Tag Archives: U2

It’s Got a Good Beat (17 of them)

Before there was Twitter providing consolidated, concentrated comments, we tried our hand at some haiku—17 syllables, 5/7/5—to make some observations on what was going on.

It didn’t go anywhere.

So given that everything that’s old is still old but can be tried again, here are three, based on Todd’s interview in Variety, the recurring death hoax of a Canadian artist and Irish eyes’ longing. . .

Rundgren is 68:
“And at this point I’m all in”
Is time at his heels?


Area 51
Is relevant to Avril
Because both may exist


U2 Seattle
Add Vedder & Mumford &
Hope for consequence

Trailer: "It Might Get Loud" ft. Jack White, Jimmy Page, and the Edge

Video: ‘It Might Get Loud’ Trailer

When I first heard about this movie, I thought it sounded cheesy as shit. But this trailer looks really cool. The documentary “tells the personal stories of three generations of electric guitar virtuosos” and “reveals how each developed his unique sound and style of playing.” Am I being a sucker or might this actually be good?

It Might Get Loud: wiki, imdb, web.

Duff reveals GNR's inspiration for Appetite

AppetiteIn an interview with our homeboy John Sellars for Spin, Duff McKagan reveals what he and his bandmates in Guns N’ Roses were listening to while they recorded their seminal album, Appetite for Destruction:

The Joshua Tree was the soundtrack of my life when we were making Appetite. […] I listened to The Joshua Tree probably ten times a day. That was the record, man. Still is, like, a top ten record — top five, maybe. […] Axl’s favorite record in 1987 was Faith, by George Michael. Izzy was into reggae. Actually, when we were recording Appetite, Izzy would play over and over and over the Georgia Satellites. It was like, “Dude, enough.”

Don’t hand me no lines and keep your hands to yourself.

Guns N’ Roses: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki.

U2 – Under a Blood Red Sky

U2 - Under a Blood Red SkyU2Under a Blood Red Sky/Deluxe Edition CD/DVD (UMG)

Junior High is terrible time in your life. For me, it marked the point when I was expelled from the ranks of the popular kids for acting “gay.” This designation had nothing to do with my sexual preference which hadn’t, of course, changed at all. But rather, people had noticed that I had begun dressing differently and listening to music outside the accepted norms of classic rock. It was still mainstream radio music, but it was the stuff that only girls were supposed to like: Wham, Duran Duran, Tears for Fears. Indeed, I was a femme.

Before my excommunication there was a period where I was still hanging out with my old friends, riding our bikes to the movies, the mall, and Burger King. They’d give me crap about my clothes and hair, but we were still pals. When we’d play basketball outside, we’d blare cassettes on someone’s ghetto blaster. One tape we could all agree was a live album by this new band called U2. And it was awesome.

Continue reading U2 – Under a Blood Red Sky

U2 Gets Back to Where They Once Belonged

Bono and AdamU2U2 Go Home: Live From Slane Castle, Ireland DVD

Conventional wisdom says that bands play stadiums because they’re so popular that they need a huge venue to hold the fans. Because they play such large venues, the bands must then adapt their music to fill that space and the outcome is stadium rock. In the early 70s (at the very birth of what is now stadium rock), Pete Townshend turned this theory on its head and instead said that the Who played stadiums, not to accommodate the fans, but to hold the massive sound the band had been developing in the studio. While the Who developed the genre (with help form Zeppelin, Mott the Hoople, et al), U2 has perfected it with stunning effect. The proof is in the newly released U2 Go Home: Live From Slane Castle.

Continue reading U2 Gets Back to Where They Once Belonged


Super Bowl XXXVI Makes Al-Qaida Run For The Hills —

“No more Terry Bradshaw!” they scream.

Johnny Loftus

Each year, the concentric rings of florescent gluttony emanating from the Super Bowl reach further and further out, before they eventually dissolve, say, around the time pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in late February. But this year, on top of the reams of ad money and endless sports media backslapping that have become traditions, Fox’s coverage of the Super Bowl was spun as an “America RULES!’ boondoggle on par with James Brown’s “Livin’ In America” spectacle preceding Apollo Creed’s bout with Ivan Drago.

And I still don’t know what an Mlife is.

The event played out on a series of levels. In the center was the game itself, which was treated as a non-event til midway through the second quarter, when it became clear that the AFC’s New England Patriots were not the Washington Generals to the NFC’s St Louis Rams’ Globetrotting “Greatest Show on Turf” act. Revolving around the game was the usual Sunday slumber – which on Fox is dominated by JB, Terry, Cris and Howie’s towel-slapping antics and barely tenable game analysis. But because of September 11, and in anticipation of the patriotic daisycutter that will detonate over Salt Lake City next week, Super Bowl XXXVI was almost forgotten amidst the Up With America! fervor lancing through every aspect of the event.

 Mariah Carey sobered up long enough to competently lip-synch our national anthem. A full-figured gal, Carey’s pinup girl good looks nicely complimented Fox’s troops-in-Kandahar breakins. Here’s what you’re fighting for, boys. Get home safe, you hear? And when you do, visit Mariah at the group home, where she’s gearing up for a tour of America’s roadhouses and supper clubs, selling her new release from the trunk of her 1986 Nissan Sentra. Vanity license plate: CRAZY4U.

 “Sir” Paul McCartney, looking spry in his casual tracksuit, performed “Freedom,” his wretched song penned in the wake of 9/11. The sentiment is to be applauded. But like Neil Young’s “Let’s Roll” before it, the song just sucks. A better Macca moment came during halftime, when he harmonized with Terry Bradshaw in a version of “Hard Day’s Night” straight out of the decaying brain matter knocking around inside Bradshaw’s skull. The erstwhile Steeler QB played too many games without his helmet on, and it shows. For his part, McCartney took it all in with good-natured charm, not even flinching when the decidedly un-funky James Brown suggested that McCartney’s old band changed the world “with their moptop haircuts.”

 U2 made the most of their 12- minute halftime gig, even if the heart-shaped stage and “Beautiful Day” don’t have the same freshness they did over a year ago when we first saw and heard them. Bono’s entrance through the crowd was a nice touch, as was the brief coda of “MLK” before the Edge’s sparkling intro to “Streets Have No Name.” Instead of his usual sermon on peace and love, Bono chose to let an enormous projection of 9/11’s victims speak for itself.

It’s been suggested that an American band should have performed at halftime. Who, Grand Funk Railroad? U2 is no longer just an Irish band. While Bono’s proselytizing is at times overwrought, he and his band have truly become a band for the world. Their message is clear, but their music supports it with appropriate amounts of rocking and songcraft. They were the perfect choice for this year’s halftime show, reinforcing the patriotic flair of the show with their trademark grace and sound.

By the end of the fourth quarter, a slush fund of ad dollars had amounted to a memorable Broadway chimp, a few funny Budweiser ads (“I’m doin’ fine. My brother just picked me up from the airport and…”), and the fact that Britney would have been hotter in the 1950s. Because of the Patriots’ late game heroics, Fox had to push its tribute to departing broadcast icon Pat Summerall into the post-game. But when it finally came, the video montage was accompanied by some extremely awkward on-camera banter between the ancient Summerall and his booth partner for 21 years, the monolithic John Madden. It only got worse when each member of Fox’ broadcast crew delivered a soliloquy about what Summerall meant to them (or at least what he meant to their fledgling careers as moronic broadcasters). It may have been time for the 71-year old Summerall to hang it up, but Fox’ treatment of his farewell was concurrent with the network’s bludgeoning, substance-less brand projection. Even drunk, senile, and old, Pat Summerall has more class than goose-necked desk warbler Cris Collinsworth.

Given the Fox network’s penchant for brazen cross-promotion, Super Bowl XXXVI’s patriotic bent could have been so heavy-handed as to make the terrorists hate us more. The cast of “That 80s Show” reciting the Gettysburg Address in Valley Girl accents, perhaps? Instead, the event combined reverent patriotism, exciting football, and a hint of that “don’t fuck with us” cold war chest-thumping that defined Rocky IV and America in the 1980s.

And in the end, a red, white, and blue team of upstarts and never weres, led by a spunky kid QB with corn-fed good looks and an “aw, shucks” smile, knocked the cool kids’ block off, and made the Vince Lombardi trophy their own. If that doesn’t sound like a script written for America in 2002, I’ll submit to a Quizno’s product testing seminar.



The Push and Pull of Celebrity, Art, Acting, and Musicianship

Johnny Loftus

Friday evening’s America: A Tribute To Heroes was the entertainment industry’s way of helping out the nation’s physical and emotional recovery effort, in the wake of September 11’s terrorist attacks. Musicians and actors – luxurious celebrities all – came together in a live event simulcast on multiple networks, and in the process raised hundreds of millions of dollars, by early estimates. Make no mistake: It’s a great and wonderful thing that they did, these entertainers who our culture treasures so dearly, selflessly offering up their talent to aid in the nation’s grief. But in its execution, the telethon was a study in Celebrity itself. What do musicians and actors offer us? Is a musician’s song more tangible than the appearance of a famous actor reading a vignette? Are both entertainers present more for their sheer celebrity-ness, than any level of talent that they may possess?

The telethon greeted the world with a somber Bruce Springsteen, performing his heartbreakingly appropriate new song, “My City’s In Ruins.” After the song’s nadir – a pronouncement imploring us all to “rise up” – Tom Hanks appeared from the darkness. An actor’s actor and undoubtedly the single most respected person working in Hollywood today, Hanks was pressed into service to introduce the evening. “We are not healers,” he said senatorially. “We are not protectors of this great nation. We are merely artists, entertainers, here to raise spirits and, we hope, a great deal of money.” Hanks’ entreaty was followed immediately by Bono and U2, who like Hanks are famous for their conviction.

But there’s a difference.

For all of their melodic genius and anthemic choruses, U2 have become international heroes for tempering their music with fiery passion. “Seconds,” “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” “New Year’s Day,” “Pride (In The Name of Love),” “Mothers Of The Disappeared,” “One,” “Walk On” – all of these songs were musical highlights, and many were smash hits. But they are also testaments to the group’s beliefs – human freedom, equality, and peace. We know this about U2, and we accept it as part of their being. No one will ever accuse the band of being superficial, because they’ve never had just one level to anything that they do. Even the Achtung, Baby years, with their media-savvy indulgence and stage show bombast, were meant on some level as a critique of the very components involved in the music and subsequent touring. So for U2 to appear on A Tribute To Heroes performing “Walk On,” the parallel is obvious. What isn’t as clear cut is the roles of the actor/celebrities who appeared. Tom Hanks is respected within and without the industry not only for his ability as a thespian, but also because he’s, well, a real stand-up guy. Taking on roles with meat on their bones, Hanks since the early 90s has also worked exclusively within projects that have only solidified his stance as the Face of America. This positioning has been performed so flawlessly that, now, Hanks the celebrity and man cannot be separated from Hanks the actor in respected, feelgood roles. One begets the other and vice versa. Indeed, during his introductory speech Friday night, a friend remarked “I’d vote for Tom Hanks,” not even mentioning what was implicit: Hanks will run for office in the future, and win handily. But will we vote for Tom Hanks, or Forrest Gump? A smart, respected individual, or the image of that individual battling Nazis and giving his life for his country?

Other actors appeared on A Tribute To Heroes. Jim Carrey didn’t talk out of his ass. Robert DeNiro didn’t threaten Osama bin Laden with severe bodily harm. And Cameron Diaz looked very pretty as she read copy. At the same time, a sage-like, bearded Tom Petty performed “I Won’t Back Down,” staring into the camera with an eagle’s eye. Billy Joel gave new life to “New York State of Mind,” reminding everyone of the vitality and diversity inherent within his hometown. And Wyclef Jean trotted out his uncanny Bob Marley impersonation, re-working “Redemption Song” as a heartfelt shout-out to all the burrows of NYC. It was important for the viewing audience to hear the stories of true heroism related by the actors and actresses present. And thankfully, no one appearing on the telethon used it as a Macy Gray-like moment to promote a project or album. But eventually, it became more interesting to see which actor would be next chosen to read. There was something sickeningly voyeuristic about George Clooney introducing some “friends” he had with him, the camera panning to take in a phone bank staffed by Jack Nicholson, Goldie Hawn, Tom Cruise, and Al Pacino, among other boffo stars. Was the move intended as a reason for people to call? The average American, sitting in his doublewide munching Bugles…”Well, I wasn’t going to contribute, but if I know I can get that Penelope Cruz on the line, whew. She’s a stone fox!”

Some musicians are more Celebrity than Artist. Enrique Iglesias’ disturbing good looks and his nauseous over-emoting make him a candidate for the Just Appearing For Face-Time Sweepstakes, even if that isn’t the case. Celine Dion performing “America The Beautiful” screams of CD single sales. But barring these unfortunate intrusions, the majority of musicians that contributed to the telethon – Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crow, Alicia Keys, Eddie Vedder, even Fred Durst – were giving something of themselves and their talent, beyond the simple fact of Celebrity for Celebrity’s sake. Put another way, the actors who appeared – despite the many strong performances among them — have all become Famous for being Famous. It’s true that, for example, Bono is famous for being famous. But his celebrity does not taint his passion for music, for his art. Conversely, no matter how sincerely he delivers his heroic vignette, Jim Carrey cannot be separated from his talking ass. Making a few critically acclaimed commercial failures does not a true actor make.

It’s a tough thing. Many of the actors who were part of America: A Tribute To Heroes are true icons, having through their roles become part of the fabric of our culture. That’s why it’s a bit humorous to think of Clint Eastwood drawing his .44 and warning terrorists across the globe, “Go ahead, punk. Make my day.” At the same time, the musicians who appeared Friday evening have become stars, but still remain vessels for their art, which is music, and which can outlive them. Towards the middle of the show, the lights came up to reveal a cowboy-hatted Neil Young sitting at a grand piano, looking ever bit the surly rock statesman that he has become. And without ado, Young performed John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Here was a musician, famous in his own right for an illustrious career of music, performing a song by an artist who was taken from the world too early. An artist who’s music has come to define him, his previous band, and all the passion, conviction, and peace that he desired for the world so much. Actors can be defined by their famous roles, and become celebrities for the same reason. Musicians can become celebrities, but if their music truly matters, it’s what people really remember them for. It’s not a question of who’s better, musicians or actors. Maybe they’re the same, in that they are all entertainers. But what’s clear is that music is a more direct medium of expression, and in the context of recent events, has the power to heal us more than Ace Ventura 3 ever will.



Tragically, the Grammy viewing audience found itself asking all night, “Where’s Soy Bomb?” The utter lack of anything more controversial than another plunging neckline made even host Jon Stewart’s bits about a gay Eminem seem watered-down. The cavernous Staples Center was nicely decorated in shades of purple. But so is a baby’s nursery. After all, it’s the Grammys. It’s like watching a Soviet awards show – always 25 years behind.

2001’s Grammy Awards made an attempt at diversity. Throwing bones to vocal jazz, classical piano, and the Native American community was weak, but at least it was more sincere than last year’s Carlos Santana blow job fest. Unfortunately, whatever momentum gained from these gestures got lost in the shuffle of a poorly produced show with plenty of weak live elements (memo to Jon Stewart: a sardonic smirk doesn’t count as a punchline).

A bizarrely coifed Macy Gray beat out Madonna (nice accent!) in the best pop female vocal category for “I Try.” But hey, do we really need to hear the song again? I wonder if the blue hairs in NARAS thought they were watching another performance by Lauryn Hill. In the role of Britney on Wednesday night was Christina Aguilera, who could have hid behind her mic stand if she hadn’t been lip-syncing. Boring blonde braids flitting about, the JV-squad diva gave us a sneak peek of her Branson future by arriving in a flying Love Toilet and performing (in Spanish?) with an orchestra. Back up the RV, sister, it’s over. Another orchestra helped Faith Hill’s “Breath” sound like the AAA/Adult Contemporary tripe that it is. Looking like an all-growed-up Jessica Simpson, Hill’s 93Lite-FM performance didn’t exactly give some big ups to her Nashville peeps. Shocker: she later won for best country album (Emmylou Harris to waiter: “Get me a drink!”)

U2 performed “Beautiful Day” capably, helped along by a nice light show and Bono’s trademark histrionics. Picking up record of the year honors, The Edge – normally numb – unveiled his Appalachian comedian side. Sounding like an Irish Harry Callas, Edge gave the first documented shout-out to Jubilee 2000, 3-blade razors and frozen pizzas. No one questioned whether his black ‘3’ shirt was related to Dale Earnhardt. After some filler featuring more bad live cueing for Stewart and unlikely celebrity pairings, not to mention about the millionth Unnecessary Carson Daly Siting, Moby took the stage with Jill Scott and Blue Man Group. It’s just like the unassuming Moby to stand back, playing the bass while the Blue Men and Scott conducted an odd re-version of his “Natural Blues.” But those pesky Intel hucksters became annoying about midway through the song, and that was BEFORE they started firing confetti from their drum cannons. Too much percussion, not enough Moby.

While an artist being an afterthought in his own song would be re-visited later during Eminem’s “Stan,” the night’s best performance was its simplest. Sheryl Crow warmly strummed an acoustic guitar as she harmonized with best “new” artist Shelby Lynne. My pal Phil and I were waiting for the moment to be ruined by an orchestra or 18 backup singers. But for once, it didn’t happen. A lone electric guitar player joined with Crow’s acoustic towards the end of the number, giving it a nice Nashville-meets-Tom Waits feel. Some of Waits’ boozy energy was no doubt conveyed by two of the hardest (and hottest) partiers in the business in Lynne and Crow. Roll out the drink cart, boys – Shelby’s in town.

As the show was winding down, most of the fidgeting crowd seemed to be longing for something, anything to be excited about. Honestly, where’s ODB when you need him? After a self-serving speech by the smarmy president of NARAS, who no doubt cornered some unfortunate soul at the after-party and talked her ear off like your smelly Uncle Ned, Eminem took the stage for his fateful pairing with Elton John, King Of All Gays. Em’s rapping during “Stan” was fine; he showed off his unique flow while keeping it street enough for his homies back in Cell Block 6 (But what was with his right hand? It kept fluttering around like Gene Wilder’s shootin’ hand). As “Stan”‘s chorus arrived, John made his appearance, emerging from behind a set piece castoff from the last stage production of “Star Wars.” The song continued with terrible censoring, and ended without fanfare. The two men raised each other’s arms in triumph, looking like a homophobic Reagan greeting a gay Gorbachev at Camp David for a photo op. Meanwhile, somewhere in England, a forgotten Dido cried in her soup.

After such an anti-climactic event as the Elton/Eminem Peace Accords, the record of the year went not to Marshall Mathers, Beck, Radiohead, or even that over-produced fossil Paul Simon. Instead, the cutting-edge trend-setters over at NARAS went with NYC art-rockers Steely Dan, who evidently released an album in 2000. While cheers could be heard in coffee houses full of goatee’d grad students, no realistic music fan could really give a shit about Steely Dan’s triumphant return to our public consciousness. And yet, in a move similar to the Academy giving “Howard The Duck 2” the Best Picture nod, Donald Fagen, et al took home record of the year. I swear, even Steely Dan looked bewildered about their victory. Someone get Jethro Tull on the line, quick! But that’s what happens when an out-of-touch, thick-as-a-brick group of old voters is confronted with a potentially challenging decision. Whatever you think of Eminem, or even Radiohead and Beck, it’s obvious that these artists’ music was a just a LITTLE BIT more vital in 2000 than a bunch of aging math rockers from Greenwich Village.

See you next year. I’ll be over here in the bread line.