Wednesday, November 24

I'd Follow You Anywhere, Edge

So, who saw U2 perform on Saturday Night Live last weekend?  I was up and flipping around channels at the time, and came upon them in the middle of their unexpected third performance of the evening.  I've since watched the complete performance of I Will Follow on the internet.  You can see it here, apparently
For those who don't know, U2 were on Saturday Night Live last weekend and performed the usual two songs.  Then, instead of a final awful sketch, the comedians said their good-nights to us and Bono ran over to the band and they played an "unscheduled" third song.  I quote the word because, obviously the cast, crew and producers knew it was scheduled. 

After seeing it, I gotta say, my respect for U2 continues to go up and up.  Are they the greatest rock and roll band ever?  For longevity and continued relevance, I think you gotta say they are.

Their performance of the song was not special, in and of itself. It was very good, yes. But if it was a great performance, it was so in its very ordinariness.  It is what I would expect from U2.  It was rock-steady and strong. It is what rock and roll should be like.  The performance wasn't special, but the event was.
What made it special, of course, was this was U2's response to the hubbub surrounding SNL's previous two weeks' entertainers.  The Ashlee Simpson lip-synch controversy two weeks ago, and  Eminem's rapping along with his vocal track episode last week.  This was U2 saying "look, here's how it's supposed to be done.  We'll play one of our oldest songs, one we've played countless times, one  we should be bored-shitless with, yet we're still ripping it as if it mattered".  But doing so in a totally unpretentious (to me) manner.

LIke them or not, U2 is a Real Band, and they keep reminding us exactly what a real band is supposed to do: sing and play and feel the music and have a great time doing it.  And in this world of pre-produced talent, that is becoming more and more a rare experience.


dylan said...

I went to see U2 in Montreal on their last tour. My friends had seen them earlier in Boston and wouldn't stop talking about what an amazing show they put on. I was a little bit reserved about the prospect having seen many other of my musical heroes perform. Then I saw them. They totally blew my mind and the entire crowd was in the palm of their hand. I have never seen a band that was so sure of itself, so professional, and still managed to connect with the audience on a really personal level.

frankie said...

I've never been a fan of their music, personally. But I imagine it would be an awesome concert.

dave s said...

yeah, i have to admit that i've always found u2 to be the most pompous band in the world, and this is something that, for me,is reflected in bono's droning voice. the band will come up with a great riff or hook and then, cutting right through the middle of it, is the slow-paced voice-from-on-high on mr. bono vox, instantly destorying it for me. i wanna hear a great song, not a speech when i pop in a cd. let's leave that to chumbawamba. lord knows i've tried to like u2, dating all the way back to the release of their first lp, "boy", but somewhere around the release of the incredibly over-rated and boring "joishua tree" i lost it. good-bye mr vox, where ever you are.

Rob said...

Dave, we can no longer be friends, then.
Actually, I fully understand the adversion to their (his) pomposity. But I don't have the same negative response to his voice that you do.
And I really liked Joshua Tree.

graham said...

They keep doing impressive things. They are undeniably talented. Most of my friends love them, but I'm with you Dave. For me personally, their music doesn't excite me.

dylan said...

I'm not sure I understand what you mean by the band or more specifically Bono being pompous. If either Dave or Rob could help explain that would help.
I think that Bono uses a little more variation in his singing than just being a droning voice from on high. A song like "One" might have a droning voice but "Desire", "Elevation", "Kite", and numerous others have a vocal style that would be very hard to characterize as droning. And droning style or not Johnny Cash covered "One" so it must be a great song.
I loved the Joshua Tree when it came out but I guess if you don't like U2 it's got to be over rated because it won the Grammy for best of album of the year and Rolling Stone put it as the 26th best album of all time.

Coda said...

Studing at college in Toronto in the 80's, I had a chance to see U2 at The Gardens. It was an experience that I will never forget. The energy was astounding and joy spilled out among the crowd. In many concert venues, violence breaks out but U2 sang 40 as their last piece. Not only did the audience sing with each member of the group,but as each exited and each instrument stopped, the crowd continued to sing as we all made our way calmly to Carlton St....even to the Subway. There was a spiritual connectedness that I felt with the masses that has never been duplicated since. U2 rocks, yes, but they also brought us all together that summer night for an amazing experience.

Rob said...

pom·pous - adj.
1. Characterized by excessive self-esteem or exaggerated dignity; pretentious.
2. Full of high-sounding phrases; bombastic: a pompous proclamation.
3. Chracterized by pomp or stately display; ceremonious: a pompous occasion.
I'll go with definition number one.
And, for the record, I don't consider his singing to be pompous. I find the man to be pompous often in the way he acts off-stage and often in the things he says. Also, I am perfectly comfortable to admit that it's more my problem than it is his.

dave s said...

in bono's case i find that his vocal style represents my perception of his personality a little too accurately, and i find bono's personality far too holier-than-thou. yeah, rock stars can influence their fans, but dabling in politics strikes me as ridiculous.
on a more musical level, i find that his style of singing destroys any energy that the rest of the band has created with their music. bono's voice is dreary, and, for me, it cuts right through any hook of a u2 song.
i have no doubt that u2 can inspire jim jones-style followship, i just don't want to be a part of it. and i'm not. fyi: watch out for the kool-aide.
i've also never placed much stock in what albums, books, and movies have won whichever awards. i don't think they count for much. the same goes for best of/wort of lists. just pick up an issue of entertinment weekly to see how many random lists ae generated.
i'm not trying to talk people out of being u2 fans, i'm just represnting an opposing view point. just take my comments for what they are okay?

dylan said...

I already looked up the definition you must be using the very handy firefox browser with it's search bar. That's what I did as well.
But what would excessive self-esteem be for someone in the most popular rock and roll group. And his off stage behaviour has never seemed too bad to me. African debt relief is the main thing he does outside of music that is in the public eye. Which started in 1984 when he spent 6 weeks with his wife in an ethiopian refugee camp. His commitment didn't end after Live Aid unlike most rockers he continues to work diligently to bring help to African people. Check out this link

dylan said...

I think Bono does more than dabble in politics. He works very hard as a lobbyist. And unless your willing to call everyone who spends time trying to make the third world a better place ridiculous you should rethink that statement. AID's activists and Anti-poverty activists are doing a very serious job and Bono happens to be a famous and vocal activist.
We simply disagree on his voice. I can live with that.
I am not a member of any U2 or bono led cult. I haven't even bought their new album yet and I never drink Kool-Aid.
I don't place much stock in awards or best/worst lists either. Not since "Do the Right Thing" was shut out of the Oscars.
I'm not trying to convince you to go out and buy all the U2 albums either. I just didn't understand what you meant by U2 and Bono are pompous. And since I genuinely did not know what you meant by your comments it makes it hard for me to just take them for what they are. What actions make you consider them pompous?

Mark said...

Great thread.
I do love the U2. Saw the Zoo TV tour and I know I'll never see an arena rock show like that again. Unreal.
They are one of the greatest for sure. And The Joshua Tree definately rocks.
I even appreciate Bono's save the world campaign. If it was cool for John Lennon to do it - why not Bono.
The thing that I'm not so sure of just this teaming up with Apple thing. Why does U2 want to sell iPods?
(haven't heard the new album)

Rob MacD said...

Actually, I used GuruNet, a little app that loads when I start my comp. Alt-click any word in any program and a GuruNet window opens up and gives me the definition plus tabs for other relevant info on the word.
I retract my statement that he is pompous. I will say that I used to think he was pompous, but his actions and consistency and commitment to his ideals over the years have worn down that belief. I will say, though, that he does have an air of pomposity about him.