Fan Fare

Entertainment behind the scenes

U2′s fans not “groovy” enough?

By Dean Goodman
September 29, 2009

As U2 enters the third week of its North American tour, smashing sales records along the way, the big elephant in the room is the disappointing sales of the band’s new album. “No Line on the Horizon” has sold about a million copies in the United States since its release in February, according to Nielsen SoundScan, becoming one of U2′s least-commercial efforts.

u2mullen“I walk out and sing (album track) ‘Breathe’ every night to a lot of people who don’t know it,” frontman Bono says in a Rolling Stone magazine cover story. (We have pictured drummer Larry Mullen at left, playing in Chicago on Sept. 24, since he and bassist Adam Clayton were omitted from the cover.)

“They’re great songs live, and I think it’s a great album,” Bono added. ”I think it will be seen as ‘Gosh, one of their more challenging albums.’”

None of the album’s three singles managed to click with fans, particularly the first single “Get On Your Boots,” which stalled at No. 37 on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart. With the exception of guitarist The Edge, the band now acknowledges it was the wrong choice, according to the article.

“Look, sometimes our audience isn’t as groovy as we’d like,” Bono said. (Rolling Stone said he was smiling as he said that.) “People are not sure about the club side of U2. They want ‘Vertigo,’” the big crowd-pleasing single from the band’s previous album “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.”

But the masses are still happy to see U2 on stage. The band’s most recent show, at Giants Stadium near New York City, pulled in just under 85,000 people, which Bono told the crowd smashed a 14-year-old record held by Pope John Paul II. U2 manager Paul McGuinness said in the story that the tour is on track to become the biggest of all time, supplanting the $558 million haul of the Rolling Stones’ 2005-2007 trek.

The next show on the itinerary takes place in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Dates for the North American leg are on tap through Oct. 28 in Vancouver.


U2 were at Giants Stadium on Sept. 24, not Soldier’s Field in Chicago.

Posted by Sherry L. | Report as abusive

The suggestion that a hipper audience would “get” “Get on Your Boots” is way off target. It would be more accurate to say that the audience was unimpressed with a song that not only got airplay but was performed during a week-long run on Letterman; certainly, if the album were all that, that would have driven sales higher. But “Get on Your Boots” is an extremely self-conscious announcement to all the world that this week, rather than save the world, Bono just wants to have fun. Oh and to to think that someone so (self-)important could allow himself to take a break from his oh so serious side!

Posted by Bob | Report as abusive

Despite U2′s claims, the new album was not as challenging as they’d care to admit. “Get On Your Boots” is awful except for the innovative and exciting “Let Me In The Sound” part, and reminds a lot of us of “Vertigo”, which I always hated. There are quite a few songs and many of The Edge’s tame guitar work that scream “self-conscious hit” and much of the themes that scream “I know ’80s U2 would have criticized America on this issue, but, since we need their public’s DATA money, let’s soft-pedal US atrocities and sympathize with the perspective of the US soldier and completely ignore that of the Iraqi, Afghani, and Palestinian, where we used to sympathize with the victims of US foreign policy and US armed support in songs like ‘Bullet the Blue Sky’ and oppose apartheid (which Israel has been practicing) in ‘Silver and Gold’. It’s all about telling Americans how morally superior they are now.”

U2 is also playing tons of hits, which annoyingly sends many in the audience into a cliche frenzy of “whoos”, raised arms and raised handheld cameras, and other such obnoxious, self-absorbed behavior that interferes with both seeing the performance and hearing it in all its subtleties. I did appreciate the other “No Line On the Horizon” songs and especially “Your Blue Room”, “The Unforgettable Fire” and “Ultraviolet” and not just because it was a rare opportunity during which the audience calmed down so I could hear, but because they were great songs that I hadn’t heard on several prior live DVDs. Thanks for those surprises, U2.

Posted by Muldfeld | Report as abusive

I am a long time fan who likes the new CD very much. I have listened to it repeatedly to learn the songs and while I like them, I think the problem with the songs for the general public are that they do not have memorable lyric. Bono purposely wrote in a different style, and in my opinion, the songs tell stories. There are alot of words in each song. Not easy songs to sing too. They have chosen not to sing every song off of the new CD during the concert in order to play the older “hits” to appease the casual fan in the stadium size venues. I have seen the show in Milan(II),Italy in July and then both shows in Chicago September 12 and 13. As a 25 year fan, I was thrilled with the shows. I think U2 has created visually stunning effects and with their powerful songs and Edge’s sonic architecture, the experience is truly memorable. For those people who don’t know U2 – The FANS are always first for them – the amount of money they epend on creating live shows that are always new and cutting edge is truly astonishing. They pay to create new technology and hire the most incredibly talented engineers and artists to create a show for the FANS to enjoy the live experience. All NEW technology for lighting, video screen and sound system. The huge stage was an engineering design just to hold the tons of weight that the sound system, lighting and video screen create. And, for all the worries about the carbon footprint the band will plant over 20,000 trees and Live Nation the promoter for the concert is promosing a “green tour.” I have no complaints as a long time fan. I am tremendously supportive of U2 and of all of their causes. I listen to all of their “politics.” It does not offend me to hear their opinon. The only complaint I have of the stadium size shows are the type of people that attend the concerts. In Milan I was in a seat, sitting around people who spoke English as well as other languages. They seemed to enjoy the show and stood up most of the time and sang the older songs. I had a great time and was impressed with the Italian audience, they were really having fun – especially in the GA section. In Chicago I stood the first night in the GA section 3 rows back fron the stage around people who seemed to be newer fans based on the songs they sang to. These people were taking alot of photos because they were next to the stage. It was annoying, I must admit. Photos were more important than engaging with the music. The second night I sat in the Club section with people who were sitting in their seats during the concert and actually told me not to stand and dance because I was interfering with their view. So I sat during a U2 concert, and this was the first time I have ever sat during 36 years of attending concerts. I am still in shock over that. It was very boring to sit and not be engaged with the music. No wonder some people didn’t like music. They just sit like stones. I agree with Bono they aren’t “groovy.” I go to concerts to have fun. I am not so sure people go to have fun. Maybe these type of people are normally too critical and are constantly looking for something to whine and complain about. I say three cheers to U2, and I appreciate all the hard work and effort that went into building and staging this great concert tour. From a long time fan I say keep up the great music and THANK YOU for playing YOUR BLUE ROOM in Chicago, a song from 1995. So beautiful. I will attend two more concerts – and hope they play it in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Posted by pearls | Report as abusive

i have listened to u2 since the early 80s. i love them so deeply and for so long, they are a huge part of my life. i think the new record is one of their best yet. i “got” pop and i think they should tour once as the passengers with the explicit message that they will only be playing the obscure stuff, so that fans who have not been with them since the beginning should stay home. when, oh when will we hear “acrobat” live? the new record is up there with one of their best. i was dreading it when rolling stone gave it five stars — a sure sign of a dud. but it’s brilliant, sublime even. it takes about a dozen listens to get into, there are so many layers. i like bono writing from different points of views, and i like how this is their most overt christian record in forever. breathe was the song i HATED the first time i heard it. but now it was my favorite song for the longest time. right now my favorite song is “unknown caller”. i even have finally gotten into standup comedy and boots. it is a very rich reward if you dig deeper and study the lyrics, and let things sink in. it is their most lyrically complicated record yet. musically it’s not the huge risk we were led to believe, although you can hear the simmerings of radical departures buried in the mix. this may sound odd, but since i am a christian, i would recommend to other christians a site called u2sermons. it has totally helped me get deeper into their music. it’s literally like a bible study. and it leaves no doubt that bono knows who he is — most famous rock star in the world. and he knows that much has been asked of him and therefore he is on his missions. he does all the things he does because he knows of his ego and his stature, and when he stands in front of his lord (reading u2sermons leaves no doubt he will stand in front of yaweh with me and the rest of us christians), that bono will say look at the talent and exposure and yes, even ego you gave me lord, and here is what i did with it. i married my childhood sweetheart — he never divorce ali. that in itself is a majoraccomplishment for a famous rock star. in addition he may be full of himself, but he is honest enough to know he is full of himself. and he uses that persona to gain access to people who would never give him time of day, to push through boundaries, to build bridges, and to use thouse alliances built to fight poverty and hiv and malaria and problems in africa. africa, mother africa, where we came from. and now it is a warzone, and bono once said. “if the cure for aids were as easy as one single drink of clean water then africa is basically a lost cause. but he never stopped or gave up. he got lots of republicans and democrates and rich senators in the us, and power brokers around the world, to get on board and try to reduce or eliminate debt in africa. so that the interest rates crippling these poor countries could be spent on building infrastructure and livestock and planting crops. bono believes that the most poor destitute child dying of aids sleeping in agony in the bush with no shelter, no clothes, sleeping nude and dying a horrible death… bono believes jus as christ believes, that soul is infinitely, far beyond infinitely more important than every THING in the world. that dying starving child is infinitely more important than anything in the world that is not a human. and every human is worth more than all the wealth and art and jewels and power and governements combined. i am worht more than anything. i sleeping in a dumpster am still worth more than the combined net worth of the thousand wealthiest persons in the world. bono understands this. sure there was the tax issue. but have you considered, that bono doesn’t want to pay taxes because he wants to give that money he would have been given to a corrupt government (sorry, was that redundant?) every government, democratic, anarchic, islamic, christian, communist, socialist, facist, they are all corrupt to the core. bono plays with the devil when he gets them to cancel debt to countries who can’t pay it anyway.

bono knows his limits. he knows he’s just a guy. but he is just a guy who has changed the world. bono can honestly tell god that because of him, millions, MILLIONS of people did not die in africa because of malaria, tuberculosis, and most importantly AIDS. he can say that whether or not god’s children followed him, they at least had a chance, they had a life.

bono is totally full of himself. i’ve known that almost 30 years ago. but i would love to have him on my side. i don’t understand how he can not break down and check out and hide from the world forever. i couldnt’ handle the pressure. plus, god gave him three very strong men. larry, who keeps things grounded, adam, who also keeps things grounded. larry is their not so hidden weapon. larry is papa in the band. larry can nix an idea. adam is the groove of the band. this new record is “the larry record” he has totally come into his own as a bassist. and he seems to have discovered that the bass has more than 2 strings (grin). the edge, well, he is the edge, ephemeral, not from this planet. lock him on an island with nothing but every guitar and guitar effect and gadget ever made and come back in 50 years and he will still be whaling away and making freaky sounds. he is the ephemeral tie between the bricks and mortar of larry and adam, and the little boy named bono whose head is forever stuck in the future and the clouds and outerspace, wishing he could go there. and edge, well edge isn’t encumbered by wishing, he just goes to outerspace and to dreamland and to places that don’t exist in our visible realm. he was created to play guitar. he was created to be foil to bono.

god is behind this band.

they know it.

bono knows it most.

so they walk the line between rock star stadium act, and human rights activists. in a way, they do waht mother theresa and so many other saints did before them.

they are saints.

bono and gang have literally kept me alive. the new album, i said i hated breathe. but the truth is, i don’t merely like it. breathe kept me from committing suicide. i tried to reconcile my homosexuality with my christianity. neither are going away so they have to live with each other. i don’t act gay or participate in anything that would make you think i were gay. but i am gay no matter how celibate i am. if i married a woman and h ad children and got a minivan and lived in the burbs and joined a proper “family values” church and bought into all that, and never had sex with a man, never even thought of sex with a man, i’m still gay.

breathe kept me from killling myself. “i found grace inside a sound (i also found grace in my beloved Bible) and i found grace, that’s all i found. now i can breathe. i can breathe now.” that’s the only thing i got, was grace. no answers, no solutions. only grace. and that’s the only thing that matters. and now i can exhale, i can breathe.

and now, unknown caller, there are the verses, but the chorus, a very uncharacteristic chorus, is basically from the point of view of god. and now i’m getting into that. i read my bible, but nothing helps more than me being able to sing the chorus “shush, hear me cease to speak so i may speak… restart and reboot yourself… you are free… you know your name so punch it in… the password is YOU… hear me, cease to speak so that i may speak, shush now, then don’t move or say a thing”

in other words, be still and know that i am god.

and so u2 once again helped me find my way back to god.

bono, larry, adam, edge, so many times you have kept me holding on when there was nothing left to hold on to, you have helped me to still wait, you have helped me to not kill myself, to not hang myself. and it hurts, it is not easy. but god has some purpose or i’d already be dead.

i have a passion to go to GLBT and tell them that there is a difference between “christians” and “those who follow christ” and to ignore christians and McVangelists and billionaire senators who just want you dead. christ wants you alive, not just alive, but to be full of joy peace and love, right here, right now, nomatter what your circumstances, and jesus said the kingdom of heaven doesn’t start at the resurrection. the kingdom of heaven is upon us, it is in the world. it has been in the world for 2000 years. the kingdom of heaven is here, now. and you can be a part of it. and so can i.

and god and jesus do not want perfection from us. they want progress. they want us to try. they want us to take our hurts, and go and make sure that someone else doesn’t hurt the way we hurt. when you go seek the face of god, you won’t find him at the televangelist’s, you wont’ find him at the posturing senator’s, you wont’ find him with the family values cult. you will find the face of christ in the prisons, the mental hospitals, the food pantries, the soup kitchens, and the retirement homes full of abandoned, lonely, sick, hurting people. that is where you find the face of christ.

and you will continue to hurt. but whatever hurts you, take that hurt, and go and make sure someone else doesn’t have to feel that same hurt. go forth in love, do not go forth as a victim of the law, which cannot save. go forth the spreader of love, which can save. cover over their sins, be more christlike. dare i say it, go and forgive them in the name of christ. do you k now how much power in your voice you have? do you know that the only thing that might keep someone from believeing in god’s forgiveness could be you going to them and saying, god forgives you, you are forgiven in the name of god and jesus and the holy spirit. you are valuable, you are more valueable than the most precious jewels. a flawless diamond is filth, dung, compared to your soul, according to god. you be the diamond, you be the flawless riches that god so desires.

thank you bono and gang for getting me through another year.

p.s. would you please get around to playing acrobat before i die? thjank you my beloved four irishmen.

Posted by bambam | Report as abusive

I have been a U2 fan since 1985.
Not everybody is going to like everything.
Technology has made us all critics with voices.
That is fine as I use mine in my blog.
BUT – if the band are happy with their material, then that is what matters to them.
If we like it – great – if not, so be it.
They have always made music to try and get to that song they hear in their heads.
At least they keep trying – no greatest hits tour yet.
Now, personally, I thought NLOTH was right up there with Achtung Baby.
Just my opinion, agree or not.
It’s your choice and always will be.


Thank you bambam for your thoughtful and revealing words. Well, they didn’t play Acrobat – but at least they made Ultraviolet into the most exhilarating concert experience I’ve ever had, and that song wasn’t even on my radar before this tour.

For my part, I was amazed at the number of people around me at four concerts who were singing along to every word of the new songs. We may be more groovy than they think.

Posted by K2 | Report as abusive

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