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U2: Irish Guys Are Stylin'

Exhibit opens in Cleveland

Erie Times-News, February 07, 2003
By: Dave Richards

 

Starting Sunday, U2 fans can find what they're looking for, in abundance, at Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

In the Name of Love: Two Decades of U2 - a comprehensive, three-story exhibit on the Irish rock band - will open at the rock hall, replacing the long-running John Lennon display, Lennon: His Life and Work. That's good news for U2 fans such as Penn State Behrend students Kevin Fallon and Rob Wynne.

"If you're going to have an exhibit about a band, it might as well be U2 because -- since the early '80s -- they've been one of the best bands," said Fallon, 23. "Unlike other bands who've come and gone, they've managed to keep their sound fresh, and they've managed to stay relevant. They pretty much epitomize rock 'n' roll because it's not just the music with them. You can see that with the stuff they do outside of their records, like their activism. I mean, it's just total rock 'n' roll. That's what U2 is."

Said Wynne: "U2 is one of the few bands that has been able to produce hit songs for like three decades. Some bands probably use them as a role model. They want to know how to last a long time."

The successful Lennon exhibit lasted a long time; it opened in September 2000. As a follow-up, the hall wanted to feature a major current artist, said James Henke, the museum's vice president of exhibitions and curatorial affairs. U2 stood out.

"After Lennon, who's from the '60s and all that, we wanted to go with a group that's still contemporary and playing," Henke said. "They've been around for almost 25 years now, and they've been, in my opinion, one of the best bands out there. They're very well respected and critically respected, and also hugely successful.

"So, in terms of choices, they've been around long enough where we can do something in depth and also the music and all that stand up. That made them a logical choice."

Henke had little trouble convincing U2 to go along; he goes way back with the band. Henke heralded the group during his years at Rolling Stone. He wrote the first major piece on the band and put them on the cover in 1983. U2, in turn, was one of the first bands to donate items to the rock hall. Henke and the band met up again when U2 visited the museum during its Cleveland stop on the Elevation tour in 2001.

"They really loved the museum and were knocked out," said Henke. "When they were here, they said, 'We can get you more stuff. We want to help you out.'"

Henke faxed a wish list of items to U2's Ireland office. He was surprised at what came back.

"This rarely happens, but I got just about everything. The initial idea wasn't to mount such a big exhibit, but when we started getting the stuff, we realized the quality we were getting and thought it could go well after Lennon."

Henke said the exhibit will show how U2 grew from just another punk-influenced group to a massively popular one without changing members or compromising ideals.

"They're the same four guys they started off with," Henke said. "I'm wondering if any other bands have lasted that long without changing any members. That's a rarity. They started from a punk perspective and then really developed their own sound. They believe in the music they make and are very passionate about it. They believe in the power of rock 'n' roll and their fans. Likewise, I admire the passion and heartfelt aspect of their music."

U2 has also influenced scores of bands, particularly through the Edge's distinctive guitar work.

"He made his own sound," said Fallon. "He was a totally new genre; he was like the Edge genre. He was just so original."

The exhibit will be mounted chronologically, beginning on the fourth floor of the hall with U2's early days in Dublin. The fifth floor features U2 in the 1980s, the sixth floor shows them from the 1990s to today. The fourth floor also features photos by Anton Corbijn, who has photographed U2 since the early 1980s.

In the Name of Love includes costumes, such as the leather jacket -- lined with an American flag -- that Bono wore on the Elevation tour and during the Super Bowl XXXVI halftime show (in 2002). His Stetson from the Joshua Tree tour also is included.

The exhibit features the first U2 shirt, created by drummer Larry Mullen Jr., as well as studded jeans and the No. 7 shirt that the Edge wore during Elevation. A first-place award from a 1978 battle of the bands will be on display, as will assorted U2 instruments, production notes from Daniel Lanois, and short films by Dreamchaser, the firm that created the eye-popping Hall of Fame videos.

Henke was pleased to receive Bono's lyric sheets for "When Loves Come to Town," a song written for B.B. King. "It's got Bono's notes on the page, about what parts B.B. ought to sing, which is cool. That's one of my favorite things."

The exhibit also features lyric sheets for "Bad," "Stay (Faraway So Close)" and the revised one for "New York," which Bono wrote after 9/11.

The exhibit is scheduled to remain on display through September but could be extended by demand. Interest is already strong.

"There seems to be a lot of interest out there, particularly with some real diehards," Henke said. "We've had calls from people all over the country, wondering when it's opening."

Fallon hopes to see the exhibit soon. He's never been to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but he will follow U2 anywhere.

"I think this new exhibit might be a little extra incentive because U2 is one of my favorite bands," Fallon said. "I'd like to check out some of the things I might not know about them or just get more up close and personal with the band and see what it's all about."



If you go

What: In the Name of Love: Two Decades of U2

Where: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, 1 Key Plaza, Cleveland

When: Opens Saturday for preview party and Sunday to the general public, continuing through September.

Hours: The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily, except Wednesday, when hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Price: $18 adults, $14 age 60 and older, $11 for children 9 to 12, and free for children ages 8 and younger. Members get in free.

Special events: A preview party will take place Saturday at 6:30 p.m., which is open to members and guests. Tickets, $15 each, are available through Ticketmaster and at the museum box office. Tickets are limited. The evening includes a short lecture by James Henke, vice president of exhibitions and curatorial affairs, and hors d'oeuvres.

Will U2 be there? Highly doubtful, though the band, of course, has been invited.

Also, on Feb. 12 at 6:30 p.m., the rock hall presents In the Name of Love: Behind the Exhibit. Henke will discuss his history with the band, the collection of artifacts, how the exhibit was designed, and stories about key artifacts. Tickets are $5 per person, limited to members and guests.

Information: For more details, call the rock hall at (800) 493-ROLL, or go online to www.rockhall.com.

© 2003, CyberInk LP.

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