about to become.’
FO: When I look at this work, the arms remind me of arrows going into the body — it’s almost as if he’s portraying himself as a victim. This is a portrait of Basquiat having just exploded on to the art scene in 1982, and possibly feeling the repercussions of this new world. Did you as musicians, who had a similar kind of growth, find that kind of exposure troubling, or were you more prepared for it?
AC: ‘I think whether you’re prepared or not, you understand that the idea is to get your work to the greatest number of people possible, because you want to share it. I think the art world works a bit differently, in that you want to get it to an influential number of people and you want to get it into museums, so you have a different relationship with it — I think that’s where the two goals separate. I think you’re right about the arrows in this work — it’s one of the very few genuinely stark images that he ever produced of himself without adding anything else to it. It’s an incredibly disciplined drawing, but that’s what makes it so powerful. He represents himself with the crown in a lot of his works, but this picture has a pathos and, in some ways, is an antidote to all the noise surrounding his work and all the attention it’s had over the years. It brings you back to the artist and his difficulty of fitting into that world.’ 
FO: That’s true, a lot of his portrayals of himself are very confident — with his arms raised, powerful and athletic — and here you have the direct opposite: a fragile figure who’s coming to terms with a new kind of normality. How do you see the relationship between the paintings and the drawings?
AC: ‘I think the drawings were where he worked out ideas — a lot of images migrate towards the paintings, but I think the drawings are a direct connection with him. You can imagine him with an oilstick or a piece of charcoal working on a piece of paper over a couple of hours — you can see that concentration.’

FO: This was a time of great success in your career. How does this work fit into that story?
AC: ‘My antidote to being on the road or in the recording studio has always been the opportunity to get out and see artworks. It’s a much more meditative environment for me, so when I see works that really speak to me I like to acquire them if I can. By bringing them into my home, they become something I have a direct relationship with — I went and saw them, I went and bought them, I brought them into my space, and they very much keep on giving. It becomes a cyclical relationship, and that was very much true of this particular drawing. Being in New York certainly marked the beginning of my ability to understand and follow contemporary art, and I’ve continued to build on that.’

The  work of art owned by U2 bassist Adam Clayton is expected to fetch £1.2 million at auction.

Thursday, February 2, 2017


Five  musicians from Music Generation Laois joined U2’s bass guitarist Adam Clayton and minister for education Richard Bruton to mark a major national announcement by Music Generation at a recent reception in Dublin.

The occasion was the next phase of Ireland’s national music education programme. Tara Sagay (14), 15-year-old Róisín Cunningham, Theo Adams (9) and nine-year-old twins Samanta and Alex Danne were accompanied by tutor Anthony Flannery and Music Generation Laois co-ordinator Rosa Flannery at the event.

Music Generation is the national music education programme that creates access to high-quality, subsidised vocal and instrumental tuition for children and young people in their own locality.

The programme is co-funded by U2, the Ireland Funds, the Department of Education and Skills and local Music Education Partnerships (MEPs).

Music Generation Laois is managed by Laois MEP and is co-funded by Laois County Council, Laois-Offaly Education and Training Board and Laois Partnership Company.

Each of the five musicians had an opportunity to share their creativity and their Music Generation journey with the U2 bassist.

As young ambassadors for the programme, Tara, Róisín, Theo, Samanta and Alex represented the rich and diverse music making of so many children and young people involved with Music Generation in Laois.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Works Presents: Adam Clayton

Adam Clayton on U2: the band, the business arrangement, the marriage

Arts critic  and musician Adam Clayton with arts critic and musician John Kelly

ese are tough times for arts programming and cultural journalism alike, occupying a space that seems to be forever shrinking or plunging into crude populism.

The new series of The Works Presents (RTÉ One, Tuesday, 11.10pm), RTÉ’s flagship television arts programme, tackles the problem head on, without shying away from harsher realities. It’s a rare show that can devote itself to a one-on-one interview with the contemporary arts critic of a print periodical, for instance. Still, it’s sobering to discover that even GQ Magazine’s contributing arts editor Adam Clayton, has to hold down two jobs to sustain this passion. (He is also the bass player with rock group, U2).

Articulate and immaculately well dressed with perfectly white spiked hair that both Samuel Beckett and any American senator would admire, Clayton is asked to address his night job first. Forty years is a long time to be in a band, host John Kelly puts to him. “It’s a long time in a band, it’s a long time in a business arrangement, it’s a long time in a marriage,” Clayton says, a frank and intriguing answer worth expanding. Perhaps he did – there’s a restlessness to the 30-minute format that suggests brisk editing, made giddier with intercutting clips and stills from a heaving U2 archive. At times it feels closer to a music video than an arts show.

Kelly walks that line himself, a DJ, presenter and author, but here he mainly indulges the curiosities of fandom. Clayton obliges with a familiar overview: depressed times, punk rock, school bands, shoddy amplifiers, better influences and lucky breaks. “Eventually I think we did lay out our stall as this mixture of expressing our adolescence, of owning up to being from the suburbs and admitting that there was a spiritual dimension to life.” Again, this is worth unpacking, especially the last part, given Clayton’s early scepticism against far more devout band members, but away we go.

Niggling away at the conscience of every muso is the suspicion that, given one lucky break, they too might now be the bass player in a world-conquering rock band. Kelly kicks the tyres of that fantasy a couple of times, when he suggests the necessary self-belief to be in U2 “was knocked out of us by each other” and, more touchingly, that the effectively simple bass line on With or Without You is “really one I could play”. Steady on now, John, it’s not as if Clayton could do your job.

The central thrust of Kelly’s interview, however, is that Clayton could do his job. Clayton’s own “road not taken” is studying at an art college, but Kelly argues that being in a world-famous band is really the next best thing, allowing access to international museums, curators and artists, presumably with fewer exams. A kaleidoscope of shots serve to convey this point – Warhol lithographs, Louvre fixtures, random galleries and U2 publicity photos – like footnotes to a midterm essay at the Art School of Rock.

Clayton is clearly culturally informed and attentive, in the way that many collectors are, but neither he nor The Works Presents make any claim towards being the new John Berger. It’s not quite a rock star interview – too many obvious avenues are left unexplored – but nor is it an arts interview: there’s no exploration of his criticism. (Clayton’s defence of the sculptor Allen Jones in GQ, often dismissed as a misogynist for his “fetish mannequins”, runs under the précis, “He is deeply thoughtful and clearly loves women.”)

Instead, we get moments of instructive philosophy that serve as mature reflections for an aging rock band. Borrowing a theory from John Currin, another artist famed for provocatively sexual themes, Clayton talks about youth and risk-taking: “The essence of what your art is.” Once artists becomes established, however, audiences don’t want the experiments – they want the hits. “Pop music is the sound of youth, the sound of trying, of bravado,” says Clayton, “When you get to the age of a band like U2, you can’t really do that. It’s got to be about ideas. And it’s a different kind of commitment.”
It always comes back to U2 – the band, the business, the marriage – and the show seems to luxuriate in that aura. So does Clayton. Much is made of his enviable anonymity, taking a tube to his own London concert, happy to go unnoticed, while still sharing the experience with 1.2m Instagram followers.

There’s more to life than U2, this friendly interview is trying to say, but it’s hard for anyone or any venture to stand apart from its phenomenon. You can’t live with or without them.

Watch the whole interview:

Monday, January 30, 2017

Adam Clayton Talks 'Joshua Tree' Tour, 'Songs of Experience'

Thirty years ago, the wild success of The Joshua Tree transformed U2 into the biggest band on the planet. Radio hits "With or Without You," "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" and "Where The Streets Have No Name" catapulted them from arenas into stadiums and found then hobnobbing with Frank Sinatra, appearing on the cover of Time magazine and sharing the stage with Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and B.B. King. "Certainly looking back on playing the tour at that time, it should have been an extraordinarily, freeing, joyful opportunity," says bassist Adam Clayton. "But it was actually quite a tough time trying to deliver those songs under the pressure of growing from an arena act to a stadium act. I, for one, don't remember enjoying it very much."

He'll probably enjoy it more this summer when U2 take The Joshua Tree on a victory lap three decades down the line. "I think this summer run is almost an opportunity to take it back," he says, "and look at those songs and look at what was going on then and see where we are now." We spoke to Clayton about the impetus for the tour, how the show will be structured, if fans can expect to hear rarities and what's happening with Songs of Experience.

I know that the Innocence + Experience Tour was originally slated to go into 2016. What happened?
Well, the idea was really that we wanted to make sure we focused on the [Songs of] Experience album. By the time we finished the Innocence tour and came full circle to focus on the album, it was clear we weren't going to be able to flip it really quickly into the Experience side of the material and put it right back out on tour. As a challenge that was, "OK, we're going to have to look at this differently." Also, in the course of that year, some kind of strange political movements seemed to start happening. First of all, there was Brexit in the U.K., which was just a signal that things were changing. I'm not sure how people took it. Then, quite quickly on the back of it, was the rise of Trumpism. And that was like, "Oh, OK, there's something going on here. There's maybe something we missed and we need to start watching this." That sort of encouraged us to go away from trying to finish the record too quickly without being able to factor in some of the things this is telling us.
I think it's interesting to be able to go back to the Joshua Tree record because when we put that record out and when we were working on it, it was a bleak world in terms of America and the U.K. You had a Thatcher-ite government in the U.K. that was trying to destroy the coal-mining business and set up a different kind of economy in the U.K. In the U.S. you had Reaganomics and the kind of imperial power inserting itself into Central American politics and some pretty bad deeds going on from drug money funding arms for that war. That was an interesting setting, but ... looking back from 30 years, the story that it tells me the most is how much I've changed and how much I need to look at good, liberal values and how the world is really looking and what I accept from the news and what I want from politics now from someone that is less likely to be standing at the barricade. I'm all in favor of new artists coming up to be people that make a lot of noise, but I'm happy to still be a part of the movement.

I know the first thought was to maybe do one American Joshua Tree show and one in Europe. How did that grow into a whole tour?

Well, one of the early ideas was that perhaps, because the Experience tour when we get back out to it will be an indoor tour that's focused on the production we had pioneered on the Innocence tour, it was going to be that production taken further. But we thought, "Well, maybe in honor of The Joshua Tree we could go back out there and do shows that are much more rooted in what that experience was about." That's because when we took the Joshua Tree show out a couple of interesting things happened. That was a tour that started in arenas and in the course of the year-long progress of that album, since that was back in the very, very old days where when you put out an album, it sold and there was word of mouth and it got bigger and eventually it got to Number One on the charts and everyone knew it. So when that happened we were forced to go from arenas out into stadiums, and that was a huge, huge step for a bunch of Irish guys who were 25, 26 and had just put our back into this thing called U2 and it had been a five-, six-, seven-year sort of journey for us, a pilgrimage in many ways.
When we went outdoors in the stadiums, we didn't have any tricks. We didn't know how to do it. We steered away from video reinforcement, which was just happening at the time. We thought it would, in some ways, dilute the music. We had a fervent belief that the music was absolutely adequate and big enough to fill a stadium, so it was really a challenge to us. It also meant that every night Bono had to really put himself out there to try and connect to people. In some ways, that was a thankless task. You can't win in a stadium. No matter how good the songs are, you're still just a speck on the stage and you're still dependent on the PA system. That was very, very frustrating.

I spoke to Edge a few weeks ago. He wasn't sure the show was going to start with "Streets" and go right into the album. How do you see that happening?

We haven't really sat down and worked out the dynamics of it yet, but I suspect it would sit as the crown in the show. I think we would definitely want to open with perhaps something that is not dissimilar to the Songs of Innocence run [where we did our early 1980s songs] and get people in the mood for this thing that's coming and you give some sense of history of where it came from. Then it'll be a scene change. … This is my guess. We won't know until we start playing it around quite a bit. We will either start with "Streets," or end with it, I might think, but there will be a scene change. Whether or not we go completely in sequence, we've yet to work out. But I think it'll be the beginning of the traditional musical journey that we've always referred to in that period where the songs will take us through a version of America that certainly seemed true and possible at that time. In many ways, perhaps that was the very end of the period of thinking of America as wholesome and benevolent. Really, things have changed quite a bit from that point on. It's going to be hard to see how the country goes back to where it would like to be.
I imagine one challenge in playing it in sequence is the four most famous songs are the first four. Then there's seven straight that are lesser-known to a mass audience. Doing them all in a row could be a challenge in a stadium. Do you worry about that?
Umm … I think we really have to wait and see. I think anyone that's coming to that show clearly knows that record well. What we would need to figure out is whether that's a suite of songs [and] with our new knowledge of 30 years hence we could breathe life into them in a different way, or whether we kind of bundle them together with some other songs that are thematically in keeping with those. Again, I wish I could be more positive with that, but we aren't that far down the line. We have the aspiration, but we haven't quite figured out how it'll happen. But it will happen and we always toy around and experiment until it feels right.

That fans are super psyched to hear "Exit," "Red Hill Mining Town" and "Trip Through Your Wires." These are songs that haven't been played in 30 years, or even ever in one case.
"Trip Through Your Wires" I think we were pretty good at playing during the original Joshua Tree tour. I think "In God's Country" was in that set, but "Red Hill Mining Town" was never played live during that period. It fell into the midtempo malaise and I think we can now figure out ways to get around that.

Might you play any Songs of Experience songs during the show?

It would be very much my wish that we could play something from Experience as part of the show, maybe one or two songs. Again, I caution that by saying we really have to see the arc of this show and we have to figure out whether those Experience songs would work well in a stadium in this context, but I'd love to see some of that material out there and people being familiar with it before the album comes out.

Broadly speaking, it must be hard to make a set list since there's so many albums and certain audience members that just know the big hits, and then there's the hardcore fans craving deep cuts. Satisfying them both at once must be difficult.

It is difficult. You very quickly realize when you're up there that there are those two types of songs. There are the songs with broad, mass appeal that people respond to in an instinctive ways. I suppose that's what hit songs are. Then there's, as you say, the more intellectual side of what I'd call the "bedroom songs" that people have a personal, intimate relationship with, but they don't share that with the rest of the world. I think we always try and walk the line between having those great emotional moments that are much more about what's happening in the crowd. The song unleashes the experience that people are having in the crowd, and then those other songs that one can pull back to the stage and they're about the music that's happening on the stage and the audience can participate in that.

I told the Edge the two songs the fans are always talking about are "Acrobat" and "Drowning Man." You've never done either of them. Do you think they'll ever be played?

We rehearsed up a version of "Drowning Man" for the 360° tour. I think we rehearsed it up until the moment we were rehearsing in stadiums. I think some of the fan chatter said that. I think in the end it seemed like really an obscure song to submit a stadium audience to [laughs]. But it has something. It really does have something. What we were doing with it was quite interesting, but you instinctively know that's not going to carry in a stadium. It could carry in a club situation because it is … that's right off War. It probably isn't that well-known, but it is a beautiful piece of music, really evocative. Perhaps there is a way to put it in.

How about "Acrobat?"

"Acrobat" is a funny one. There's a lot of anger. Again, I think when we were originally planning that tour it was just one song too many off Achtung Baby, but perhaps there is a way of bringing it back in. Perhaps not for this tour. I guess we're going to have to align everything, to a degree, that is pre–Joshua Tree and then Joshua Tree. Then after Joshua Tree, perhaps Achtung Baby would be too big a gauge, but who knows how it'll pan out once we start planning two-and-a-half hours in a stadium.
Do you ever talk about doing a fan show in a theater or club that's advertised as just the obscure songs?
The thing is, if we were looking for innovative, different ideas to reconnect with our audience, I think all these things are valid. But we're still very much kind of plowing ahead with new material and that's our focus. This was just an opportunity to step sideways and honor Joshua Tree. I think when everyone saw it as something we could move forward with, there was great momentum and excitement within the band, but I think this is a step that is not really part of our language. It's just unique that we're choosing this year to do this.
Do you think if you put out "With or Without You" as a single today, it would be a big hit, or has radio changed so much it wouldn't work?
I think you could put it out. I think you'd have to Melodyne the vocal. I think you'd have to squeeze and program the rhythm tracks. Eventually you'd get something that sounds familiar on the radio and it would research well, and you might get a bit of traction and it might be a hit. But I think if you put it out just as it is, it would get lost in the noise and bubble of that particular sound that's popular at the moment.

Is it possible for a rock band 40 years in to score a hit in the climate where most pop artists are in their early twenties?

You know, I do believe that it is possible. I don't know what the particular formula is, but I've never been more aware of any other time that no matter where I am in the world, and I don't know why it is, I keep hearing Fleetwood Mac tracks. I'm going, "Why is it those songs have got such big, strong legs?" Of course, they were poppy in their day. They were very universal in terms of the lyric, but there was something about the sound that wasn't necessarily the classic sound of that period. They had their own unique sound and it seems to have survived the pop music of the day.
Yeah. I think "Every Breaking Wave" is among your greatest songs. Had it been released in a different time it would probably have been a huge hit. It just seems like this is a different world now.
Yeah, it is. The emotional connection with songs [is] different because people don't think of them as parts of albums. They don't think of them as lifestyle. They don't see them as identifying who they are. We live in a world where these songs are dropped and they get passed around and they validate people in a different way.

Do you think Songs of Experience will be out next year? The end of this year?
We all very much feel like it needs to be the end of this year. It's not on any schedule anywhere, anything like that. We're going to get back to that later this year and polish it off and finish it off a bit more. But we think we're there with it. It's not like the switch to do these Joshua Tree shows was because we needed a lot of time. It was just because it's pretty much in the bag. We can still work on it throughout this year, all the little nips and tucks that we want to do. It'll be a pleasure to get out there and play these Joshua Tree songs. In some ways, the experience of playing those Joshua Tree shows and those songs this summer, inevitably, couldn't help [but] have some impact on what that record ultimately becomes when we finish work on it.
The word "nostalgia" is being tossed around in relation to this tour. How do you feel about that?
[Let's out an agonized groan.] It's not something we would be interested in. The reason the audience is there and buys the ticket may be to look back and say, "Wasn't that great? Wasn't that a great period? Weren't we the generation that changed things?" You can't do anything about that. Some people may do that. I think I mentioned at the beginning of the piece, it's probably much more important to use that as a starting point of what the last 30 years have done to us all. Who are we now? How can we continue to act as members of the community and society and make changes and choices for the future?

Do you see yourselves still being in the group when you're in your seventies like the Stones and the Who?
[Laughs] I can't answer that. Maybe they couldn't either. I think it's fantastic that Pete [Townshend] and Roger [Daltrey] are still out there doing shows in their seventies. I would say if you're in your seventies, it's usually the most fun to be onstage with a rock & roll band if that opportunity is available for you, but I don't know if that is something you can plan for. I don't know. I don't know where we'll be in our seventies. I don't know which one of us will be in our seventies.
It's a miracle that U2 have been the same four guys for 40 years. Almost no group can claim that.
We've had a very solid, stable lineup. Hopefully it'll stay that way.
I feel like with Songs of Ascent and everything you've done during the Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience sessions there's so many songs the fans have never got a chance to hear, maybe even a hundred or so. Do you think those songs are ever going to come out on box sets or anything?
Again, I never want to say never. Very often, the things that don't get completed is because we start out with a very broad palette and then again we do focus on the fact that what rock & roll is and what we do are a somewhat narrow palette. You have to focus in on that to be relevant and to be part of the discussion. So we can wander off into the ether and make nice, jazzy, progressive, atmospheric music – it doesn't necessarily reflect what U2 should be doing and how we should be connecting with our people out there.

Do you ever fee like the band is fighting gravity? So few bands have ever done work 40 years in that's connected with a mass audience. At the same time, rock is no longer at the center of the culture. That's a lot to work against.
Ummm … yeah. There are different rules and criteria for the operation. I kind of feel like the technology of how this all works has changed a lot over the years. If you look at the big bands of the 1940s, those bands got cut down to quartets and quintets after the war because there just wasn't the money around to pay for big bands or pay for petrols and buses. Then you came into the period where the electric instruments made that it very few people could make a big sound and entertain people. We're now in a situation because the current music business, because sales in the real sense don't exist, you can't support bands like you used to be able to in terms of economics. Actually singers are now finding, often with computers, that they can make a sound in the digital world and make a voice fit well on it in a special way. They don't have the overhead of a band in the studio or anything. So yeah, the economic forces have changed it a lot.
I also think that in that period of the 1960s there was the counterculture and information was translated through that youth movement and that counterculture movement through music and ideas. The Internet has completely changed that. People relate to each other in a different way and they communicate in different ways. It has more sophistication in so many different ways. We are, to use your term, somewhat swimming against the tide, but I'm hoping that some of those values … I don't know if we can do this again in that sort of way. It will change. The future is going to be different, and who knows what comes with it?