On the eve of the new U2 album No Line On The Horizon it would be wrong to ignore it and disrespectful not to talk about it.
U2 has been such a massive part of my life, from late night car journeys singing along to every part of Rattle & Hum, to walking into Live 8 hearing the band launch into Beautiful Day, to queuing outside HMW from 7am to get my vinyl copy of Actung Baby, to the horrible world-shattering lows of Zooropa and Pop.
U2 is a band of incredible contrast; never cool yet acceptable, with a like-him or loathe-him front man Bono. I haven’t heard most of the new album but already I’ve heard enough. How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb has some good tracks. I listened to it for three weeks on and off and have never gone back to it. I feel the same way about No Line On The Horizon. I think it will be another one of THOSE albums. U2 always seem to write one cracking single and a few surprises for each album. It keeps you going back for more. The problem this time is Get On Your Boots is NOT that song. Bad vibes from the start.
When R.E.M. released Drive ahead of Automatic For The People, who knew it would be such a wonderfully diverse album? I hope for the same. U2 need a really great album. Not that they need it, they will sell anyway (although the single hasn’t - they are an album band after all so that explains that one?). Strangely then, there seems to be a lot of hype and urgency surrounding the new album, as if the band know they have to work to get people to like it (and them). Maybe it is an album worth fighting for.
The band played a ‘secret’ ‘unplanned’ and ‘unpublicised’ rooftop gig in the London. That explains why 7000 people turned up, including music journalists who had rooms in the hotel opposite with a live sound feed. And the BBC filmed the whole thing from a helicopter. They just happened to have one lying around. U2 has appeared on the BBC a lot in the last few weeks and are now labelled ‘the biggest band on the planet’. I thought that was Coldplay. Or was that yesterday? Anyway you are only as good as your last album and this one with prove it.
The NME has given No Line On The Horizon 7/10 but that is no surprise. The music industry is at odds these days. It is just too obvious to slag off an unfashionable band so the trend is to do the unfashionable thing and not give it 1/10. Call me a cynic (and I like to think I am not - a realist maybe but not overtly cynical), but I do hope NME are at last ‘growing up’ and U2 are (getting) back to some kind of best.