Conestogo, Ontario, Canada
I have thought about this a lot over the years. A band that has been so together, so solid as a team both in business and in music, could one of them leave? Could they potentially survive commercially? And what would that mean?
The most obvious response from a cold, hard perspective is that Bono and Edge are so much the face of the band that either leaving could be unrecoverable. What of Larry and Adam? Known but lesser faces. What if one of them left? Is the impact much less for them?
Certainly Bono, without question, defines the voice and the very public face of the band. After decades, he would be the hardest to replace the most likely to be deemed an absolute. It has happened before. Van Halen did with some measure of success. What about Edge? Could a new lead guitar bring about the type of change that could launch a final 10 year run at the top? Could a serious sound change redefine U2 or would it destroy it?
So Larry and Adam. Both are kind of unique in their playing. But could a change in that base of the music bring something new and potentially exciting to the soundscape of U2? Some might argue that Larry, as founder, could never leave. If he left voluntarily, and was willing to let them continue in name, would that be possible? Of the four, Adam seems almost the most likely to be replaceable. His common face is a standard part of the band but could a new bass player bring something different? Could U2 continue as a threesome without Adam? Interesting to ponder that.
And Paul McGuiness. Is he such an integral part of the unit that they could not survive without him? He may have given them opportunity but has he been the wizard? By all accounts decisions are made by collective. Could they do as well without him?
I know most of you would respond that U2 is U2 and any change would be the end. I'm not so sure. I'm not even sure that a change might not be good for them. Shake things up and open some creative doors. Adam in particular would be the most easily survived replacement.
Bottom line is that I don't think the band would continue without the four friends in place. Losing Paul McGuiness might not spell the end. The bandmates, most assuredly, would end it if one of them decided it was time. But speculating on what change would mean over ending it is interesting, potentially exciting in some ways. Curious what everyone thinks about all that!