Wednesday, March 29, 2017

My Musical Journey with U2

I have been meaning to write this post for sometime, and given March has been 'U2 month' (thirty years since The Joshua Tree, and twenty since Pop) it seemed like the perfect time to write about what the band means to me. 

I am fairly sure the first I heard of U2 was listening to Rattle and Hum in a friends car heading down to a church camp. The version of I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For really struck me.

In 1991 U2 released Achtung Baby for the first time and was totally blown away by both the music and lyrics. The taped copy I owned is now worn out from being played so much.

The first CD I bought with my own money was a recording of their Dublin concert during the ZooTV tour (28 August 1993). In hindsight I wish I went to the Sydney show. 

After the Passengers album I was more excited for new U2 music. Pop was the first album I really got into and was really excited when it was released. I joined the mailing list Wire and read what I could about the album and the tour. I remember tracking down singles for If God would Send His Angels. I loved the B-sides too - Slow Dancing (w Willie Nelson), Edge singing and playing Sunday Bloody Sunday on his own. Not to mention North & South of the River.

After Pop and Achtung Baby I explored U2's back catalogue. The Unforgettable Fire became another of my favourite U2 albums.

PopMart was the first time I saw the band live. It was just a special show. I'll have to post my thoughts about the concert too. The two lasting memories of that night were hearing the first notes of Bad and the performance of One.  Bad has always been one of my favourite songs so it was awesome to hear them play it live. The second moment was at the end of the concert when Bono dedicated One to Michael Hutchence, the band turned off the lights and the screen and played illuminate by an electrical storm. That moment highlighted to me what a special band they were. and how Bono was able to create extraordinary moments out of nothing.

How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb is the only album I queued up at midnight to buy. I was pretty excited for the album after hearing Vertigo  I sat in bed reading through the booklet and listening to the album through headphones.  For me, it would be one of the strongest albums in terms of the song-writing. I love Edge' solo in Miracle Drug, just magical.

During the Vertigo tour, I saw U2 overseas for the first time, watching shows in Miami and New York, before seeing them play in Sydney on my birthday.

Each of the three shows was memorable in different ways - Miami for Miracle Drug, Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses and 40, New York, for Original of the Species and Bad, Sydney for Kite

The band is the soundtrack to my life, with a song for every occasion. Songs of faith, doubt, love, political songs, and some fun romantic songs too, Wild Honey for example :). 

I have often see I Still Haven't Found as a theme song, I love the restlessness in it 

What I really love about the band is the timeless nature of their songs - their music is as relevant (or more relevant) than when they recorded it. So for me its hardly surprising the band is performing shows to celebrate 30 years since the release of The Joshua Tree. It is not a tour based from nostalgia, the album hasn't aged, and the themes are as relevant today as they were when the album was released in 1987.

Other songs, are reborn due to historical events - Please during 2001 and during the last tour Bullet the Blue Sky, Zooropa and Where the Streets Have No Name were used to speak about the refugee crisis, which worked perfectly. 

I can't think of another band who would have handled playing New York after 9/11 and Paris last December as well as U2. The class of U2 showed when they brought on The Eagles of Death Metal to play with them (and play one of their own songs) and the respect they showed to the victims. 

My favourite albums change, but at the moment, its Achtung Baby, Pop, and The Unforgettable Fire (with How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb  just missing out).  They are the albums I keep coming back to.  

The other great thing about U2 is being introduced to great new artists, that I may not otherwise have heard. Also through reading interviews and books I have also found new artists or films.

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