Thursday, June 30, 2011

Miami, Florida, 29th June 2011

The North American debut of the new track, North Star ( which appears in the movie  'Transformers: Dark of the Moon') is  ' a love song to the universe' as Bono called it,  was one of the stand-out moments on a hot and sticky evening where the rain stayed away and the 360 space ship took off again.

'We love Miami,' explained Bono. 'That's well known. The balmy summer heat, the palm trees, the dolphins, the Marlins... by the way we love the Marlins.' (That went down well - the Marlins had to move several games from this, their home stadium, to accomodate the 360 show this week.)

'Miami is a sort of crossroads between South America and North America, the Caribbean and Ireland. Irish people are like Latin Americans...  who don't know how to dance.'

An opening quartet of tracks from Achtung Baby set the scene tonight before we went back to 1979 ('I Will Follow') and forward to 2009 ('Boots') and when we arrived in the 1980's, 'Still Haven't Found' paid  tribute to Clarence Clemons with a tip of the hat to Jungleland.  



'Unos, dos, tres...' 

'Are you ready to take the roof off... if we had a roof?'  By Vertigo everyone was ready and the roof we didn't have was duly removed. 'Crazy' became ' a love song to Cuba - one day Cuba will be free' and as Walk On arrived, Bono invited everyone to remember Cuban human rights activist Dr Oscar Elias Biscet. Dr Biscet endured many years in prison in Cuba for opposing the government and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George Bush in 2007. 'Let everyone in Cuba know he is special to us and we are watching... we are watching.'

A barnstorming Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me gave way to a transcendent With Or Without You before Moment of Surrender paid tribute to the late and great Clarence Clemons, whose brother Bill was here tonight.

'There's one brighter star in the firmament, his name is Clarence Clemons, his family and friends are here tonight... good night Clarence Clemons, good night Miami.'




Setlist

Even Better Than The Real Thing
The Fly
Mysterious Ways
Until The End Of The World
I Will Follow
Get On Your Boots
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For / The Promised Land
North Star
Beautiful Day / Space Oddity
Elevation
Pride (In The Name Of Love)
Miss Sarajevo
Zooropa
City Of Blinding Lights
Vertigo / La Bamba
Crazy Tonight
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Scarlet
Walk On
One
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow / Where The Streets Have No Name
Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me
With Or Without You
Moment of Surrender

Picture gallery. 
www.u2.com

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

More on U2 in Glastonbury

U2`s performance in Glastonbury has not passed unnoticed. Here are a couple of articles on the moment.

NME published:



Bono: 'I was scared sick playing Glastonbury'


Bono has said he was "sick with nerves" prior to the band's headline performance at Glastonbury on Friday night (June 24).

The Irish four-piece made their debut at the three-day event after pulling out in 2010due to Bono suffering a back injury. He admitted feeling the pressure in the build-up to their performance on the Pyramid Stage
.

"I wanted to throw up," he told the BBC. "Whenever you see me giving up a lot of attitude that means I'm terrified. I felt like I was going to retch at the side of the stage."



www.nme.com




And The Guardian: 



Glastonbury 2011: when Bono put me in the frame

What happened when the U2 singer borrowed the Guardian photographer's camera? by David Levene 



Bono reaches for David Levene's camera
The photographers in the pit had to leave to allow others to take their place but I’d arranged to stay. I think that’s why Bono noticed me. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian
At the end of U2's third song, Bono knelt down in front of me and stretched his hand towards the camera. At first, I thought he was just doing a rocker pose. But then he got closer and closer, and I thought: He wants my camera. So I just gave it to him.
Bono with David Levene's cameraI didn’t think he’d actually taken any photos. This was taken by a friend who was in the pit at the same time. Photograph: Pete Mariner
I was initially worried he wasn't going to be able to use it. You can't generally take a photo with the camera unless the auto-focus is engaged – and that's quite a faff to figure out. So it was only when I had a look later that I saw he'd fired off four or five frames.
Bono's picture of Guardian photographer David LeveneI was taking pictures of him with another camera as he was taking pictures of me. One of them might have to go up on my wall at home. Photograph: Bono/U2
They were a bit underexposed, but I was just very impressed he'd managed to take any photos at all.

www.guardian.co.uk


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"The Claw" will live on!!

U2's 360 Tour "Claw" (photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com)




U2's 360 Tour will come to an end July 30 in  Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada. But "The Claw" -- the alien-like, four-legged structure over the stage -- will live on.

After the record-setting two-year-plus 360 trek, U2's management plans to sell off three of the full, four-legged, 29,000-square-foot steel structures as venues unto themselves.

"It's certainly our intention to see these things recycled  into permanent and usable ventures," U2 tour director Craig Evans told Billboard.biz earlier this month. "It represents too great an engineering feat to just use for [the tour] and put away in a warehouse somewhere."

Evans added that the U2 camp is "now in discussions to send them into different places around the world and have them installed as permanent venues. Some major events have shown interest in these, from four different continents -- and we haven't even really put the word out yet."

Evans declined to mention specific potential buyers for the structures but said that most of the ideas are "for  turning them into full interior pavilions and amphitheaters. They're something you can put up on a waterfront and become an instant skyline icon. We know that the inquiries will keep coming in."

And, Evans added, it hardly hurts that the 360 Tour is the biggest in history, on track to play to some seven million fans and gross $700 million by the time it finishes.

"Having been part of the biggest tour of all time, they're pretty well tried and tested," he said. "They can carry weights no other structure can consider, and since they're already developed and designed you  can probably complete [a venue] in a one-month period instead of a two-year build period."




By Gary Graff, Detroit




Monday, June 27, 2011

East Lansing, Michigan, 26th June 2011





"C'mon East Lansing -  go green… go white… go orange… where you going to take the Irish tonight?'

We had our own festival at  Michigan State University's Spartan Stadium  with an exuberant audience singing along at every note, the joint rocking from 'Real Thing' to Moment of Surrender'.

Let's shrink this place down to a little club,  Bono told a 65,000-strong crowd, before adding, ' or a pub like Dooleys'. 

'I Will Follow' went down just as well tonight as it did when they played it in that very pub Dooleys, in East Lansing, nearly thirty years ago in December 1981. 'Where is Mr. Dooley?' Bono asked. 'I believe he's still around.'

According to The Detroit News, if it wasn't quite that small pub tonight, it was certainly as cosy as a stadium can become. 'A smaller band would have buckled under the sheer enormity of it. But U2 stepped up to the plate with an ease and confidence that matches its ambitions, and somehow made the stadium setting feel intimate.'

'We're very glad to be here in MSU right now, ' said Bono. 'What makes this country so beautiful is not just landscape, your country is a beautiful idea...'

Special mention for people here and across the state who've worked for the ONE campaign, and for 'another great American idea - the Peace Corps.'  This is not a band that made it to university - Edge managed six weeks, Bono two - but they were always learning.

'U2 became our university, Rolling Stone our textbook...
'We're still students, wouldn't you agree ?
'I still haven't found what I'm looking for...'

After 'Still', Bono was in reflective mood again, recalling an album which marks its twentieth birthday this year - and the long journey they took to find it. In Berlin, a wall coming down and one going up in the studio, the risks they took and the ones they'll continue to take. Jann Wenner  of Rolling Stone  gets special mention, along with all 'the people cheering us on when we were making some of our most experimental music... And we appreciate that.'

The night races past, carried on a wave of noise from a rockin' audience, and soon it's a Moment to Surrender, dedicated again to Clarence Clemons.

'Not just a man, more a force of nature - music just spilling out of him.
But you could hold anyone in your heart or mind right now...'




SET LIST

Even Better Than The Real Thing

The Fly

Mysterious Ways

Until The End Of The World

I Will Follow

Get On Your Boots

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

Stay (Faraway, So Close!)

Beautiful Day

Elevation

Pride (In The Name Of Love)

Miss Sarajevo

Zooropa

City Of Blinding Lights

Vertigo

I'll Go Crazy / Discotheque

Sunday Bloody Sunday

Scarlet

Walk On

ENCORE

One

Where The Streets Have No Name

ENCORE 2

Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me

With Or Without You

Moment Of Surrender


www.u2.com

Sunday, June 26, 2011

U2 tour director offers glimpse into band, stage's origins

Workers build the massive U2 360 Tour stage on the field at MSU's Spartan Stadium in East Lansing Wednesday June 22, 2011. (photo by Lansing State Journal staff photographer Rod Sanford)




The massive stage design Bono dreamed up has overtaken Spartan Stadium, and tonight, the show will go on.Attention, U2 fans: It's almost time.
The numbers are astonishing: 16 miles of production cable; a video screen with more than 1 million pieces; about 130 touring crew members and 35 members of management; and 1,500 roadies hired in each city.
The steel structure - which Bono envisioned with a set of forks over dinner - is 90 feet tall with the center pylon reaching 150 feet. It can support up to 180 tons.Planning for this level of event, MSU spokesman Kent Cassella said, is intense.
"As you can image, there is a lot of planning on our part for such a large show, especially getting people from all over campus involved to ensure a fantastic experience for our concertgoers," he said. "We've got a great venue in Spartan Stadium, and it will be great to show it and the rest of the MSU campus off to our visitors here for the concert."
Perhaps nobody understands the ins and outs of U2 better than tour director Craig Evans. After all, he's led the band's caravans for more than a decade.
Amidst setting up for a sold-out gig in Anaheim, Calif., Evans spoke with the LSJ about the mechanics of the 360° Tour and why the members of U2, above all, are family men.
• When the show was first visualized, what was the principal goal?
• We wanted U2 to be able to play anywhere. Wherever they played, we wanted them to connect and be in the middle of the crowd. When we went to Willie Williams for the design of the stage, we wanted the stage to be so big that it would feel bigger than the stadium and, in turn, create a sense of intimacy, where every seat in every stadium would have a terrific view. That's what makes this a unique event - that sense of intimacy.
• How does U2 feel about coming to MSU?
• It's really exciting. MSU is the fifth university community this tour has visited, and it's different to bring a production this size to a smaller, university community. But it's very important to the band because they feel a sense that people are fortunate to have this type of show to come into their city, and there's a sense of value and thankfulness. The band is excited to be there and share the experience with different types of communities.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

U2 speaks to BBC after Glastonbury

Glastonbury: Videos

U2 at Glastonbury , 24th June 2011





U2 headlined the Glastonbury Festival in the UK tonight and from the opening bars of 'Real Thing' to the closing seconds of Out of Control, it was a rock'n'roll tour de force.

Over an hour and three quarters on stage, the band played 19 songs from eight albums spanning three decades - a blistering show  that set  Glastonbury 2011 alight.

 'Has any other headline band performed so many hits?' asked steelerik on our live feed. 'I doubt it...'

A year after they were due to make their debut here on Worthy Farm, tonight they  finally made it, their first UK festival set since the eighties. By the time they arrived on stage shortly before 10pm, there were tens of thousands of U2 fans who'd made their way to the front of the Pyramid Stage - holding high their flags and banners.

And from the start of 'Real Thing' - accompanied by the premiere of a stunning video specially commissioned  from artist Damien Hirst - and running into four more tracks from Achtung Baby, the band never took their foot off the gas.


'They absolutely nailed it,' tweeted gayleague. 'Hugely enjoyable, they've still got it...'

As well as the live broadcast in the UK and Ireland, there was a global audience following live updates online - at one point Bono, Adam, Achtung Baby, Edge, Larry and Zoo TV were all trending on Twitter.

'I think the guys have just shown glasto wot the last 41 years as been waitin for!!' tweeted Yvonne Murray.







musicabona commented on U2.com:

Shining like burning stars
Starting the show with an emphasis on the outstanding material from "Achtung Baby", U2 delivered a brilliant and very powerful concert. Having watched a videostream, I was overwhelmed by the magical vibe of that festival. Holding numerous flags and singing along, the crowd was very enthusiastic and the band offered many unforgettable highlights. Letting words float during "Beautiful Day", Commander Kelly sent a touching message from outer space. With Bono dedicating his whole vocal and physical energy to the music, "Elevation" was the beginning of U2;s rock section, followed by "Get On Your Boots", which merged into a fiery version of "Vertigo". Bono created another moving moment as he took off his shades when singing the line "Wipe your tears away" from Sunday Bloody Sunday". During "Bad" I saw people wear thick jackets, but despite the bad weather the band heated the atmosphere, allowing the audience to sing a cappella at the end of the song. U2 finished their incredible show in an unexpected manner as they played "Out Of Control", one of their most fervent tracks of their early days...



Setlist 
1. Even Better Than The Real Thing
2. The Fly
3. Mysterious Ways / Independent Women
4. Until The End Of The World
5. One
6. Jerusalem / Where The Streets Have No Name / All You Need Is Love
7. I Will Follow
8. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For / Movin’ On Up
9. Stay (Faraway, So Close!)
10. Beautiful Day / Rain
11. Elevation
12. Get On Your Boots / She Loves You
13. Vertigo
14. Sunday Bloody Sunday
15. Bad / Jerusalem
16. Pride
17. With Or Without You / Love Will Tear Us Apart
18. Yellow / Moment Of Surrender
19. Out Of Control

Picture gallery.


www.U2.com 




The Guardian 
www.guardian.co.uk


U2 at Glastonbury 2011 - review

Friday, June 24, 2011

On the Road to Glastonbury

From Baltimore to Bath, U2 guitarist The Edge updates us on the band's movements ahead of their Friday headline set at Glastonbury 2011.




16.18pm: Touch down! I slept the whole way. My head feels like a boiled onion.

To read the whole article, click here.   

If you want to follow the show in Glastonbury , check on U2.com.
Bono explained what "Spinal Tab" really means...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Baltimore, Maryland, 22th June 2011





What a beautiful midsummer nights dream' said Bono, towards the end of one of the hottest nights of the tour in Baltimore tonight. 'Unbelievable...'


 'Real Thing'  opened the show but  it was a surprise to hear Edge wind up The Fly after that - hard to beat the 'Kraut Rock - circa 1991'.


Florence and The Machine were up earlier for their first night on the tour and Bono thanked them for taking a ride on the space ship.

'It's great to be back, it's so beautiful, Maryland...' The rolling hills reminded him of Wicklow - that went down well.



After introducing everyone else, first of several special mentions to Clarence Clemons as 'Still Haven't Found' featured snatches of Springsteen before we were all singing Stay (Faraway So Close).

'If I could stay, then the night would give you up.
Stay, and the day would keep its trust.
Stay, and the night would be enough....'




Setlist 
Even Better Than The Real Thing
The Fly
Mysterious Ways
Until The End Of The World
I Will Follow
Get On Your Boots
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For / The Promised Land
Stay (Faraway, So Close!)
Beautiful Day / Space Oddity
Elevation
Pride (In The Name Of Love)
Miss Sarajevo
Zooropa
City Of Blinding Lights
Vertigo
Crazy Tonight / Discothèque / Psycho Killer
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Scarlet
Walk On / You’ll Never Walk Alone
One
Amazing Grace (snippet) / Where The Streets Have No Name
Ultraviolet (Light My Way)
With Or Without You
Moment of Surrender / Jungleland
www.u2.com

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

On the Hill with Bono













By Sheila Nix for ONE


ONE’s cofounder Bono came to Washington, D.C., today to meet with House and Senate lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to thank them for their bipartisan commitment to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease -– and to talk about the importance of continued support for effective programs that are saving millions of lives in the poorest places on the planet for less than 1 percent of the federal budget.


We had very good meetings in the Senate and House. US leadership in the fight against extreme poverty has been a global game changer. Thanks to effective programs, more than four million African men, women and children are on life-saving AIDS medicine and malaria deaths have been cut in half in countries across the continent –- all in a few years.

Bono is also meeting with members of the Obama Administration while he is in town to discuss these same issues. Urged on by ONE members, President Obama made a strong commitment last week to help fund vaccines that will ensure kids in poor countries don’t die from preventable, treatable diseases like rotavirus. Now we need the Congress to do its part as well on vaccines, and based on our meetings today and the support of champions on both sides of the aisle, I believe it will.

It was great to have Bono in town today to help make the case that this stuff works, and it’s more important now than ever.

ACT NOW, JOIN THE PETITION!!!TELL THE IMF TO GIVE ALL CANDIDATES A FAIR SHOT AT THE TOP SPOT


JOIN ONE!!!

Glasto!!!

Bono & Glastonbury on NME current issue cover























These last days is all about Glastonbury Festival. U2 will be playing at the Pyramid stage in the festival next Friday. 






The song created for the festistival which U2 could not premiere last year.





Edge talks about the famous festival:




Tuesday, June 21, 2011

'It's About The Songs..."





Larry Mullen Jr. did a short interview Monday night on Zane Lowe's BBC radio programme,he talked abouy  U2's upcoming performance at the legendary Glastonbury Festival. 


'It's about the songs,' explained Larry, calling in to Zane Lowe's Radio 1 show last night. 'About a band being able to get up and play the music...'

Larry sounds in great form and dropping some clues about how the band are thinking ahead of the Glastonbury set.

Listen in to the whole of the interview here  -scroll forward to just past 1:03.



www.u2.com

Monday, June 20, 2011

'A Time To Run For Cover...'



Is there a time to run for cover
A time for kiss and tell.
A time for different colours
Different names you find hard to spell..

Miss Sarajevo captured live in Anaheim and featuring a remarkable new animation by Run Wrake.

The idea of using childrens drawings came from Bono, who remembered an exhibition he'd seen of children's pictures in Mostar. Images of princesses and beauty queens seque into drawings from warzone, the matter-of-fact childrens illustration style complementing the theme of the song. 



www.u2.com

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Anaheim, California: 2nd Night, Club Night!

'Saturday night in Anaheim, hope you like our big ol' rock show,' says Bono. 'Now I know this is Angels territory… and miracles abound, but there’s a magic trick that we'd really like to try tonight. It's called 'Shrink This Stadium, Turn It Into A Club...'

It's a trick the band have been playing for some time and they pulled it off again tonight, mixing up the set list and dropping in some surprises.

'Closeness is not about physical proximity, we feel close to you up there on the top tier, we're feeling it (and) over to the left... can you feel us?'

The deafening response from another capacity audience suggested everyone in the house was feeling the closeness tonight. So 'Real Thing' took us off the ground and then this.
'Are you ready for some Kraut Rock - circa 1990?'

Were we ever ? Second nights often throw up something no-one is expecting and no-one was expecting The Fly.

'It's no secret that the stars are falling from the sky
It's no secret that our world is in darkness tonight...'

Wow! After that this show was in orbit, circling the planet in the 360 spaceship.

'Saturday night, Sunday morning, that's the kind of band we are...' And it's time to give thanks for Lenny Kravitz, his last show with the tour tonight and his 'fine and extraordinary band.'

'Thank you Orange County for your patience, some of you are two years older than you were when you bought your tickets for tonight's show...
'A lot can happen in that time, for example Adam… you may see there's an extra bounce in his step. That's because Adam Clayton is a proud father.
'Larry. A movie star, it had to happen. Our Lawrence plays opposite the great and gifted Donald Sutherland in a new movie called Man On A Train.
'And The Edge became a farmer, just yesterday actually. He had a slightly different plan. He was going to build a nuclear reactor, but farming is good, he’s back to wind farming. On guitars and everything else - The Edge!'


Lots of special friends at Angel Stadium tonight. Quincy Jones is here and Still Haven't Found is dedicated to him, while 'Stuck in a Moment' goes out to Michael Hutchence, 'a beautiful man, he loved it here.'
'Big love to Morleigh' - she and Edge celebrate their wedding anniversary today - as well as shout-outs to everyone who signed up to the One campaign. But tonight the most special dedication brings the show to a close on a poignant note.

'I want you to think about the beautiful symphonic sounds that came out of a saxophone...' says Bono, referencing Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. 'This man carried music and music carried him until this day...'

Moment of Surrender is dedicated to Clarence Clemons.



Setlist :
1. Even Better Than The Real Thing
2. I Will Follow
3. Get On Your Boots
4. Magnificent
5. Mysterious Ways
6. Elevation
7. Until The End Of The World
8. Happy Birthday for Paul McGuinness
9. All I Want Is You
10. Stay
11. Beautiful Day / Space Oddity
12. Pride
13. Miss Sarajevo
14. Zooropa
15. City Of Blinding Lights
16. Vertigo / Are You Gonna Go My Way
17. Crazy Tonight / Discothèque / Life During Wartime / Psycho Killer
18. Sunday Bloody Sunday
19. Scarlet
20. Walk On / You’ll Never Walk Alone
21. One
22. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow / Where The Streets Have No Name
23. Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me
24. With or Without You
25. Moment of Surrender

www.u2.com





Saturday, June 18, 2011

Anaheim, California



"Birthday wishes in Anaheim" For the first time on stage, Paul McGuinness to celebrate his 60th birthday.


'Tonight might be the night to toast a man who has meant so much to this band...

'Without this man, things might have turned out a little differently.

'Larry Mullen Jnr would not be the drummer of U2.. he'd be a highway patrol man. But in Dublin!

'Adam Clayton, what would he be without this man? I'm thinking hand bag designer. Really posh ones though... a designer of fine things...'

Edge, continues Bono would have been a city planner and as for himself, probably a theatre critic - but none of those histories came to pass because four young musicians in Dublin bumped into Paul McGuinness and tonight, at the opening show in Anaheim, for the first time in three decades they persuaded him to join them on stage.

'So tonight,  we want to toast our manager, Paul McGuinness,  whose sixtieth birtday it was yesterday. Here with his wife Kathy, his daughter Alexandra and his son Max. It's impossible to say what this man means to us... '

And disappearing backstage Bono returns to introduce Paul McGuinness to 90,000 people who wouldn't have been here on this night if he hadn't seen what he saw in those four musicians all those years ago.

'For the first time ever on the U2 stage..' says Bono, as Paul greets the band who lead the audience in a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday. 

It Was Lenny Kravtiz who got everyone in the right groove on a balmy evening at Angel Stadium and when Even Better Than The Real Thing marked the arrival of the main attraction everyone was on their feet as two and a half hours passed in a moment.

'Thank you… thank you... thanks to Los Angeles favorite son Lenny Kravitz for opening the show, our very special guest. Incredible dude, the kids a star. Thank you all for your patience… '

Also in the house tonight, another special guest with a key role in the story of this band - Chris Blackwell who signed U2 to his Island Records when they were barely out of their teens. Stay is dedicated to Chris while Pride is dedicated to Maria Shriver. Can't fail to mention yet another compelling new video making a debut  tonight, this one created by Run Wrake  for Miss Sarajevo - more coming on that soon.

Before you knew it, the lights were down and Bono was pointing out the milky way of cellphones illuminating the night, inviting everyone to think about our small blue planet, spinning round the sun 'and all the people trying not to fall off.'  And that was Moment of Surrender on a night of birthday wishes.


SET LIST

                                                       Even Better Than The Real Thing
I Will Follow
Get On Your Boots
Magnificent
Mysterious Ways
Elevation
Until The End Of The World
All I Want Is You
Stay (Faraway, So Close!)
Beautiful Day
Pride (In The Name Of Love)
Miss Sarajevo
Zooropa
City Of Blinding Lights
Vertigo
I'll Go Crazy / Discotheque
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Scarlet
Walk On

ENCORE

                                                                               One
Where The Streets Have No Name

ENCORE 2

                                                   Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me
With Or Without You
Moment of Surrender




More pics here 
www.u2.com

Friday, June 17, 2011

U2: Saving the World One Stadium at a Time

Interesting article appearing in The American Culture





I can’t imagine any other band that could pull off such a spectacle. There was a giant “claw” planted in the middle of the stadium, glowing, flashing, and billowing smoke at various points during the evening; there were massive screens broadcasting footage of Mark Kelly from the International Space Station; plus remote controlled bridges that glided above the audience while the singer and guitarist performed atop them. By all rights, critics ought to have been able to write Spinal Tap across the top and be done with it.
But I’m talking about U2 here, who were doing “big” arena-type shows even back in the days when they were performing to 50 people in smoke-filled Dublin dives. As far as I can tell, they’re incapable of phoning in a performance, which is what makes this outsized 360 Degree tour work. You could say that the exterior trappings have simply caught up with the monster-sized ambitions that were always there.
Thirty-five years into their career, U2 occupy a unique position. The same four musicians who played on their first album Boy are the musicians treading the boards now, and this gives their work a focus and consistency lacking from most other rock bands–which typically tend to be porous with members coming and going. There also seems to be a genuine love and camaraderie in the group; lead singer Bono is capable of every type of posturing you can imagine, but when he wraps his arm around bassist Adam Clayton or shares the mike with guitarist The Edge, the affection is genuine. These are four Dubliners who lived their shared dream and continue to pay homage to the relationships that made that feat possible.
Some of the songs performed at U2′s June 4 show in Seattle–such as “With or Without You” and “Pride (In the Name of Love)”–have probably been trotted out at every single gig since their inception decades ago, but the band does a convincing job of keeping the performances fresh. Perhaps this is due to the group’s tendency to surround the better-known songs with deep album cuts, some of which, in the case of the Seattle show, were quite daring choices for an arena audience: “Miss Sarajevo” (originally recorded with Brian Eno and Pavarotti under the “Passengers’ pseudonym;  “Scarlet”–more an incantation than a song–from the 1981 album October; “Zooropa”–the title track from their underrated 1993 effort; and a smattering of cuts from their recent No Line on the Horizon. The band also seemed determined to rescue the critically maligned “Discotheque” and “Get on Your Boots” from their perceived unfair savaging, something they achieved handily.
This tour is about the best you could ask for from U2. Whether or not they’re at their creative peak, they’re certainly at the height of their abilities as performers. In a perfect world, I would love to see The Edge loosen up and improvise more–he’s certainly capable of it. But as far as what U2 do right here, right now, the 360 Degree Tour is the “toppermost of the poppermost,” as the Beatles used to say.
Now, if you will indulge me for a moment while I turn to the outsized personality of U2′s singer: in the long, obnoxious history of rock-star activism, an exception should be made for Bono, for he is so sincere, works so hard at it, and does his homework so thoroughly that he’s actually managed to have a significant impact on the world. This is a bit of an inconvenient truth for us cynics; it would be so much easier to write off the whole lot of rock do-gooders as coke-addled overgrown children with messianic delusions. But there’s Bono: friends with Nelson Mandela, successful partner to US presidents of both political parties, perpetual fundraiser for the needy and oppressed all over the world.
I mention all this because at the Seattle concert, Bono appeared to take partial credit for the recent release of Aung San Suu Kyi: the long-imprisoned, would-be leader of Burma. This declaration seemed at first to be the height of hubris. But then Aung San Suu Kyi herself appeared on a video feed thanking the U2 fans for helping secure her release by flooding the Burmese government with petitions. U2 had been mentioning her at every performance for the previous few years, focusing all their star power to shine a light on her plight. It’s easy to criticize Bono’s bombastic approach to philanthropy, but its effectiveness can be little in doubt.  I have to admit that the arguments against giving him a Nobel Peace Prize are diminishing each year. Particularly now that the committee has shown a willingness to award it to sitting presidents prior to the completion of their first year in office. Absolutely no disrespect intended to Barack Obama, but Bono has been on the world stage engaging in humanitarian issues for far, far longer than the current President of the United States.
Lest I go too far astray here, I should point out that one can enjoy U2′s music “with or without” buying into its political message. I was first drawn to the band due to The Edge’s innovative and textured guitar work, and all these years later that is still what draws me. U2 have struck a good balance in their music between worldly concerns and the more personal concerns of love, hope, faith, failure and redemption. And more than any other current “supergroup” they deserve their success because they still work for it every single night.
They are, quite simply, the best.

Robert Dean Lurie is the author of No Certainty Attached: Steve Kilbey and The Church
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