U2 have recently stopped being my favourite band. I don’t have a replacement, yet. But seeing they are in the country, I am nostalgic about them and eager to see their latest live incarnation and think EVERYONE else should cough up $40 to see an unequalled live event. (Yes, that’s all they cost)
Since I saw the live for the Zoo TV tour, I have been saying to people that they have to see U2 live once in their lives.
I don’t think any live band comes close for spectacle. And don’t we all live for a bit of spectacle?
A U2 concert tops the fun of the World Cup and the camaraderie of the Olympics. It’s open-minded yet it feels like an enormous spiritual moment as the crowd moves as one enjoying goodwill and some brilliant songs. Plus, awesome technology and production!
My connection with U2 has always had a spiritual element and at times it is hard to imagine anyone could like them without feeling God in their music.
Now, the music, for me, has taken a back seat. Their presence is bigger than their songs and that’s a dilemma. For the first time I am headed to a U2 concert not to see them play their latest album – or to play those embarrassing Mix-FM numbers like Pride or Mysterious Ways – but just to see the show.
Here’s where i think they went wrong. In an insightful review in UNCUT mag after the LP All That You Can’t Leave Behind, the writer pointed out that U2 can’t write a song that doesn’t explode with a big, inevitable chorus. (The delicate, cool song New York was one particularly ruined by this.) The whole song hinges on it happening, that moment you get lifted up, possibly with tingles in your neck hairs and then the bass and guitar drench you in joy. It feels great but not when it becomes a cliché. I can’t stand hearing Beautiful Day for just this reason.
So, the strangeness of their latest album made some sense to me. No Line On The Horizon has a title track that is awkward at best. Because Bono has tried to write a whole album of songs that creep up on you but never leap out. They stir you but don’t frighten or enlighten you. Sadly, he is no good at this. He can’t do drama.
Yes, the album has bright spots but the low spots are the best for me – Moment of Surrender, particularly. It doesn’t go anywhere, and that, for once is fine. Many of the other songs still haven’t found what they’re doing there.
I imagine it will all come together and may even make sense at their concert. They are one band that is meant to be heard on stage, not on bloody Mix-FM.
Now, go buy a ticket.