Saturday, June 28, 2008

Mandela marks 90th birthday with London concert

A star-studded cast of artists have celebrated Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday with a giant concert in London overnight in support of his global AIDS campaign.Amy Winehouse and Annie Lennox were among the musicians performing at the Hyde Park gig for the former South African president's 46664 campaign, which was being broadcast around the world.Queen and Paul Rodgers also rocked the audience before a finale of "Free Nelson Mandela" featuring Winehouse and the song's writer, Specials keyboard player Jerry Dammers, plus all the artists.Other performers on the concert bill included Simple Minds, Josh Groban, Joan Baez, Leona Lewis, the Sugababes, Eddy Grant, Jamelia, Zucchero and the Sudanese "war child" rapper Emmanuel Jal.
A 46664 spokesman said Mr Mandela attended the Hyde Park gig to thank the British people for a concert at London's Wembley Stadium in 1988, which called for his release from jail.Precisely 46,664 tickets - after Mandela's prison number during his 27-year incarceration for trying to topple South Africa's apartheid regime - went on sale for the three-and-a-half-hour concert.The African liberation hero, who turns 90 on July 18, is now in frail health.
"The world remains beset by so much human suffering, poverty and deprivation," Mr Mandela said at a fundraising dinner during the week.
"It is in your hands to make of our world a better one for all, especially the poor, vulnerable and marginalised." The 46664 campaign, which has seen four previous multi-artist concerts, aims to raise awareness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic which is rife in sub-Saharan Africa.
South Africa is one of the countries worst-hit by HIV, with 5.41 million people living with the illness.

The Edge and Bono have appeared at this evening’s 46664 Concert honouring Nelson Mandela at 90. In a pre-recorded video message, the pair performed a special version of Stevie Wonder’s Happy Birthday. Filmed in Dublin, you can watch the video at and also end your own birthday message.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Equality has never been so strong a word
Since your arrival in this fucked-up world
Reminder of other’s pain, the needless sorrow
Nations humbled, forced to steal, beg and borrow
A promise today of better times to come
If we stand together, when we unite as one.

Never too late to take on a task
To finally free us from the past
Many words spoken, promises given
A chance for others to go on living
Children’s sweet laughter, no more tears
Death and hunger … no more a mother’s fears.

A rock star’s loud and insistent song
Carry a message, enough! It’s been too long
Why then, in a world with so much
Do we turn away; ignore our neighbour’s touch?
Let go of ignorance, ego and stupid fear,
Remember the message; let your voice be clear.

African continent his work of choice
Giving the sick, hungry and poor his unmistakable voice
The journey long, its just begun
Remember the ancient truth … we are all ONE
A man of wisdom, a man with soul
Everyone equal … his only goal.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

U23D Review

How to recapture the spirit and the passion of the world’s biggest rock band in concert during the leg of their ‘Vertigo’ tour in South America in early 2006? To convey all the different emotions experienced, ranging from joy to sheer pride, would be virtually impossible, but I’m going to try my best to capture the 80 minutes I got to spend in the company of THE band that has captured my imagination.

When U23D was released in South Africa on 22nd Feb, I lived in a small town that didn’t have Imax 3D theatres … they are all based in the bigger cities – Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town. Of course I was very disappointed not to be able to see the movie as I’ve read most of the international critics and fan reviews, and were very excited to finally see U2 ‘live in concert’ – they’ve only toured SA once – in ‘98 when they brought us the PopMart tour.

I moved back to ‘civilization’ at the beginning of May, and lo and behold … U23D was still showing due to popular demand! I immediately made arrangements with 2 of my friends to see the movie at the end of May. And then it started … the countdown to our ‘date’ with the 4 Irishmen of rock music!

Friday the 30th of May finally arrived and I decided to wear ‘Vertigo’ tour colours – black and red of course! All dressed up, nervous and excited, the 3 of us left for the movies, more than ready to see our icons on stage. We bought our tickets and decided to have a light dinner before it was time for the movie to start.

We put on our 3D glasses (and so NOT our finest fashion moment!) and walked into the theatre to take our seats. We chatted nervously, and my young 15-year old U2 protégée, Ashleigh, tried to explain what I could expect as she’d seen the movie on its release. I don’t think ANYTHING could prepare me for what was install for me … and I can honestly say it was a moment I would probably NEVER forget.

The concert started with ‘Vertigo’ and almost immediately I was transported away to the stadium, and be a part of the very enthusiastic South American audience. Bono’s energy is unrivalled, and no other frontman can capture the hearts and imaginations of his fans.

The up-close-and-personal vantage point was absolutely brilliant! I felt as if I was standing next to Bono, Edge, Adam and Larry as they did the thing they do best … giving us, as U2 fans, the time of our lives. I have to confess that there were times when I ducked when Adam and Edge really got into playing their guitars.

Edge came alive, and maybe it was because of the enthusiasm of the crowd. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him enjoy playing the guitar as much as I’ve seen it during this movie. Although the man is serious about his playing, I can’t help getting the impression that the stage is Edge’s playground … on tour, the stage gives him the permission if you like, to come out and play … and boy! Does he ever!!

For a change, there was quite a bit of focus on the ‘understated’ member of U2 … I’m referring to Adam Clayton, bassist player extraordinaire. I loved to watch the knowing smile playing around his lips, as if he’d discovered the secret of the Universe and not willing to share it with us just yet. He got to hog the spotlight for a few minutes, getting close to the audience, really showing the fans exactly why he is such an integral part of U2’s sound. And now I can understand a comment Bono made during the recording of the ‘Elevation’ concert in Boston in 2001 … he said that Adam’s instrument (the bass) holds mysterious powers over womenfolk.

I do however have to complain about the fact that U2’s drummer was sadly neglected during the recording of this particular concert. I have to object that Larry was only shown on very few occasions, and even then, if you blinked an eye, you missed him. I did notice the glass of orange juice (I think!) seen next to his drum kit. As the one member that do not particularly like the spotlight, I really expected to see a bit more of him in action … and lets face it ladies, the man is seriously HOT!

What to say about Bono, the world’s most famous frontman, on and off stage? A few times I wanted to reach out and just touch him … it seemed so easy to do! During ‘Sunday, Bloody Sunday’, when he sang the lyrics, ‘wipe your tears away’, there was a close-up of his face and he reached out his hand towards the audience … and yes, we all reached out to touch the hand … and have a moment we’d never forget.

‘Where the streets have no name’
, for me personally, is the BEST U2 song live. The intro … Edge’s almost-haunting guitar notes … my body’s always covered in goose bumps when I hear this song, and on most occasions, I have a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes …and I experienced exactly the same emotions when I watched the movie version, with the South American countries’ flags as backdrop (like they did in the US with the African flags) … mind blowing! I can only agree with another U2 fan who compared the live version of ‘Streets’ as ‘the closest we’ll ever get being in the presence of God’ … amen to that!

A moment where Bono looked so vulnerable during a performance was when he sang the song he wrote for his father, ‘Sometimes you can’t make it on your own’ from ‘How to dismantle an atomic bomb’. He introduced the song dedicated to his ‘Padre’ and started singing … and if ever there was a moment I’d like to give him a hug, it was while he sang that song. He wore no glasses then and the longing in his eyes could be seen quite clearly … talk about being ‘open’ and not scared to show your emotions to thousands of complete strangers …

‘Bullet the blue sky’ is a song that’s been showcased on almost all their tours, and with each tour, Bono comes up with a new and innovative idea to maximise the powerful lyrics to make an impact. He looked angry and fed-up as he paced the stage, like a caged tiger, just waiting for the escape route. The blindfolded frontman got his message across … exploding smoke bomb and all … with impact I have to add.

‘With or without you’ is another U2 song that stood the test of time, and hearing my favourite U2 song of all time, sung in the presence of an equally passionate crowd, was something to behold.

Another song that stood out, was ‘Miss Sarajevo’ and Bono singing Luciano Pavarotti’s whole Italian part … he stands in front of the microphone, his hands folded and his eyes closed, losing himself in the song with a quiet passion and conviction … and I’m not ashamed to say that I had a tough time keeping the tears at bay.

Before concluding, I feel I have to add how different it was to watch U2 in concert without the screaming and interruption of the audience. Don’t get me wrong … I know we all behave differently when we see our favourite artist in concert, and I have to applaud the South American audiences that allowed us to hear the songs … having watched a couple of U2’s concert DVD’s (especially the ones filmed in the US), there is nothing as annoying as a section of the audience making such a racket that you can’t hear the song or lyrics properly … and yes, even if you’ve heard the songs countless times on your mp3 player or iPod. The South American fans thoroughly enjoyed themselves, singing with to every song with so much passion, and I’m sure Bono and ‘The Boys’ appreciated that.

And then … it was all over … 80 minutes have sped by rapidly, and the last song WOWY, announced the end of their performance. It was over much too quickly of course, and I could’ve happily sat there and watch another hour or two … but I guess the old saying remains true … ‘all good things come to an end.’

I have only two complaints here (excluding the scarce footage of Larry Mullen) and they are:

The distance between the band and their audience – now I do know the reason for this, especially in this performance, was because the concert was filmed. But I can’t help remembering Bono’s words from virtually the inception of the band; “I don’t trust a performer who’s content with the distance between him and the audience.” (Think ‘Live Aid 1985’ during his performance of ‘Bad’ what a brilliant example – probably one of my all-time favourites) I have to wonder if Bono felt any frustration at being so removed from his audience during the filming … did he also felt something important was amiss?

The one song I really, really missed during this performance was of course the song they started the ‘Vertigo’ tour with … ‘City of blinding lights’. This song to me is the promise of what was to come … and I must be honest, this song’s exclusion from the movie left me a little deflated.

Do I recommend this movie? A resounding YES! Would I see it again if I were given the opportunity? YES! U23D is a must-see for fans and non-believers alike … the introduction as to WHY U2 is hailed as ‘the biggest and best rock band in the world’ is something you’d never forget. And for some of us who’d never had the opportunity to see them live, this is a very good indication of what you can expect. In my humble opinion … U2 is and will always be relevant … they are the true pioneers of rock music. 150 million plus (and still counting) album sales is proof of that.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Having fun with U2 (part 1)

  • How many members of U2 does it take to change a lightbulb? Just One. Bono holds the lightbulb and the world revolves around him!!!

  • Bono: The only song we thought might go to number one was “One”The Edge: We should have called it ‘Fourteen’, because that’s where it went in the charts!

  • Bono answering the question "What are you like?"Tall, intelligent, modest...
  • Bono answering about the possibility that his birthday became a holiday in Ireland. "I’m all for it. Like, why wait until I’m dead? Why not get all that stuff that happens to dead people now? I could come up with a deal. Maybe we could let the tourist buses in!!!"

  • [about Larry's feet,Rattle & Hum] Edge: If I had feet like that Lawrence, I wouldn't want them in the film. Larry : If I had a head like yours, I'd bleedin' bury it.

  • Don't get me too excited because I use four letter words when I get excited.Bono

  • "I'm using all this shit to my advantage. Otherwise I'm going to be looking for a job."Larry

  • We've made a career out of our personality crises, well, certainly I have."Bono

  • "What ever you do, do not get into a car with Bono. He's not great at the old driving." The Edge

  • I simulate love-making by beating a piece of wood with a metal wire on which it vibrates" -Adam Clayton, on what he does for a living.

  • From an interview w/ B.P. Fallon:BP: Did you ever think you were going to die?LARRY: Yes, only on the back of Bono's motorbike!EDGE: Only on the back of Bono's motorbike.ADAM: Only in the back of Bono's car.BONO: Die, no. Squashed, yes!!"

  • "There are four members of U2. If there is a fifth non-musical member, it is PaulMcGuiness. Either that or Adam's willie!" Bono

  • "I can't even say the bloody word. Achtung Baby." Larry

  • Q: If the four of you were in a fight, I mean a truly tough brawl, which one of you would kick the other three's asses? (2001)Larry: Bono Adam: Bono Edge: Bono Bono: Me

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Ground beneath her Feet

"...There are bands that are hit machines, bands that earn the respect of the music crowd, bands that fill stadiums,bands that drip sex; trascendent bands and ephemeral boy bands and girl bands, gimmick bands and inept bands, beach and driving bands, summer and winter bands,bands to make love by and bands that make you memorize the words to every song they play... And in the whole half-century-long history of rock music there is a small number of bands, a number so small you could count to it without running out of fingers, who steal into your heart and become a part of how you see the world, how you tell and understand the truth, even when you´re old and deaf and foolish.On your deathbed you´ll hear them sing to you as you drift down the tunnel towards the light..."

The above words are taken from the novel The Ground Beneath her Feet by Salman Rushdie(born June 19, 1947) .

Written on a scale of epic, even immortal, proportions, The Ground Beneath Her Feet is a story of love, death and rock 'n' roll. This skillfully crafted tale of higher, though wholly earthly, love is Salman Rushdie's seventh novel. Writing in a manner both seductively insidious and entirely moving, Rushdie draws the readers into an alternate reality to our own and lets the power of the narrative wash over us. The author keeps the story gritty and real while imbuing it with a sense of the mystic and of an otherness that is believable and in no way alien to the reader. Recounted by the photographer Rai, The Ground Beneath Her Feet is the story of Vina Apsara and Ormus Cama, 20th century rock stars and pop icons. After Vina's untimely death in an earthquake, Rai, her backdoor man for years and life-long friend to both Vina and Ormus, sets out to tell their immortal story, in which, he claims "his own love's mortal tale is nowhere to be heard." "Vina significat humanitatem," he says; it was Vina who was the sign of our humanity.

So the description Rushdie writes of the band that "you´ll hear in your deathbed " is not U2. Or is it? Certainly for some of us it will be, what´s more U2 (I know is a cliché, but not less true) has given the soundtrack to my life as to many fans.
OK, this is not about U2...However...Bono came up with the idea for the song after reading a manuscript of Rushdie's novel. In the novel, the fictional character Ormus Cama writes the lyrics as a lamentation for his lover, Vina Apsara, who had died recently. U2 uses these lyrics almost word for word, however omitting the following line:
She was my ground, my favorite sound, my country road, my city street, my sky above, my only love, and the ground beneath my feet.
Rushdie, himself, was very pleased with the song, claiming it had "some of the most beautiful melodies [Bono] had ever come up with." In reference to the song, Rushdie said, "So I always knew, you know, that it wasn't going to be an uptempo foot-tapper, because it's a sad song. I think it sounds like, I hope, one of those big U2 ballads for which Bono's voice, actually, is beautifully well suited."
"The Ground Beneath her Feet"is a song by U2 from the film, The Million Dollar Hotel, and featured on the film's soundtrack, The Million Dollar Hotel: Music from the Motion Picture. The Million Dollar Hotel is 2000 tragic comic romantic film based on a concept story by Bono of U2 and Nicholas Klein, and directed by Wim Wenders...
The circle closes with a song...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

ART & MUSIC...hand in hand

A painting by contemporary artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, belonging to rock band U2, will be auctioned next month.

The Contemporary Art Sale takes place at Sotheby’s in London on 1 July.

Untitled (Pecho/Oreja), completed in 1983, is expected to fetch £4-6m. The current auction record for a Basquiat work stands at $14.6m (£7.4m).

First spotted by bassist Adam Clayton in a New York gallery, the painting was was bought by U2 in 1989 and has since hung in the band’s Dublin studio.

“It seems especially appropriate that a work by Basquiat should end up in a music studio, since so much has been said about the relationship between his art and music,” said Oliver Barker, of Sotheby’s Contemporary Art department.

Basquiat first came to public attention as a graffiti artist in New York in the late 1970s and collaborated extensively with Andy Warhol in the 1980s.

In his short life (1960-1988), Jean-Michel Basquiat came to personify the art scene of the 80s, with its merging of youth culture, money, hype, excess, and self-destruction. And then there was the work, which the public image tended to overshadow: paintings and drawings that conjured up marginal urban black culture and black history, as well as the artist's own conflicted sense of identity
He died of a drug overdose in 1988 and was later the subject of a film by fellow artist - and director - Julian Schnabel.

"Every line means something." - Jean-Michel Basquiat

source :,

The U2 Directory

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Random U2 Quote of the Week

All the best songs are co-written by God, you know!