U2 Joshua Tree Tour 2019
· U2's Mumbai setlist, 15/12/19
· U2's Manila setlist and videos, 11/12/19
· U2's Seoul setlist and videos, 08/12/19
· U2's Tokyo #1 and #2 setlists and videos, 4/12/19 and 5/12/19
· U2's Singapore #2 setlist and videos, 01/12/19
· U2's Singapore #1 setlist and videos, 30/11/19
· U2's Perth setlist, 27/11/19
· U2's Sydney #2 setlist, 23/11/19
· U2's Sydney #1 setlist, 22/11/19
· U2's Adelaide setlist, 19/11/19
Posted on Friday, November 10 @ 13:48:37 UTC by Macphisto
(Los Angeles Times) -- DUBLIN, Ireland - Bono is behind the wheel of his black Mercedes sedan, taking a visitor on a mini-tour of the city as he heads downtown to meet the other members of U2 for dinner.
The rock quartet has spent much of the day in its rehearsal studio on the River Liffey preparing for some television appearances, and it's time to relax.
U2 isn't fond of performing on TV - they haven't done it in 15 years. But they are excited about their new album and are eager to take advantage of every promotional opportunity, especially after the disappointing sales of their last album, 1997's "Pop.''
Driving through the narrow, cobblestoned streets, Bono enters the central city - home to historic Trinity College, whose grounds Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett once roamed, and the restored buildings of Temple Bar, the city's new neighborhood for artists, filmmakers and designers.
These are heady times in Dublin, thanks to a financial boom over the last decade that has turned Ireland's once struggling economy into Europe's fastest-growing.
But Bono's not talking about Dublin's history or economy. He's speaking of the city's pugnacious character and how it helped shape the restless and competitive spirit that drove U2 to become the most celebrated rock band in the world - and how it is now spurring them to work hard to regain that position.
"There's something about this city that's been good for us - a sort of city-as-critic attitude that becomes part of you if you live here,'' he said, looking at his passenger and seemingly paying no attention to where the car is headed.
"In Los Angeles, people are very nice. You park your car and someone will say, 'Hi, I love your new album.' In Dublin City, it's more like, 'Oh, hi. Your new album is (expletive).' And they haven't even heard it yet. It's just part of the humor and the wit of the city.
"I don't think that Dublin attitude is any kind of masochism, but I do think it keeps you in the mood for an argument,'' he continued. "That's good training for what we do because being in a band is like being in a street gang. A band has to leave room for the rows and the arguments if it's going to be able to compete.''
Now Bono's inattention to the road has led him into a dead-end street. He has to back the car down the narrow lane to get back on the proper route to the restaurant.
During the last three years, many in the music world have been asking whether U2's career hasn't taken a wrong turn.
The group was at the absolute center of the pop world in 1987 with "The Joshua Tree'' - an inspiring series of songs about spiritual quest, including "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For'' and "Where the Streets Have No Name.'' It sold more than 18 million copies worldwide and won a Grammy for album of the year.
It was the kind of eloquent and towering work that linked U2 with the Beatles, the Who and the other great bands in rock.
Detractors, however, complained that U2's tales of moral courage and ethical behavior were holier-than-thou. Bono was branded "St. Bono'' and the band became the target of parodies.
Like many rock acts before it, U2 was stung by the backlash, and the band reinvented itself with 1991's "Achtung Baby,'' another brilliant album that set aside much of the group's glistening, guitar-driven sound for darker textures, and themes that set aside the unbridled idealism for an exploration of the tensions and contradictions in love and faith. On stage in the landmark "Zoo TV'' tour, Bono turned to role-playing, presenting this rock idealist nightly as a leather-clad, egomaniacal rock star.
But the band may have overdone the irony and reinvention when, after 1993's "Zooropa'' album, U2 returned with the "Pop'' album and its related PopMart tour.
The songs were still solid, but many fans were confused by the group's increasing reliance on electronic loops and samples that came out of a collaboration with such dance world figures as London's Howie B. And what was with dressing up like the Village People in a video for the single "Discotheque''?
U2's new album, titled "All That You Can't Leave Behind,'' should clarify things. As evidenced by "Beautiful Day,'' a track from the album that has been embraced by radio stations more than any U2 song in years, the music again is graced by the glorious textures of Edge's guitar, and Bono has dropped the masks.
The songs have a classic feel - from the pure exhilaration of "Walk On'' to the thoughtful, bittersweet commentary of "Peace on Earth.''
"We spent most of the '90s experimenting, and I think we finally realized on the PopMart tour that it was time for us to start stripping back again,'' said Bono, who recalls a telling moment during the PopMart U.S. tour.
"We got into Washington, D.C., before all our equipment arrived and rehearsed with just guitar, bass and drums - none of the loops or samples that we had been attaching to the songs. Howie B. came in during the middle of the rehearsal and he said, 'Wow, what a sound. What is this?' We told him it was us, it was what U2 sounds like. I think that's when we realized that it was time for us to get back to the essence of what we do.''
Rather than take a lengthy break after the PopMart tour, the band pretty much went straight into the studio in Dublin and began working on the new album.
One of the key steps in the reconnection with the classic U2 sound came the day Edge played the guitar riff that propels "Beautiful Day.''
Bono's first instinct was that it was "too U2,'' but Edge thought it felt right.
"It sounded fresh again,'' Edge said. "We had been exploring the fringe of what we could be and what rock 'n' roll was all about, and that was essential. I think the group would have died creatively if we hadn't moved into uncharted territory. But eventually we needed to return to the center. I don't know if we've made a great record or not, but it is our record. It's us standing there naked, if you will.''
Despite the wrong turn, Bono still beats the rest of the band to Cooke's Cafe, a favorite spot of the group for years. Eventually, Edge, Larry Mullen Jr. and Adam Clayton arrive.
It's not easy holding a rock band together for more than 20 years, but the members of U2 have handled the journey well. They haven't gone through the public feuds that have characterized many rock 'n' roll relationships, and they seem comfortable with each other offstage as well as on.
Even though they've been with each other much of the day, they greet each other warmly as they arrive at the restaurant.
The topic at dinner isn't the glory years, but the bump in the road during the "Pop'' project.
The problems started with a deadline crisis. The four had to deliver the album in time to start the PopMart stadium tour in the spring of 1998, and they simply ran out of time. They weren't satisfied with the arrangements.
Even worse, the recording process left them with insufficient time to master the intricacies of the various tape loops and other electronica devices employed in the live show.
"I think everything ended up in such a rush,'' Mullen said during dinner.
"We underestimated how long it would take to get ready for the show. We ended up in Las Vegas under-rehearsed. It was one of the most frightening experiences of my life. We had built a reputation as a great live band, and all of a sudden we were placed in a situation where we didn't know if we were able to deliver.''
Because the dates were so tightly scheduled, the band couldn't rework the arrangements until the end of the first leg of the tour, which grossed almost $80 million, second only to the Rolling Stones tour that year. Still, the show lacked the creative knockout punch of the band's earlier "Zoo TV'' stadium tour, and attendance in several cities was below expectations.
Bono doesn't feel the tour really hit its stride until the second leg, which included a series of South American shows.
"The low point for me on the tour was Los Angeles,'' he said. "Los Angeles has always been one of the best shows of the tour, but I didn't feel like we connected with the audience this time. I felt like we were just popcorn ... entertainment for the night. But if you take a look at the PopMart video, which was shot in Mexico City, you'll see the show the way it should have been on the whole tour.''
The early reviews of "All That You Can't Leave Behind'' have been glowing. Rolling Stone gave it four stars (out of five), calling it the group's third masterpiece (along with "The Joshua Tree'' and "Achtung Baby''). The album represents "the most uninterrupted collection of strong melodies that U2 have ever mounted,'' the magazine declares.
England's Q magazine suggests that the new album is "a synthesis of every previous U2, a mirror held up to who they have become rather than who they're pretending to be next.''
The group hasn't abandoned all traces of electronica. "Beautiful Day'' opens with some almost cheesy synth-pop touches before surrendering to Edge's guitar-driven celebration.
Jeff Pollack, a programming consultant for scores of radio stations and MTV, was enthusiastic about the album's chances as soon as he heard "Beautiful Day,'' and he remains confident the album is going to be a radio favorite for months, both at rock and pop formats.
"The album represents what everyone loves about this band ... strong melodies, great lyrics, songs with meaning,'' he said. "This is an album, like the Sting album, that will be with us for a long time. It'll be on the charts 52 weeks.''
By ROBERT HILBURN