U – is for U2

Saturday 21st July

U2 seem to have been with us so long that it is easy to lump them in with the old Sixties bands, but in fact they only started in the early Eighties.  Their big leap to stardom came with Live Aid, which itself seems pretty ancient now – but at the time it was the greatest musical event ever.  I had heard a couple of their songs before Live Aid but cannot remember being that impressed.  Live Aid changed all that.  They stormed the stage with a burst of energy and creativity only matched by Queen.

I started buying their records, and have by and large continued.  Probably their best albums are Joshua Tree and Rattle and Hum from the late Eighties.  Songs like “I Still haven’t found what I am looking for” have become standards and are still played on the radio.  Remarkably the band have never split, or changed their members.  Bono has strutted the World stage, glad-handing with Presidents, and trying to influence politics.  But the real musical force is the Edge, who almost invented a new style of playing guitar, a ringing strum which ran through their early songs like mercury.

They still play live now and then and release an album every few years.  And the last one “Songs of Innocence” was really quite good.  And actually, since U2 there hasn’t really been a ‘huge’ band that has lasted, or been as universally appreciated.  So.  Not the greatest band in the world, not even one of my very favourites, but they are still there and especially when you listen to their two Greatest Hits compilations you realise they released some very good songs.  And will probably continue to do so, where many of the great Sixties bands are simply playing the old hits and rarely record anything new or even good.