My old chum, Kevin McCallum, wrote this lovely post on Facebook and I thought it deserved to be shared on a more respectable platform …
Watching U2’s “A sort of Homecoming” documentary the other night was excruciating and cringy. It’s not a band gone too far but an ego tripping over itself to remain relevant.
Bono’s voice fell apart years ago when he couldn’t shout the high notes like he once did. He never had a great voice, but he could sing.
Bono was never a singer but a poet who rolled with the punches. And I loved him for that.
The Edge was the genius behind U2, the sonic hedgehog guitar player who was the only one in the band who could dance without looking weirdly white, and yet who was so freaked out that he went bald early in life he started wearing a hat and then a cap.
The Edge was always my favourite. Watch him dance as he plays, hit the falsetto notes as he backs up Bono…he has it all. Except for the hair.
The Edge’s feet slide and click into the groove as he plays. It’s an ease of movement that speaks to his ease and genius in music.
U2 should really have stopped recording in 2000 when they released All That You Can’t Leave Behind.
That was an album of some worth. When they shook off the necessary excess (and, it must be said, the wondrous song-writing and experiments) of Pop, Zooropa and Achtung Baby, you felt they had found a way back.
But then they fell into a tumble-drying rubble of songs and albums that felt forced and confused.
It was as sad as watching REM stretch beyond their sell-by date. The confusion of “Up” followed the beauty of “New Adventures in HiFi”. The rest were a procession before a rush back to glory with “Accelerate” that was sadly followed by the accident that was “Collapse into Now”.
That ended REM.
But I don’t remember them for that. I remember them for Begin the Begin. For the voice of Stipe.
I wish U2 would not take the Rolling Stones path to retirement, juiced up on the excess of memories and what once was.
Their reworked songs for the A Sort of Homecoming documentary hosted in the most fumbled, wanky mess of a way by David Letterman (the title song of the doccie was a wonderful song from the Unforgettable Fire, one that I play often before sleep) feel unnecessary and gratuitous, an ego trip to change a few words and fewer chords.
Bono looks like his voice – wrinkled, cliched and years past the time when he roared and the world listened. A Sort of Homecoming should be the gentle end to U2.