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Old 10-18-2004, 04:46 AM   #1
The Fly
Join Date: Oct 2004
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Tops of the Pops - the final word

ok, there's been loads of debate around whether the band performed live or not live at the totp gig. So I thought I'd post my verdict, thanks to being there, yet being located far enough away (just outside the gates) so that the sound level didn't destroy my sense of hearing and sense of judgement.

While the band's crew soundchecked the instruments, the rehearsal, plus the performance for top of the pops, were as some witnesses have correctly stated, playback performances, with Bono singing his part live. This is exactly what happened when the band filmed two versions of BDay for Top of the Pops on the Clarence rooftop.

Even though we were there, and the band did a great job of 'performing' their instruments, there were several signs that it was playback.

A) Larry Mullen Jr had pads on his drums (don't know the technical phrase) which smother the sound. Look closely at his drums during the video of the performance. Interestingly, these were removed by Sam Sullivan the drum tech moments before the actual live versions of Desire and She's Mystery To Me and then put back before the final performance of COBL. Ofcourse, Larry is still hitting the drums and symbols (which weirdly, were replaced inbetween the rehearsal and live performance) and his drumsticks will thus be battered, but he was simply playing back over the recorded drums

B) The sound levels (apart from the bass) were much quieter than Bono's voice, which wasn't the case during Desire

C) The instrument sound was EXACTLY the same from the original Verigo recording (when performed live, instruments always sound different to the recorded version)

D) when the band did perform Desire and SAMTO, the instruments sounded very different and the sound was a lot louder.

Whether we like it or not, the band performed to a playback, which I don't have a problem with and no one else there did either. Things will obviously change when they hit the road, and become more used to performing the tunes.

Irrespective of whether people were one inch from Adam's nose, it was obvious from being further back (where the sound levels were less and therefore unable to distort our judgement).

I have to say that it was a completely surreal experience and one that I'll cherish. Bono's voice was outstanding and the two new tunes sound classic U2, I think we're all in for a treat when the album is launched.

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Old 10-18-2004, 09:56 AM   #2
War Child
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I was there as well and as I wrote in another thread: I had the time of my life!

And what people shouldn't forget is this: the outside performance was only going to be one song (Vertigo). Because there were a lot of people waiting outside the gates in the rain, the band decided to play some more songs. This actually made the TOTP people freak out a bit, because they didn't expect it.

Okay, the band didn't play live (except for Bono's singing, which was definitely live!), but because it's a live broadcast they can't take the risk of equipment failing. In the Netherlands for instance, the bands (in general) do play live, but it's not broadcasted live. So they can play it over and over again when something goes wrong.

That's my two cents... And again: I'm a happy U2-fan at the moment!
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