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"You hold onto religion, you know, rules, regulations, traditions. I think what God is interested in is people's hearts, and that's hard enough." — Bono

Column: off the record…, vol. 12-504


off the record, from @U2

Bono’s gone on a Peruvian adventure. Edge has put a spotlight on homelessness. Adam appears to be up to his neck in legal issues, and Larry has fallen off the news radar after becoming an award-winning movie actor.  Some of this news made it on @U2, some of it was tweeted on our @atu2 Twitter feed, posted on Facebook or Google+, and some was emailed to our news list. To make sure you’re up to speed with the news as it comes into the @U2 newsroom, make sure you’re fully connected. You never know where we might post something.

These quieter times in U2’s career allow fans the opportunity to catch up with the many different videos and appearances that we missed. I finally got to watch the Island 50 concert special from 2009 on Palladia HD (Channel 567 on DirecTV). It was great seeing the band join Baaba Maal on “One” and the quasi-acoustic version of “Vertigo”.

It excites me that there is still plenty out there that this longtime fan hasn’t seen, and it’s allowing me to reconnect to the music. The rediscovery has shown me that there is a side of the band that I’ve failed to see over the decades. That is one of uncertainty, doubt, and genuine nervousness. Perhaps it’s because of the bravado Bono approaches interviews with, or the tightness of the messaging the band has conveyed publicly, that I’ve overlooked that vulnerable side of U2.

When I first saw From The Sky Down, the perspective Paul McGuinness gave about the rise of U2 in 1987 made me question if U2 wasn’t as confident about themselves as I thought. McGuinness said, “Remember that in the course of the (Joshua Tree) tour, we went from being an arena band to being a stadium band and had to learn how to do that kind of on the run. This was in the days before video reinforcement.” Adam continued, “It was hell. It was literally just us in a stadium.” What drove it home for me was when Larry then said, “We were out of our depth and not quite proficient enough to be consistent.”

Those comments over the span of 30 seconds have lingered with me for months, and give a fresh perspective on the Zoo TV tour and why they had the staging they did. To a degree, the video walls, Trabants and costume changes were a façade, much like Bono’s new Fly persona, to provide a bit of distance between the band and its performance capabilities, especially once the tour moved to the stadiums. The high art and messaging being conveyed also served as a distraction should the band have an inconsistent night or felt its proficiency wasn’t where it should be. I never really looked at the Zoo TV tour through that lens before. Zoo TV was my first live U2 experience (March 12, Hartford, Conn. – I remember it as if it was yesterday) and my 18-year-old self was just taking it all in. Twenty years later, I sense the band’s fragility and the need to distance the public side from the private side of the band.

As much as I know about these four gentlemen from Ireland, I’m realizing it’s only a minute fraction of the story.

Pop was released 15 years ago today. As the album’s electronic press kit (EPK) stated, “It all started like an ordinary record hop.” In honor of its anniversary, here are some interviews from that era for your viewing enjoyment:

Max Masters Interview

The New Music on Much Music 1997 - Bono and Larry Interview
part 1
part 2 (My favorite line is when Larry calls U2 the "biggest little cult band in the world.")

Disco Bus interview from MTV in 1997 – Bono and Larry Interview
part 1
part 2
part 3
part 4  

Bono and Larry interview on Swedish television program Musikbyrån in 2001 regarding Pop and PopMart

Album liner notes are highly underrated. Had I just read the liner notes to the Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark disc, my main issues could have been alleviated. Those issues included Bono and Edge performing in some songs on it instead of the original cast, as well as the track list not following the timeline of the musical. The liner notes describe the album as a mash-up of some show tracks and some demos. In the age of digital albums, some perspective could get lost if the liner notes are missed.

And finally … we all lost a bit of our youth with the passing of Davy Jones. In case you missed it on our blog, here is Davy joining The Edge for “Daydream Believer” in Los Angeles during the PopMart tour on June 21, 1997.

Have a great week!

©@U2/Lawrence, 2012