U2 Croke Park Next Summer

We have heard some noise around the possibility of Croke Park next summer. The promoters will be announcing the upcoming shows for 2015 within the venue. U2 has always been one act to pull in large numbers.  However, the question has come up would fans prefer a smaller venue this time around. 82,000 fans stand ready to purchase tickets in either case.  We will keep our ear to the ground and check in with our sources within the next day or so. One thing is for sure U2 will be on tour next year.

Why U2 Matters, Part II

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To the brood: My apologies for the delay in submitting the second part of this four-part series. I had initially intended to publish these entries on a weekly basis, but alas proverbial roadblocks associated with my day job as a journalist have proven significant.

Consider that arguing U2’s relevance in a largely irrelevant music industry, where cookie-cutter hits continue their two-decade assault on mainstream pop, requires more than a quick offering halfheartedly written because high school football and public corruption (I cover the South Texas area…enough said) were still on the mind.

This is an important time in the band’s history. It’s U2 against the world…of idiots. And the vocal majority is as loud as its ever been. As addressed in my initial piece, Bono, The Edge, Larry and Adam have been subjected to ridicule and criticism for what could arguably be chalked up to the price of innovation. Love it or hate it, releasing an album – the instant-classic Songs of Innocence – that automatically downloads into 500 million iTunes users’ iCloud accounts was a trailblazing move.

What the haters can never understand is that U2’s propensity to take risks, which nobody else in the same position would dare take, is also what happens to make the band great. This is an alien concept to the likes of Ozzy Osbourne and the Black Keys, who rarely venture beyond their musical comfort zones. Though attributed to many people, I believe it was Elbert Hubbard who was credited with saying, “To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”

Diehard fans understand that this is the essence of U2’s tendency to throw caution to the wind all in the name of transcending genres and modern technology. This is the band that debuted a tour boasting the largest television screen ever built when just several years earlier they strutted on stage with little more than their gear and the house lights. The end result was always the same though: pure awesomeness. This is also the band that embraced punk and new wave in the earlier incarnation of the group before maturing into a proper rock outfit, and also before exploring American rhythm and blues; alternative; EDM; techno; soul; etc. But hey…the end result was always the same: pure awesomeness.

And this brings me to what not only makes Songs of Innocence a fantastic entry in the band’s legendary catalog, but why U2 still matters.

I was a teenager in the mid 1990s when I first decided to listen to U2. Not unlike the 2000 film “Almost Famous,” in which a pre-adolescent boy finds his sister’s record collection upon her moving away from home, I had also inherited my brother’s collection of vinyl records and audio cassette tapes in much the same way. Though treasures such as Led Zeppelin’s III and The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band were all at my beckoning, it was The Joshua Tree that called out to me.

I previously hadn’t heard much of U2, except for the time when my brother and I watched Zoo TV: Live from Sydney on pay-per-view. With memories of “Pride” still fresh in my mind, coupled with the minimalist album artwork featuring a black and white snapshot of the four bandmates casually standing around in a desert, I gave The Joshua Tree a whirl.

As an opening track, “Where the Streets Have No Name” sounded odd for a young man who grew up on a heavy dose of hair metal and grunge. Accustomed to singers’ exaggerated screams and howls, guitarists’ obligatory solos and the forgettable contributions of muted rhythm sections, I was shocked upon my first true exposure to U2.

A church organ crescendo, time signature changes and melodic guitar riffs that sounded more like the chiming of bells than rip-roaring shreds…wait, what is this? The bass and percussion work resembled a speeding locomotive more than an actual beat and the vocals pleaded instead of shrilled. Then there were the lyrics…oh the lyrics.

After hearing the gospel songs that followed and the preachy message in 10 of its 11 tunes, I came to the conclusion that I hated it.

Still, this was my brother’s music, and I held his taste in the highest regard. So, confused but positive that I was missing something, I played it again and again until I couldn’t stop playing it (ala Mr. Holland’s Opus).

C’mon, trainspotters…you know what I’m talking about…John Coltrane anybody?

Well, I digress.

What I discovered was that it was necessary to mature as a listener before I could ever be moved by U2’s music, and by extension…U2’s spirit. Because that’s what the band represents – an entity from which faith is necessary to believe in something; and it also happens to be why a growingly-secular world can no longer understand or support four men that openly worship and praise God.

Remember this, friends, before pitying Bono for humbling himself to some ingrate: U2’s meant to incur the wrath of a world that hates.

Recently, readers have been gracious enough to compliment my writing style. After blushing disagreeably, I remind them that my goal is to be as eclectic a storyteller as U2 are as musicians.

I want to be a writer whose body of work also inspires people. This is why I do what I do, and I’ve since won first and second place awards in news writing in the Texas Press Association Better Newspaper Contest. My work with the San Benito News, which is based in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, has been followed by the likes of The Huffington Post and caught the eye of gubernatorial candidates as well as state and federal elected officials.

I’m not saying that I necessarily owe my career to U2, especially since I put my faith and family above all, but it is simply an example of why the band still matters in this writer’s heart.


Note: Michael Rodriguez is a journalist who hails from a border community in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, where he serves as the managing editor of the semi-weekly newspaper, the San Benito News. Part 3 of his series, “Why U2 Matters,” will include his review of the vinyl and deluxe editions of Songs of Innocence.

U2 Tours the World 2015

U2 has been working very close guarded on an up coming tour to begin in 2015 Sources close to the band have suggested that the boys will head out and do a full world tour with stops in some countries that they missed the last time around. Such as Peru, Chile and Argentin. Bono visited Peru about a year or so ago and informed the fans that he loved the country and is looking forward to coming back. Now a posting from UM (South America) suggested that South America is big on the tour list.  Now no details have been confirmed and the boys are out marketing their new release so we do not expect to hear much about the tour for at least a few weeks. What we do know is that this is a much different tour and that we can expect some cities to have two or three night dates. Expect MSG to be at least 3 nights. More to follow as we dig into the details. 

U2's Cross Marketing Machine "The Walking Dead"

U2’s marketing machine has always been on top of their game. Cross marketing into current TV, series seems to be something new for the boys from Dublin. “The Troubles” has started to appear in “The Walking Dead” series, which is extremely popular in the US.

The clips titled with reference to U2 and only feature U2 music. No band images are within and the band not expected to appear within any of the commercials.  

U2 has new management that clearly understands how to reach the younger audiences. We can expect that U2 will appear within more cross marketing and promotional messaging as the machine continues to ramp towards 2015.

Songs of Experience Almost Ready

Adam had a lovely outing recently that allowed us to peek into what is up next for the boys.  He said the next project is about 70% complete with some fine turning going on right now. They have the layout of the songs that they plan to have on the album. Suggested a possible different way of releasing the music next time around suggested that we might see a completely new method of delivering music.  

Adam has been quoted as saying "Depending on how long it takes to be completed, there may be a whole new delivery method invented by then. I think we just have to wait and see," he said. "There will be a bit of water under the bridge before we get to that point.

Songs Of Innocence, eligible Grammy

Did you ever doubt the U2 marketing machines would allow the bands hard work go unnoticed for Grammy consideration? The label rush out to a very small limited group of record stories a vinyl copy of current release made available for sale by today's cut off point.

Sources inside the machine said that the band and the label knew that they needed release something before the cut off to considered.

Grammy guidelines are very clear and communicated that the band will be eligible for the upcoming 57th Annual Grammy Awards on February 8th, 2015. "As long as the album, be it CD, vinyl or digital, is available commercially for sale to the public by our eligibility cutoff date at a nationally recognized retailer or website, then it's eligible for consideration,"

The fine print states: For the 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards, albums must be released between Oct. 1, 2013 and Sept. 30, 2014. Recordings must be commercially released in general distribution in the United States, i.e. sales by label to a branch or recognized independent distributor, via the Internet, or mail order/retail sales for a nationally marketed product. Recordings must be available for sale from any date within the eligibility period through at least the date of the current year's voting deadline (final ballot).

Why U2 Matters, Pt. 1

Michael Rodriguez

Michael Rodriguez

By MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ

Perhaps the greatest myth perpetuated since the advent of Facebook and Twitter is that all opinions have clout.

You can now find keyboard warriors likening themselves to hipsters and elitists – although I doubt they understand what those terms truly imply – and believing that what they have to say really matters. But they’re not completely at fault. Consider the fact that these very people are encouraged when their tweets and statuses are quoted in hard news stories about the latest controversies gone viral; as if whatever “@jengirl2002,” “Philip the Destroyer of Waffles,” “Tyler, The Creator” or “Sharon Osbourne” says is somehow relevant for all of us.

Yeah...doubtful.

Enter U2. On Sept. 9, 2014, the legendary band’s long-awaited followup to 2009’s meditative No Line on the Horizon finally arrived, and it was a surprise! In a fitting collaboration with Apple at the tech leviathan’s annual press conference, U2 announced the release of their new album, Songs of Innocence, at no cost to iTunes subscribers.

Now, before I continue, remember that the only press U2 received prior to the hilarity that ensued following Songs’ release was its delay. Citing a source, Billboard.com had previously announced that the new U2 album and tour were pushed back to next year. In short, this was an album people wanted; otherwise, surely an institution as reputable as Billboard.com wouldn’t have gone to such lengths as publishing an article projecting the postponement of the world’s biggest band’s heavily-anticipated new album solely on the merits of a single source... unless, of course, it was a matter of importance and significance to its readers.

But I digress.

So a few people went bananas because they got Songs and didn’t want it, and the album’s release is suddenly labeled a “disaster?” According to whom exactly: The small, albeit loud handful of people who logged onto social media networks where they vomited their disdain for U2, or the pretentious critics whose reviews have been far more critical of the method of release and Bono’s humanitarianism than the actual music.

Neither are very compelling arguments.

While I realize there have been thousands, heck...let’s say tens of thousands of complaints about the new U2 being gifted to people who didn’t ask for it, I refer to this group as “small” because – when compared to the sheer volume represented in the 38 million who’ve reportedly listened to Songs – the haters are indeed dwarfed.

And yet, Apple felt so compelled by the supposed backlash of a small contingency that it actually created a button to remove the album from users’ iTunes accounts. That said, let’s stop and consider what this situation has really taught us: To get what you want, all you have to do is be loud and obnoxious, and even a corporation as big and powerful as Apple will bend to your will.

This, ladies and gents, is far more offensive and alarming than any album that finds its way onto your devices.

Granted, this is just my opinion, and I did after all imply that not all opinions matter. So why should mine? Well, I’m not asking that my word be taken as gospel. What I will ask is that you take the millions of people who made the U2 360 Tour the highest-grossing, highest-attended tour of all time into consideration. Approximately 10 million people alone watched the band’s 2009 Pasadena, California show via YouTube. More than 25 of the band’s records have charted on iTunes since Songs was released, and let’s not forget the aforementioned 38 million listens/downloads (...and counting) the new album is currently enjoying.

This, my friends, is no disaster. This band is still very much in demand, maybe more now than ever.

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Songs of Innocence is a tour de force plagued only by one thing – the self-importance of people who hated U2 anyway. They were only given a mouthpiece this time because of two reasons: 1.) The nature of the release opened the door for them to vent; and 2.) Because their hate-filled diatribes supported theories that giving music away to consumers is the death rattle of an already-broken music industry. Well, the alarmists who espouse such theories are right about one thing. The music industry is broken, but it’s not because of free albums. The cancer that’s consuming popular music today is...well, music today. Gifting Songs to iTunes subscribers was only an admirable attempt to treat a symptom. I can only hope that this new music format helmed by Apple that Bono has reportedly said is in the works will indeed be a game-changer.

In the meantime, remember that U2 continues to represent all that rock and roll once stood for: passion, innovation and rebellion. In a day and age when rock doesn’t matter anymore, it’s refreshing to see that U2 still does.

Note: Michael Rodriguez is a journalist who hails from a border community in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, where he serves as the managing editor of the semi-weekly newspaper, the San Benito News. Part 2 of his series, “Why U2 Matters,” will focus on the writer’s love for the band and how it inspired him to seek a career in writing and journalism.

The Boys in Dublin

LZuni

LZuni

The boys happen to be in Dublin for a Rolling Stones cover shoot.  We are not sure if they stopped in for a few pints at the Guinness Storehouse however we do know that they borrowed a couple of boxer dogs from folks passing by.

Its just over a week ago that the largest album release ever which soon will be available to 119 countries was released.  The blow back was a bit much, some of the younger apple device owners had no clue who U2 was nor did they want to even check it out.  

During Bono’s Radio 2 interview, he said he was happy with the results of the number of listeners and that its pretty cool to have a 38 million people to get your music all at once.

LZuni

LZuni

Bono also went on to say no one has deleted more U2 songs than U2 as well as pointed out  "All I can say is that there's a lot of blood, sweat and tears which went into your junk mail."

U2's marketing machine continues to promote this album and is looking to have a big release in a few weeks.

We know that the announcement of tour dates will follow shortly and we even have a few locations that the boys are sure to be putting on a brand new show.

Songs Of Innocence (Behind the Scenes)

In the two minute clip, Bono opens up with some rather prophetic statements about the band’s new work. “These songs were always destined,” he’s heard to remark as they tune up instruments.

“But rather than it being paint by number where it’s very disciplined and prescribed.

I always think of the zen artists – they spend all their time mixing the ink.

And it’s those last few minutes where those gestures are recorded. That’s the way all our albums go.”

The video depicts the band’s tight space, playing with hard guitar lines, different vocal styles and discussing how imagination and art work together.

And even though the studio looks like a rather poorly lit place, rest-assured Bono doesn’t lose his sunglasses.

U2 Blasted ! Summer 2015 !

Now that we have had a few days to dig into the album and take a listen it seems that some fans have found their way to the the top of the food chain to blast the boys on a free album release on Apple. Calling them "Sell outs" Rich old dudes" and "Lame"  Change is not always good for everyone. Some view change as a departure from what is safe and secure throwing anger towards it makes them feel better. We guess. 

Fan pages have been popping up all over the place offering suggestions of when the next tour might happen.  Its really comes down to availability of locations around the word and routing the band in the right direction to make the most money possible on the road. This will take time.  We heard that we should not expect anything sooner than 2015 and it will run always out into 2016.

We u2 fans really did not know how close to over this really was. Yes over, finished, done and final. Not talking about the music; talking about the band. Sources ( hate when we say this, however we have been asked to not say who) close to the band say that this has been a challenging time for them. This album has had a lot of start and stops and a lot of redirection, to the point that it pulled the boys apart for a bit. Now truth be told that any labor of love will cause some drama and the suggestion that the boys may end this ride seem as possible as humm what ?  Marriages are challenging and the boys have been marriages along time; let them have their private fights and lets just enjoy the music. 

We at U2TOURFANS have a lot in store for you. We are going to gear up a massive U2 touring team that will provide the best coverage of the band, videos, and concert news possible. Watch for over the next few weeks our brand new community center.

Cheers