U2: A Sort Of Homecoming
To my knowledge no one has broached the topic of U2 yet on this blog, and I'm a little hesitant to be the one to do it.
Here's the deal: To appreciate any art, music included, it's important to remember the time-context in which the piece was produced. Sgt. Pepper released in 2008 might be a pretty cool album, but the same album released in 1967 was landscape-changing. The Ramones' initial release would sound simple and over-done now, but in 1976 it was an oasis in a desert (or so I'm told -- I was only nine).
With that in mind, I think it's very difficult at this point in history to see U2, the band, the way they were in 1984 when we are so accustomed to seeing U2 the band, the ego, and the political/media machine as they are now.
I know all too well what they have become. I have watched them as their musical chops have diminished even as their egos and their popularity have, paradoxically, exploded. They are not a great band anymore, at least not in my opinion. They are really not even a good band any more. But, c'mon -- to talk about 1984 without talking about U2 would be ridiculous. They were definitely a great band back then.
I think you have to be at least my age, or close to it, to remember U2 before they had "greatest band in the world" status. They were never a punk band, as they laughably claim now, but they were incredibly unique, powerful, and at times even moving. I saw them on their Unforgettable Fire tour in San Francisco in 1985. They played on a small stage that was completely devoid of giant lemons and shopping carts. They all wore t-shirts and jeans. If I remember correctly the tickets were $9. And they played to the crowd more than any band I had ever seen.
So, close your eyes and see if you can block out all of the images (and sounds) of the last 10-20 years and hear the music of U2 when the music was good, and when the music was still what it was about.
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