Entertainment behind the scenes
It’s a phrase often applied to the Glastonbury music festival, where the combination of some 180,000 people, rain and 900 acres of grassy fields in an English valley can produce an awful lot of the stuff.
At only my second Glastonbury after last year’s sun-baked edition, the rain and mud has come as a bit of a shock. Of course I’m careful who I complain to at the festival – veterans merely shrug their shoulders and say something like “nothing compared to …” and name a year when the conditions were particularly unpleasant.
Getting from one venue to the next is not easy at the best of times in Glastonbury, with crowds and a poor sense of direction often getting in my way. Now it takes at least twice as long as I trudge through sticky, squelchy mud and try to avoid the kind of messy belly flops I’ve seen performed – mostly accidentally – by fellow festival goers.
Keeping the tent from turning into a mud bath is another challenge, and taking notes in the rain a further frustration.
U2 played live for the world on Sunday night via YouTube.com, and as they were in Hollywood, Bono gave the band a movie star sheen when he introduced each member. He compared drummer Larry Mullen Jr. to James Dean, bassist Adam Clayton to Clark Gable, The Edge to Mr. Spock of “Star Trek” and himself to a mix of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito.
But if the setting was L.A. (Pasadena’s Rose Bowl to be exact), the show’s direction was aimed at a global audience. Before U2 performed “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” images flashed on the screen of green-glad protesters in Iran, some of them stained in blood. The crowd reacted with cheers of support for Iranian dissidents, just as they cheered on Bono’s rendition of “Walk On,” a tribute to Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, later on in the show.
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.
“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.)
would seek to cross an audacious new frontier, outer space. A live link-up to the International Space Station half way through an exhilarating first night of their 360 Tour in Barcelona Uwas not just a cheeky stunt, but also a bold statement harking back to a pre-YouTube era when the eyes of the world would be glued to the big acts on stage in huge arenas.
Of course, it was a savvy move to choose Barcelona to blast off their first tour in three years — Mediterranean crowds can usually be relied upon to go completely nuts and get things rocking. But most in the press pack on Tuesday night seemed to agree U2 had earned the adulation. Alongside the usual theatrics, the band went straight for fan appeal with early tracks like “City of Blinding Lights” and “The Unforgettable Fire” — a song they had not performed on tour for 20 years — and largely eschewed their dance tracks from the 1990s. The new album “No Line on the Horizon”, seems to have been put together with big stadiums in mind and went down well, but it was not until “Beautiful Day” that the crowd hit full throttle on an evening so hot it must have tempted The Edge to finally discard his trademark beanie hat. Bono got the 90,000 crowd jumping with passionately delivered classics like “Pride” and “Where the Streets have no Name” and by the time they had reached a pulsating rendition of “Vertigo” the press box, suspended from the roof, was shaking disturbingly. But above all it was the staging that threw the gauntlet down to rivals. The circular construction, ringed by a runway for Bono and The Edge to strut their stuff on, was a novel and effective way to connect with the crowd encircling them. Topped with a clever barrel-shaped video screen and dwarfed under the canopy of a towering ´claw´ — the seminal image of this tour — U2 have just raised the bar for those staging the biggest gigs. Will the Rolling Stones, Coldplay and others be able to respond?
Videogames like Rock Band and Guitar Hero may be one of the few bright lights in the flailing music industry, but real-life guitar heroes like Jimmy Page and Jack White are unimpressed.
“If you start with the first track on the first (self-titled Led Zeppelin) album, “Good Times Bad Times,” and you think of the drum part that John Bonham did there, how many drummers in the world can actually play that? Let alone Dad on a Christmas morning? There might be a lot of alcohol to be consumed over Christmas, he still ain’t gonna get it,” Led Zeppelin founder Page told journalists at a Beverly Hills news conference on Friday.
(Writing and reporting by Dean Goodman)
The band, making a whistle-stop visit to Los Angeles on Monday to promote its 12th release “No Line on the Horizon,” sat down for questions at a radio broadcast hosted by Scottish singer/actress Shirley Manson.
U2 played a few tracks from their new album, and an old favourite from an earlier record, to a small crowd at the BBC in London this afternoon. It was part of a hectic promotion schedule for the Dubliners as they publicise their 12th studio album “No Line on the Horizon” which comes out next week.
Bono announced a tour starting this summer, without giving much else away, and assured punters that there would be cheap seats available in these dire economic times. There would, however, still be expensive ones.
The band performed at a double bill with the Killers late on Wednesday/early on Thursday at a gig following the BRITs music awards in London. While the BRITs was, to put it politely, a somewhat staid affair, the concert was much more rock’n'roll. The Killers stormed through a 45-minute set and the rowdy crowd of 2,000 loved every note. One downer was the nearly hour-long wait for Coldplay, which sucked some of the goodwill out of the air.
Irish rockers U2 will play the single “Get On Your Boots” from their upcoming album live during the BRIT awards, the UK’s answer to the Grammys. It will be interesting to see whether the high-profile performance will help boost the TV audience of the annual event, which is being broadcast live on ITV on Wednesday, Feb. 18th.
Organisers are certainly not shy about talking up the show and the band. “Their addition to the line-up for this year’s show makes it possibly the best we have ever had,” says Ged Doherty, chairman of the BRITs. “This cements the BRITs as one of the biggest TV events in the world.”
from Anthony Boadle:
The Irish rocker's first opinion column for The New Times appeared on Sunday, and it wasn't about debt, poverty or Aids in Africa -- causes on which he has long been outspoken.
No, his initial incursion onto the op/ed pages is an ode to the Chairman of the Board.