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U2 3 Nights Live: First Night

Tonight, U2 held the first night of their U2 3 Nights Live promotional appearances in the US. This appearance took place in Los Angeles and is an "Inside Look" at No Line On The Horizon with the whole band, hosted by Shirley Manson of Garbage.

The interview was broadcast live on radio stations across North America. The band did not play anything live on air. Some studio songs were included in the broadcast; specifically, they were the first five songs from NLOTH.

Read on for a summary of some of the interview's key moments and interesting points.

The band spoke about bringing in other songwriters in the form of Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno. The evolution and stylistic development from How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb was discussed; Adam said that HTDAAB and All That You Can't Leave Behind gave the band more confidence and working with Eno and Lanois brought the band's musical sketches up to an even higher quality. Working in Fez provided a completely new atmosphere and took the album to a different place. Bono described the band as having two instincts, one to experiment and take themselves outside their comfort zone, and the other to basically reflect themselves and focus specifically on songwriting - and that U2's best work happens when these two seemingly opposing instincts are in balance. He then described the last two albums as losing some of the experimentation and that more balance was brought in on NLOTH.

Shirley Manson brought up a quote from Bono saying that Adam was the star of NLOTH. Adam had a tough time responding to this compliment, and explained that the album's recording method of jamming material and moving quickly played to his strengths. It suited him to make decisions quickly and support the others' creativity, rather than working at length in the studio with overdubbing, as lengthy studio time can muddy his musical vision. Bono added that the bass is a powerful presence in U2, and that Adam and Larry are the bedrock of the band. He said Adam has been looking for a more fluid, melodic style, and that the bass part in Magnificent is one of the greatest bass parts.

Bono spoke about how being a singer is still a mysterious subject for him, and that is why it keeps cropping up in his lyrics. He brought up an incident Edge mentioned on Letterman last week about how two female backing singers who were performing with U2 back in 1977 asked Edge to sing since Bono "just shouts", but sometime later on, Bono discovered he could in fact do more than "just shout" and could change the atmosphere in the room with his vocals. He spoke that he is still learning about singing to this day, and that the sufi singers he encountered in Fez were influential. The interview then moved on to Moment Of Surrender; when the song was created, the band realised the experiment of recording in Fez with Eno and Lanois had paid off. It validated taking risks and moving into new territory. Bono mentioned that he got "jumped on by some other voice", a kind of howl that just came out of him that reflected the desperation some of the band's acquiantances have reached with addiction.

Shirley Manson asked Bono about why he decided to write some lyrics on NLOTH in the third person. He responded that he was getting fed up with writing his own story and that he wanted to follow some more extreme characters. It freed him up, but the characters nonetheless became sides or parts of him; telling himself that they were "just" characters was self-trickery. Manson noted that Edge has some lyrical credits; in response, Edge described himself as a bit of a foil for Bono. He added that he knows Bono so well that he suggests lines Bono "almost" has in his head; the reverse happens with guitar lines. In essence, they finish each other's sentences. The interview moved onto Unknown Caller and how Manson finds it lyrically vague; Bono said it's about the same character from Moment Of Surrender, who checks into a motel amidst desperation and doesn't know what to do next, but starts receiving instructions via text messages from his mobile phone. Bono expressed hope that concert audiences will shout these chorus instructions when the band play the song live. Clearly, even though the song has not yet been played at any promotional appearance, the band have every intention of performing it on the 360° Tour.

Manson asked Larry about how he drums with a "violent" posture. Larry responded that "some people learn to create art in a particular way, and some are drummers". He never saw himself as a drummer in U2, but that he is part of something greater; he is a better member of U2 than a pure drummer. Bono added that he and Larry are both better mentally for being in U2. This moved on to a discussion of how the band are still going so many years after beginning. Adam spoke personally about how punk rock liberated him as an awkward teenager and he has never lost that connection. He has realised he can only achieve to the fullest musically as part of the band. Edge said it is a mystery how the band have kept things going, but they are all aware of how special it is to keep U2 going, and to keep U2 going for as long as they can. He revisited the soundbite that every time they go into the studio to record an album, it feels like their first album. It has never been easy for U2, but very rewarding when they get somewhere great, and he would never find anything else as rewarding as being in U2. Manson asked if the band has a deadline and will be finite or if they will keep recording as long as possible; Bono responded "one crap album and you're out" (not two as in the past), but Edge said it would have to be a particularly crap album.

The topic of the tour came up. The idea of the tour was to "blow it out" and make it more accessible to more people, hence stadium shows that are essentially in-the-round. Sticking with arenas would have led to grossly inflated tour prices. The band struggled to remember the precise tour dates; when audience members yelled out the dates, Adam asked sarcastically "who knows the setlist?" Edge said they have no idea how to make use of the performance area in the 360° set-up in stadiums, but it is an exciting prospect to have this heightened openness and space.

Manson asked who makes the band jealous. Bono responded that it happened when Garbage came around - and Nirvana and Oasis. Recently, Kings Of Leon, Interpol, The Killers, The Secret Machines, and Fleet Foxes have either made them feel a bit jealous or changed the game. Furthermore, Manson asked if age bothers the band. Bono just responded "even when we were a boy band, we were a man band". After this, the interview concluded. Stay tuned for U2's second night live, this time in Chicago for a "radio takeover".

Posted on by Axver

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