U2’s Eternal Tour: From Heinz Field to Possible 2014 Dates

July 26, 2013

Two years ago, the U2 360 tour concluded its US dates with a show at Heinz Field. That gig was captured for posterity by a fan-made concert documentary shot and curated by Tim Newell and is remembered here with some fan photographs by Mike Kurman.

The interwebs lit up this week with high-pitch rumors and speculation about a U2 tour in 2014 to accompany a new album expected later this year; while such conversation excites some fans and annoys others, there’s one thing about U2 touring on which the fan community can approach consensus.

That is, the amazing access we now have via the web to a wide collection of archival recordings, photographs, setlists, statistics, and more, this far-flung digital archive staggers for its diversity and quality.

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U2 have officially made more and more audio and film recordings available, not just through official DVD and CD releases, but also through fan-club exclusive content accessible only to U2.com. The various fan sites have compiled everything from setlist databases to statistical breakdowns of song choices. These historical resources about U2’s setlist history have fed current discussions fueled by an article on the Rolling Stone website that U2 may be planning multi-night stands in multiple cities with entirely different shows to be presented each night. Unlike their peers in workhorse touring, U2 has never pursued the vigorous setlist variety that has distinguished artists such as the Grateful Dead, Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, and My Morning Jacket.

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How to follow-up an epic stadium adventure like 360 and a history that includes ZooTV and Popmart certainly pushes U2 to the limits of itself in terms of touring creativity and integrity. In another news article out this week, Bono praised Mick Jagger for his wrinkles and business savvy, suggesting to us that perhaps U2 has no inclination to “pull an R.E.M” and retire soon.

Rather, U2 seems uniquely poised to be a rare breed of middle-aged rockers ready to extend their career extensively, ultimately joining an elite class of old-rage rockers that today includes folks like Dylan, the Stones, and Paul McCartney and may in another 20 years include U2.

The arguments against eternal touring usually are waged against bands that have survived massive lineup changes, lost lead singers, and have become lounge club caricatures of their former selves. U2 by contrast have stayed at the top of their game for decades with the original lineup, and with a new album imminent, show no signs of slowing down. This summer, even U2’s 80 peers the Waterboys and Big Country are on their first US tours in many years. Big Country did have to replace deceased lead singer Stuart Adamson, but they did this with Alarm lead singer Mike Peters.

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Checking out Tim Newell’s YouTube channel and his collection of U2 concert videos, it’s amazing to note how far fan rockumentarians have progressed over the years. “A Night Not To Forget,” as Newell calls this online concert film, is shot in HD, uses audio and video from multiple angles and fans, and simply stuns for its ability to convey that particular moment in this band’s history for eternity. The Heinz setlist showed some late tour freedom and the inclusion of fan favorites like “Bad” and “40” that had been absent most of 360. This excellent YouTube channel freely shares the work of U2 and other bands, with no commercial incentive, only a fan’s fierce communal ethos. U2 has gracefully permitted these fan sites to share not sell our collective memories captured on film.

Take Newell’s videos, coupled with Kurman’s photographs, we fans can take a journey back two years to the last night of 360 in the US and dream about seeing U2 again as soon as next year. –Andrew William Smith, Editor

The Interference webzine staff thanks Tim Newell and Mike Kurman for sharing their work.

A Night Not To Forget: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EPmgPnSqaE&list=PLA951D9757012C016

David Wimbish: Life, Death, Fundraising, & Festivals

July 23, 2013

At the 2012 Wild Goose, for an afternoon set at a tent tucked away on the backwoods of the festival site, a young North Carolina band blew minds and won fans. More than just a band, more like a multicolored movement of sonic jubilee, David Wimbish and the Collection carry the celebratory consciousness, lyrical significance, and live energy that have made bands like Mumford & Sons or Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros the darlings of the current folk-pop moment.

In August 2013, the Collection will open this year’s festival on the main stage with a Thursday night-set sure to thrill us. Then, they will support Phil Madeira’s Friday night set. In the meantime, the Collection are furiously raising funds on Kickstarter for their next album, a surprisingly hopeful take on death called Ares Moriendi. I recently caught up with David Wimbish and convinced him to take a break from writing, recording, fundraising, and preparing for Wild Goose to answer a few questions.

Q. What is special about playing a festival? What makes WGF special among special?

A. Festivals are places people are willing to get dirty, stinky, messy, and crazy together to a degree they normally wouldn’t otherwise—just for the sake of connection, whether it be a connection through music, spirituality, art, or just fun. Everyone is out of their element at the same time, which makes everyone in the same element—the element of each other. So playing festivals lets people focus solely on connecting with each other; we get to talk and hang and laugh and have fun with people in a way, without the normal distractions a city or jobs or phones have. Wild Goose Festival especially is a ton of fun because there are people searching and listening, a very diverse culture and very diverse belief systems. Last year’s Wild Goose was one of the best musical and relational experiences we’ve ever had as a band, and it’s really a gift to get to be here again this year.

Q. Why do we need to get there early for the opening set of WGF 2013?

A. We’ve got some fun surprises for this year. No spoilers yet, but the fest is about community, about connecting, about new and old ideas coming together, about seeking and experiencing, and we want to kick of the festival doing just that. Our band always has at least a few people rotating in and out; I think every show there’s at least one new person playing with us, and it gives us a new energy to see the dynamics change in this. This year will be some new faces, some new instruments, and new energy.

Q. What will be the mix in the set from your first album, your second album, your forthcoming album?

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A. We’re at that awkward stage where we know it’ll still be a bit till the new album is out, yet, we want to share the songs. I’m sure there’ll be a couple of new ones, whichever ones we’re feeling the most, but we’ll be playing a lot of our favorites from previous releases. We’ve been pumped to be playing “Lazarus” a lot lately, so I’m sure you’ll at least hear that. We like to play things loosely until close to a show, so that we can feel the vibe from the folks there and do a set that feels right for the environment and band family. The way sets usually come together is a bit like a puzzle. I go to the closet, we look and pull them out together beforehand and say “I want to do this one, I like this picture”. We spread out all the pieces on the table, and we get little sections of it together, we start to see what it’ll look like, and then, after awhile of moving things around, we put it completely together for others to see as a picture. So we have elements together, songs and special things we definitely we definitely have planned for wild goose, now it’s a matter of finding the in between pieces and making it look like a picture. That being said, sometimes the pieces you think go in a certain spot were wrong, and you switch them out for others. So, don’t want to give away too many spoilers, but we’ll play some new, and some old, and have some good celebration shoes. Bring your dancin’ shoes!

Q. Everyone has a Kickstarter anymore—why should we support yours?

A. Kickstarter, unfortunately, has seen quite a bit of abuse in the last year, from super rich actors using it to raise money for a film, to someone’s younger brother trying to raise 10000 for new socks. When I FIRST heard of Kickstarter, I was excited, because it basically runs the way our band runs. Instead of charging set rates for albums and concerts, we like to let folks experience the music and then decide if they want to give or not, and how much they want or can give. Kickstarter, in some ways, does this in a little backwards way: it allows people to say “Hey, I support this, and I’ll be a part of it happening. I’ll be a part of this startup, or album, or project, whatever.”

Specifically with ours, we have our good friend Luke creating a documentary of the album process. Luke is an incredible filmmaker, and seeing that documentary happen just to see Luke’s work I think would be worth it. On top of that, with the money, we want to get big string and brass ensembles, a big group of extra musicians with crazy instruments, record in incredible sounding locations across the south, and get the thing professionally mastered and publicized, all to hopefully get to people the best musical and visual experience possible. Without reaching our Kickstarter goal, most of those things won’t be able to happen with the new album. We also have tons of gifts for donations that are a lot of fun, including a lot of original artwork and things for ya!

Q. Explain the concepts behind the new album. What’s with the facepaint? Are you in part by the Mexican Day of the Dead tradition? Is that the vibe you are going for? Why?

A. I’ve been writing some of these songs for a few years, and started seeing themes of death in them; death to myself, death of beliefs or habits, and actual physical death. My good friend killed himself a few months ago: it was so random and crazy, and several people in the band knew him. I realized, when it happened, I’ve never worked through or questioned death that much. It’s felt far away, and this time it slammed me in the face.

So what happens afterwards? I hope it’s resurrection, in the physical and spiritual sense. At least in life, when I die to myself or things that have previously been myself, I resurrect into something new. But the crazy thing is, it’s a mystery. Every religion thinks it knows; everyone has experiences they think makes them sure, but none of us know what happens. We live with it hanging over our heads, this great mystery. Mystery is so beautiful though! But really, I needed a place to work through my friends suicide, and my grandpa dying of a brain tumor, and these songs starting coming.

And I realized, though all cultures have a time of mourning, the American culture seems to be one of the biggest ones that stops at mourning. So I was finding out more about the Mexican holiday, the Day of the Dead. There’s something beautiful about celebrating the deceased’s life instead of just mourning. They paint these Skulls, and it’s awesome, it takes something that we normally think of as morbid and sad, and it makes it beautiful again.

I need that to happen with my grandpa. I need that to happen with my friend. I need that to happen for myself! So, that’s what’s with the Sugar Skull facepaint, and what you’ll see with the art and themes that will be coming up in the new album, trying to take dead things and figure out what it means for them to be alive again. Hopefully, we can connect through death, and bring each other to life!

The paint is inspired by the Day of the Dead tradition. It is similar to the paint that is on the sugar skulls for the tradition and really represents both a recognition of death and a celebration of life and redemption at the same time. We want to communicate both those things simultaneously instead of separately as our culture normally does.

Interview by Andrew William Smith, Editor
Check out: http://thecollection.bandcamp.com/
&
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/852687167/ars-moriendi-the-collections-new-album-and-documen

 

U2 & the Holy Ghost iPod Shuffle

July 23, 2013

 Did you ever have the random shuffle on your music player speak to you in a profound way? We’re honored to have author & preacher Jonathan Martin share a U2 story about what he calls the “Holy Ghost iPod Shuffle,” an excerpt from his new book Prototype.

Like many people of my generation, I’ve spent far too much of my life with headphones on my ears.  I have a big DJ-style pair that I use every day, because I love to be immersed in music—I love songs big enough to swim around in.  That’s one reason why I’ve had a lifelong affinity for the Irish rock group U2.  I know it’s a huge cliché for a thirtysomething pastor to be a massive U2 fan.  But I don’t care.  I was listening to their album Zooropa on endless repeat on my boom box long before I cared anything about ministry.  They have always spoken the language of my spirit – and, thankfully, our communicative God is conversant in all of my dialects.  More than once, He has used the music of U2 to touch me and guide me.

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There was a particularly dark day several years ago when I was convinced that the life I had built for myself was crumbling around me. I had never felt more hurt or confused.  Not knowing what else to do on that Saturday, I decided to go to a nearby gym to try to work off some of the tension I felt.  As I stepped onto the elliptical machine, I turned on my iPod and set it on “shuffle.”  (I’ve always liked that feature because it’s like having your own personal radio station – except all the bands are awesome and there are no commercials.)

As I began to work the elliptical machine, the anthem “Beautiful Day” came on.  Being a U2 buff, I knew the history of that song: Lead singer Bono once said in an interview that he was inspired by the teaching of Christ that you have to lose your life in order to find it.  It’s a song about losing everything you held dear, and yet somehow finding that you’ve gained everything that really counts:

Sky falls, you feel like

It’s a beautiful day,

Don’t let it get away

As I was listening to the music that day, something inside me broke.  I felt a distinct inner confirmation – a virtual witness deep within me — that I was experiencing the truth of that song through my particular circumstances

What you don’t have you don’t need it now.

What you don’t know you can feel it somehow.

I had felt as if I was going to lose everything, but I was suddenly overwhelmed with the certainty that it was actually the beginning of something new and unspeakably beautiful.  I didn’t know how to articulate it at the time, but I now believe that the distinct vision of the church we planted in Charlotte was birthed in that moment.

I had heard that song hundreds of times before, but that time I heard it differently.  It was as if something had come to life inside me and was getting out, like the creature that bursts from the chest cavity of the guy in the first Alien movie.  I felt so silly on that elliptical machine in the middle of a crowded gym on a Saturday morning.

This experience took place over the span of about four minutes.  As the song was winding down, I was still overcome, but my emotions were starting to settle — that is until my iPod, still set on “shuffle” and crammed with thousands of songs to choose from, played a live version of “Beautiful Day” right on the heels of the studio cut.  At that point, I really began to weep.  It was as if the voice of Love was saying, “In case you didn’t recognize me the first time . . . . “

There may well be a rational explanation to the timing and sequencing of those songs on my iPod that day, but even if that were true, it wouldn’t change or diminish the impact of what I heard.  My response was not irrational, but it transcended my capacity for reason.  I wasn’t just hearing U2 play a rock song.  I was hearing an ancient song.  I was hearing the music of God’s love in the same way I believe David heard it in the field as a boy.  It was the wonder that called me back to who I really am, that called me forward to who I am meant to become.  That’s what music does; that’s what wonder does.  God uses these things to remind us of who we really are. –Jonathan Martin

From Prototype by Jonathan Martin, pages 34-36. Reprinted by permission of the author. Please check out his church homepage: http://renovatuschurch.com

The Editors Fall Short of Expectations with New Album

July 21, 2013

The Editors’ The Weight of Your Love is a bipolar roller-coaster of high-flying orchestral scenes and slow, meandering tracks. The album’s first track “The Weight” opens with a symphony sound and drums, rising up and up and up into crescendo where nothing happens. It just doesn’t go anywhere. This conflict between expectation and result is present in many moments of the album, right alongside tracks that actually deliver when you want them to.

Lyrically the album performs well enough across the board. Tom Smith’s words may appear melodramatic at times, but the album itself feels melodramatic so it at least fits. “Sugar” features lines such as ‘There’s sugar on your soul, you’re like no one I know, you’re the life of another world,” practically dripping with imagery reminiscent of high school poetry.

There’s so much that can be done with an album that sounds like The Weight. Some tracks do satisfy expectations. “A Ton of Love” pounds away with catchy guitar riffs, a fat bass groove, and energized drums. It’s a high point, sandwiched between songs that give it poor context.

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“Formaldehyde” in the second half of the album delivers a Bowie-esque groove and energy unlike the previous half. In fact, the latter half of the album, a section typically reserved for lesser tracks that will never make it to radio, far outperforms the first. “Hyena” features some of the best vocals and lyrics from Smith, and “The Phone Book” throws the album’s typical sound away in favor of acoustic guitars and mild use of synthesizer.

It’s surprising, to say the least.

The Weight of Your Love is an album that borders between disappointing and beautiful. It’s a little confusing, to say the least. There are moments of true satisfaction, made better by the standard set by some of the previous tracks. The themes feel overused at a point, but that second half redeems what ever the first half failed to achieve. It’s worth a listen for the good moments. –Jordan B. Frye, Contributing Editor @jordanbfrye

Joy, Humility, and Defiance – the Bono Interviews of Summer 2013

July 16, 2013

All words by Bono, from recent interviews with Charlie Rose and Gay Byrnetranscribed from video clips by Interference editorial staff.

You want to know what brought Jessie Helms to tears? I can tell you.

I said there are 2003 verses of scripture that pertain with the world’s poor, none them about judgment, sir. Christ never speaks of judgment. Sorry, in the Old Testament there is scripture about judgment, but Christ never speaks of judgment except once. It is how we deal with the poor. It’s that thing, you know, as much as you treated the least of these you treated me in Matthew.

And he just started, the great cold warrior, just melted because the scriptures are powerful. And that’s when Christ started his mission, he started to talk about, you know, the blind will see, I want to visit the sick, the people in prison, and serve the poor. That’s what it’s about. If it is not about that for me, then I’m not in the room.

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The problems of the world are problems of the human spirit. Songs come out of that. If that makes sense, but you know, a love song can be the most political song.

The greatest protest song could be to write Motown, as Diana Ross singing, “Baby I Love You.” In those times, where joy is an act of defiance. A pop song is an act of defiance. Nile Rogers, you know he is playing on this Daft Punk single. I idolize him.  He talks about when he— he came from a rough, rough place—when he wrote, “Good times, Good times,” or “We Are Family,” that wasn’t where he came from. He wrote the future he wanted to live in. He wrote those, so he could have those good times. So I think a love song can be defiant, it can be the biggest protest song you’ll ever write.

Topical songs—we don’t write that many of them. We’ve written powerful songs: “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” “Bullet the Blue Sky,” “Walk On.” Every few years, one arrives, but I’m certainly suspicious of it because I know the problems of the world are the problems of the human spirit. And the problems of the human spirit are the problems of the human heart, and the hypocrisy of the human heart is what you are looking at across this table, Charlie Rose, cause I have it. And we all have it, and we are afflicted by it and pop music is about that.

Dreaming is a thing of the 60s; doing is a thing we have to be a part of now.

Our music—these were prayers of a kind. What were we doing hanging out with these people who didn’t understand this? They’d somehow turned God into a kind of very retail relationship. You had to declare it. Something had to have a Christian sticker on it. I don’t understand that. Does a tree have a sign up saying ‘Made by God’? No. It’s just there. It declares itself. The creation does. Music does. Poetry does.

More importantly, the problem with gospel music is a lot of the time it’s in denial of where we’re really at. A lot of the time it’s trying to brush things under the carpet. Which is where the blues comes from. The blues—Robert Johnson, hellhound on my heel—starts to speak the truth. If you know anything about scripture, it’s the truth that sets you free. We started to see the lie—and maybe that’s too strong a term—that was in gospel music, in all this happy-clappy kind of stuff. We started to see the truthfulness in blues.  Of course, rock n roll is the combination of the blues and gospel—the highness, the headiness of gospel and the mud of the Mississippi. That is where our music comes from. That moment is the fusion really.

I had one idea, really, when it came to activism. Don’t let it be a creation of the left. Don’t leave the right out. Try to find a radical center. Why divide the audience in half?

I am a believer in the church. I don’t think there’s loads of different churches. There is one church; it’s just smashed into loads of different pieces. I think that the spirit, the Holy Spirit if you want to call it that, is much more anarchic than we think. It comes like a wind. You don’t know where it comes from, you don’t know where it goes, scriptures say. It continually renews itself, moves forward.

Religion is a slightly different thing. People got to be very careful of thinking they have a monopoly on the truth.

There’s the thing everyone reads out at their wedding, that beautiful scripture in Corinthians. Faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these things is love Why is that?

Why is love more important than faith? The answer is found a few verses later. Which is that beautiful, beautiful passage, especially beautiful in King James. “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” Wherever you see religious people where their faith is more important than love, they’ve got it the wrong the way around, in my view.

The scripture is so very eloquent about love. I can’t really figure it out how people have so maligned Christ; we don’t even know that Christ ever intended to set up a religion. He asked much bigger questions of people. Questions about surrender. That’s what would be a better preoccupation than doctrinal matters.

I look to the scriptures for poetic truth as well as historical stuff. There was a historical Jesus. The person of Christ is my way to understand God. [I pray] to Christ. I pray to get to know the will of God, because then the prayers have more chance of coming true.

Dignity is not what’s important. Integrity is important. And humility. I don’t mean the fake humility; I can do that quite well. But true humility, you know your place within the scheme of things. It’s a tiny fragment, but it is loved and appropriately placed.

I believe God is interested in us, in the detail of our lives. I think that’s remarkable but I accept that it also sounds preposterous to a lot of people.

When we let go of things, when we surrender, we are released to be ourselves more.

 

 

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