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Column: off the record ..., vol. 16-723

@U2, May 15, 2016
By: Tassoula E. Kokkoris


off the record, from @U2

When the news arrived earlier this week of the Paris DVD release, did you all race to your wallets to pre-order it? I know I did.

I may have even yelped when I saw there would be a Gavin Friday narration of “Cedarwood Road” on the Deluxe offering. Really, U2 know a thing or two about packaging. Stickers?! Stencil set postcards?! I’m in. June 10 can’t come fast enough.

In Dublin for the final two Innocence + Experience concerts last fall, I had the privilege of going on the virtual reality bus outside the arena. Once on board, we listened to a sales pitch, signed our lives (or at least our emails) away to Apple, and then were treated to a 360-degree version of “Song For Someone,” performed by U2 and a whole host of others. It was pretty mind-blowing (and worth the corporate nonsense that preceded it).

Now, we’ve learned that Live Nation and NextVR have inked a deal to stream live concerts in virtual reality. Because U2 is a primary player for Live Nation, and a spokesperson for NextVR said “some very big names” will be included, we can only assume that they’ll be on the roster.

Having watched clumsy (but well-intentioned) Periscopes and heard jittery audio for dozens of the U2 concerts I wasn’t able to attend last year, the thought of a professional service making this happen—with access to the best areas of the venue—very much excites me. I’d be happy to spend a few bucks to see a high-quality show that I can’t get to in person. And I’d love for the trend to catch on so much that people would put down their personal cellphones and cameras to be in the moment.

I love it when U2 introduce me to something great in pop culture that I wasn’t aware existed. This happened a few weeks back with Off Camera With Sam Jones, an interview program on the Audience channel hosted by acclaimed photographer Sam Jones. Because The Edge was going to be a guest, I DVR’d the series in advance. The first episode I actually saw was Glen Hansard, which was a treat, because I’m a big fan of his music as well. He’s a great storyteller, very animated and authentic.

What I loved most about The Edge installment was how nostalgic he got, speaking of the Limerick battle of the bands that started it all for U2 and their time striking out in front of London record labels. I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t yet had a chance to watch, but he spins some great yarn regarding their youth and proclaims yet again, “The thing about our band is that we’re a real band,” which he then likens to a street gang.

Seriously, check it out. It’s a great hour. If you don’t subscribe to the network that shows it, you can listen to it in podcast form free of charge, via iTunes.

As a writer for atu2 for over a decade now, I know there are some folks who appreciate my work and a percentage of those who don’t — both of which I accept in equal measure. But I often forget that something I create may actually be used for the greater good.

Last week I was incredibly honored to find out that the article I wrote about William Blake last summer for our site was recently used to teach a survey course of British literature at the University of Costa Rica.

The professor, Hector Alvarado (@Hector_Alvarado on Twitter), said that the students “really liked it,” noting the comparisons between something thousands of years old and something present-day. He also mentioned how the piece developed some of the characteristics of the romantic movement to compare both texts.

I couldn’t be more flattered, and I sincerely thank him for letting me know.

(c) @U2/Kokkoris, 2016.

Any opinions expressed in this column are those of the individual author and do not necessarily represent the views of @U2 as a whole.

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