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"[T]hey failed to see that War was an emotional LP rather than a political one.

-- Bono, on Americans' view of the album

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Column: off the record ..., vol. 16-734

@U2, August 01, 2016
By: Aaron Govern


off the record, from @U2

What a year 2016 is for U2-related anniversaries! You will no doubt be aware that Sept. 25 is the 40th anniversary of U2's formation in Dublin, and @U2 will be hosting two parties over the weekend of Sept. 24-25 in Dublin and Cleveland, respectively. To use hashtag parlance, they are known as #U240Dublin and #U240Cleveland. @U2's first-ever European party sold out a couple of weeks ago, and just last week we announced the USA celebration, to be held at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It's going to be an incredible set of events, and we hope to link up -- technology pending -- between the two venues so that the Cleveland attendees can join in and soak up some of the legendary Dublin atmosphere. A good craic is sure to be had! Thank you to all those who have bought tickets for Dublin. I look forward to seeing you all there in just under seven weeks.

And the 40th anniversary is not the only celebration. Later this fall is the 35th anniversary of the release of U2's sophomore album, October, and in November the 25th anniversary of their magnum opus Achtung Baby. Both of these albums have already been remastered, re-released and rebuffed to death, but both are essential releases for any diehard U2 fan. The change in sound, maturity, themes and songwriting skills in the 10-year period between both was quite spectacular in my opinion, and time will tell if U2 will ever revisit the many different songs on the October album in the live environment. I certainly hope so. We had snippets of rarely played songs on the last two tours -- 360 included "Scarlet" and the Innocence + Experience tour included "October." And as each new album is released it becomes more and more difficult to determine the balance of promoting new songs while ensuring that the classics, greatest hits and also-rans get a fair outing as well. The laws of probability mean that each song in the ever-expanding U2 repertoire has less than a one-in-six chance of being played. Not many musical acts can boast those type of statistics.

The last few months have been quite exciting if you keep a close eye on U2's social media. In particular, Adam has been very active on Instagram, and appears to be very much enjoying his opportunity to inform followers of his interest in art, music and film, among other things. He is, and has been for quite a while, a distinguished fellow, and we are fortunate that he is contributing to the British edition of GQ. In recent days GQ has announced an Adam Clayton-curated Desert Island Discs style playlist, though at the time of writing I cannot see that it has actually been released to Apple Music. But what has really whetted my appetite was the offering by Adam of a small snippet of a new song a few weeks ago. Adam titled it "Songs of Experience is being born." To my ears it sounded great, and I suspect it may be the new single?

Who knows for sure, but I would imagine with the announcement earlier this week of U2's headlining appearance on the iHeartRadio Music festival in Las Vegas on Sept. 23, new music must be on the agenda. Being from the U.K., I am not so familiar with this type of show, and to be honest, I wasn't so pleased to hear that U2 were involved as most of the other acts seem a bit too close to the pure pop market. But having researched it a bit, and discussed it with my U.S.-based colleagues, I have a better understanding of the reasons the band will want to play it. As Bono states, "the charts are broken," and this will help U2 get essential exposure coast-to-coast on the iHeartRadio stations that the festival supports. I certainly hope so.

Going back to Adam's adventures on social media, in the last days the band seems to be having some fun-time in Valencia, and in fact there is a short video of Adam and Guggi playing some bird-tweeting sounds via what look like street vendor-style musical instruments. Both artists, they are both having some fun with the instruments! And it's great to see Guggi with Adam. I'm hoping that Guggi is involved in the new album, just like his former bandmate in the Virgin Prunes, Gavin Friday. It would be absolutely wonderful for these Lypton Village stalwarts to be involved in the recording or artwork or imagery of Songs of Experience.

And finally, @U2 is holding a poll that asks which member of U2 is doing best at social media (go to the @U2 home page and search for Voting Booth). After a few weeks, it seems neck and neck between Adam and ... Larry. I'm not sure how that is happening, but it's a democracy and I look forward to finding out who is the winner!

Have a great week!

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

(c) @U2, 2016.

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