U2 Night in Canada

by Carey Rutherford

What is there to say? How much has been written about the music of this Irish politicizer? How many words have lingered over the poeticism and sweeping imagery of the Irish history they inhabit, or the musical landscapes they explore? 30 years of writing and performing and ranting and bitching and playing and fighting and then writing and performing more, and still they go on. “How long shall we sing this song?”

U2 came to Edmonton, and there is so much publicity around the events in Adam, Larry, Bono and the Edge’s public lives that it’s nearly redundant to even talk about it. Oh, so the guy falls during practice and hurts his back, causing a year of tour delays. Oh, so they’ve been knocking about the idea that, maybe soon, they might have had enough of the U2 lifestyle. Oh, so two of them are continually exploring other musical avenues like soundtracks and musicals, while the rhythm section does what rhythm sections do, and keep the beat going. So Bono, typically ignoring his celebrity status, is hitchhiking around BC (see video). But what can be productively said about such events?

There are little tempests, like the misspelling of Winipeg, or political gesturing which is at least consistent, if nothing else. Where would we be, after all, if Bono weren’t pissed off about something, and standing on a stage or in front of a camera discussing it candidly, and with some vitriol.

A recent philosophical treatise which seems to have a similar direction as some of Bono’s rants said that ‘Miracles are seen in light, and light and strength are one’; and like other things labelled ‘One’ (the One Campaign which is allowed to promote itself onstage during the 360 tour (“ONE is a grassroots campaign of more than 2 million people committed to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable diseases.”), or the song of theirs which had so much success when released in 1991), the most consistent element of U2’s music and writing and posturing and current tour is one of connection between strength and light, the light of opening one’s eyes and the strength of seeing everyone around you as part of your world. This is not a world of separation, or of hierarchies. As is demonstrated by an earlier version of U2 singing “Don’t believe in riches, success is to give/Don’t believe in excess but you should see where I live,’ the eyes are open, the hearts flow relatively unfettered, and always the change, the miracle, comes from the meeting of these elements. As the One promotional message onstage claims, change begins with one voice, in union with many others all speaking together.

U2 came to Alberta: they kicked out the jams for a blissful 60,000+; as usual they preach about the light of awareness and the strength of our universal brotherhood; and apparently they want to be like us. Or so Bono says.

If you can’t believe Bono, who can you believe?

Author: Paul Verhaegh

Music is oxygen for the soul. And there is so much music out there that you don’t even know about. If you like writing and need some oxygen now and then, writing about music is a natural combination. My love for music made me take piano lessons: after a few years it became clear that it didn’t really stick with me. Nor did the trumpet, which I tried to learn too. Well, maybe I should have tried it earlier in live. Starting it your thirties is a bit late, even when it is in your early thirties! A lasting legacy of this episode is that I realized that making music is like giving a speech without reading it from paper, although there are exceptions, like orchestras. But once they've started a song or tune it sounds like they just go with the flow, or, as the expression goes, be taken away by their own muse.