Tuesday, 4 November 2014

What It Took to Get Here - Living in U2’s New Release

As many, many of you know, I feel like I am the original U2 fan. I have been listening to them, to every bit of music put out by them, whether live or studio release. No other band gets this kind of blind devotion, especially when it comes to live music, something I normally don’t go for. (The white noise from screaming and yelling fans drives my tinnitus insane.)

This newest effort, Songs of Innocence, has a truly unique sound; and yet, it is the U2 we all know, recognise within moments of the opening chords being played, their own beautiful music. Songs of Innocence is their thirteenth studio album, and it is the magic that we all have come to expect to hear from U2.

And yet...

This is by far a different and very new sound. While there is no missing Bono’s silky, yet steely voice, regardless of his forty-plus years of singing, he can still show a tremendous range, musical timing that is perfect, a confidence in his singing that nothing can take a way. And still, it is undeniably U2, no one else, and as new as their sound becomes as time and life bring new challenges and successes, they still have an amazing sort of... of... how do I say this without sounding insulting? Not that I ever would insult a band I have loved and followed since 1981. But they undoubtedly have a sameness that follows their music no matter how it flows and grows and changes.

And it does constantly flow, grow and change.

I have seen numerous U2 concerts, including the Croak Park concert, the same time I was there in Dublin. The change in Bono's voice over the years is amazing; he grows, changes, tests his limits, explores taking himself out of his comfort zone. That takes a kind of discipline that is rarely seen in the music industry and has allowed them to stand tall through test of time.

Thirty-three years of testing. There is nothing short about that.

Listening to this, their latest effort with a five-and-a-half year gestational period (the longest known span of time between their studio albums), I was unsurprised to read of all kinds of problems experienced by them and the different people they worked with on this project. I am given to understand that whole groups of songs were recorded, almost produced, but tossed at the last moment, forcing them back to the beginning and back into the studio. I am sad to not hear those songs, but it is hardly our place as the audience to demand to hear what they may consider sub-standard. I know that Bono and The Edge are both perfectionists, and I cannot help but suspect the same is true of of Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen are cut from the same cloth. Come to think of it, I'd guess any musician is cursed with such an affliction. I know as an artist, I am very much cursed the same way.

I do very highly recommend you get the latest album by U2. Of course, if you are one of the 15 million people with iTunes, you know you already have them - in an unprecedented move, anyone with iTunes received Songs of Innocence - the whole release! How much do I love iTunes and Apple?

Almost as much as I love U2!

No comments: