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Old 06-17-2020, 11:31 PM   #1
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Hypothetical U2 MTV unplugged

Despite some obvious missteps, U2 have some decent acoustic songs, so I’d be interested to know what you all think would be a decent U2 MTV unplugged set. Limit of 15 songs, and at least one cover. Just because. Also, describe the arrangement.

For me:

The fours band members, plus a small string/orchestral component for some songs. Edge on acoustic and piano. Bono sometimes playing keys and using it as an opportunity to get him playing more because of the intimate setup. Larry with a full kit, Adam on bass. Terry on stage for some songs. Vibe is more stripped back and intimate rather than pure “unplugged”.

01 - A Sort of Homecoming - would want this to sound like a hybrid between the Lanois re-work that is heavily acoustic on the deluxe TUF and the album version. Atmospheric, but with some upbeat guitar. A nice way to start an MTV unplugged performance - quality tune that may not be as well known.

02 - Stuck in a Moment - recognisable, but not one of the standard “go-tos” for U2 trying to introduce themselves to a wider audience. For as much as we are sick of it, the acoustic arrangement works. I would want this to be full band, Terry on keys, first verse and chorus just Bono and Edge.

03 - The Ground Beneath Her Feet - Stuck is a good song to use to pivot to a tone shift. I would want them to “take off” for the ending like the studio version - could rely heavily on strings to carry this.

04 - Life on Mars? - Bono and Edge section. Simple enough song for Edge to play piano, good song for Bono to exercise his voice, and we know how much they love Bowie.

05 - Every Breaking Wave - Just Bono and Edge, then the “sea knows where are the rocks...” but builds with strings and full band.

06 - Drowning Man - lots of strings, very similar to album version.

07 - Kite - I think this works well without the lead part for the most part. Acoustic and strings, possible played in a lower key so the solo works as an acoustic slide with Bono’s voice in a lower register.

08 - Love is Blindness - full band similar to Edge acoustic from the From the Ground Up movie.

09 - Desire - fun, energetic and direct. Bono on harmonica.

10 - Everlasting Love - same. Could be close to recorded version.

11 - Staring at the Sun - look to Clinton performance for style, could easily do that as more full band.

12 - Stay - obvious inclusion. Something between elevation and E+I versions.

13 - All I Want is You - I think this could work really well. I also think it would be totally fine for Edge to play an electric guitar for the solo.

14 - The First Time - great opportunity to showcase some good song writing, strong piano, strings and guitar. Very similar to album version.

15 - One - not the best closer of the list, but should go out on a recognisable note. This should be played much like the Passengers version, but with bass and drums kicking in mid way. Obvious Hear us Coming ending.
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Old 06-18-2020, 07:01 AM   #2
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Nah this wouldn’t work. Edge is a one trick pony when it comes to playing acoustically. It doesn’t suit him. Nor am I sure Bono has the vocals for this either.
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Old 06-18-2020, 11:45 AM   #3
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If this ever happened, I would want it to include a lot of non obvious choices, like "Gone" or "Mysterious Ways", shit like that.

A good example is how Biffy Clyro reworked "Mountains" for an acoustic arrangement. Much heavier song that I didn't expect to see appear in their MTV Unplugged set.
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Old 06-18-2020, 01:37 PM   #4
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Not to get slightly off-topic, but I was actually thinking the other day about MTV’s failure to get U2 to do one of these; I know it’s been discussed before, and I’m guessing the consensus is that the show was peaking during the exact same period that U2’s sound was the least compatible with this format. Even if the network was willing to bend the rules, as they did with Bruce’s “UnPlugged” episode, it just wouldn’t have worked.

Had Unplugged come to prominence during the late 80s or early 2000s instead, it’s obvious the band would have been game.

Or would they?

I guess the question I’m posing is, even if the band hadn’t been in their electronic/experimental period when MTV was trying to get them, would they have still hesitated due to the restrictions of the format? I know they’ve done some smaller acoustic sets, but a whole hour-long show?
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Old 06-18-2020, 02:27 PM   #5
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Truly, they just aren't that good an acoustic band.
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Old 06-18-2020, 04:40 PM   #6
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Something like their cover of I Believe in Father Christmas would be cool. IIRC, the cover and video came together rather quickly - like, in just a few hours. A practically unheard of work ethic from Camp U2.

An hour's worth of stripped down, not-quite-unplugged arrangements could work. Otherwise, it would probably just be acoustic-ish B Stage staples from over the years, which would probably be pretty lame.
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Old 07-02-2020, 05:18 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lazarus View Post
Not to get slightly off-topic, but I was actually thinking the other day about MTV’s failure to get U2 to do one of these; I know it’s been discussed before, and I’m guessing the consensus is that the show was peaking during the exact same period that U2’s sound was the least compatible with this format. Even if the network was willing to bend the rules, as they did with Bruce’s “UnPlugged” episode, it just wouldn’t have worked.
Kind of the opposite of R.E.M., who did their two Unplugged sessions at basically the perfect times in their career, 1991 and 2001. I think the early 2000s revival would've been the most ideal time for U2 to do their own (that's also around the time Bono did a couple of songs with the Corrs for their Unplugged session). I think it could've worked out great if they were willing to really rethink the setlist and the arrangements of their songs. All the best Unplugged shows are where the performers have to step out of their usual comfort zone and recontextualize their music.
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Old 07-02-2020, 08:30 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hewson View Post
Truly, they just aren't that good an acoustic band.
What this guy said
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Old 07-02-2020, 08:37 PM   #9
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Instead, they could always release a live album of their best acoustic performances.

To name a few:

Starting At The Sun (Popheart EP)
North And South of the River
Party Girl (Red Rocks)

That’s all I got but I’m tired.
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Old 07-02-2020, 11:37 PM   #10
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Or, how about if VH1 resurrects their StoryTellers series.... I don't know if the boys would ever do something like this or Unplugged, but I'd definitely watch it.
(Good question, Dan_Smee. I've daydreamed this topic many times.)

... But I'd hate to see an Octogenarian Tour where they do this night after night and put the crowd to sleep. Their shows have to keep rockin' and get everybody bouncing the entire time, right?!

(**scary/funny image in my brain of Bono racing around a heart stage in 2040 in his wheelchair**)
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