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"What [Bono] said was very interesting about debt relief. It's an important cause. But I really wish I had a ticket to his concert tonight."

-- a fan, 2001

@U2 home page

Column: off the record..., vol. 14-621

@U2, June 01, 2014
By: Matt McGee


off the record, from @U2Sometimes, all it takes is a trip to the gym and about 40 minutes on the treadmill.

See, I -- like many of you -- have been particularly frustrated with U2 this year. The inability to finish an album. The inability to work with one producer. The diversions and distractions. #SIGH, right? I get it. I'm with you. It's not that we're entitled to another U2 album. It's that failing to capitalize on the Super Bowl and Oscars visibility and now disappearing again is a really strange way for a group of 50+-year-old rockers to stay relevant.

And then a few weeks ago, not long after Adam Clayton's latest album comments, I took my frustrations to the gym. I hopped on the treadmill for a 40-minute walk. Rather than comb through Netflix or Amazon Prime Video for something to watch on my iPhone, I loaded up Zoo TV Live From Sydney.

And just watching that opening 40-minute sequence, from "Zoo Station" through "New Year's Day," wiped away all the frustration. It's amazing -- maybe the best 40-minute stretch of concert video in U2's canon. It made me appreciate how great this band is and has been, and it reminded me of a promise I made to myself at the end of the 360 tour, after I caught the penultimate show in Pittsburgh: Stop complaining and recognize the possibility (likelihood?) that the next time U2 tours might be the last time we'll ever see them live. It wouldn't surprise me at all if that's the case, so whenever the album comes out and a tour begins, I'm just gonna savor it as if it'll never happen again.

By the way, if you exercise, another great 40-minute U2 video accompaniment that works for me comes from the Elevation Live from Boston video. But it involves skipping around a bit. I start with "Beautiful Day," then skip to "Kite" and "Gone." Jump ahead from there to "Stay" and let it play through "Streets." And then skip to "The Fly" to finish the treadmill time. It's brilliant.

If you've been a U2 fan for a while and spent time over the years on certain forums and mailing lists, you might recognize Xavi Balart's name. He's a guy that I've traded hundreds of emails with over the years, and he was a big help when I was researching my book, U2-A Diary, many years ago -- especially with information about U2's visits to and concerts in Spain.

The reason I'm mentioning him now (and wishing I'd remembered to share this with you earlier) is that Xavi recently had his own book published! It's called U2 en España. It's all about U2's history with Spain. Here's how Xavi explains what's in the book:

"You can find all the information not only about the concerts but also some private visits, some promotional visits, the time they spent in Spain for the recording of Vertigo, a very detailed coverage of the 360 rehearsals, what they did in and out of the Camp Nou Stadium, when did they arrive, how did they enjoy the city...."

It's a hard cover book that runs 282 pages and, yes, it's written in Spanish. But Xavi promises that, even if you can't understand all the text, there are a lot of photos and documents that have never been published before.

The book has been out for several months now, and it looks like your best bet for getting it is direct from or via a third-party seller on

I know first-hand how difficult it is to write, complete and publish a book, so let me offer Xavi a huge congrats on U2 en España.

In my OTR column last month, I mentioned that our @U2 iOS app had gone missing from the iTunes Music Store and that we desperately need to get it updated. That was a future project until this happened: one of our readers -- an iOS developer -- emailed out of the blue to volunteer to help us build a new app! We've been trading emails and things are moving along, so hopefully we'll have a replacement app back in the iTunes store before too long. And even though he volunteered, our plan is to find a way to pay him for his valuable time and programming skills.

Aren't U2 fans the best?

Finally, a reminder to get over to our new @U2 Tours site, register an account, claim your reviews and the concerts you've seen, and build yourself a cool U2 fan profile page (like RossMan) for the world to see!

Until next time...

(c) @U2, 2014.

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