On U2 & Glastonbury
I spent a rather charming (read:brain-curdling) evening in on Friday night watching U2 perform at Glastonbury live on teh Beeb and, for no apparent reason at all, Setanta Sports.
(Too Famous to Get Fully Dressed is more than just a sassy title – sometimes I am genuinely too broke/drunk/lazy to a) go out or b) own clothes.)
I hadn’t planned to watch U2 (or any of the Glasto coverage, really – don’t give a fuck) but ended up being sucked in for the primary reason that TV during the summer is incalculably shit and I was too lazy to read a book. The banter on Twitter was tremenjous altogether – there’s something about Bono and an underwhelming U2 performance that brings out the snarky bitch in this wonderful nation – with only a few token brave souls swimming upriver.
I wouldn’t call myself a U2 fan as much as I’d say I admire a lot of what they’ve done musically and respect the fact they’ve managed to connect with millions of people the world over, which is no mediocre feat. Nevertheless, they get very little critical media coverage (read: ‘critical’ as in actually criticising) in this country, and it was little surprise that lone ranger Jim Carroll’s blog this morning invited the usual heated debate between the band’s defenders and detractors.
I’ve heard a lot of talk about the set list and, yeah, it did feature a lot of classic material including some of the tracks from Achtung Baby that die-hard fans insist are far better than they actually are (hello ‘Even Better than the Real Thing’). Perhaps it was just me, perhaps it was a bad mix, perhaps I have a shit telly, but I thought they sounded dreadful. Like, not just poor, I mean absolutely, painfully dire.
The band apparently decided to stick to just the four guys on stage instead of beefing up their sound, as they usually do on tour, with keyboards and extra guitars backstage. Now I know that U2 have a huge reputation to live up to and that playing stadium shows to ridiklus numbers of people is a daunting task, but what on earth possessed them to play as a foursome? Some said they sounded over-rehearsed. From where I was sitting it sounded like they felt they could ditch half the band and create the same amount of noises without making any allowances.
Everybody knows that Edge is primarily a studio guitarist and was hugely innovative back when, but on Friday night he was lost. The guitar sound was thin, when you could even hear it at all;- I’m convinced he went for a piss break during ‘Mysterious Ways.’ Bono got in on the act too, strumming an acoustic guitar with the same sort of consummate grace I’d display playing double bass in five-inch heels. Adam Clayton’s bizarre attire alone more than made up for 30 years of being buried far too deep in the mix.
Drummer Larry Mullen was the only one who really did anything, and he more or less summed it up with his uninterested body language in the post-match interview. The other guys might be far enough up themselves (or just genuinely confused) to think it was a great performance but you can rest assured the guy sitting at the back who could see and hear the whole thing wasn’t fooled.
As a counter-weight, I fought my way out of my slump and made it along to the Popical Island all-dayer in Whelan’s on Saturday. I only caught two acts – We Are Losers and Squarehead – but both demonstrated amply how much noise three or four lads and ladies on stage can make with minimal fuss and maximum everything else. Much better than a load of dinosaurs projecting on a field.
And don’t even get me started on Zane Lowe. Except to say he was wearing Ugg boots on Sunday night. Wanker!