Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Bono meets German Development Minister

German Development Minister Gerd Mueller meets with Bono at the German Ministry of Development on September 23, 2015 in Berlin, Germany.

German Development Minister Gerd Mueller meets with Bono at the German Ministry of Development on September 23, 2015 in Berlin, Germany.

German Development Minister Gerd Mueller meets with Bono at the German Ministry of Development on September 23, 2015 in Berlin, Germany.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Bono Adds His Voice To The Remix Of A Poverty Campaign Song

Leading African male artists D’Banj, Diamond and Banky W have joined forces with U2 lead singer and ONE co-founder Bono to remix ‘Strong Girl’ - the anthem that celebrates the power of girls and women everywhere.

The original track features Victoria Kimani, Omotola, Waje, Selmor Mtukudzi and other top female artists from across the continent.

The guys may be remixing it, but the message stays the same: Poverty is Sexist. Women and girls everywhere are held back, through lack of education, and economic opportunity.

1 million people have already signed the petition calling on our leaders to take action that leads to change for girls and women everywhere, but especially in the poorest communities.

As world leaders prepare to meet in New York to agree new Global Goals to end poverty in the next 15 years, the ONE campaign is more important than ever.

Apparently the male artists were invited to remix the track because this isn’t just a women’s issue. It’s everyone’s issue.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Bono's Blog: Solar Fields, Sexist Poverty and a Modern Marshall Plan

Poverty is sexist: it hits women and girls the hardest, which is doubly ironic, because investing in them is the best way to end poverty

If you are allergic to fanfare you’d better bolt your doors and shutter your windows on September 25, because there is going to be a lot of it that day in the vicinity of the United Nations, when world leaders ratify the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. This is a genuinely big deal, of large consequence — let’s hope — especially for the poorest people on the planet, but you will be forgiven if some of you are rolling your eyes, or yawning, or worse.

At a time when Europe and the rest of the world are flailing in response to the massive refugee crisis in the Middle East, this hardly seems a time for grand commitments of any kind, unless it’s a commitment to stop stumbling over our own two feet.

It’s a fair and pressing question. If we can’t handle what’s happening in Syria — if we can’t even get the nomenclature right, insisting on calling these desperate refugees “migrants,” as if they had just packed their suitcases and moved north for a change of scene — how can we possibly handle the more chronic, endemic humanitarian crises of extreme poverty and hunger and sickness? Who, exactly, do we think we are, launching another fanciful campaign?

But pause for a second before you projectile vomit, and consider that the emergency in Syria shows exactly why we need to pursue — and achieve — these Global Goals. The evidence of that is all over the Sahel, the band across the north of Africa, where three extremes — extreme poverty, extreme climate, extreme ideology — pose a stark and constant threat. A failure to make progress there could trigger a series of crises that would dwarf what we’re seeing in Syria.
Boko Haram, in northern Nigeria, is well known now in the rest of the world, by virtue of its being horrific and violent, but it’s hardly the only group of extremists that’s active in the Sahel; Al Shabaab, The Lord’s Resistance Army, and Al Qaeda in the Maghreb are as well. CIA analysts — who are not, as a rule, dewy-eyed development types — have looked at northern Nigeria and said that the best way to stop the militants in the long run is to end extreme poverty in the area and create a better, more inclusive education system, one that Muslims feel they have some stake in. When the CIA and anti-poverty activists agree, things must be very right or very wrong!
Especially when the demographers join in. By 2050, we’re told, Africa will have 2.5 billion people, twice the population of China, and more than one third of the youth on earth will be African. Which is exciting news for all of us who find Africa, hands down, one of the world’s most energizing places. But hundreds of millions of unemployed or underemployed young men, if it comes to that, is not a recipe for stability — either there or here, wherever “here” is for you.

Of course the Global Goals are just that: goals, aspirations. Not blueprints or battle plans. As Amina Mohammed, the very impressive Nigerian Assistant Secretary General to the UN who’s shepherding the goals, would surely agree, they’re the what, not the how. So what’s the how?

It’s going to have to be a lot of things, of course. But one of them, a big one, might be an idea we’re hearing from African leaders in business, civil society, and government: a modern Marshall Plan, inspired if not actually based on what America did in Europe after World War II. According to Akin Adesina, the new President of the African Development Bank:

“The future of feeding a projected 9 billion people in the world by 2050 depends on Africa, which has 65% of all arable land left. Africa cannot eat potential. To seize this potential requires a scaled global partnership, a modern day Marshall plan, but led by Africa.”
Similarly, “A comprehensive, coordinated approach” is what Tony Elumelu, the Nigerian entrepreneur and philanthropist, has called for, a plan for trade, transparency, employment, infrastructure — all the elements of opportunity.

But what would a Marshall Plan even look like these days? Not exactly like Secretary of State (and General) George C. Marshall’s Plan, which was brilliantly suited to its own time, less so our own. The Second World War left not only cities but entire economies in rubble; the Marshall Plan helped them rebuild. A modern Marshall Plan would, by contrast, have to focus on countries that were not industrialised to begin with, but are working hard to build the foundations.

To succeed, it would have to employ a bunch of means all at once — ganging up on the problems of extreme poverty and unequal opportunity. Aid is one of those means — an essential one. Our ultimate goal is the end of aid — growing economies, shared prosperity, self-sufficiency. But the way we’re going to get there — if you can handle the cognitive dissonance — is actually to increase the aid, for now, to the countries that need it the most. The poorest countries get only a small share, 30 percent, of the aid that the world provides. Investing foreign funds can leverage domestic funds to improve basic health services and education for the poorest citizens, especially women and girls.

Poverty is sexist: it hits women and girls the hardest, which is doubly ironic, because investing in them is the best way to end poverty.

People have gotten smarter since the 1940s — smarter even since the early 2000s — in making sure that aid budgets get spent on what works and get results. A generation of techno-minded “factivists” are on the march, fighting corruption, campaigning for connectivity — and the access to information and opportunities it provides — and keenly aware that if they can mobilise their own domestic resources, soon they will no longer need the wealth of their partners to unlock prosperity in their own neighbourhood.

A 21st-century Marshall Plan would also have to get some private-sector skin in the game, not just foreign aid. The U.S. in the 1940s gave loans to struggling businesses, which is still a good idea, but this doesn’t just have to come from governments; there are successful companies across Africa and around the world that could be making investments in the ones that need capital. The private sector has got as much to gain as anyone from helping lagging industries to flourish, growing businesses to grow further, and developing economies to become developed ones. And the private sector, in many ways, has more leverage than multilateral aid agencies in making that happen. It’s got even more leverage when it works in concert with those aid agencies and with national and local governments.

I saw this last month just outside Kigali, in Rwanda, where a combination of government assistance, through President Obama’s Power Africa initiative, and private investment, through Gigawatt Global, has created a crazy futurist solar field that’s boosted Rwanda’s generation capacity by 6 percent and has basically blown my circuits with its possibilities; this array just has to be seen. Europe’s already on board with the idea of clean, green energy, promising to help 500 million people get access to it. The world ought to put its weight behind risk-takers like Gigawatt and help them scale in places like northern Nigeria. The sun shines there, too.

A modern George C. Marshall Plan could even draw investment from defense budgets, because military planners are starting (just starting) to think like a health insurance plan that pays for your preventative medicine instead of just waiting for you to get deathly ill. The military does love its machines, but it would rather not put its human beings into places where they are likely to get shot or worse. They know the original Marshall Plan was not just a postwar plan, it was an anti-war plan — designed to stop Soviet expansionism and keep the Cold War from getting hot in Europe.

Peace and stability are of course a precondition for building anything lasting — or anything at all. There’s a reason the Marshall Plan got started only after the war — not in the middle of it. Clearly we’ve got to end the fighting in Syria before development is even a remote possibility there. But that shouldn’t — can’t — stop us from preventing the dry regions of the world, full of tinder and lit with sparks, from exploding into flames.

The Marshall Plan should be a model but it needn’t be our only inspiration. There is plenty of that in Africa itself, from the solar fields in Rwanda to tech startups in Nigeria, Kenya, and Tanzania. There are success stories virtually everywhere on the continent — the brilliant work of a rising generation of African entrepreneurs and activists and artists and officials.

Partnership, not paternalism, is required here — and was the key to the success of the previous edition of the Global Goals, the Millennium Development Goals.
It should egg us on to consider the role the MDGs played in increasing the number of children in schools and dramatically reducing child deaths, maternal mortality, and the most degrading, debilitating sort of poverty.

I’ve been fighting with the world most of my life, and I’ve learned that change mostly comes slowly and incrementally. But sometimes, when a situation demands it, we think big, act audaciously, and we get it right — or at least partly right, which is no small thing. Now needs to be one of those times. We’ve got to get it right, right now, because the humanitarian disaster in the Middle East — and the blundering toward a humane response in Europe and elsewhere — are a kick to the collective gut, a brutal reminder of what it means to get it wrong. Syria will not be the last conflagration, but when we think and build as big as our goals, we have a chance to prevent the fire next time.

Bono's mission to end extreme poverty

CNN talks exclusively with Bono in Lagos, Nigeria to discuss his mission to end extreme poverty. New Day's Michaela Pereira reports.

Bono: the voice of innocence and experience

In a fast car in Italy, the U2 singer takes a ride through the band’s Dublin roots.

Late at night, in a fast car on the motorway between Turin and Milan, en route to meet the Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi, Bono goes quiet before saying: “The greatest line ever said about me and also the most accurate line ever said about me was most definitely by my father. He said, ‘You, Bono, are a baritone who thinks he’s a tenor.’ And that is the story of my life right there.”

He has sung about his father in the past; he is now singing about his mother. When he performs Iris live earlier tonight, he sinks to his knees, weeps and then makes the sign of the cross.

“It’s hard, of course it’s hard singing that song,” he says. “But I’ve always had this big thing which is: What is the point of being in U2 if we can’t take on subject matter that others would find uncool?” He raises his voice. “I mean, what is the point?”

We pull into a lay-by so he can play tracks from the next album, Songs of Experience. His voice comes through his phone singing about “the dying of the light”. He harmonises with himself as the album continues and gives every song an introduction: “On this one we were going after a broken cassette recorder type of sound”; “This has got a really crunchy beat”; “You have to hear Edge’s guitar work on this”; “Just wait until you hear the drum break on this one.” He’s lost in his music, staring out the window as he sings along.

The Italian prime minister is waiting but it seems that cat can chill. Bono keeps scrolling and playing. “We’re going to get this album out next year; unusually for us, a lot of the songs are done already,” he says. (I’ve heard that before.)

By now, I’ve one eye on the car’s clock and am calculating my chances of making it back into Turin tonight. I open the door and place one foot on the ground. “Listen to this. It’s really atmospheric, it was written for a film,” he says. Two feet on the ground now – I could just make a run for it. “Wait! You have to hear this one, it’s really sad . . .”

After the final encore in Turin that night, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Bono improvises a bit of Patti Smith’s People Have The Power, walks off stage and directly into an already revving car in which I’m waiting for him. The music is still playing as the police escort guides us out of the venue.

“I thought last night’s gig was great [the tour’s opening night] and it was really ‘there’ because the script was there and the feelings were there . . . It’s when you’re confident enough to be able to relax, it becomes even more powerful. It’s like throwing a punch. There were some hip rhythms in there – it’s the pelvis”.

The concept for the Innocence + Experience tour began on the opening night of the 360° tour in Barcelona in 2009. For a band who had been forged in the white heat of punk/New Wave music in the late 1970s, there was a realisation upon seeing the enormodome scale of 360° that the next tour would have to go indoors and pull the audience in tight.

“360 was a communal experience at its best,” he says. “But to be a proper communal experience you have to have the song lines, you have to have the folk songs. If the audience are the centrepiece - and that was the idea behind 360 - then you have to have tunes to sing. The thing is: we had made quite an atmospheric album [No Line on the Horizon], quite a complex piece of work so it was slightly at odds with that.”

Clash city rockers

It was The Clash, The Ramones and songs such as Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t Have) by The Buzzcocks and Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division that turned U2 from a Peter Frampton and Eagles cover band into the group behind Boy, their 1980 debut album. This current tour is an exposition of early U2: in Turin, the band play more songs from Boy than from their best-selling and fan favourite album The Joshua Tree.

For Bono, the distance travelled between then and now throws up some uncomfortable truths. The teenager who took the bus into Trinity to see The Clash perform in the Exam Hall and then bunked into the State Cinema in Phibsboro to worship at the stage of The Ramones: what would he make of the Bono he has become? A billionaire Southsider with global political leaders on speed dial.

His answer is in the new lyrics he has written for these European shows: “I go back to talk to that teenage Bono [who he refers to as the boy] from where I am now.”


Fancy owning a personalised T-Shirt, as worn by Adam at one of the #U2ieTour shows?  How about VIP tickets ... and a tour of the stage?
A series of charity auctions are taking place to support the work of Walk In My Shoes, a campaign promoting mental health awareness and well being for young people in Ireland.
The winners get VIP tickets to one of the current European performances, a backstage tour and a T-shirt worn in one of the shows - personally signed for you by Adam. 
The tickets for you and a guest include access to a premium viewing area on the floor up close to the stage.
There are four auctions live right now. 
Get bidding for tickets to the show in
Inspired by a 16year old at St. Patrick's University Hospital, who wished his friends could 'walk in his shoes' to understand what he was going through, Walk in My Shoes raises funds to provide mental health support, information and services to vulnerable young adults in Ireland.
'We need support growing up, but especially if you're vulnerable and you need someone to talk to,' explains Adam, an ambassador of the organisation. 'It's ok to ask for help and Walk In My Shoes is working hard to remove the stigma around mental health difficulties.'
Read more about Walk In My Shoes. More auctions for more European dates coming up. Keep checking back.

Stockholm Septermber 16-22 ,2015

'Your eyes were like landing lights
They used to be the clearest blue
Now you don’t see so well
The future’s gonna land on you..’

Volcano erupting in Stockholm for the opening night in Sweden.
'It is a thrill to be here,’ said Bono, catching his breath before introducing Iris. 'I don't know why but this band always feels like we're on our holidays when we're in Stockholm.
Seriously …The Edge wants to go fishing in the archipelago visiting the arctic circle to measure things ...he does love measuring things ...don't you The Edge?
Adam wants to go shopping on Library Street - bibleeoteksgothan - is that how you say it? - for girl’s underwear. I mean not for himself - but for his wife... and sometimes mine!
Larry wants to trace his family history. Yes Larry Mullen is convinced that his blond hair is a Viking throw back. I'm not convinced he's Swedish but I am convinced he's a Viking alright…’

Second night...

October and the trees are stripped bare
Of all they wear.
What do I care?’

A song that never grows old, with a powerful and poignant new place in the European set. The opening of the show, we never mention that - Patti Smith introducing U2, the people with the power introducing the miraculous Joey Ramone.Another night, another introduction to the band from Bono. You never know what he’s thinking.
'Wow.. that's a good start, are we moving’ up? Guess yesterday evening was just a warm up! Look at ya.. Look at ya! You haven’t changed a bit.. neither have we. Larry, you haven’t changed. Larry Mullen hasn’t changed.. that's ‘cos he stays up late, he avoids daylight, and he has very sharp teeth. Larry Mullen.
Edge is looking more Edge-like than ever, very pleasant this evening in his zen-warriorness. And do not think that because you’re all loved-up and newly-wedded that we haven’t noticed the female energy on your side of the stage Adam Clayton...
In so many way these men have not changed since I knew them as boys…'
Another track we never mention is one that rarely fails to bring the house down, on this tour, the band lined up along the centre of the venue - Sunday Bloody Sunday.
'I can't believe the news today
I can't close my eyes and make it go away.’
According to the eagle-eyed observers at, tonight was the 800th performance of Sunday Bloody Sunday.
'And the battle's just begun
There's many lost, but tell me who has won?’

Tonight Stockholm belongs to you.’ Has to be Angel of Harlem and a guitarist (Philip from Poland) and drummer (Michael from Poland) are recruited from the audience to help the band out. The whole thing goes out on Meerkat to the world thanks to Simona from Italy. So many nationalities, notes Bono, ‘It’s like a Beneton ad.’  Simona, incidentally, is getting good at dancing with the band. Tonight was her third call up. First Rome in 2005, then Zagreb in 2009 and now Stockholm.

* Mother and Child Reunion segueing into City of Blinding Lights brings a special shout-out to Melinda Gates, who’s changing the world for the poorest people and ‘who changed my world’. The night ends like this.
'I have climbed the highest mountains
I have run through the fields
Only to be with you
Only to be with you...'


Due to a security breach, Stockholm's The Globen evacuated the audience from the building this evening.

Third night:

We're very, very pleased to be in Stockholm and actually playing a show,' said Bono, introducing Iris at tonight's third show in Sweden. 'You might have heard, we had a security breach last night. I must say our audience handled it brilliantly, real cool...'
The police were all over the place. I mean all over the place. 
Now that's not normal to want the police all over you but last night... 
We have a message to the police, thank you for being cautious... and for taking care of our audience and the band.
It was hard to cancel the show last night but it was the right thing to do… and guess what, we get to stay here for an extra night.'

As Edge played the opening bars of Paul Simon's Mother and Child Reunion, Bono talked of the special role Sweden has played in the fight against extreme poverty and its history in welcoming refugees.
'That is the right word – refugee – migrant is just plain wrong. These people are running from broken homes, broken cities, running for their lives, running from a war zone…'
'It's a difficult problem but as Nelson Mandela said 'It always seems impossible until it is done.'
No-one could imagine, ten years ago, that we'd be within reach of the first HIV-free generation, but now we are. 'In the next few years, if we tell our leaders that's what we want, we can have this...'
'The mother and child reunion
Is only a motion away…'

'Everybody having a good time except you.
You were talking about the end of the world…'

Great final night in Sweden, with Until The End of the World among the highlights.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Last Sunday, September 13, Art for Amnesty and Amnesty International (along with the Italian NGO Insieme Si Può) is assembling 6,000 supporters to form a 10km human chain to encircle the iconic Tre Cime mountain, 90 minutes north of Venice in the Dolomites in northern Italy. 

It’s all in support of Amnesty's refugees campaign, which the band are promoting on the current European dates. And it’s a chance for anyone in striking distance of the Dolomites to try to throw their arms, if not around the world, then at least around the mountain, in solidarity. The event comes ahead of next week's emergency EU meetings  about the refugee crisis affecting Europe. 

Bill Shipsey, the barrister from Dublin who set up Art for Amnesty in 2002, has maintained Amnesty’s friendship with U2 since meeting the band at the opening of the Irish Amnesty Office in 1984. “I often say that if I had a Euro for every person who told me they’d got involved with human rights or Amnesty International because of U2, I’d be very wealthy,” he admits.

The focus, he explains, of Amnesty’s refugees campaign - and of the human chain in Italy this weekend - “is to persuade predominantly European countries to take 380,000 of the 4 million Syrians that are recognised as refugees but are in camps in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.”

There are strong links and a rich heritage between Amnesty and the arts which helps the cause enormously. “If you want to get people motivated, that’s where the arts and artists really come in,” he says. “A song, a poem a piece of beautiful writing - they will get you many more supporters than just telling people about the universal declaration of human rights.”

Indeed, the head of Refugee and Migrants Rights for Amnesty International, Sherif Elsayed-Ali, is “a young Egyptian who came to hear of Amnesty through watching poor quality U2 videos in Cairo.” 

The logistics for the human chain this Sunday are not simple. Six thousand people will be taken on a 45-minute journey up the mountain in 120 bus-loads. But it’ll be worth it. And if there’s a key message to U2 fans from Bill Shipsey, whether they can make it or not, it’s this: “Take injustice personally. Whatever the issue, please take injustice personally, and act.”

*     *     *

If you want to link arms physically with the human chain in northern Italy, you can find details of where to come and what to do here.

If you want to do something else in solidarity, Art for Amnesty is encouraging groups to form their own smaller human chains - there’ve already been chains formed around Wenceslas Square in Prague, and around giant redwood trees in California.  Upload your photos on social media with the hashtags #humanrightschain or #refugeeswelcome. Or simply tweet your support for the human-rights chain this Sunday, again, using the hashtag #humanrightschain or #refugeeswelcome .


Four shows in Armsterdam. One more magical than the other.
Only the second time on this tour and only the second time in 25 years… 'Two Hearts beat As One' was in first  show.
In the second show, Gloria got only its second performance in Europe in a quarter century,- and it sounded like it was made yesterday.And then there were seven songs which were celebrating their first anniversary  - all of them from Songs of Innocence, released a year ago. None was more powerful than Iris.
Third of four in Amsterdam, so many shows within the show.

'Got lost in the cold universe surrounding ‘Iris’ - maybe the song I had wanted to witness live, most. It being the first use of the giant screen (so hard to describe the screen... to do it justice), old cine images mixed with the latest tech-created fabulous-yet-tenderly used LED’s, the next show within a show begins. You may have seen it a hundred times on Youtube. Nothing will stop your jaw from dropping when you see, in person, Bono walk down Cedarwood Road….'John Noble, who looks after the community site zootopia in
And the moemnt came...Magnificent makes its #U2ieTour debut tonight, while ‘Sweetest Thing’, ‘Bad’ and ’40’ are in the show for the first time in Europe.
What a way to finish four great nights in Amsterdam.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Into Africa with Bono

The Irish Times went to Rwanda and Nigeria with Bono and his One Foundation.

At a solar array in Rwanda

"Wonk and sizzle.” That’s Roxy Philson’s phrase to explain her organisation’s working method. Their goal is nothing short of mobilising the resources of the northern half of the planet to help the southern half. They want to engineer a tectonic shift in rich “us” and our responsibilities to help poor “them”, while simultaneously empowering “them”, so they can say goodbye to aid handed down from above.
It’s not an easy ask. But sizzle helps.
“Wonk and sizzle,” says Philson, who is chief marketing officer of the advocacy organisation One. “It’s what we do.”

Bono, of U2, expresses it another way. “We like to get stuff done,” he says.

Getting stuff done in this project involves boning up on vast quantities of data – the evidence to back up your argument – and then using one’s celeb status to mix it with world leaders and the rich, many of whom are not on the Christmas card list of your average developing-world activist.
The activists, the people who know instinctively there’s something imbalanced and morally wrong with global inequality and want to change that, may or may not like U2’s music. They may blanch every time Bono pops up on the cover of Time magazine or on CNN, or is pictured smiling and joking while hanging out with the Clintons or Angela Merkel or David Cameron. Or even Vladimir Putin.

“Sell-out”, say his detractors. “Another rich guy”, “a wannabe member of the elite”.
But Bono is nothing if not pragmatic: he has one eye focused on the goal – debt relief, or beating Aids, or ending extreme poverty in Africa – the other on how you actually put the ball in back of the net, as opposed to insisting that a goal must be scored.

Bono meets Hope , a patient at University Teaching Hospital in Kigali 

Monday August 24th: Pisa, Italy

Bono, fresh from the end of U2’s US tour, and with a week to spare before rehearsals for last night’s Turin opener of the band’s European leg, steps into the jet he has personally paid to charter, to take him and part of the One team to Rwanda and Nigeria.

He is greeted warmly by the captain, copilot and two cabin crew, for whom Bono, even among their other high-end clients, comes with a very big wow factor.
He walks down the inside of the plane to where the rest of us are sunk into vast leather armchairs that tilt back into beds. We are cocooned in a gleaming, polished cream interior comprising five connected but well-defined spaces.

Bono stops and raises both arms in front of him, palms turned open, fingers splayed, gesturing to the vista of opulence before him. “Ain’t never been on one of these before,” he says, grinning from ear to ear.

Even for a group of moneyed philanthropists this kind of transport is not par for the course. The larger-than-usual plane is being used because of the size of the delegation making the five-day trip to Rwanda and Nigeria.

In Rwanda the aim is to see what has been achieved there with money raised by , founded by Bono and others, that partners with corporations, such as Apple, Bank of America and Starbucks, and has so far raised almost €290 million. The money has been given, without any deductions, to the Global Fund, the Geneva-based not-for-profit organisation with close ties to several UN agencies, including the World Health Organisation (but which is part of neither). Ireland contributed €163 million to the fund between 2001 and 2013.
The fund raises money from governments, civil society and the private sector to fight Aids, malaria and TB and deals with recipient governments, agreeing programmes, monitoring spending, assessing outcomes. The fund has spent more than €700 million in Rwanda, of which €70 million came from (Red). Most of the €700 million, and all of the €70 million, has been spent fighting Aids.
The trip is for the benefit of significant private-sector partners of One, some travelling with Bono, some already in Rwanda, and key personnel within One and (Red). In Kigali, the Rwandan capital, the delegation will hook up with a bipartisan US congressional delegation making a separate tour of several African countries.

After Rwanda it’s west across the continent to Lagos, in Nigeria, where One is using pop music to build a bottom-up citizens’ campaign for radical change, focused at the moment on women as part of the sub-Saharan-wide Poverty Is Sexist campaign.
The delegation travelling down with Bono includes Tom Freston, the MTV founder and ViceNews board member, who is also chairman of One; Mario Batali, a New York celebrity chef; Anne Finucane, vice-chairman of the Bank of America, who oversees dispersal of the bank’s €9 billion charitable foundation (€9 million of which has been committed to One via (Red); and Douglas Alexander, a former British Labour Party politician and UK development minister. Key One people on board include Jamie Drummond, a long-standing advocate and campaigner, who founded the organisation with Bono; Lucy Matthew, Bono’s senior adviser; and Kathy McKiernan, his senior media adviser (and a former vice-president of Time Warner).
There are two journalists: Ellen McGirt, a US-based business magazine writer with an interest in entrepreneurs and development, and The Irish Times. Plus three people who look after Bono: Emma Pactus, Natalie Kinsella and Brian Murphy, his bodyguard.
Despite campaigning and touring for much of his adult life, Bono says that he still finds setting out on these journeys a wrench but that then, early on, there’s always an instant when his head clicks into gear.

“There’s always a moment,” he says, “a chiropractic moment when I know just exactly where I should be, and it’s here – here with [Drummond,] my partner founder, on this trip . . . You have no idea where these trips can go. You meet people and relationships start.”
Tuesday August 25th: Kigali, Rwanda
University Teaching Hospital of Kigali is a series of mainly single-storey buildings, with corrugated-metal roofs, spread across several acres near the centre of the Rwandan capital. Like the city, the hospital presents a face that is neat and tidy, well ordered and well maintained.
It is not a state-of-the-art, 21st-century healthcare facility but, with 565 beds and departments for surgery, pediatrics, oncology and maternity, plus a chronic disease unit, laboratories and a dispensary, it has the equipment, staff and medicines to cope with the 85 per cent of transfers that come from other medical facilities around Rwanda.
In one of the quadrangles created by a cluster of buildings a patio-style tent has been put up to give shade. On each side of the quad a row of chairs is filled by the visiting dignitaries. The centre is a big empty space.
Into it steps a young woman, hands clasped in front of her, head down at first, that mix of shyness and nervousness as she sways a little, left and right. She cuts a stunning figure: she is wearing an ankle-length cobalt-blue dress and a single gold chain around her neck. When she does look up her beauty is striking.
“My name is Anne,” she begins, “and I was 11 when I found I was HIV positive.”
“I am 23 now.”

The message is simple, powerful and immediate. No one needs to spell it out: there is life after diagnosis; HIV doesn’t have to turn into full-blown Aids and death. All it takes is antiretroviral drugs.
Requesting that no photographs be taken or recording equipment used, Anne goes on to tell her story. It is a tale of how she wanted to fight to live and how she pursued her quest with a steely determination. Of how friends asked, in the early days after diagnosis, why she was always taking pills, the friends seeming to suggest that there was no hope. Why bother?

“I told them I wanted to live,” she says. “I wanted to live my dreams.”
She went to university and tells how now, living with HIV, as she puts it herself, “I walk and I hold my head high.”
There is applause and then silence as Anne’s triumph over adversity marinades in the emotions of her VIP audience.

Bono breaks the silence. Rising slowly from his chair, he asks Anne, “What did you study at university?”
“Finance,” Anne says with pride.
Bono snaps to attention, stands and salutes Anne. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he says, “I give you a future minister for finance of Rwanda.”

U2 to donate €2 million from Irish gigs

The Edge and Bono have found a way to come home

It's a great day for U2 fans in Ireland, the band have put an end to rumours and speculation and confirmed they will play in both Dublin and Belfast this November.

It's been a saga of will they, won't they, for the past number of weeks and due to the sheer scale of their iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE tour, there was a real danger U2 where not going to play any live shows in Ireland this year.

Over the weekend The Edge addressed the speculation and assured fans they were doing everything in their power to take their world tour to Ireland and insisted it would be a "huge disappointment" if  it did not happen.
They band have been very vocal that their iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE tour is only suitable for particular types of venues which gave fear to fans that it would not fit in any indoor arena south of the Irish border.

The Edge added: "This show is designed for a type of venue and unfortunately there isn't one, certainly in the south. I think there might be one in the Belfast area, so we're looking at that as well.

"But you can't invent a venue. It's either there or it isn't. So, we're doing a lot of head-scratching right now to see if we can figure out something."

But now it seems all logistical and staging issues have been surmounted and Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton will take to the stage in Dublin and Belfast this coming November.

The band will play in the SSE Arena in Belfast on 18 and 19 November before four nights at the 3Arena in Dublin on the 23, 24, 27 and 28 November.

The band has announced that €2,000,000 from the concerts will go to Music Generation, Ireland's national music education programme.

Its director, Rosaleen Molloy, said:  "Music Generation would not exist without U2's vision. It was the band's very own personal experience of music education as children and teenagers that has driven their commitment to kick-start this ground breaking project."

"We are extremely grateful to the band for their continued support of children and young people's access to music education in Ireland and we welcome this announcement with enthusiasm and excitement."

Monday, September 7, 2015

U2 use concert to call for 'leadership' over refugee crisis

Bono of U2 onstage in Turin.
Singer Bono says Europe ‘will be no more’ if it is unable to cope with wave of refugees, as he and his band play Turin

Musician Bono has warned that Europe “will be no more” if a solution to the refugee crisis is not found.

The leader of U2 and his fellow band members drew attention to the plight of refugees and called for “humanitarian leadership” as they kicked off the European leg of their world tour on Friday night.

Bono, who addressed Turin’s packed Pala Alpitour in Italian on a number of occasions, said on Saturday night: “We don’t know what the answer to the refugee crisis in Europe and Africa is, but we know that if we don’t figure it out, then Europe, which is a beautiful idea, will be no more. So we have to figure it out, whatever it is.”

On Friday night, he said he did not have the answers to the refugee crisis but added we “must work together” to find the solution.

The band’s bass player, Adam Clayton, spoke of the anger felt by Europeans, who he says are questioning why their governments cannot seem to “do the right thing”.

The image of a three-year-old Syrian boy, Aylan Kurdi, washed ashore in Turkey earlier this week sparked outrage and calls for governments throughout Europe to do more to help the tens of thousands of refugees. Bono made reference to the shocking incident by changing the lyric of Pride (In the Name Of Love) to include: “One boy washed up on an empty beach.”

In a set on Friday night that included more than two dozen of the band’s songs, and at one point featured a screen showing footage of refugees, Bono said: “There is a lot of heartache in the world, but there is so much joy in here this evening.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you. It’s incredible. Watching the news, ordinary people – all of us – seem capable of such great evil and such great love.

“I don’t know the answer to the refugee crisis in Europe and Africa but I know we must work together to find an answer to the refugee crisis in Europe and Africa.”

He added: “As Nelson Mandela said: ‘It always seems impossible until it is done.’”

Bono asked the crowd: “What do you want? A Europe with its heart and borders closed to mercy? Or a Europe with its heart open?”

Clayton said: “We really like to be able to respond to things as quickly as possible and you know the way the migration really has been covered in the last couple of weeks, you can feel there’s a lot of anger out there among the citizens of the European nations and they just don’t know why their governments can’t seem to kind of do the right thing or at least lead on these issues.”

The Edge, U2’s guitarist, said: “Every nation should step forward and do the best they can.”

Asked if there was scope for a concert in the style of Band Aid to raise more awareness and funds for refugees, Clayton said: “I think that’s a secondary issue. But I think primarily we’re in a situation where we have elected leaders who need to show leadership.

“Because we don’t know all the issues, we don’t know all the information here. But definitely, we need to see some humanitarian leadership from Europe.”

Commenting on whether U2 would get on board with a Band Aid-style event, The Edge said: “I think we’d take it very seriously, but again, as Adam says, it might not be the right response since it couldn’t be any more high profile.”

Bono at World Food Programme at Expo site, Milan

Bono attends the event 'It begins with me. How the world can end hunger in our lifetime', organised by Italy and Ireland to sustain the initiatives of the World Food Programme at Expo site on September 6, 2015 in Milan, Italy.

U2 to tour Ireland at end of November, Bono confirms

"We are coming home ... we just had to make it happen," Bono tells Brian Boyd in Turin

Bono has confirmed that U2 will be playing “Innocence and Experience” shows in Ireland at the end of November.
“We are coming home... it was really hard to figure out a way of doing it, but we just had to make it happen,” he told The Irish Times after coming off stage on Saturday night in Turin following the band’s second show in the city.
The city or cities they will play in, the exact dates and venue names will be made public soon as well as infomation about ticketing for the shows.
The difficulty for the band in playing Ireland was that the stage configuration of the current tour is simply too big to fit into any Irish venue.
“We found a way to reformat the show, to literally rebuild it for the Irish shows,” says Bono.
“It got to the stage where we just had to tell our people “You have to make this happen, you have to make this work, this is where we are from and we have to bring the tour home.”
The tour was supposed to finish in Paris on November 15th but has now been extended until the end of November to accomodate these new Irish shows.
“I am so happy we are bringing this home,” adds Bono. “These Irish shows will be like an Irish wedding. It is always tricky planning a wedding – who sits besides who could ruin it!”
There have been previous reports that the band have block-booked rooms in Dublin’s Gibson Hotel, which is adjacent to the 3Arena, from November 25th to November 29th. The 3Arena is free on these nights.
Given that the current album details U2s upbringing and early days on the Northside of Dublin, the tour is the most “Irish” thing they’ve done with Cedarwood Road (the road in Ballymun Bono grew up on) being brought to life on huge video screens as Bono walks down the length of the road during the show.
A centrepiece of the performance is the band calling on the British governement to make public the files on the Dublin/Monaghan bombings of 1974. Thirty-three people died in May 1974 when car bombs were detonated without warning – the atrocity remains the largest loss of life at any point in the Troubles.
The band have reworked Sunday Bloody Sunday to draw attention to how the bereaved families are still looking for answers to who was responsible for the deaths. A portrait picture of each of the 33 victims is shown on huge video screens as the band sing Raised By Wolves — a song specifically written about the bombings.
Bono has spoken about how, on the Friday the bombs went off, he would normally have been in the exact area of Dublin where the explosions occured as there was a well known record shop in the area he would always frequent after school. A punctured bicycle on the day meant he didn’t make it into town that day but a good friend of his was caught up in the bombings and it is the friends voice who narrates the story on Raised By Wolves.
The band have reworked the live show to reflect the Syrian refugee crisis. The singer changed the lyrics to “Pride” in Turin when singing “One boy washed up on an empty beach” in reference to the horrific image published last week of a drowned young Syrian boy.

In Turin, Italy

"Ti amo" - Primer concierto de U2 en Turin, Italia

U2 launched the second leg of the Innocence + Experience tour  at Pala Alpitour in Turin, Italy. As expected, there were some thematic changes made so that the show reflects more of what's going on in Europe at the moment -- namely, the refugree crisis emanating from Africa.

Introducing the band members to the people of Italy after an incendiary version of 'Out Of Control'.

'On Bass, all the way from Ard na Mara - Adam Clayton
On drums, from Rosemount Avenue, Larry Mullen Jr
On guitar, all the way from St Margaret’s Park - The Edge
my brothers
miei fratelli.'

We don't mention 'Invisible' enough. What a song. Just as great in Europe as in North America.

Never been a version of 'Desire' . Elena from Naples jumped up on stage to boogie her way through Mysterious Ways but the Meerkat wasn’t behaving so Elena wasn’t needed to broadcast Desire around the world. Instead Bono started looking for additional players. First a drummer. Then another drummer. Then a guitarist. Then another guitarist… who turned out to be a singer.. and a very fine one. And then this spontaneous seven-piece - or was it eight? made their live debut. And it was pretty near genius...
'Lover, I'm off the streets
I'm gonna go where the bright lights
And the big city meet
With a red guitar, on fire

On the eve of the eighth anniversary of the death of Luciano Pavarotti, 'Every Breaking Wave' is dedicated to his wife Nicoletta and their daughter Alice - with a rendition in Italian of 'Torna A Surriento'. There’s another date marked in 'Angel of Harlem', which goes out to Van Morrison, in the week of his 70th birthday.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Edge Reflects On 10 Years Of Music Rising


The Edge Reflects on Charity’s Decade of Growth Into Disaster Relief Organization for Musical Communities Nationwide

10 years ago Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, leaving behind a trail of destruction that The Edge of U2 would soon witness firsthand during a visit to New Orleans’ hard hit 9th Ward. Moved by the devastation suffered by the local musical community, Edge teamed with legendary producer Bob Ezrin, Gibson Guitars, MusiCares and the Guitar Center Foundation to provide immediate aid to the musicians whose lives and livelihoods had sustained the most damage when the levees broke. In short order, efforts including donations of net proceeds from the sales of Gibson and Epiphone Music Rising special edition guitars and the providing of musical instruments to professionals whose gear was destroyed in the storm were implemented. In a PSA at the time, Edge explained the helplessness he would have felt in the face of such overwhelming loss as Music Rising replaced thousands of instruments in what would ultimately be the first phase of its still ongoing and continually expanding mission.

Reflecting on the 10-year journey of Music Rising, The Edge commented: Music is at the core of these communities. It’s an essential part of their identities, their hearts and their lives. So when these centers of musical culture are damaged, getting the music going again is a crucial part of the healing process.

With Music Rising, we and our partners continue to do everything in our power to help support this centuries old music culture so it can do its magic for many generations to come.

What started as a direct response to one of the worst disasters to affect a musical capital of the U.S. has grown over a decade to offer assistance to musicians far and wide. Where there is music, there is hope, and Music Rising will continue to do everything possible to restore both for another 10 years and beyond.

In the decade following the initial 2005 Katrina aftermath, Music Rising’s efforts have grown in scope. Additional programs in the Gulf Coast region have included the distribution of over $​5 million worth of instruments for some 30 schools (in conjunction with the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation), as well as becoming the largest purchaser of ​Hammond organs in order to replace those destroyed by Katrina in regional houses of worship, and contributed $1 million to develop the Music Rising curriculum at Tulane University. Music Rising’s national outreach broadened as the organization provided aid to creative communities impacted by the 2010 Tennessee floods, as well as relief along with MusiCares and the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Music Rising’s nationwide efforts are not limited to aid in the aftermath of natural disasters—its outreach continues in the very fortunate lull between these cataclysms: The organization recently reached out to Detroit, with efforts to aid the Motor City’s singular musical heritage including the distribution or hundreds of musical instruments to students. Elsewhere, Music Rising’s Music Icons auctions hosted by the world renowned Julien’s Auctions have raised millions in bids for items donated by Edge, U2 and friends. With support from friends and family including the Hard Rock International Corporation, Aaron Neville, Trombone Shorty and Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day—who teamed with U2 for the historic 2006 performance that reopened the Superdome and welcomed the New Orleans Saints home—Edge, Ezrin and Music Rising’s efforts on behalf of musical communities in need promise to be just as tireless and far reaching for decades to come.