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U2 works hard to keep shows fresh

(Toronto Sun) -- When U2 plays the Air Canada Centre tonight to launch the second leg of their North American tour, all eyes will be on singer Bono.

But all ears will be on Edge.

Much like the veteran Irish rockers' latest album, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, the band's tour showcases The Edge's signature harmonic guitar sound.

"I'm enjoying the tour, and yes, it is partly because there's a lot for me to play," agreed the 44-year-old guitarist inside the ACC on Saturday night during a Canadian exclusive interview with the Sun. "It's a real guitar player's tour and I'm revelling in that aspect of it. But more than that I think the response from the U2 crowd has been overwhelming. Everywhere we've gone it's just been this unbelievable reaction. It's humbling, because it's not us that people are applauding. It's, in some weird way, themselves and their own lives and what those songs mean to them."

Earlier this year, U2's longevity and continued relevancy was rewarded when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and also picked up three Grammys.

But, after having a month off -- U2's last European show was on Aug. 14 in Lisbon, Portugal -- The Edge said he was looking forward to relaunching the Vertigo tour in Toronto and spending the whole week here. Their final of four ACC shows is Saturday night.

"It's a city we've spent many, many days and weeks in over the years and our times here have always been great," said the guitarist, seated in the stands at the ACC while his bodyguard sat nearby. "I came here first when I was 16 years old before we were even touring and it's one of those cities that I've always really enjoyed."

During the world tour launch in San Diego last March 28, U2 played seven songs off Bomb, plus tunes dating all the way back to their 1980 debut Boy and many greatest hits over the course of two hours.

But The Edge said the set list has evolved over the course of the first 60 shows -- especially when they moved into stadiums in Europe during the summer and expanded it by four songs -- and there will be even more changes tonight at the ACC.

"It definitely feels like starting over," he said. "And that's what we want to do. We want to do something different. It's nine months since we started thinking about the tour, and that's a long time. We want to keep developing the show. We never allow it to become too static. We want to introduce new ideas as we go."

The Edge says the biggest fear is becoming too theatrical.

"Like the best rock 'n' roll bands always have, from Jimi Hendrix to Springsteen to the Stones, there's a little element of theatre. But, in the end, it still is rock 'n' roll. It's gotta evolve. It's gotta be fresh. If it becomes theatre, really, then it's lost an element of jeopardy and spontaneity, which is crucial."

And even though The Edge has known his bandmates in U2 -- rounded out by bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. -- since they were teenagers at the same Dublin high school, they can still surprise him on stage.

"Adam's coming into his own as a performer on this tour," said The Edge. "It's great to see him out there on the ramps, like really giving it loads. That hasn't been his interest for a few tours now. So it's nice to see that spirit back with Adam. I think there's a lot that Bono has been able to draw from his other political work and has made a kind of natural home for it within the context of the show and that's new. And Larry, he's playing keyboards, he's singing. It's amazing. I'd never thought I'd see Larry playing keyboards at a U2 show."

Posted on by Macphisto

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