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Old 08-08-2005, 03:48 AM   #1
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Happy Birthday Guitar Hero!*

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By Devlin Smith, Contributing Editor
2005.08



I've been a fan of U2 for longer than I can remember but in all that time I never really saw The Edge as a guitar hero. I do hold guitarists in quite high esteem but it was the shredders and virtuosos that caught my attention; players like Slash and, master of them all, Eddie Van Halen. With his deliberate, understated style of play, Edge never really registered with me.

Certainly "Bullet the Blue Sky" made me swoon and "One" tugged at my heartstrings, but even in his most stellar moments, Edge's playing just didn't grab me the same as Brian Setzer's candy apple red Gretsch always has. That is, until the Vertigo Tour.

I was lucky enough to get tickets for three of U2's first six dates of the tour (that's San Diego 1, Anaheim 1 and Los Angeles 1 for the curious). And while Edge's playing wasn't necessarily my driving force, my admiration of his singing, songwriting, performing, intelligence and humor, and the fact that as 27-year-old woman with a 13-year-old girl stashed not-so-deep inside, I think Edge is fantastically handsome, any day spent in the same atmosphere as the man is a good one.

But during the course of the first show, and the two that followed, something amazing happened—Edge transformed into a rock star before my eyes. He came out of his shell, stomping, strutting, smiling (smiling!), playing to the audience, playing with his band members, and truly glad to be in the spotlight. Gone was the shy boy from "I Will Follow," the man who closed his eyes when singing "Sunday Bloody Sunday" in Mexico, Bono's straight man, and in his place was someone who demanded awe and attention, and got it in spades.



Bono has long described Edge as a gentleman and perhaps that's why he wasn't a true guitar god until this tour. Gentleman aren't rock stars, they're quiet and unassuming, never the type to attract attention to themselves. Attracting attention is all that rock stars do, jumping off amps, smashing guitars, setting gear on fire. Edge was never that type; he'd play his part, play it well, begrudgingly accept applause and make his way off stage.

Now Edge seems to be a whole new performer—a person finally coming to terms with being a member of the world's biggest band and ready to live it up. He has played at rock star in the past, wearing the spangled pants and chunky jewelry while mimicking a series of well-choreographed kicks and punches. But that's all it seemed to be, mimicry. Just as Bono was doing his best Lizard King act during the early '90s, Edge was trying his best to be Hendrix, Page, Townsend, but it was more dress up than anything.

On this tour, it seems that Edge has found a comfortable middle ground, a way to meld all that rock star flash with his own gentlemanly genius. His playing style hasn't changed, it's still all about the spiraling notes, the solos without demand, but the performance has ramped up several notches. Now it's hard for me to take my eyes off Edge; not because I want to look but because it seems he wants me, and everyone else in the arena, to look. And continue to look I will.

So on his 44th birthday I want to tell Edge, wow, I've been knocked out by you so many times on this tour and can't wait to see what you have in store for me on the third Vertigo leg. You're a rock star now, man, so live it up. Demolish some gear, light something on fire, trash a hotel room, and just revel in your new-found guitar hero status.
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Old 08-08-2005, 05:07 AM   #2
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Well said!
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Old 08-08-2005, 07:52 AM   #3
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Old 08-08-2005, 04:27 PM   #4
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I think its scary that you never found the most original guitarist since hendrix to be a virtuoso. Virtuoso does not mean fast playing, it means a musician with masterly ability, technique, or personal style. Edge is all of these things and more. i've always seen him as the greatest ever because people have tried to copy him and failed just as they've tried to copy hendrix and failed. Everyone tries to emulate the edge or hendrix, guitarists who are at two complete different ends of the spectrum, but sound very alike because of their overly bright, full sound (which comes from their fingers and not effects) and the fact that they make a living hammering onto 4th notes. Edge has always been a guitar hero, not in the typical sense of a shredder but in the sense that he has always been a complete original. Thats my definition of a guitar hero, one who's playing is completely singular to themselves. One little point i like to bring up when people start discussing "greatest guitarist ever" at a party is this: three guitarists have written the musical architecture for more famous songs than any other guitarists in history combined. George Harrison, Keith Richards and The Edge. Song writing and musicianship are the ultimate technicality, not speed and not difficulty. End of story.
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Old 08-11-2005, 07:54 AM   #5
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WELL SAID The One 1932!
The Edge HAS ALWAYS BEEN A GUITAR HERO TO ME, due to his skills well recognized by you

Smith must have been blind or deaf all of this time...
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Old 08-11-2005, 08:21 AM   #6
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Great post The One!
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Old 08-11-2005, 08:38 AM   #7
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Glad to hear you guys i agree. While smiths article is very well written, i never ever classified the edge as "gentlemanly." The first time i heard him live his guitar playing grabbed me by the balls, dragged me thru the mud and pulled me into heaven... not very gentlemanly if you ask me . Anyhow, edge is God, all hail LORD EDGE!
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Old 08-11-2005, 10:09 AM   #8
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Lord Edge Yes!

The most talented and inovative guitarrist the rock world has ever seen....
As a rock analyst, Smith's completely lost......it seems only rock stars impress him.....
And yes Smith does write well..........maybe he can write us all Birthday cards, what do you think?
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Old 08-11-2005, 10:50 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by Nube Gris
Lord Edge Yes!

The most talented and inovative guitarrist the rock world has ever seen....
As a rock analyst, Smith's completely lost......it seems only rock stars impress him.....
And yes Smith does write well..........maybe he can write us all Birthday cards, what do you think?
First, to clarify, I'm a girl. The thing about musical tastes is that it's all subjective, it's impossible to definitely say that any one artist is or isn't a genius. I grew up listening to a lot of hard rock music so the guitarists I most admired were more in-your-face with their playing and performing than The Edge has ever been. That's not to say that at that time I didn't appreciate U2's music or The Edge's playing, it's just that he didn't fit in with my definition of a guitar hero or guitar god. Talent and hero status are two different things and while for the longest time I saw Edge as possessing the one, it wasn't until recently that I saw him possessing both.

And I appreciate the compliments on my writing.
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Old 08-11-2005, 01:07 PM   #10
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I do agree with you Devlin and understand well....your musical tastes were probably more hard rock, so yeah The Edge was probably a little bit out of your idea of "rock god"....

And yes you do write very nice, so maybe you know.......if i could have some words......my birthday is April 20....and im a Gentleman, and handsome

Just kidding
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Old 08-12-2005, 02:37 PM   #11
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I met the Edge at the U2 Concert in 2001 in Toronto and From
the Stage i Can Tell You all , He Is Very Internally Powerfull.

What a Force of Nature in the Sense that He Can Allocate Great
Guitar Verses and at the Same Time Carry a Tune Vocal as good
and Sometimes Better then Bono, and at the Same Time Play
The Piano on New Years Day . I have always Found that to Be
A Great Stretch and Very Impressive over the Years

You Get a Feeling that behind it all that hes a Welsh Countryboy
Who Just Happens to be Really Rock and Roll

Happy Birthday Edgey
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