Review: U2 at the San Diego Sports Arena, March 28, 2005*

March 29, 2005


By Devlin Smith, Contributing Editor
2005.03

When during the band’s encore set, Bono said that the Vertigo Tour was made from "the best bits from the last tour and some stuff no one could imagine before," I got a little nervous. Certainly the tour opener at the San Diego Sports Arena blew me away, but there definitely were certain aspects of the show that seemed familiar. Was this tour already shaping up to be U2′s swan song?

The stage, which I got my first glimpse of during Kings of Leon’s lackluster performance, was small, much smaller than what I remembered from the Elevation Tour, but still carried through the basic idea of the heart stage (except this time it’s an ellipse, or egg, that fans gather inside of). The four screens that showed each band member during Elevation shows were back as well, only this time it was one long screen that could show either a single image or be broken in to fours to focus on Bono, Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen, Jr. The lighting effects were taken from the PopMart and ZooTV stages.

With all this looking back in the stage design, and a set list that featured nearly as many songs pre-"Acthung Baby" as post (there was even a "Boy" reference thrown into "Vertigo"), was U2 trying to put a bow on its impressive career and call it a day?

That would be an easy call to make for someone who only saw pictures of the stage and caught the set list in the paper or online, but for someone who was in the audience, Monday’s show proved that U2 truly is at the top of its game. The band sounded amazing from start to finish, its music both sonically tight and fluid. And even though Bono said at the end of the main set, "You can screw up a little. We’re amongst friends, right?" I couldn’t name a single blunder.


(Photo courtesy of Devlin Smith)

Each band member has come to perfectly fill their role on stage. Bono is the manic frontman, the one who interacts most with the crowd. During "An Cat Dubh," he stroked an imaginary cat and then growled and scratched like a puma. He strutted around the ellipse, sometimes lying down next to the GA crowd during moments when the musical focus was on someone else. He even took a turn at the drums during "Love and Peace or Else."

Before "The Fly," Bono called out, "He’s back," then launched into a version of the song with lyrics that seemed to be mostly made up on the spot. His banter was surprisingly to a minimum, but when he did speak, Bono was electric. The first three songs of the encore ("Pride," "Where the Streets Have No Name" and "One") were dedicated to Bono’s causes in Africa and he urged everyone in the audience to join up in The One Campaign, making sure Martin Luther King’s dream of equality spread to people on every continent. "The dream of equality moves on," he said.

While finding the time to place his incredible spotlight on important causes, Bono also had time to poke fun at himself. Perhaps taking Bruce Springsteen’s high praise at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony as mandate to revel in his messiah complex, Bono said during "One," "Did you come here to play Jesus, because I did," and introduced himself to the audience during the night’s closer "40" as "Little Lord Jesus."

With Bono finding the seriousness and humor in his mission here on Earth, Edge has finally come to grips with being a rock star. His performance Monday was phenomenal. Edge was confident and comfortable, taking much of the spotlight for himself as he shared vocal duties on "Miracle Drug," sang "La, la, la, la, de, day" on "Running to Stand Still" and sported a Madonna-style head mic to provide backing vocals on "Zoo Station."

Whether debuting the new "thingy" that helps his standard guitar sound like a slide guitar on opener "City of Blinding Lights" or stepping behind the keyboard for "Running," "Miracle Drug" and "New Year’s Day," Edge seems to have finally overcome any hesitancy he felt before about being one with his instrument. Everything he did was fluid and extraordinary, his guitars truly acting as an extension of himself. His solo for "Bullet the Blue Sky" took on a new darkness and intensity, and his thick, electric playing on "One" added a new dimension to the song without diminishing its power.

Larry was also broadening his stage persona, supplying backing vocals for "Love and Peace or Else" and "Elevation," and picking out notes on a synthesizer for "Yahweh."

Adam, though, was still Adam, acting, as Springsteen said to the Waldorf-Astoria crowd, as the musical and physical center of the band. He and Edge did mix it up, readopting an early-’80s tradition of swapping instruments for "40."

Though the design of the Vertigo Tour may seem like a typical greatest hits package, an aging band looking to its past highlights to reinvigorate it today, the band wasn’t on board for that particular ride. U2 came to rock the house, to blow our minds, to remind all of us why we’ve followed them this far and taken the group’s words to heart. These four men succeeded and exceeded these goals and showed that when it comes to this band, forward is the best place to look.

Fan Experience: Traveling to Dublin with ‘MTV Fanatic’*

March 28, 2005


By Tania Almeida
2005.03

This past January, Interference.com member Tania Almeida (better known as my_kite on the forum) won MTV Portugal’s U2 Fanatic competition, earning the opportunity to travel to Dublin with an MTV crew and visit many U2 sites.

Below are Tania’s blog entries and photos from her trip.

Jan. 11, 2005
OK…this starts to sound weird, my U2 fortune…but in fact, it seems like I can’t get enough of it!

A few weeks ago, MTV started a competition on the artist of the month: U2, of course. The winner would get the chance to follow the MTV crew in a trip to Dublin to see all the U2 related places. To enter the competition people had to send a line with the words U2, MTV and Vodaphone. I gave it a shot. But…feeling completely out of luck, I even deleted my line from my computer, and never thought of it anymore.

Completely surprised, yesterday I received a phone call from MTV, telling me I was in the semifinals. All I had to do was to tell them my adress and send a picture…and wait for results! I did it in a second, but no answer arrived. But…today….guess what? Early in the morning, my telephone rings: "Tania? Hi….Susana from MTV. Congratulations, you won the contest. Can you fly with us to Dublin tomorrow?" Obviously, I was in shock. How could I say no?

So…this is what’s gonna happen on the next few days. I am leaving Portugal tomorrow morning (10 a.m. I meet the MTV crew at the airport) and I’ll fly back home on Sunday! In the mean time…I’ll keep my fingers crossed for Bono to show up in one of those streets I’m gonna walk around!!

"Vertigo" came out…and I just realized why. I have been dizzy all the time!!

Jan. 12, 2005
This is just the beginning of an unbelievable tale. After I was surprised by an MTV Portugal phone call yesterday, telling me that I had won the MTV Fanatic contest, U2-related, today I find myself in Ireland, Dublin city, to be more precise. I arrived here four hours ago but inside of me there’s an extra special feeling.

Just a little flashback: in the morning, I met the MTV crew at the Lisbon airport (it seems like the airport is meant to be part of my life, having in mind that last April I met U2 there as well!) by 10 a.m. After a brief conversation and the check in done, we flew to Barcelona. Two hours in Barcelona were more then enough to have lunch and shoot some scenes to the program. Inside the plane again, this time it’s for real: Dublin city…here I go!

After a two hours flight, the vision could almost rip my heart. When you start seeing the plenty of lights covering the city and they look each second closer. The little blue lights in the landing track…AMAZING. Arrived in Dublin around 6 p.m. The feeling of visiting the world’s greatest rock band homeland is just hard to understand or explain. It’s the best thing in the world. The first thing that I am aware of is the airport…totally Irish. The walls, the paintings, the floor…so different from my Portugal. After we crossed the airport, we went outside and had a deep breathe of the Irish air…and it was damn cold! 5 degrees Celsius. A good jacket, and a pair of gloves and we head to the Gresham Hotel, at the O’Connell Street, right in the center of Dublin. After we got outside the bus…I start realizing the whole feeling…the Irish accent is so nice to hear. The streets…at least here they have a name!


(Photo: Tania Almeida)

We left our belongings at the hotel and went out to have dinner. A pint of Guinness and a traditional Irish stew show us that eating is definitely not a problem in Ireland…the food is delicious. We talked briefly about the places we should visit the next day and went back to the hotel room. Some more shooting…and we couldn’t help ourselves, so we just decided to make an acoustic U2 set…right in the hotel room!

After such a long day, I better get myself in bed. Tomorrow it’s gonna be a big big day!

Jan. 13, 2005
Today, I am almost on my knees. Really tired. I walked more today then the last 30 days. But my soul is feeling really good!

To start the day on the right way: BONAVOX! The place that inspired the name of U2′s lead vocal, known as Bono Vox. A place that existed already 30 years ago, but that went trough a few changes. But it’s always cool to think that somewhere in the ’70s, when Bono and the rest of the guys like Gavin Friday and Guggi used to cross that place, everything was not much more then a teen dream.


(Photo: Tania Almeida)

We proceeded on our journey. After we played "Walk On" in the streets, and got on our knees trying to look like Bono on the "Vertigo" video, we headed to the Rhythm Records. UNBELIEVABLE (be sure you’ll save enough before you go there…cus you’ll find some really interesting pieces of collection!). A few objects are even signed by the band. From the cheap postcard, to the 3,000 Euro signed guitar, you’ll find things that can delight every kind of taste…and wallet! We met Peter Murray, owner of the store, who very kindly talked about the band and told us how he owns such a collection. He called me, and offered me a poster of the band, from the early days. The cool thing was that the picture was taken two minutes away from the store (right in front of the Ha’Penny Bridge) and we just headed there to see the place with our own eyes!

Walked a little more, and we found The Clarence Hotel (and I wasn’t even aware I was going to have one of the most amazing moments of my life!). I was taking some pictures of the hotel, from the outside, when a car stopped right in front of us (between us and the hotel.) He looked at us, and screamed: "U2?" And I said: "YEAH!" He just made that victory sign and I understood…it was another member of our worldwide U2 family! We got inside The Clarence. Anna Wood, marketing and sales director of The Clarence, was waiting for us. We got inside the elevator. Went to the fifth floor. Suite 508. When I understood what was really happening, I almost fainted. Do you remember when U2 sang at the top of The Clarence Hotel, "Elevation" and "Beautiful Day," for the "Top of the Pops," in 2000, before the Elevation Tour? That was exactly the place where I was. I was almost swallowed by this deep feeling of craziness and satisfaction, with a cold inside my belly. I couldn’t really believe it! I looked down, to the street…and I could almost see those streets full of fans…on the sidewalks…and the bridges…and the roofs… fans and more fans. It was like traveling back in time. Obviously we had to play and sing "Elevation." What a feeling it was. No doubt…it was the high point of the day!


(Photo: Tania Almeida)

Anna briefly told us the story of the hotel and guided us trough the many rooms. Clarence has a very simple style…but very comfortable and warm. All the paintings belong to Guggi, Bono’s childhood friend. We got inside the Study Room that has a very nice bonfire. The Octagon Bar made the band fall in love with the place, and they bought it as fast as they could. I still had time to hear the barman tell what Bono asks for when he goes there: Q Royal and champagne. The "sir" has a very good taste, I can tell! Another room, where U2 had their Christmas party last month. And last, but definitely not least, the Tea Room, where the band seems to have meals many times and have a reserved table in one of the room’s corners! I have to mention the amazing staff of the hotel…very nice people!


(Photo: Tania Almeida)

Proceeding on this adventure…studios! First, Hanover Quay! The mystic wall filled with fans messages. I saw a girl alone and I said she was a fan. No one believed me…so I went there and talked to her. And I was right! She was from Germany and she was decided to try her luck. I still don’t know if she was lucky or not. I feel sad that this whole place is going to be demolished, because of the projects concerning Docklands (that’s going to look like the Portuguese EXPO). I am glad enough that I had the chance to still see the place with my own eyes, even though people from the studio denied us the chance to get inside the studios. Another five minutes walking and we got to Ringsend Road. The second place where Windmill Lane studios took place. Nothing was scheduled to get inside, but we were lucky enough to be invited to get in. The first thing that occurred to me was that the amazing "Joshua Tree" album was recorded inside this very walls! Right in the door hall….many U2 objects where hanging on the walls. Platinum regarding "Under a Blood Red Sky," "War," "The Unforgettable Fire," "The Joshua Tree," "Pop," "Achtung Baby," "All That You Can’t Leave Behind" and something concerning the "Where the Streets Have no Name" video shoot in 1988. It was hard to believe when one of the studios member asked us if we were willing to see upstairs. We just thanked and got up. AMAZING! The studio room…the recording room. I did fall in love with that studio!!! Hard to explain how I felt. But it was an incredible feeling! The place. The quiet inside. The sound board. Simply amazing. I mention once again the amazing way they treated us (it’s the Irish visit card: nice and funny as you can only imagine)


(Photo: Tania Almeida)

To finish the day on the right way…we went to the first Windmill Lane studios. They aren’t studios anymore, but those walls are still the ones behind whom "Sunday Bloody Sunday," "I Will Follow" and "New Year’s Day" were recorded by Steve Lillywhite! The graffiti on the walls just make those walls eternal and fantastic.


(Photo: Tania Almeida)

Back to the hotel we just passed the Dockers. Too sad this place is closed now. Fans usually werite their messages on the walls near the pub…and many of them are requests for the place to open again. I think they should seriously think about it! It would be the perfect spot for fan meeting! There are messages from all over the world. Australia, Italy..and yes…Portugal. We just "Walk(ed) On" and finally reached our rooms! My body is tired…but my soul is full! Just a little sneak on an Irish pub for a few pints before going to sleep. How can I help it? I am in their land!

Jan. 14, 2005
Today it was a really calm day. Much more than yesterday. Yesterday the weather was unlikely for the Irish skies, with sun and blue skies. But today, here we are…with the official Irish weather; cold, grey skies and almost raining.

Today we went to the heart of Ireland; Athlone. Ninety kilometers away from Dublin, two hours by bus. Here you can find the Moydrum Castle, immortalized on the cover of the fourth U2 album, "The Unforgettable Fire."

The castle isn’t much more then ruins, but still amazing to see. The silence, the green fields, the flying birds and the mystic place create a wonderful environment. All that occurs to me is that 20 years ago U2 were in this very same place, right around a time they were only taking the first steps of un unbelievable journey that they could only dream of. The taxi driver that drove us to Moydrum was a very cool person (even though he confessed he didn’t liked U2)., The typical Irish guy, that know all about history, English and Irish. And very funny.


(Photo: Tania Almeida)

We had lunch before we returned to Dublin: Supermac’s. The real Irish fast food. Back to the hotel. Spent less then 15 minutes at my room and we went to have dinner. Right after (and because Anna Wood had invited us on the previous day) we went to The Octagon Bar. Amazing place…nice and warm. I only became disappointed when I was told I just had missed Bono, who had passed around there 45 minutes before me…to have dinner with Ali some place near there. Damn….definitely … "sometimes we’re sleepin’ away!"

Jan. 15, 2005
Another cold grey day. At least, it’s not raining. After ridding the Dublin streets for some time, we got inside a bus and moved to the place where all begun: Mount Temple High School! This is where Larry posted a note on the bulletin board requesting for musicians to start a rock band. The school is so pretty. The design, the place…looks more like a palace! No wonder that the best band in the world came from there. We decided to walk till Rosemount Avenue, where Larry Mullen Jr. used to live, where the band had their first encounter and where they usually met. From Mount Temple we walked like three kilometers. A long way, but very nice to do. A lot of green fields in a very peaceful place. I kind of felt like I was walking on their shoes!! Always imagining what may have happened in those very same streets many years ago. These are the streets where Bono and Ali used to date …maybe where some of our loved lyrics where written or just idealized.


(Photo: Tania Almeida)

Our journey was interrupted when something caught my attention: a store named Artane Auto Centre. And a bus stop saying Artane Roundabout! This is it. This is the place where Larry grew up and became a member of the Artane Boys Band. Not far from there…there it is. Rosemount Avenue…N’ 60! Breathe taking….really! The thought of seeing the band walking inside that kitchen in 1976, to answer to the requested posted at Mount Temple!!! Chicken skin…definitely! And 30 years later…here I am!

Back to Dublin. Some shopping on Rhythm Records, passing on Dublin’s Hard Rock Café (where you can obviously find a lot of U2 stuff hanging on the walls) and we went to the train station. Thirty minutes later, we were in Killiney…the place where Bono lives!

What a wonderful place. It’s like an Irish Beverly Hills. Mansions and good cars. As soon as we got outside the train, we smelled and heard the ocean. We walked five minutes trough a dark road…but we found it…not more, not less, then the place owned by Mr. Bono Vox and family. The house is huge and wonderful. After a few minutes there, a car stopped. The automatic gates opened letting me see a garden, the front part of the house and dogs. A few more minutes later, a car comes close…I can’t believe it! Damn..it’s a Maserati. I look inside, but it isn’t Bono. It was one of the security guards. He got inside and the gates closed. Ten minutes later, Jordan arrives with another girl. They also got inside. All of a sudden, one of the MTV’s crew elements decided to talk to the security guy. He understood what was happening and was kind enough. He said he was sending inside a message of our presence, and requesting for Bono’s presence outside, but that he could not promise us anything, cus it wasn’t really up to him. Fifteen minuts later, we understood that there wouldn’t be any feedback. So, we decided to leave. As soon as we started moving away…the gates opened! For a few seconds…hope rang out loud inside of me…I thought it was Bono coming out just to say Hi! How wrong I was. It was just the security guy…saying he was sorry for us, but he had no answer from the inside. We thanked him anyway…and moved away!

We headed back to town. Dinner and a little walk trough the Dublin streets. And talking about streets, we could never forget about Grafton Street. And when we talk about Grafton Street, there’s only one thing that comes to us: Lillie’s Bordello!! That’s the private club where Bono goes so often and where he takes his "superstar" friends! I understood it’s hard to get inside…otherwise there wouldn’t be five security guards on the front door. Everyone that got inside was really good looking. I didn’t even tried to get inside. We had a pint in a pub close to Lillie’s…just to say goodbye to the Irish pints! It’s late and tomorrow we have to go back home. So, this is official. The tale is over now!

Jan. 16, 2005
Today is the worst day of the whole story. It’s time to leave Ireland and go back to real life. I pack my stuff and we go straight to the airport. This city is much more then I thought. I haven’t left yet, and I already miss this place. The only problem is that each time you are walking in those streets, you look out for every single black Mercury looking for Bono…or trying to find any other band member. And you never know if you may crash with one of them on the next corner. From what I heard in town, everybody says that, especially Bono likes to walk around like a regular person. He goes everywhere each time he wants to. Everyone respects his privacy and gives him room. Obviously, there may be fans requesting an autograph or a kiss from time to time…but Bono likes it! After all…those little things are the ones that keep him aware of how much we love him! I look one last time to the city image, vanishing on the horizon. I know I am leaving…for now…! But you know what? "I know that this is not goodbye!"

Jan. 22, 2005
OK..I just saw the MTV “Fanatic” on MTV. I lost myself in tears. Twenty-two minutes from the best five days of my life…but I felt all the chills I had there!

Thank you MTV..thank you Vodaphone…but definitely, most of all…THANK YOU U2: Bono, Edge, Larry and Adam…for making my life so much worth living. For making each second I spend with U2Portugal be so damn satisfiing. Each smile in a fan’s face…each meeting…each party. You guys inspire and deserve this and much more! Watch out…’cuz U2 fans in Portugal are really on fire and ready to rock!! C’MON DOWN!

A Look at Keane*

March 28, 2005


By Gerrard Hartland
2005.03

Formed in 1997 in East Sussex, England, the trio Keane is comprised of Tom Chaplin (vocals), Richard Hughes (drums) and Tim Rice-Oxley (piano/keyboard). Fashioning its own sound built on the piano rather than driven by guitars, Keane has developed from promising indie-outlet to full-blown superstars.

Self-releasing debut single "Call Me What You Like" back in 2000, Keane’s emotive, heartfelt tunes drew in a similar audience that had propelled Coldplay to the top of the charts both sides of the Atlantic with debut album "Parachutes." As Coldplay returned to universal acclaim with second album "A Rush of Blood to the Head" in 2002 and rocketed straight to the top of the leagues in terms of global stardom Keane signed to Fierce Panda, the same indie label Coldplay had signed to earlier in its career, and released the stirring track "Everybody’s Changing." The release was an indisputable success making playlists all across the UK radio scene and giving Keane its first taste of widespread recognition.

In 2003 the band signed to Island Records, the same company U2, a band Rice-Oxley often cites as a major influence, signed to over 25 years ago. Slowly but surely Keane was generating a great deal of interest from the music press and found itself the hottest band to look out for in 2004, according to the BBC. Following their signatures on the dotted line, the band members headed into the studio to record debut album "Hopes and Fears," which was released on May 25, 2004, preceded by the opening track "Somewhere Only We Know," a song that peaked at No. 3 on the UK charts.

The album went straight to No. 1 with general music lovers and alternative fans finding solace in the "Hope and Fears’" epic sounds, soaring choruses and Chaplin’s heartfelt lyrics. Follow-up singles have included a re-released "Everybody’s Changing," "Bedshaped" and "This is the Last Time," all of which breached the top 10 UK singles chart. Critics were also quick to jump on the bandwagon praising the bands mature epic-sounding poignancy.

By the end of 2004, Keane’s debut album had only been outsold in the United Kingdom by fellow debutants the Scissor Sisters and its self-titled release. Both bands won at this year’s Brit Awards, with Keane picking up both best album and best breakthrough act whilst also finding themselves one of the nominees for the coveted Mercury Music award (Franz Ferdinand was the victor that night).

Continuing into this year, "Hopes and Fears" has now gone gold in the United States and the band has agreed to support U2 on its worldwide jaunt opening up a whole new audience to its music.

At a November show at the Birmingham Academy in Birmingham, England, Keane showed it is the perfect pick-me-up, led by the soaring vocals of lead singer Chaplin. Accompanied by a vivid light display, Keane’s performance was polished beyond extent.

Flowing through a set taken from debut album "Hopes and Fears," Keane has a fluidity to its sound as one song seamlessly blends into the next. But this is where Keane’s Achilles heel lies. Songs "Everybody’s Changing" and "Somewhere Only We Know" may have their own sound but Keane’s lack of guitar power seems to leave the fans with little to jump about to.

True, Keane perhaps isn’t looking to be an all-out rock ‘n’ roll band but a band who cites U2 as one of its major influences must realise keeping the fans entertained is a key element to the show.

Fans Discuss U2′s Must Play List*

March 21, 2005

By Carrie Alison, Chief Editor
2005.03

Before the show can the start, before Larry Mullen Jr. or The Edge can kick-start the night, U2 fans—those passionate, opinionated and most loyal of concertgoers—already have their hopes up to hear certain songs from U2′s back catalog: hits like "Sunday, Bloody Sunday" from 1983′s "War;" the enthralling showstopper "Bad" (a song considered by many fans to be U2′s "Stairway to Heaven") from 1984′s "The Unforgettable Fire;" and "Where The Streets Have No Name," a tune that millions of fans believe to be the one song that encompasses the U2 concert experience. The list goes on and on, right down to 2000′s worldwide smash "Beautiful Day," a song that was directly responsible for bringing in a new crop of fans with its uplifting message and bright and sunny sound.

On the upcoming Vertigo Tour, however, time allowances must be made to promote the new album, thereby guaranteeing renditions of the singles from "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb"—"Vertigo," "All Because of You" and "Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own." Next to these songs, and one or two more off of the newest album (tour rehearsal set lists posted on the internet moot that "A Man and A Woman" and "One Step Closer" are in the mix), older songs must arguably pepper the remainder of the nightly set list in order to keep the majority of the audience happy and not wandering off to use the toilet or buy merchandise should a group of lesser known songs be played back-to-back.

"There is only one song on an objective list of songs U2 must play, and that is ‘Where the Streets Have No Name,’" said Interference.com member Axver. "Nothing else in the history of live songs has the power to induce such an incredible and unified crowd response as this particular number. The universal emotional impact of ‘One’ makes its inclusion in an object ‘must play’ list arguable, but it has not yet reached the heights of ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’."

A U2 concert follows a certain formula. The first song is always a barnburner designed to get the crowd on its feet and dancing with abandon (like "Elevation" from U2′s 2001 tour). The next few songs (like "Until the End of the World" and "New Year’s Day" from previous tours) will then serve to keep this energy flowing only to slow it down a bit, throwing in some mid-tempo songs from the new album and back catalog ("Stuck in a Moment" and "Bad" come to mind) to smooth it out and possibly save some overly excited fans from early exhaustion.

"I would have to say both ‘Until the End of the World’ and ‘Streets,’" said Stargoblue. "To me, they seem to have a culminative effect.’Until the End of the World’ seems to act out lyrically and physically as a battle between contradiction in one’s own soul—good vs. evil, love vs. hate, darkness vs. light—and ‘Streets’ seems to be an explosion of the choice—with the bright lights and the laps run around the stage. Gotta have them both. I would be crushed if they weren’t played."

Starsgoblue might get her wish, as "Until the End of the World" was the first song U2 chose to perform during its induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in New York City earlier this month. The remainder of that set list featured "Pride (In the Name of Love)," "I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For" (featuring Bruce Springsteen on guitar and vocals) and recent hit "Vertigo."

The middle part of a U2 gig retains the mid-tempo leanings and allows for older, more popular material to seep in such as the ecstatic and beloved "I Will Follow" off of U2′s first album, "Boy." Other older songs known to get stage time on the Elevation Tour were "The Sweetest Thing" and "The Fly," the lead single off of 1991′s "Achtung Baby."

"As a 22-year fan of the band who is finally going to get to see them up close this year, I can honestly say that if they did ‘I Will Follow’ (the song that made me fall in love with them) I would become one with the cosmos," said member Pasionara.

Thankfully, U2 always seems to pull out an older nugget and make it new again, witness "Please" from 1997′s "Pop" on the Elevation Tour and "Out of Control" from "Boy" in November at the Brooklyn Bridge concert to the delight of longtime fans and purists alike. According to internet rumors, the Vertigo Tour could find old gem "Gloria" from "October" on the bill again, along with "Staring at the Sun," "Lemon" and "A Celebration," one of U2′s rarest tunes that hasn’t been played live since the 1983 War Tour.

"One song that has to be played is ‘Gloria’ —they’d tear the roof down when Larry starts the drum intro to that one," said mirrorballman. "I hope they mix it up with some older songs as well this time. I’m not gonna be unrealistic and mention songs like ‘Surrender,’ but ‘Gloria’ should certainly work out! It was played ’til end of the Lovetown Tour and is a song I think every U2 fan would like to hear again"

The Brooklyn Bridge concert was notable for many reasons—it was U2′s first big live return to the US since the end of the Elevation Tour in December 2001 and it gave U2 fans a primer on what songs U2 might be playing to the crowds every night during the Vertigo Tour, and what the song arrangements might sound like. Popular songs off of "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" like "Miracle Drug" and "City of Blinding Lights" made their live debuts to elated response from the audience. The big surprise of the evening was the full rendition of long-lost B-side "She’s a Mystery to Me," a song that also showed up in an early-winter London performance, so perhaps completist fans can look forward to singing the opening line "Darkness falls…" at the top of their lungs to the bemusement of newer fans who might not be familiar with this gem.

Next to long lost favorites and old hits, U2 fans were also quick to mention several past showstoppers like "With or Without You" and "Running to Stand Still" as songs that have to be played. "With or Without You" has been an audience favorite in past tours as it found Bono slow-dancing with female fans on stage, even rolling on the floor with them as witnessed on the Elevation Tour DVD. "Running to Stand Still" has gained a loyal following with its dramatic performance heightened by Bono’s accomplished harmonica and riveting stage theatrics in a swath of orange smoke as seen on the ZooTV tour.

"I don’t doubt they’ll play the classics, but I’d like to see ‘Running to Stand Still’ back," said U2girl. "It’s one of their most beautiful songs, the Joshua Tree Tour version with the piano is beautiful and the ZooTV version is haunting, with the full band playing and ‘halleluiah’ at the end. Perhaps Bono and Edge can play it on acoustic guitar."

Other songs fans noted that U2 must play include "One," "Pride (In the Name of Love)," "Desire," "Acrobat," "Mofo," "Bad" and "11 O’clock Tick Tock." "Acrobat" has garnered a following so passionate that an online petition has been started demanding that it must be played on the Vertigo Tour since it has never made a live appearance at a U2 concert.

Recently, U2 began a month of rehearsals at the GM Place in Vancouver and, of course, wherever U2 goes, fans follow. Gathering outside the venue on a recent March evening with some friends, Interference.com member Mister MacPhisto listened to a rehearsal that included old requested favorites "Out of Control," frequent concert closer "40," "Bad," "Where the Streets Have No Name," and "Running to Stand Still" along with newer fare such as "Love and Peace or Else" "Yahweh" and "All Because of You."

Yes, there’s something in there for all fans—new and old, purist or tourist. With the Vertigo Tour, U2 will no doubt win over millions of hearts again and again as the band has done since first touring the world in the early 1980s.

Interview: Agnes Nyamayarwo: AIDS Activist

March 21, 2005


By Brenda Clemons
2005.03

In May 2002 when Bono and former US Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neil toured Africa, the pair visited people helped by TASO (The AIDS Support Organization) in Uganda. One of those people was Agnes Nyamayarwo, a nurse and AIDS-infected mother who’d lost her husband and youngest son to the disease. An MTV News crew captured this meeting between Agnes, Bono and Secretary O’Neil.

I met Agnes in Philadelphia at the launch of The One Campaign in May 2004. I spotted her standing alone against a wall, watching as fans waited anxiously to get a glimpse (and hopefully an autograph) from Bono. I’d just heard her speak and she’d profoundly affected me with her honest description of what it’s like to live with AIDS. I went over and introduced myself to her and we talked for a few minutes. I met her again several days later at a congressional hearing on generic AIDS drugs. We exchanged contact information and soon became e-mail buddies.

It seemed only natural to ask if she would be willing to be interviewed for Interference.com. She complied, wanting to take advantage of every opportunity to raise awareness. Her answers to my questions are very frank and moving, and although she has suffered much, she is full of hope for the future.

Can you please give us some information on your background?

I was born at Rwetera, a small village 15 km from Fort Portal in the Kabarole district in western Uganda, East Africa. I am the first born of 10 children of my mother and the last of three children of my father. My father died when I was 9 months old. I am Catholic and grew up in a Catholic family. I trained as a nurse. I got married to Augustine and had 10 children–six boys and four girls. As Catholics, it was not traditionally allowed to exercise family planning.

My husband was very caring and worked extra hard to provide for our family. In September 1984, he was awarded a scholarship to study agricultural economics at the University of Georgia in Atlanta. When he returned to Uganda in 1986, life improved but unfortunately he fell sick in 1991 and died from AIDS on June 27, 1992.

On July 5, 1993, Charles, my 17-year-old son, disappeared from school after being stigmatized and traumatized over the loss of his father to AIDS. To this day, I have never seen or heard from him and I do not know if he is still alive.

On March 9, 1995, my youngest son Christopher died from AIDS. Nursing Chris through almost two years of sickness and pain prior to his death is one of the hardest and most painful experiences I have had to go through in my life. Throughout the time of his sickness, I was consumed by guilt, knowing that my son was innocent and that I had unknowingly infected him with the HIV virus during or after his birth.

I cannot explain the excruciating pain that gripped my heart like a vice during those long hours, days, weeks and months prior to his death. Looking at his deteriorating condition tears would just flow from my eyes and it is then that he would say, "Mummy why are you crying? I will be ok."

His innocent face and words have always remained with me and filled many of my waking hours. His determination to get better always returns to haunt me, for I knew even then that without proper medication that he needed (Anti-Retrovirals/ARVs), Chris was fighting a losing battle. AIDS has therefore caused me the loss of both my son and husband, and I do not know if I will ever see Charles again.

What was it like growing up in Uganda?

Growing up in Uganda was not that easy or enjoyable. As a girl, my mother did not let me play or have as much fun as my brothers did. I was expected to stay home all the time with my then-only sister, and we missed out on stuff like climbing trees, riding bikes, playing hide and seek, and the like.

I grew up knowing that girls are not supposed to shout and run about but stay in the kitchen helping their mothers. If we really had to play, it was with dolls around the house. In short, for us the girls at home life growing up was generally more boring than for the boys.

When someone at home used to fall sick, it was usually me or one of my sisters who had to leave school and look after her while the boys continued with school. Given the difficulties that faced young girls growing in my generation, I am lucky to have been able to attain a fair level of education and I was able to join nursing school.

You have a very strong faith in God, were there ever times when you felt like giving up?

I have always had strong faith in God though there are times when I have felt as if God was no longer listening to my prayers. My church has consistently spoken of God’s love and care for all people. During some of the hardest and darkest periods of my life, I would sit in my bedroom and ask God, "Where do I begin?" I was thankful to God for my remaining children but the only question on my mind was how long I was going to live and care for them since I had also tested HIV-positive. I wanted my children to continue with their education but I had no idea where I was going to get the resources from to support my remaining eight children.

Some people had already started distancing themselves from us. It was indeed a terrifying experience trying to imagine how my children and I would continue living this stigma around us. I used to read books looking for answers. Some of the answers to my problems came to me while reading the Bible late at night and I was inspired to continue struggling with my life for the sake of my children.

I realized that I had two simple choices—to lie down and give up or to fight to stay alive and look after my remaining children. I was also concerned about doing something so that other parents do not have to endure what I was going through.

In my early days of grief all I wanted to know was how to survive. Through searching for ways of soothing my pain, through books, stories, and testimonies of those who had lost loved ones, I ended up going to TASO to hear from others infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. I listened to one sad story after another and was deeply touched, and it is then that I realized that I was not the only one suffering.

I have learnt that God was present then and still is in my life and He works through people we meet, for example Noreen who started TASO, and also through researchers with whom He blessed the knowledge to discover the medicines that have kept us alive to date.

Describe your duties at the TASO clinic? What is your daily routine?

At the Mulago TASO center, I work as a volunteer on clinic days supporting the very weak clients who come for treatment. I also participate in health talks, giving and sharing information on HIV/AIDS prevention and ARV treatment, as well as home-visiting the sick and their families.

I represent the clients on the Mulago Centre Advisory Committee and all female clients on the board of trustees of TASO Uganda.

I am also a chair person of a group of HIV-positive women who receive services at TASO and with whom I share all information that I get about HIV/AIDS, for example about ARV treatment and dealing with challenges of single parenthood, among others.

When did you first become involved with DATA?

I first met Bono when he joined Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neil on a trip to Africa in May 2002. Uganda, my home country, was one of the countries they visited. While in Uganda, they visited TASO and I was asked to address them about my experience with AIDS in the family. The group I sometimes move with educating the public through dance and drama performed for them as well.

Bono asked if we were on life prolonging treatment, ARVs. The answer was no because it was too expensive and TASO could not afford it. He asked where we got the courage to go out and educate others yet we knew that we were going to die. Two weeks later he sent money to the TASO account for treating 25 people in this group. Since then we at TASO consider Bono a man of God who came to save our lives and keep the fire burning in our communities. That was a turning point in our lives.

Towards the end of November 2002, I was invited by DATA to join DATA staff, Bono, Ashley Judd, Lance Armstrong, Steve Brown, Chris Tucker and a group of children from Ghana for the Heart of America Tour to talk about the AIDS epidemic in Africa and to raise awareness about Africa’s problems in the United States.

What is it like to work with Bono?

I very much love working with Bono. He understands our problems and the issues in Africa and the role he can play by informing the public and getting them interested in our issues.

When he talks about Africa one would think he is from there. He is very sincere and talks from experience because he has traveled in many African countries. I feel so blessed to be part of the DATA awareness campaign. Bono usually says, "It is not about charity but justice."

I admire Bono because he is making a difference in our lives. It is through his effort that some of us are lucky to be accessing free treatment, although the numbers of those without this treatment is still very high.

In addition, Bono is committed to the fight for debt-relief for poor countries, especially in Africa, so that their resources can be better utilized, for example by introducing free primary education in Uganda.

You have traveled to the United States many times; do you enjoy your visits?

I have been to the United States four times now and every time I’m there I really get touched by the kindness and genuine interest about Africa’s problems expressed by the people I have interacted with.

I now have a conviction that Africa is not a lost cause because there are many Americans who care what happens to Africa. We in Africa can only break away from the deadly grip that AIDS has on us by getting help from more developed nations, for example from the US government.

Generally, I always enjoy my visits to America and I very much look forward to them, although it is always amazing to learn how little some Americans know of the outside world.

What do you think needs to happen by international governments in order for things to improve in Uganda?

What governments and international organizations need to understand is that AIDS is a killer and it’s global! It’s not about politics and boundaries but the millions of people who have died and continue to die everyday leaving orphans in big numbers.

As such, governments from developed countries ought to [enact] debt-relief and practice fairer trade with the poor developing countries so that they can become self-sustaining and reduce their dependence on developed countries. This way, the poor countries will be able to cope with the AIDS scourge through building their health system, improve on their infrastructure, for example by building good roads, schools, and also improve the agricultural sector on which Uganda is mainly dependant.

I believe that these governments are as duty-bound to do this it as it is a duty for one human being to help sustain the life of another human being, and I certainly hope that they will rise to the challenge sooner than later.

I encourage the general public, like the readers of this story, to spur people from their homeland into action through letter writing to advocate a balanced policy of prevention and treatment to combat AIDS through increased assistance and debt-cancellation.

They can also work with any organizations in their communities who are working on these issues.

What are your hopes and fears for the future?

My hopes are for a world free from AIDS, where children can grow up with their parents and live to see their grandparents.

My fear is that unless a real concerted effort is mounted by the developed countries to counter the AIDS scourge, the price paid by humanity through the loss of millions of lives will be too great to bear and we will lose out on a whole generation of people, especially in Africa. This must not happen!

You have gotten the attention of celebrities and international leaders, and you have much to be proud of. How do you feel when someone comes up to you and says they are inspired by you?

If during the course of my interactions with people I have somehow inspired them to positively think about what can be done about the AIDS pandemic, I am truly happy because I then know that I am making a difference.

I know that we are not going to simply wake up tomorrow to a world free of AIDS, it is up to me and you who are reading this story to make a positive contribution toward the eradication of AIDS, if not for ourselves, then for the sake of humanity.

I hope that I have made a difference by influencing others to join in the struggle against AIDS, not only in Africa but also in the rest of the world.

For more information about what you can do to further the causes of AIDS and debt-relief in Africa, visit DATA. You can learn more about Agnes’ story from The One Campaign. For more information on TASO, visit the official website.

Many thanks to Agnes Nyamayarwo and her family for their help with this article!

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