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Old 05-19-2005, 02:19 PM   #1
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(05-19-2005) U2 Finds a Way to Get Message to Its Fans -- Herald & Review*

U2 Finds a Way to Get Message to Its Fans

By AMY HOAK H&R Staff Writer

Last Friday afternoon, I'm driving home from work when my cell phone rings. I have a text message.

"Hey this is Bono," the message says.

Clearly this is from my boyfriend teasing me, I figure. We went to the U2 concert together the Tuesday before. Or maybe it's my mom, who asked about the concert in a phone call earlier that day.

But no, it's really Bono.

"Thanks for taking action with the ONE campaign to make AIDS and poverty history," the message says, followed by a Web site address.

Then it hits me.

During the concert, the highly flashy, highly political lead singer of U2 asked the audience to send a text message to UNITY, and write our names in the body of the message. The action put our names on a list of support for the cause.

What came Friday was his automated reply.

It's another way for Bono to push his politics - I know that. But is that so bad?

I told a number of people that I was going to the concert at the United Center before I headed up on Tuesday. Half reacted by saying that they wished they could have gotten tickets, too. The other half took the opportunity to express their dislike of Bono, my new text message buddy.

Of course, I know where they're coming from. Bono's outspoken, dramatic. His message has the potential to ring hypocritical when his band is raking in dough and at the same time pushing the government to relieve third world debt.

To be fair, it's not a bad thing to engage thousands of people in stadium chants to end world poverty and hunger. Even naysayers have to admit the message is good.

But to be a U2 fan means acknowledging Bono's theatrical tendencies and moving on. He's certainly not the first artist to use his popularity in order to drive home a political message.

In the end, does it matter?

A band that sells out four shows in Chicago in a matter of minutes doesn't need defending, but I'll do it anyway. I'll do it for a couple of reasons.

The first is personal.

I bought "Achtung Baby" because a friend's older sister liked it, and I wanted to be like that friend's older sister. I was a freshman in high school then.

"Pop" came as I was starting college, and the tour that followed the release was the first stadium concert I ever attended. "All That You Can't Leave Behind" hit as I was finishing up my master's degree. I'll remember where I was when "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" came out because it's the first U2 release during my working career.

There aren't many other bands I follow that write home every once in a while with familiar sounds. The sounds line up with mini-eras of my life.

The band is consistent - a rarity in the MTV age.

Secondly, U2 stays relevant because they remember their roots while keeping up with the times.

Though the concert featured many of the songs from the band's newest CD, old tunes had their moments, too.

Those who remember who they were before they were could appreciate the full sound of "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "Where the Streets Have No Name." Those who came because they like "Vertigo," the band's new iPod-selling pop monster, were introduced to the classics.

(I admit, however, there were some tunes missing from the set. "With or Without You" and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" need to be staples, and my unusual affection for "Lemon" wasn't quenched either.)

The U2 iPod - a special edition created by the folks at Apple - speaks to the band's grip of technology. Its lavish concert sets do the same.

The current tour's set has a walkway surrounding the oval-shaped stage. Everything is lined with lights that chase with the music at times and are more subtle at other times. Smaller lights behind the stage have the ability to project pictures.

Which brings me back to the text message.

Yes, it's a free ad for a charity. Yes, it's Bono being Bono.

But it also reminded me of the fun concert I went to and the relationship I started with this band at the age of 15 - before iPods, text messages or my first cell phone.

We've grown up together, haven't we?

For that, guys, thanks.

And keep in touch.

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Old 05-19-2005, 03:44 PM   #2
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Old 05-19-2005, 04:39 PM   #3
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Old 05-19-2005, 06:06 PM   #4
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Old 05-19-2005, 11:27 PM   #5
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The reason I was attracted to U2 was because of the political messages, Bono's passion when he sang, the Edge's ability to play his guitar in a way I never heard, and most importantly the way I felt when they sang. How they opened my eyes to the world. One could speculate on why the rich find causes to donate their money to, but the answer is simple, because they can. Now there is a saying. I believe it was President Clinton who made that one popular. Why should anyone criticize his theatrical tendencies? Afterall, we went to a show! The band does more than give their money to good causes (hypocritical?), they give their music to us. Their songs have gotten me through life. It might be just a line that hits home. I got through my son's sudden death by listening to Peace on Earth. My son didn't die in a war, but of an intracerebral hemorrhage at the age of 26. He had these beautiful blue eyes that sparkled when he smiled. I could never stay mad at him for too long, because he knew how to use his eyes to make me smile. In "Peace on Earth," there is a line that goes something like '. . . no one cries like a Mother for peace on earth, She never got a chance to say goodbye or see the color of his eyes. . .' and . . .'Jesus could you take the time to throw a drowning man a line. . .' I would sit under this Willow Tree and play this song over and over again because those lines in the song captured exactly how I felt. Recently I found out my son died on the same date and year the Bono's father did. August 21, 2001. As long as they keep writing songs that stir my thoughts and feelings, which they keep on doing, I can only be grateful for their words that help me release my tears. I also said thank you to U2 after their Chicago show.
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