Saturday, February 18, 2017

U2 Joshua Tree Exclusive In Latest MOJO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, February 17, 2017

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

 The Edge Sign guitar

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

Gibson guitar

Bono at the Munich Security Conference in Germany


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

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

Security without development is unsustainable

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

Africa’s workforce - a missed opportunity

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

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

Friday, February 10, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, February 2, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Works Presents: Adam Clayton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch the whole interview: