Saturday, July 7, 2007

Stories for Boys: From a long-time U2 Fan

It’s become boring and even fashionable to say, I’m a fan of U2. The digital age has brought new and exciting acts to the forefront where previously they would have languished in an A&R Manager’s cabinet never to be heard. But yes, I’ve been a fan of U2 since 1980 when their first album, Boy, was released. Although, in the Irish band’s pantheon of great recordings, Boy will never carry the same weight as War, the Joshua Tree, Achtung Baby or even All You Can Leave Behind, it remains a sentimental favorite.

I have all their CDs (I have their LP’s from Boy to the Joshua Tree) and three of their DVDs: Rattle and Hum, Zoo TV Live from Sydney, and Vertigo 05 Live from Chicago. Rattle and Hum I purchased in New York several years ago. It took awhile to actually buy the DVD since I had my beta max tape (oh yes!) of the concert that I purchased in Quiapo all those long years ago for the princely sum of PhP100. I even remember where I bought every single U2 title that I own.

When the new compilation U2 18 singles was released in November 2006, I didn’t pick it up right away. I’m sorry. I’m not terribly impressed with the local pressings of discs and their inlay sleeves. I had to wait until Singapore the other week. But it also had something to do with the track listing. Far too many songs were not included. The Best of 1980-1990 and 1990-2000 were far superior releases, but I guess either the band or their record company, Universal, were not going to wait another decade for the next compilation. Like many other U2 fans, I felt that this was a release for casual listeners so I put it on the back burner.

Despite the album having been out in the market for quite awhile now, the new U2 18 Singles the CD/DVD combo pack was given its own shelf to attract new buyers. Thank God I didn’t purchase it months ago so I picked it up in spite of the hefty S $38 tag.

When I arrived back home, during one sleepless night, I inserted the DVD into the slot of my MacBook. And the show at the 86-thousand seater Stadio San Siro was bleeping awesome! Although the show was edited down to 10 songs, they should have included faster songs than include the slow “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m looking For” and “All I Want Is You.” But that’s nitpicking. Holding the concert and recording it at San Siro has a lot to do with it.

Home to two of the three most successful and popular football clubs in Italian football (Inter Milan and AC Milan), the stadium was designed to have the crowd close to the pitch and with the large 5-Star capacity sating, it creates a frenzied atmosphere.

And with arguably the most important rock act in the world for the last decade or so in the house, you bet it was going to be one heckuva show.

I’m glad that U2 has ditched the pop excess of their live shows circa Pop and Zooropa in favor of a simpler light show. It’s not the kind of psychedelic swirl and brooding that has defined the Cure’s live show (I saw them during their last Curiosa Tour in Randall’s Island in NYC) but it’s still awesome. I think Coldplay sort of experimented with the same during the X&Y Tour.

And the way the crowd got into the show with their singing and response to Bono’s exhortations, it gave me goose bumps. The show was certainly better than the one featured in their United Center DVD. I still can’t get over how aged the guys are with the exception of the Edge. Bono doesn’t hit those high notes as much as he used to. Maybe that’s a combination of age, smoking, the occasional drink, and endless singing and touring.

Hopefully, we’ll be able to catch their next world tour. The band is in Morocco now writing songs for their 12th album and 16th overall release (that includes the live Under A Blood Red Sky and the three collections).

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