Into The Heart Of U2
February 1, 2024 3:42 PM   Subscribe

As they become a legacy act, doing a lengthy residency in Las Vegas, and are becoming ever more deprecated across younger generations triggered mainly by their Apple Album Distribution debacle, U2 fans Bill See [Divine Weeks frontman] and Melody Muraca [early U2 Fanzine founder] have sat down to record the Into The Heart Of U2 Podcast [YouTube playlist link]. Album by album, tour by tour, with a lot of research and background information that I didn't know before... This might be the way for you to process your U2 fandom or your U2 mourning. Apple Podcasts Link.

The series as it stands right now runs from when they began up through the POPMart tour. That might be exactly what all of you would want to hear? They seem to be weekly, and I'm interested to hear what they have to talk about for the many albums still to come.
posted by hippybear (80 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
For a band somewhat notorious for big meetings where all four members are involved in minutiae, one artifact of their Las Vegas residency remains a complete mystery to me: the cover for their 2023 single "Atomic City".

It looks like a boomer cover-band's flyer promoting the one original song they sneak into all their wedding reception gigs.
posted by tclark at 3:52 PM on February 1 [10 favorites]

It's the worst cover for anything ever. Especially since Larry isn't playing with them in Vegas, and his filming of the video was complete back surgery recovery misery for him.

I do find what they did with Atomic City within the Sphere to be pretty interesting... Turning the wall of the Sphere transparent and then dragging it backward through time.
posted by hippybear at 3:55 PM on February 1 [2 favorites]

The biggest irony of the free U2 album thing is that we were hip deep into putting every U2 album (and every other piece of music in existence) into everybody’s library. Apple Music shipped about 8 months later, and concept of not just having all the music all the time ceased to exist for most people. Personally, I thought it kinda ridiculous anyone got butthurt over it. Then again, I didn’t considered how I organized my bookshelf to be my whole personality either.

The second biggest irony is that the free album was just a test run of what became very successful functionally you probably see all the time, assuming you are an iOS user.
posted by Back At It Again At Krispy Kreme at 3:55 PM on February 1 [5 favorites]

That's not why they're being deprecated
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 3:57 PM on February 1 [7 favorites]

The BIGGEST irony for me, as a U2 fan, is that it is an album they were so entirely overconfident about they gave it to everyone, and then it turned out to not be very good.
posted by hippybear at 3:58 PM on February 1 [5 favorites]

u talkin u2... 2 me?

(a podcast for those who want their exposure to u2 buffered by heavy doses of complete nonsense, irony, and sophomoric humor; it's made by scott aukerman and adam scott, of severance/parks & rec fame. also, after achieving their objective of interviewing u2, they've since moved on to other bands, e.g. rem, talking heads, and now bruce springsteen... as someone who came of age after u2's hey day, this podcast is how i ended up listening to the band, for which i'm thankful!)
posted by nightcoast at 4:04 PM on February 1 [10 favorites]

I'm excited to now try a more earnest podcast about the band... thanks!
posted by nightcoast at 4:07 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]

I'm going to see them at the Sphere next week! We're not huge U2 fans (also not NOT fans... we like them well enough) but my partner used to do lighting design for theater and dance performances so he wants to see it to geek out about the tech and the visual experience. I kind of don't want to know anything about their residency until after I experience it myself so I might avoid these links until after next week.
posted by misskaz at 4:10 PM on February 1 [3 favorites]

My U2 includes Negativland.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 4:10 PM on February 1 [35 favorites]

I'll always love Joshua Tree; and Rattle and Hum, which was really the turning point in retrospect.

Some of Achtung Baby and Pop is still good too. I stop there.

Maybe Bono and Edge aren't admirable men, and maybe I'm a simpleton for confusing the Infinite Guitar stack with talent, but I think at least those albums stand up as music. (The earlier material too, I just don't enjoy it as much.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:10 PM on February 1 [8 favorites]

The only thing you need to avoid is my link about Atomic City within the dome. If you want to get into "iceberg" kind of info about the albums of theirs you like, you should pick and choose from this podcast. It does have a building plot, but each episode is pretty self-contained in general so if you want to just hear about Boy or The Unforgettable Fire, there are episodes you can pick out just fine.
posted by hippybear at 4:13 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]

My main beef with the free U2 album thing is that was almost ten years ago and the fucking thing is still stuck to my laptop and phone no matter how hard I scrub. Apparently you can no longer (if you ever could) delete it yourself.

And I like U2! If I didn't I cannot imagine how much more annoyed I'd be every time the damn thing inexplicably wormed its way back onto my phone after being deleted.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:13 PM on February 1 [2 favorites]

I'm in for the Passengers episode, whenever that happens.
posted by mykescipark at 4:18 PM on February 1 [8 favorites]

My U2 fandom extended from The Joshua Tree (and ultimately encompassed their earlier albums) thru Pop. After that, they lost me.

I really enjoyed their experimental attitude in the '90s, and was impressed by an interview where one of the band members said, "We'll never be the kind of band who releases a greatest hits collection."

And then they did exactly that. That proved to be a signal moment. After that point, it felt like they decided to become a U2 tribute band.

Their new material was less and less adventurous, and felt more and more like recycled versions of their old stuff. I've found maybe 3 songs from their last 20 years of output that have moved me at all.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 4:20 PM on February 1 [7 favorites]

Let's be accurate here, the younger generations aren't interested in U2 because they're a bunch of dudes in their sixties who haven't been new and cool for 30ish years, not because of the iTunes stunt.

It was definitely a dumb idea, and it sure does say a lot about Bono's ego - maybe all of them, but he's the most obvious - that it never occurred to him the iTunes thing might go that way. But by 2014 they were already functionally irrelevant to anyone who didn't discover their music at least a decade earlier.

I still like a lot of their music, and am one of the people with a track record of being willing to say so on Metafilter, for whatever foolish reason.
posted by automatronic at 4:27 PM on February 1 [23 favorites]

for 30ish years

25-ish years, really, Beautiful Day was a gigantic single in 2001, and then Vertigo did well around 2004, 2005. But yes, they haven't been "cool" in a long time.
posted by hippybear at 4:33 PM on February 1 [2 favorites]

Some of their older stuff, say, up through Achtung Baby, was well executed down to minute details. “Every poet is a cannibal / every artist is a thief / I’d kill for inspiration / and sing about the grief”… the irony is so thick you could choke on it, in retrospect
posted by apathy at 4:36 PM on February 1 [8 favorites]

Even by 2001-2005, their tracks that did well were seen as unexpectedly good comeback records from an already ageing band. I think they acknowledged their status back then pretty accurately in the lyrics to Kite: "The last of the rockstars, when hip-hop drove the big cars, in the time when new media was the big idea." - and that was already nearly 25 years ago!
posted by automatronic at 4:42 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]

I've been surly about missing the Zoo TV tour for years. Will my inner 17 year old like the show at the Sphere?
posted by fluttering hellfire at 4:43 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]

Oh, yes, after POP they entirely retreated into being Safe U2, not Experimental U2. Fucking horrible turn of events.
posted by hippybear at 4:44 PM on February 1 [5 favorites]

Will my inner 17 year old like the show at the Sphere?

Yes. They do all of Achtung Baby [only the second tour they've ever played Acrobat], and a lot of other songs, all of them audience pleasers. I've watched a half-dozen of the shows and even a casual U2 fan would love the show.
posted by hippybear at 4:45 PM on February 1 [2 favorites]

Do we all get to sing Bad and pretend we're at Live Aid. I want that.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 4:45 PM on February 1 [3 favorites]

They were great/good/at least interesting for about 15 years, which is a better run than most bands manage.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:45 PM on February 1 [11 favorites]

By any and every measure of success U2 has done just fine and the fact that they are still making music that is being talked about and live shows that people are going to is a testament to the impact they made on at least one generation, if not two. Are they extremely easy to deride and make fun of? You betchya but that’s just part of the whole rocknroll business. As a very casual and non-involved fan, I’m impressed that they’ve been around as long as they have, which is what, 45 years or so?

Okay, now I’m going to check out the podcasts.
posted by ashbury at 5:13 PM on February 1 [4 favorites]

Another vote for team Negativland.
posted by Ardnamurchan at 5:44 PM on February 1 [9 favorites]

concept of not just having all the music all the time ceased to exist for most people.

I realized this a couple months ago. Take sixteen-year-old me, raised by conservative parents who thought rock was the devil's music, sneakily recording what he could off the radio or hiding Achtung Baby in a stack of classical CDs that he brought back from Pitchfork Records (Concord NH represent). That that boy and tell him that someday he'd have 24/7 access to something like the entire U2 discography, and that he would barely listen to them at all. That boy would have no way of understanding the person that he became.

After I realized this, I put on "Bad" at a high volume and played it until my kids gave me weird looks.
posted by gauche at 5:47 PM on February 1 [7 favorites]

Also, speaking of nearly the entire U2 discography: I used to have a copy of Salome, the bootleg from the stolen tapes while they were recording Achtung Baby[1], and that is one of the things I wish I could listen to again but that is not on Apple Music.

1. I'm like 99% certain that the fans embrace of this bootleg is what inspired Brian Eno to release Wah Wah by James, made from the unreleased bits of the Laid sessions.
posted by gauche at 5:52 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]

You'll find many of the Salome Axhtung Beibi disks available to listen on YouTube if you look not even very deeply.
posted by hippybear at 5:55 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]

Maybe Bono and Edge aren't admirable men

Doesn't Bono donate a LOT to charity? He even set up a charity to fight poverty in Africa.
posted by Liquidwolf at 5:57 PM on February 1 [2 favorites]

So I saw U2 in 1981 at International House at University of Chicago (I can't believe there is a record of it because it always seemed like a dream). Nobody really knew who they were but they were being heavily promoted. The set list at the link is accurate - it cracked us up that for the encore they just played their first four songs over again - but also I remember it being an incredible sound. I was late, and walking down the street in the misty rain with barely green trees the sound was reverberating off the buildings and I almost didn't go in, it was so beautiful. Also they all looked so young and a bit lost, I almost invited them to the party we were going to afterwards, but I chickened out. Now that would have been a story.
posted by maggiemaggie at 6:03 PM on February 1 [10 favorites]

So I saw U2 in 1981 at International House at University of Chicago (

I saw them maybe a month earlier in Vancouver's best venue, the 1000 capacity Commodore Ballroom. Ticket cost me four bucks (Canadian) and they were worth every penny. Actually, it was a phenomenal gig. They only replayed two songs as I recall (I Will Follow and Eleven O'Clock Tick Tock) and it was all pretty much non-stop big, positive energy. Or as somebody put it at the time, like Joy Division except with the Holy Spirit on their side.

Afterwords, while hanging out in my car which was parked in the alley behind the venue, jammed in with a few friends, smoking a joint, there was a knock on the window. A friendly knock. Not a police knock. I rolled it down and it was Adam Clayton wondering if I was the "car hire" but then he sussed what was going on and said, "I guess not." I suppose if I'd been quicker in my thinking (ie: less stoned), I might've booted my friends out and taken him wherever he wanted to go ... but nah, I guess I just wasn't that ambitious. Or whatever.

Two years later I caught them again, this time in a three thousand seater (The War tour). It was another powerful show, but not on the level of the first. You just can't beat a great band in a small, packed venue. Then, in 1987, I caught the Joshua Tree tour in a fucking football stadium, but as I related previously ...

the feeling just wasn't there. Not even close. The venue was too big. The band couldn't begin to reach everyone and I think they've been fighting that dynamic ever since. Sure, they may do the best BIG HALL rock concert of any band on the planet, but give me Gogol Bordello in a thousand seater any day.

So yeah, that's where it mostly stopped for me. I didn't start hating them or anything -- just shifted my focus elsewhere.
posted by philip-random at 6:29 PM on February 1 [9 favorites]

I had this notion that the first time U2 played Toronto it was in maybe 1979 at a small hall on St. Clair near Christie. I’ve forgotten the name in those days (Maple Leaf Ballroom, maybe?). These days it’s a Salvation Army thrift store.

I found a site that seems to be a pretty comprehensive listing of All The U2 Gigs, and the first one they list for Toronto is the El Mocambo. Young Bono was pretty insufferable and earnest at the best of times but I’d imagine* their gig that night, December 9, 1980, a day after John Lennon was shot, must have been very.

posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:43 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]

U2 still features in one of my favorite random memories where the wife and I were sitting in our backyard on a late Spring evening with a cocktail. (This would have been either May 20 or May 21, 2017) and suddenly off the mountains around us comes echoing a distant filtered sound of those opening riffs of "Where the Streets Have No Name". We realized it was U2 playing at the Rose Bowl a few miles and a flat plain away from us with the San Gabriels wrapping the stadium like a reflector dish.

We sat there just chilling hearing each song wafting in like a long ago memory.
posted by drewbage1847 at 7:01 PM on February 1 [17 favorites]

That's actually beautiful, drewbage1847! That tour was The Joshua Tree anniversary tour, which was a really great tour! I'm glad you got to hear it wafting toward you that evening. That would have felt magical to me.

Their encore sets for both of those nights are pretty great. I hope you heard the first night which ended with Bad and then I Will Follow. The second night had a much weirder set of songs in the encore.
posted by hippybear at 7:12 PM on February 1 [2 favorites]

I saw U2 when I was in college; I’m 70 now. Seems unreal.
posted by coldhotel at 7:40 PM on February 1 [3 favorites]

I saw U2 when I was in college; I’m 70 now. Seems unreal.

The Rolling Stones are on tour this summer....

Like, I don't even know what timeline this is anymore.
posted by hippybear at 7:51 PM on February 1 [3 favorites]

My first U2 show was the final show of The Joshua Tree tour, [1h46m, audio only] where BB King opened for them and they debuted When Love Comes To Town, in Ft. Worth, TX.

I didn't know I was going to the last show of the tour. I didn't know who this old black guy was opening up, BB King. [Pardon my language, that's my college age self speaking its college age mind -- I'm not that guy anymore.] And I loved the band but had no idea I was tapping into history.

I'll tell this story about this concert again, and this was my experience of the show.

Adam and Edge swapped instruments and they went into "40" and left the stage one by one. This was a normal trope for them to do. Short Circuited the need for a bit final bow. But the crowd kept singing. And they kept singing.

And yeah, Larry did his fake-out leaving and coming back... but the crowd kept singing..

My memory is singing and singing "How I long to sing this song" while the crowd filed out of the arena. While they walked across the lobbies. While they wandered toward multi-story car garages to find their cars.

I remember hearing the refrain of "How I long to sing this song" echoing through the parking garage while I climbed into my car, singing it myself.

Okay, and now I've gotten a bit misty at the memory.

It was one HELL of a night for a 19 year old, I will tell you.
posted by hippybear at 8:29 PM on February 1 [14 favorites]

A couple hours ago I was thinking back on the early 80s and how much I hated U2, Joy Division, New Order and The Smiths.
posted by brachiopod at 8:53 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]

Well I'm also 70 and I loved and still love "Boy" and then 'Gloria' and a few songs on "The Unforgettable Fire" but everything after that has been unremarkable to me, just doesn't register; however if you like this band and what they've become please enjoy, don't let me harsh your mellow.
posted by Rash at 9:00 PM on February 1 [3 favorites]

"Under a blood red
A crowd has gathered in black and white"

I remember popping in War at the before School Hangout across the street under the Smoky oak that was Marlboro and Columbian, with the newly acquired Hitachi boombox I drowned out the Molly Hatchet, Nazareth.... nearly got my ass kicked but got to remember some of us were nerds and burnouts. besides I was just trying to impress Annie Striker.
posted by clavdivs at 9:14 PM on February 1 [3 favorites]

March 17, 1992
St Patrick’s Day
U2 plays at the Boston Garden
The Pixies open for them

Maybe not the greatest live gig ever played, but for sure one of the greatest live music experiences to ever take place in Boston. The energy was unmatched. Whatever came after that, for that moment they were the greatest band in the entire world.
posted by anastasiav at 9:31 PM on February 1

Their decline amongst the younger gen has nothing to do with the Apple thing. That's a crazy stretch. They're just old guys who aren't constantly on social media through their own choosing.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 10:37 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]

The energy was unmatched.

A friend once described their live work as more of a religious experience than a concert.
posted by fairmettle at 11:54 PM on February 1 [3 favorites]

There’s a range of bands and musicians who were successful in the 1990s/2000s, which includes U2, Metallica, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, and more, and their continued touring is basically the industry. Except now, all these people are getting old, and there’s an entire industry based around retiree age people doing physically exhausting tours, and a lot of the retiree age people are saying “well, actually…”. Realistically we have ten to fifteen years left of this crop touring, maximum 20, and then we’re left with… Bush? Matchbox 20? Weezer? I think even those are too old, and there’s no way I’m paying to see Bad Bunny when I’m 65.
posted by The River Ivel at 12:36 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]

yeah its gonna be Dar Williams hegemony, hope that's ok.
posted by away for regrooving at 12:50 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]

Hippybear I had a similar experience with the crowd continuing to sing 40 in Melbourne. A peak experience! Can't remember the year, mid eighties sometime.
posted by Coaticass at 3:27 AM on February 2

Obligatory Bill Bailey Effects failure at a U2 gig clip.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 3:42 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]

Hippybear, man, I wanted to add, my initial snark notwithstanding, I appreciate the work you do actually making posts. Moreover, my cynicism wrt to U2 is definitely a case of disappointed idealism. But, geez, Pop was some fucking poop.
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 4:07 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]

In the early 1980s U2 stopped by the small town radio station that I kind of interned at. I didn't get to meet them, but they left a bunch of T-shirts from the October tour and I snagged one.

I was wearing it in high school later that week when one of the resident jackasses saw it and said, "U2? That's a stupid name for a band."

Very few things in life give me more satisfaction than knowing with genuine certainty that the jackass dudebro was, without a doubt, crammed into a stadium screaming at U2 within the decade.
posted by MrVisible at 4:18 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]

I am not saying that they are not talented but their music never did anything for me. (Age 77)
posted by DJZouke at 5:03 AM on February 2

I'm 53. There's been a few U2 songs that I have liked, but in my opinion, they have mostly been self-righteous, pompous blowhards since 1991 or so. Nails-on-chalkboard. The "Apple Album Distribution debacle" is maybe #22 in my reasons for not liking them since they were youngsters.
posted by SoberHighland at 5:26 AM on February 2

October 22, 1987. Around midnight. I'm with my girlfriend in her dorm room in Champaign Illinois after the Joshua Tree concert at Assembly Hall. The phone rings - it's her roommate calling from her sorority house.

"You two need to get over to the TriDelta house. NOW."

"It's midnight and we're tired. What do you want?"

"Just come over. I can't say why."

We hung up on her.
posted by JoeZydeco at 5:28 AM on February 2 [10 favorites]

Not a huge U2 fan but I have played New Year's Day every January 1 for the past couple decades. It's a good song.
posted by The Vintner of Our Disco Tent at 6:45 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]

I think even those are too old, and there’s no way I’m paying to see Bad Bunny when I’m 65.

That's why they all make the switch to country music. John Prine put out his last great CD at 73, Guy Clark at 74, Rodney Crowell still putting out great songs at 73. They are writing about getting old, in a 'pop' kind of way. It's actually really refreshing to have something to say about aging, dying and your place in life when you've put 75 or so years in instead of 19, only singing about the first time you had sex.

The Rolling Stones latest song is actually alright, Modern English's latest Long in Tooth is pretty good.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:34 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]

I'm looking at airfare and hotels to go see U2 in a giant cartoon ball and I couldn't be happier
posted by fluttering hellfire at 7:37 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]

One of my first dates was with a guy who worked at a record store who scored free tix to the U2 PopMart concert at Clemson of all places. I mean, that is one heck of a first date. Unfortunately, I remember very little about the show. A combination of nerves plus alcohol did that for me, I guess. (The relationship went on for about year or two, then ended terribly.)
posted by Kitteh at 8:15 AM on February 2

the one elder rock band that I'm aware of who are still knocking it out of the park is Cheap Trick. They died a death in the 80s (pretty much the same time that U2 were on the rise) but got their house back in order in the 1990s sometime and it's been all pretty damned good ever since to my ears.

Here Comes The Summer (2022)

Sing My Blues Away (2018)

No Direction (hanging out with Daryl Hall)

I'm guessing what works for them vs many other bands of their vintage is that Cheap Trick NEVER took themselves that seriously, just delivered the goods.
posted by philip-random at 9:49 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]

U2 seems like one of those bands that, regardless of when you discover them, you like approximately three albums (in my case, War, Unforgettable Fire, and Joshua Tree) and then you drop off HARD. Is it the shift in music? The pomposity? The ubiquity? Judging from the previous comments, it seems like varying levels of all three, which I find strange and fascinating. I gave Morrissey a longer period of fandom and he’s a far worse person.

I’m glad you had that experience, hippybear. I would have liked to have seen them during that timeframe. I don’t feel terribly compelled to see them now.
posted by Eikonaut at 12:23 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]

My sole U2 experience also ended with a 40 singalong that carried out into the street and the parking garage after. New Haven CT, sometime in 1987. Sadly it was shortly after Bono had dislocated his shoulder or something so he was more restrained than usual.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:20 PM on February 2

So, a quibble I have with this podcast is that they talk a lot about the albums and the concert tours, but not a lot about the music videos, which were a major way a lot of people were interacting with U2 during the MTV years. They mention them, but they don't really spend much time with them at all, shoving them into a very far back seat when, truly, it was having With Or Without You on 4x/hour rotation on MTV that helped burn them into everyone's brain.
posted by hippybear at 2:26 PM on February 2

And just because YouTube decided to hand me this:

U2 on RTE in 1978. [2m22s]

Sweet baby faces! OMG!
posted by hippybear at 2:40 PM on February 2

I never saw U2 live. Also, I'm with the other Negativland folks, that was hilarious. I love every U2 track, from the very first track on their first album "Boy" to the last track on that same album. None of their other stuff ever did much for me. I have 2 memories from this summer, that are my favorite U2 related memories. The first, we had just flown into Dublin, from NY (where I had a Ramones moment on Rockaway Beach) and I was in my room looking out at some hotel employees having a smoke on the patio, and I had just put on a t-shirt from a coffee shop in JFK Airport, with a Black cat on it and and my mind went to U2's song An Cat Dubh so I played it on my phone. I love that song. The second was later that same day on a tour bus, and the driver asks if anybody knows the difference between Bono and God? The punch line was "God doesn't think he's Bono" I cracked up and it made my little sister mad (she's a fan) which made me crack up more.
posted by evilDoug at 2:59 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]

Managed to catch U2 during the Joshua Tree Tour in Oakland, with The BoDeans and the Pretenders (w/Johnny Marr on guitar) opening. Memories have faded 37 years later, but I remember being impressed enough to buy a patch.

Like most folks I liked at least some of U2's stuff up into the 90's (even if I just stuck to the singles after Rattle & Hum, and could happily live the rest of my life without hearing "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking" again); I actually liked "Discotheque" but listening to "Pop" in its entirety caused me to drift away. (The Negativland incident didn't help either, tho Greg Ginn is more worthy of a boot-up-the-ass for the aftermath). At this point I'm pretty much don't-love-'em-don't-hate-'em-best-of-luck-to-'em.
posted by gtrwolf at 6:50 PM on February 2

Just realized: after seeing Morrissey at Cruel World, Johnny Marr with the Pretenders (when they opened for U2), and Mike Joyce when he was (briefly) drumming live with the Buzzcocks, I can say that I've seen (most of) the Smiths, albeit not together.

(Goes off to listen to U2's "Desire (Hollywood mix) and induce some Modern Rock-era Live 105 flashbacks. Ah, the memories of Youth....)
posted by gtrwolf at 7:00 PM on February 2

I was a big fan of U2 in the '80s and a huge R.E.M. fan. To me, Achtung Baby and Monster were where those bands changed from leaders to followers and and I lost interest after.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:10 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]

Like, honest to god I'd peg "All That You Can't Leave Behind" as U2's heel turn into followers, so I'm super curious as to how you felt Achtung Baby was that turn, when it was an abandonment of everything they had done since the beginning of their career.
posted by hippybear at 9:19 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]

I liked Achtung Baby a fair bit but I never bought the hype that U2 were inventing anything with their sound on that album. What they were doing was smartly "borrowing" bits and pieces and chunks of sound from other artists of the time (late 80s, flipping into the 90s).

As a for instance, The Cure's Never Enough, released well over a year before Achtung Baby, immediately came to mind when I first heard it. And The Cure themselves were up front about "borrowing" some of those tricks from what was going down in Madchester in the late 80s.
posted by philip-random at 11:23 PM on February 2

These guys are from England and who gives a shit?
posted by 40 Watt at 8:13 AM on February 3 [4 favorites]

Mod note: Comment removed. Please avoid hateful and insensitive comments, per the Content Policy and help keep MetaFilter a fun and inviting place to be.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 8:44 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]

I think the deleted comment was a reference to this spoof of U2 by Negativland rather than a serious suggestion.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:54 AM on February 3

Mod note: I think the deleted comment was a reference to this spoof of U2 by Negativland rather than a serious suggestion.

Excellent, flags on the comment ignored then and comment restored!
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 8:58 AM on February 3

I've had tickets to two U2 shows that have been canceled: POPMart in Raleigh and Joshua Tree Anniversary in St. Louis. But I have managed to see them many other times, and it's always ups and downs. Vertigo Tour in MSG on a Saturday night? Absolutely! 360 Tour in Berlin? Too much NLotH (Safe U2 as you named it above). I would dare say that 360 in Baltimore from the very last row very late in the tour was better.

We saw them at Sphere in December. Once in a lifetime, for sure. Unfortunately our seats were just back in the first seated section and we couldn't see the whole ceiling, and I think we missed out on that.

I love EVERY hippybear U2 post! Thank you!
posted by Snowishberlin at 10:02 AM on February 3

Every couple of years I go to the library and check out their 2006 coffee table book U2 by U2 to look at the photos. (My favoritest coffee table book at the library is The Making of Star Wars.)
posted by neuron at 11:26 AM on February 3

The Fan Club gift this year was ridiculously nice -- a 100 page hardbound 12" square book [Mastodon link] U2 The Complete Lyrics Volume 1, which covers from I Will Follow to A Room At The Heartbreak Hotel. It's truly gorgeous, a coffee table book again, full of essays about songs and albums by producers and band members, and some lovely photography and other visuals. Completely above and beyond as far as fan club gifts go from this band, and I've gotten a lot from them across the years.
posted by hippybear at 1:57 PM on February 3

So, YouTube decided to hand me this today -- Working In The Popmart [50m], not about the band, all about the tech of the show -- transporting it, developing the tech, making this gigantic monster travel around the globe.

If you've followed anything that Beyoncé or Taylor did last year, this is the forerunner of all of that.

Bono says that POPMart is what he is most proud of in his career. It was a pretty amazing tour, really. This is a look at it I hadn't seen before.
posted by hippybear at 2:21 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]

Bono says that POPMart is what he is most proud of in his career.

How can ZooTV not be, though? I get the progression from the 80s to 90s, from a minimalist show(Joshua Tree and Rattle & Hum) to how their image (and sound) became so multifaceted (ZooTV) to their image becoming larger than they were (POPMart). It was a cool thing, but ZooTV, for me, is peak U2.
posted by Snowishberlin at 2:59 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]

I'm going to agree with you that ZooTV is probably utterly peak U2, but the statement behind POPMart is one that Bono feels was stronger -- that capitalism and popularity was driving everyone toward a lemony existence and there would be better choices to make. ZooTV's base message about distrusting the messages being fed to you and try to invent a truth that is actually true is a stronger message at its core, but POPMart was/is SO much more applicable to what is going on in the world in ways that people might control.

My favorite part about the POPMart tour is that one of the most expensive items they sold was an inflatable lemon. Like an inflatable child's ball, but in the shape of a lemon. One of the most expensive items.

Commentary upon capitalism indeed.
posted by hippybear at 3:15 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]

Mothers of the Disappeared, Santiago, Popmart tour, 1998.

Pop may have been a commentary, but it also paced a turn a lot of huge 'rock stars' were making towards 'electronic music' at the time. Ray of Light for instance. Bridges to Babylon co-produced by the Dust Brothers.

Pop probably managed it the best out of all of them, at points it sounds pretty close to Gus Gus. Staring at the Sun/Discotheque (or Do You Feel Loved) and compare Gun or Polyesterday. "Mofo" sounds like it's trying to be NiN, less listenably.

"Gone" and "Last Night on Earth" could have been on Achtung Baby.

If "You Wear That Velvet Dress" is kind of a groove.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:53 AM on February 4

Oh, yeah, POP... That album is so amazing.

According to this podcast, the lads were listening to a lot of Massive Attack and The Chemical Brothers in the time building up to POP. Also, while they were in Berlin recording Achtung Baby, they were going to the Techno clubs there. Like, U2 were WAY into electronica/dance music. And I really have to cheer their attempt with this one album to pull it all together.

I think the way they've been splitting up the album for vinyl is very telling.

Side A is the opening trifecta of Discothèque/Do You Feel Loved/Mofo
Side B is Angels/Sun/Last Night, which makes for an interesting second chapter.
Side C is Gone/Miami/Playboy Mansion
Side D wraps up with Velvet Dress/Please/Dead Man

Anyway, for me the promise of this album was so gigantic, and the vision of the future felt so wide... it was breathtaking. Gone was the bothersome track for me until my brain finally let it in.

Unfortunately not a lot of people did let it in, and after this we get Safe U2. Which is fine, but has never completely blown my mind since.
posted by hippybear at 8:01 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]

Mothers of the Disappeared, Santiago yt , Popmart tour, 1998.

THAT is amazing and I hadn't seen that before! Check out the BA version with Edge on a... ukulele? with just Bono. (Vertigo 2006)
posted by Snowishberlin at 3:53 PM on February 6

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