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Don't spend too much on the box and the wrapping paper. No matter how big the occasion, your loved ones just want what's inside.-- Bono, on what's he learned from being in U2, 2002

Column: Off The Record ... Vol. 19-782


OTR off the record 2019 1200px

@U2 has brought some new, talented folks on board to help work on the site! We have built out our writing and social media teams so we can more effectively cover parts of the world we struggled with before. @U2 wants to serve every U2 fan around the globe, and we hope our expansion facilitates that! With that, I’d like to welcome writers Heidi Brown, P.J. DeGenaro and Amy Pflughaupt; social manager Jessica Hurwitz; social contributor Marty Venturo; writer and editor Allie McClaskey; graphic designer Brad Rose; and contributor Carina Bond. We’re happy to have you as part of the team and I’ve been really pumped to see what you’re already creating for the site. Welcome!

I’m of a mixed mind on what The Joshua Tree 2019 is about. One the one hand, I love to have the band touring, and Oceania has needed a U2 tour for a decade or so. When I look at the first show’s setlist, it looks like the definition of a greatest hits tour. I like that the band has figured out that they can be more flexible about touring and don’t need to be tied down to an album release. It would be more palatable if they were more ambitious about it, though. Bottom line is that I hope all of the fans in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, India, the Philippines, Japan and South Korea have a good time! You’ve had to wait far too long for U2 to come around.

December has been one of the most consistently thorough and enjoyable bands in U2 fandom for the past few years. Their covers of U2 songs have been thoughtfully selected and provide a meaningful contribution to the U2 fan community. Their last U2 cover, “The Refugee,” came out this week. They’ve reframed the song to be about Mexican, Central American and South American migrants coming to the the United States. This is a song that was written almost 40 years ago, yet it’s still utterly relevant to the current North American political situation. Thank you to December for what they’ve contributed to the U2 fan community and for choosing this song to close out their U2 covers before moving forward to the next part of their career. 

The track “Skyscrapers” dropped a few weeks ago. It’s not an official release, but it does remind me the early 2000s, when bonus U2 tracks were bountiful. It was a lot easier to be a U2 fan because they were doing so much. (BTW, download this now because one label or another has been pretty proactive about having this track removed from Youtube).

It took way too long, but the Live Songs Of Innocence + Experience fan-club CDs were finally released. They are a really good, albeit incomplete, snapshot of the Innocence + Experience tours. I’ve been following U2 for over 20 years now, and the Innocence + Experience double tours are possibly my favorite U2 tours so far. They felt more bold than I’ve seen the band before. They were tours that had their doubts and insecurities, but they also were braver, more interesting and more intelligent than anything else I’ve seen from U2 live. I’ll miss this era. It was much better than the U2 fandom wanted to give it credit for.

Gay Byrne passed away last week. I didn’t have any firsthand experience with him as I live in the United States, but he was a U2 institution. The band performed on his show a number of times, and this is one of my favorite U2 performances of all time. U2, and we as fans, owe him such a debt of gratitude: we're north and south of the river.