Tuesday, March 03, 2009

today : I won't necessarily follow

Help! I can't seem to escape U2. Every time I switched on the TV in the past few days there they were, waffling on about their new record, or playing it. The BBC especially indulged them in the overkill. It appeared that they were on every show on every TV and radio channel, all day every day.

Now I don't hate U2 like some people. In fact I kind of like them. I saw them on the Joshua Tree and the Zoo TV tour, as well as a couple of times before they got stadium-y. They put on an excellent and impressive show and surely deserve to be as big as they are. In terms of musical adventure they are no
Radiohead but that's no crime. Yes, their brand of rock n roll is about as sexy as those textured fabricated tiles you get in corporate office ceilings but that doesn't bother me too much (although might help in the fact that I don't love them). I am not even exercised by their perceived piety and Bono's 'good works'. These seem to offend a lot of music purists and people who think that being rich automatically disbars anyone from having a genuine conscience. But on balance I think it's good that they dabble in social and political issues. They don't have to hold themselves up to accusations of hypocrisy.

The problem I have with U2 (and, to be honest, plenty of long lasting bands), is that I'm sick of their greatest hits. If I never heard 'One' again as long as I live then that would be a relief. The thing is, I could probably compile an album from their decades long output which would be brilliant. It would just not really contain any of the songs people wave lighters to at their gigs (or should that be mega-stadium events?).

The worst of these is 'Where the Streets Have No Name'. I hate that song so much. However, I do like
Redhill Mining Town. I hate Sunday Bloody Sunday, but think Party Girl is tremendous. I hate BAD but love Wire. I don't like One but am amenable to Miss Sarajevo. Are you getting the pattern here? With a couple of honourable exceptions (three actually namely The Unforgettable Fire, With or Without You and All I want is You) I can't stand U2 when they are at their most U2ish, but quite like them when they aren't being very U2ish at all, as in the examples below.

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