January 26, 2009

Ten Non-Sucky U2 Items from the Past Decade


Yeah, just to balance the (otherwise totally valid) negativity of the previous post with some things that the Rich Irish Dorks accomplished during this Decade of their Neo-Classicism that did, in fact, make me happy in the most fanboyishly nerdy way:

Reinventing "The Fly" live
Since it's my favorite U2 song, this is an important thing to not screw up. The extended Eno-esque intro during Elevation 2001 and killer echo-feedback loop during Vertigo '05 were worthy. The 4/10/05 performance in San Jose was particularly ass-kicking (naturally, the night AFTER I saw them).

Diverse live setlists
In general, the sets for the majority of both Elevation and Vertigo were, for U2, amazingly diverse in terms of the pool of songs they drew from. Lots of "Pop" songs survived well into Elevation, and the un-mothballing of several ancient tunes from "Boy" during Vertigo worked surprisingly well.

...And otherwise refusing to suck live
More songs that were fun to see done well live: "Gone" and "Kite" (during Elevation), "Until the End of the World (both Elevation & Vertigo), "City of Blinding Lights," "Electric Co.," and "Zoo Station" (during Vertigo).

Non-sucky opening acts
Getting P.J. Harvey to open Elevation's first (U.S.) leg was a fucking coup, boyos. Also, some of the openers for Vertigo Europe weren't too shabby either: Doves, Interpol, Franz Ferdinand, The Soundtrack of Our Lives, and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Plus the Secret Machines for the Mexico shows.

Best-Of package design
The otherwise marginally useful "Best of 1980-1990" and "Best of 1990-2000" had some good work from Steve Averill and the 4-5-1 creative team. The mostly-useless "U218" career-spanner wasn't terrible, design-wise, either.

DVD Releases
Holy shit, the 90's best-of DVD was a fucking god-send, and then Zoo TV and PopMart both got deluxe double-disc releases. And yeah, finally having Red Rocks on DVD was nice too, I guess.

The "Window in the Skies" video
Say what you will about U2's egomania vis a vis getting other legends of rock, pop, and country all synced together to sing a not-bad, but not-great song (itself the only reason to buy "U218"), but it was a masterwork of editing. The Modernista people who pulled that shit off should get medals—and I say this because, in my experience, editing video to match music is HARD.

"The Wanderer," Live (!)
It's true, U2 played the epic "Zooropa" closer at a Johnny Cash tribute while they were on the road with Vertigo. Very cool.

Vertigo's "Heart of Darkness"
Sure, Bono's headband/flag/Coexist outfit was hideous, but the strech of the Vertigo show that comprised "Love and Peace or Else," "Sunday Bloody Sunday," "Bullet the Blue Sky," and "Running to Stand Still" was the best quasi-politicizing they've done since Zoo TV's excruciatingly awkward Bosnia hookups.

Reissuing the early albums
Yeah, the 2007/08 double-disc versions of "Boy," "October," "War," "Under a Blood Red Sky," and "The Joshua Tree" were super-expensive, but getting some comprehensive reissues (and their companion rare goodies) on disc is much, much better than the bloated, mediocre redundancy of their "Complete U2" iTunes box set from 2004.

Those maybe aren't the bits that the band themselves would list, or even other crazy diehard fans, but I don't care. I'm not a total hater—it's just that the last two albums haven't cut it for me, and "Get On Your Boots" still stinks. We shall see about this "No Line on the Horizon" album. Oh yes, the quest stands upon the edge of a knife indeed.

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