Sunday, 27 June 2010

Sunshine, Glastonbury and Big Brother - It Must be Summer!

We've been having a wonderful few weeks of sunshine, in fact it has een so dry there is talk of a water shortage on the books soon!  For me Glastonbury has always signalled the start of summer.  I've never been in person but have always watched it live on TV and seen many a fledgling act that has gone on to become famous there.  What I love about Glastonbury is how different it is from other festivals,  it has such an eclectic mix of acts and audience who just seem to love every minute of it.  Where else can you see Rolf Harris, Willie Nelson, Vampire Weekend, Pet Shop Boys, Ellie Goulding and Snoop Dogg on the same bill? Even during the many years when the festival has become a mudbath it doens't dampen the fun.

I've just watched Muse's set and, unlike last night's headliner Gorillaz (who were a poor substitute for U2), they were stunning.  And our man the Edge did make an appearance when he played  Where the Streets Have No Name with Muse, Matt Bellamy being a worthy stand in for Bono.  Great to see Edge and the song get a positive reception.  There was an interview with Edge afterwards and he said how much he enjoyed playing with Muse.  When asked how Bono was he said he was working on his rehab and that it would be a "race" for him to be ready for Turin but that he hoped he would be ok for it.  He also said that U2 had to do Glastonbury in the future, but didn't say they would be there next year.  A couple more photos of Edge with Muse can be found here

Here's the Muse/Edge performance of Streets:

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Shakespeare at the Priory

I saw A Midsumme Night's Dream again the other day -it was performed in the open air at Lanercost Priory as part of the Lanercost festival.  It was just a local production and not as professional as the one I saw at Theatre by the Lake a few months ago.  But you couldn't beat the location, the priory was founded in 1169 with stones taken from the Roman built Hadrian's Wall which ran close to the site.  It is now a picturesque ruin.   

The play was performed right beside the priory and it was the first time I'd seen a play performed outdoors and A Midsummer Night's Dream is the perfect play to see that way as it is mainly set in the forest. It was magical to watch the story unfold as the swifts swooped low, their piercing call echoing within the walls of the ancient buildings, (which were around 400 years older than the priory itself) whilst wood pigeons cooed contentedly in their perches in nearby trees.  Nature's magic was all around us and on the stage and it was a lovely experience to see my favourite Shakespeare play in this way and luckily the weather was perfect.

European 360 Leg to go Ahead as Planned?

Paul McGuinness gave a short interview with the Herald newspapaer and was optimisitic about Bono being able to return to the stage soon, he said. "The European leg of the tour starts in Turin on August 6 and that has not been postponed."  He also said that they were busy re-arranging US/Canadian dates for 2011 and hoped to announce the new tour dates soon. 

A rumour that is doing the rounds is that U2 will tour Australia later this year, I have no idea if there is any substance to that, hope it is true though, they have many loyal fans there.

Read the interview here

Edge with Muse at Glasto?

Read about it here U2 Guitarist Rumoured to Play With Muse at Glastonbury I think this rumour could be true.

Monday, 21 June 2010

In Ireland, Tuesday's Grace

Bono has written another Op-Ed Guest Column for The New York Times, this time his subject is closer to home - Northern Ireland and the Bloody Sunday killings.  Last week the Saville Report into this event was published, it is a lengthy document but the last paragraph of the "Overall Assessment" in the Principal Conclusions report puts the findings in a nutshell

5.5 The firing by soldiers of 1 PARA on Bloody Sunday caused the deaths of 13 people and injury to a similar number, none of whom was posing a threat of causing death or serious injury. What happened on Bloody Sunday strengthened the Provisional IRA, increased nationalist resentment and hostility towards the Army and exacerbated the violent conflict of the years that followed. Bloody Sunday was a tragedy for the bereaved and the wounded, and a catastrophe for the people of Northern Ireland. (Crown Copyright)

I am old enough to remember when this happened, even then, in my youthful carefree mind, something felt wrong about it.  Bloody Sunday has haunted the Irish, British, English, Catholics, Protestants for nearly 40 years, now at last we know what truly happened and our new Prime Minister David Cameron ("Still in his wrapping paper" - Bono) has apologised unreservedly. 

Bono's article is a wonderful piece of writing, bringing all the strands of the situation together wonderfully and in his usual optimistic manner, focusing on change and healing of communities.  Read it here  Bono's New York Times Guest Op-Ed Column June 18th 2010

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Sad News

Someone I got to know 20 years ago through our mutual love of U2 died the other day.  We never became close friends, we were moreso acquaintances, she was a part of a group of us, "the girls," who used to hang around a lot (especially in U2 concert queues!) during U2 tours in the 1990's.  Jackie had been ill for a couple of years and passed away (far too young) on Thursday and I've felt very sad as I thought of her, her family and memories over the last couple of days.  We shared many a U2 concert, 3am hysteria in Jury's hotel after a Dublin RDS gig,  the 24 hour madness before and after the Astoria show, the highs and low of getting a U2 photopass, being completely drenched during an electrical storm as Mr MacPhisto made his first appearance on stage in Rotterdam ..... 

Rest in Peace Jackie.      

Monday, 14 June 2010

He Suits Blue.....

More photos of Bono out and about in the South of France have surfaced, there are no details as yet where they were taken.  He's looking much better, and for the first time he doesn't have that "pained" look on his face, he must be healing well.  Like the longer hair.  More photos can be viewed here

Time For a Change

I was getting a bit bored with my old blog design so have decided to change it to this.  Thought it was nice and summery - the way our weather is going this is about as summery as it'll get around here!

Friday, 11 June 2010

Out and About

There has been news of Bono being out and about in the area near his home in the South of France over the past few days.  Below is a photo taken the other day.  Nice to see Bono well on the road to recovery, shame about the outfit...... LOL.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

U2 360 at the Rose Bowl DVD Review

I had pre-ordered the Deluxe version of the 360 at the Rose Bowl DVD and was surprised to see it pop through my letter box yesterday!  So last night I sat down with a glass of red wine and watched disc one.  I was a bit worried what I would think about it as I had not been that impressed by the hour long highlights shown on Sky TV earlier in the week.  I haven't mentioned every song and my review is my initial impressions, I haven't sat and thought about it, it's just the impressions and feelings I got while watching.

Get On Your Boots starts the show,  I realise that I really don't like this song very much now, it seems kind of clumsy.  Magnificent was next - this is a song that definitely should start the show, it's perfect for that.  The audience was a bit subdued to say the least and Bono worked hard to motivate them and shouted, "Get off your fat asses."  LOL! 

Beautiful Day was well received and Bono added at bit of God's Country at the end which was a nice touch.  Again Bono worked hard to get the audience going in Mysterious Ways.  He introduced the band, Larry was U2's James Dean, Adam, Rhett Butler - "Suave, sophisticated, frequently gone with the wind", a reference to Adam's problem with wind .  Edge was a "Visitor from outer space" who boldly goes where no other guitar player goes, "Mr Spock to us, the Edge to you."  He described himself as a mixture between Arnie Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito, which besides the lack of height I didn't really get.

Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For was a special moment, as often happens the audience took over the singing, I think that was the point the crowd finally got into the concert.  I got that warm, fuzzy feeling I often get a U2 concerts when something special is happening that is beyond the music.  Why does this song affect people so?  I think it's because it touches a nerve deep within, across all borders, we are all searching for something, we are all striving, so can relate to this song. 

Bono called out "Buzz Aldrin's in the house, the second man to walk on the moon."  2009 was the 40th anniversary of the first men on the moon. 

Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of  was lovely, a quiet acoustic version - there was a funny interchange between Bono and Edge at the beginning.

Next was No Line on the Horizon  and seeing this confirmed it is definitely my favourite song from the last album.  energetic, a bit raw round the edges, I love when Bono just blasts out a song like that.  Love the bit where the band come crashing in again at "Traffic cop...." fab.

Elevation was another the audience liked, but it is not one of my favourite U2 songs.  Liked the bit Bono put on the end,  females fans will enjoy it LOL!

I really enjoyed In a Little While though it is not a favourite song of mine.  There were views of the earth from space and the International Space Station on the claw screens which worked really well with the song.  At the end Belgian astronaut Frank De Winne recited some lines of the song, which again was very appropriate with lyrics such as "A man takes a rocket ship into the skies."  Nice.

The Unforgettable Fire was wonderful. The claw lit up beautifully, complimenting the music well.  Once more I marvelled at the talent of such young men in the early 1980's writing such a fabulous, complicated and mature song,  Bono mentioned Stephen Gateley, who had recently died, as "A beautiful spirit, a bright shining spark."

There were some great aerial shots of the claw and stadium during City of Blinding Lights,  again it worked really well with the song. 

Vertigo rocked, the screen "spinning" manically at the end.  Crazy (I can't bothered to write out the full title of the song, it's too long!) came across well, the sound cranked up on my headphones was much better than on the TV programme the other day.  I still love this version of the song, in fact I like it better than the album version.  Bono gave some clapping lessons - and said they had a "Cuban beat going."

One was another of those moments, it's a song that brings people together, performed wonderfully, throughout the concert I thought Bono's voice was excellent.

Streets was dramatic, the stadium was lit up and all you could see was a mass of people having  ball.  One camera shot was from behind the band members who had gathered together- Bono standing astride two monitors - it gave the viewer an idea of what it was like for the band to look out over that sea of people, amazing.

Ultraviolet was slightly different to the European version, the screen intro differed, though it was still orange, no poem, just the Zoo baby speaking.  The "steering wheel" was illuminated with red lights with a white light at the centre that shone onto Bono's face.  I found that much better, as sometimes UV was too dark at shows I saw last year.  His laser suit sent of beams of red light for ages, he must have been plugged in for along time! 

With or Without You, what can I say?  Arguably the best song U2 have ever written, again at a very young age. The steering wheel was now lit up blue. I love how Bono works with this song, he always seems to bring something new to it.  At the end he took off his "suit of lights" (fame?) put it on a clothes hanger and hung it from the wheel and it was lifted up and disappeared into the claw.

The closing song was Moment of Surrender.  I still feel this song is not a good finale to a show.  I know U2 nearly always have a lowkey ending to their gigs, but they are also uplifting.  I find Moment of Surrender quite depressing, almost dirge-like and not the best way to end a show.

All in all I enjoyed the DVD, the band played and sang well and seemed to be enjoying themselves.  The sound was good via my headphones.  The whole show flowed well and there was some good use of the claw to compliment the songs.  It brought back great memories for me of the shows I saw last year, I found I often had that smile on my face that I get when watching U2.  I haven't watched the other disc yet, I hope to do that soon.

I must admit I was also very aware of Bono and what he does physically in a show, and I will be very surprised if he will be recovered enough to be able to do the European leg of this year's tour.  He has to heal, stregthen his muscles, then get fit for a tour, I doubt it can be done.  Though I suppose it might be possible to move the dates back a few weeks.  I might be wrong, I hope I am, but I wouldn't want Bono to injure himself further for the sake of a tour.

Over the past few months my relationship with U2 has been a bit strained at times for various reasons.  But I think the rocky patch is passing.  I was surprised by how concerned I was by Bono's health problems, it was almost like a friend was unwell. And watching the DVD made me realise how good U2 are at their job too.  All they have to do now is bring out a special album, and the present circumstances give them a good opportunity to do just that.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Getting Better

The first photos of Bono post-surgery have appeared on the Net.  A fan saw Bono in a car with Paul McGuinness in Beaulieu sur Mer and snapped a couple of photos.  Bono looks tired and frail, which is no wonder after what he's been through, but it's good to see the Bono spirit is still there.  I kind of want to give him a big hug but he looks so fragile, bless. Wonder if Paul is there to make sure he doesn't overdo it??  One thing is for sure, the South of France is the perfect place to recuperate.  Get well soon Bono!

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Death in West Cumbria

Cumbria, where I live, is a large, beautiful county.  Geographically isolated by mountains, it has one city, a few large towns, lots of smaller places and many thousands of sheep that wander freely over the stunning landscape.  Cumbria in some ways is a world apart from the frenetic and sometimes dangerous world "out there".  But today something happened here that rarely happens anywhere in this country, a man went on a rampage and killed 12 people and wounded 25 in a trail of terror from the town of Whitehaven to the village of Boot where he ended his own life.  Cumbria is in shock, things like this don't happen here, but this did happen.  In the days to come we'll hear more, maybe even get an idea why anyone would do this, but one thing is for sure, Cumbria will never be the same.