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Old 04-08-2005, 12:55 PM   #41
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Here is something interesting I found on another message board. Maybe this will help put to rest those theories of the "2 or 3 guitarists under the stage".


411 -- Musicians, Technology, and Technique

Ask Mike

1,396 words
1 July 2003
Copyright 2003 United Entertainment Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Hi, Mike. I was checking out the U2 Live @ Boston DVD and noticed a lot of sequenced material happening within the set. I understand you programmed these elements for the show and I was curious how a rock & roll band such as U2 can improvise and "rock" when tied to a click track. Is it possible to repeat sections at random and extend outros, etc., with the sequencing setup you created? Also how is all this triggered? I think this info would be useful for rock bands looking at integrating hard disk playback into sets. MIKE

I programmed the sequences for that U2 tour, but was only there for the first four shows and some promo and award shows before that. It's a long, painful story, but I had to leave U2 to return to Madonna for her 2001 tour. I made very sure that I left U2 in good hands, but wish I could've found a suitable replacement for Madonna instead. U2 is definitely one of the greatest bands of all time, and it was a real honor to be a part of their family for a while. Maybe someday I'll do a column about the virtues of not leaving a gig once you've been hired, no matter how much you try to make it "right." I hired Terry Lawless to take over for me with U2 and he did a great job.

Here's how the material was prepared: They transferred the parts from multitrack to ADAT for me and I digitally transferred the data to Digital Performer through my MOTU 2408. Rehearsals were in Dublin, Ireland for about three months, then Miami for production rehearsals.

When I was there, U2 did have sequences running, but mainly it was for some percussion parts, a few background vocals, and some 16th-note-type keyboard parts that Edge played. The approach was to have a basic structure for most of the songs, then, usually on the outro, it would loop for as long as Bono and the boys felt necessary.

Terry used a CM Automations Motor Mix to fade percussion and keyboard parts in and out as needed for these outros. Larry Mullen, the drummer, liked to have a click going at all times, just to keep the tempos consistent. Larry preferred shaker patterns as opposed to the standard quarter-note click.

There were some songs that only had a click, so Terry and I were also required to play keyboard parts offstage. Songs like "One" and "Bullet the Blue Sky" were very freeform songs and live keyboard parts were the only way to make it happen. Other songs like "Where the Streets Have No Name," "Beautiful Day," and "Elevation" were pretty structured until the outros.

Sometimes Bono would change the form slightly on songs like "Mysterious Ways", and we had to be aware of where he was and then "punch in" as needed. When that kind of thing happens, it's very important to have a drummer with great time like Larry, who can adjust as needed. With Digital Performer, if you hit Play after you hit Pause, then playback is pretty much instantaneous - just don't start at the wrong place!

We could've looped certain sections at random, but we didn't actually do that very much. We had two systems running in sync, and the way to do that is to put the A system into a loop of the solo section, for example, then, when the band is ready to jump to the next section, have the B system ready to start there. Punch in, and switch to the B system. Then get the A system back in sync. Doing this can make you prematurely gray, though. Thankfully it didn't happen too often.

U2 used a sequencer as enhancement only. If the computer died, the show would go on. That's the only way to do this with this type of band. It's important that the person running the computer be a good keyboard player as well as a good computer jockey. Terry is both, and actually plays saxophone and runs the computer system on the never-ending Cher farewell tour. My only regret is that I couldn't be there for the entire U2 tour. I rarely get to work with a band whose music I actually love.


Mike McKnight has programmed tours for some of the biggest names in pop music, including Madonna and Mariah Carey. If you'd like to ask him questions, send an email entitled "Ask Mike" to muso4hire@earthlink.net; Mike's website is at www.mcknightsoundsinc.com. All levels of questions are welcome, and we promise to keep your surname and email address confidential.


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Old 04-08-2005, 07:06 PM   #42
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Nice article there. That is indeed illuminating.

So, it seems like we can admit to this:

1.) Some things are "triggered" by Edge
2.) Some tapeloops are controlled by elves
3.) Some additional keyboard parts are played by these same elves

But, boy, mention the fact that there MIGHT be a guitar player underneath the stage, people lose their minds.

I love U2. Can't wait for the show. But it's goofy to think that all those extra guitar parts are looped or magically controlled by Edge's foot. Any guitar player could tell you that that is an oversimplification of what samplers can do on the fly.

Next, you'll claim that Edge can produce multi-part harmonies like one of those Tibetan throat singers for the breakdown near the end of "Beautiful Day."

U2 and Edge especially are crazy perfectionists. They want to sound like the records, even if it means adding a little help.

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Old 04-09-2005, 03:51 AM   #43
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all i know is i frickin love edges new solo in bullet, sounds very rock n roll , and i actually like the way they go into the hands that built america

but just me
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Old 04-09-2005, 01:22 PM   #44
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Originally posted by Neilz
I don't think of the Gone intro as a guitar part... This part is processed even beyond Edge's guitar effects... It would sound pretty weird if Edge played this himself (which he easily could of course)...
The Gone intro is an effect made by a DigiTech Whammy pedal. He basically has it set to one or two octaves higher as he's playing the notes. But it's definitely A SEQUENCER FILE, which is a SORT OF backing track- a perfect example of this is the keyboard/chime thing that they play during "Bad"- it's a file that's either on someone's computer, or someone is playing it- but I have seen keyboards beneath the stage in the "understage area" before.
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Old 04-09-2005, 03:21 PM   #45
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Have you guys seen the Discovery Channel special "on the road with popmart?" - it shows Edge's guitar tech underneath the stage. He talks about edge's effects and the foot triggers and how he helps him out from under the stage with all of those effects. Didn't mention if he played with them though. Didn't seem like it.
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Old 04-09-2005, 08:58 PM   #46
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The Gone intro might have been created with the digitech, but it sure isn't triggered by that pedal.

I was just watching SNL with Green Day and it reminded me of all the U2 backing tracks. Nary an acoustic to be seen, but lots of acoustic guitar on their big hit single.

It seems like nobody wants to risk sounding different than the single version of the their songs...
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Old 04-09-2005, 09:01 PM   #47
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The Edge never plays the Gone notes He plays the big open E chords along with Bono. Some say Larry triggers the notes. I tend to think not. Larry doesn't have much in the way of other pads besides his rather cool drum configuration.
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Old 04-10-2005, 08:23 AM   #48
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Edge triggers the instruments and backing tracks that you hear live. Take, for example, One when Bono goes on his political rants at the beginning of it and Edge plays the same riff over and over. If you watch some of the DVD's, you can see Edge step on a pedal to his left that changes the backing track from the orchestral sound in the beginning to another backing sound. These two sequencing pedals can be seen in this picture:


They are the two pedals that are on that small riser with the one white cable coming out of them. These change and start/stop the sequences.

He did play the Gone notes with the Digitech Whammy on the POP your, but changed to using it as a backing instrument on the Elevation tour.

There is, also, another musician in the "underworld" that we do not see. His name escapes me but there was an article on him and how he was used to play some of the keyboard and synth sounds live. He, for example, played the Streets intro live as well as the piano in Walk On.
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Old 04-11-2005, 07:56 AM   #49
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Here's some technical details from the tour.

Dallas doesn't play guitar on any song. He does switch effects for Edge when he is away from his pedal board. He has done this since Zoo Tv. The other reason why he has the same pedal board as Edge is for emergency back up. If Edge's board ever goes down the show will still go on as Dallas can switch effects till he can place the board onto the stage.

Sequencers are used during the show for various reasons. As well as adding other instruments to the sound and a click track for Larry, they also produce time code which is used for video playback. Edge also has a pedal that produces time code. This was used during The Fly on Zoo Tv as it kept the visuals in time with the tempo of the song.

For this tour Larry is now purely on in ear monitors. In the past Larry used IEMs and monitor speakers. The shaker sound you could hear was Larry's click track coming through his monitors, which was picked up by the mics round his kit. This blended better into the overall sound than a normal click track.

Bono and Edge also wear IEM. The moulds can give various amounts of isolation which is why Bono strums the guitar before The Fly. He can only hear his guitar in his ears and not from his amp.

I have been in "underworld" during Elevation Tour and there isn't a lot of room under there. I have a couple of friends on the tour and will see "underworld" on this tour.
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Old 04-11-2005, 10:31 AM   #50
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wow - that is cool.

I always wondered does the whole band hear the click tracks, or just Larry - I would think that this would be very disturbing for Bono or even Edge...

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