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You Too Can Hear U2 Overthink Its New Song

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By Andrew Romano, The Daily Beast

The new single 'Ordinary Love' comes with a tasteful lyric video, but there's been a bothersome trend in U2's music lately.

For nearly five years, the world has been U2less.

Sure, the Irish rock juggernaut has continued to play live shows, setting the record, in 2011, for the highest-grossing tour of all time. But not since No Line on the Horizon came out in early 2009 have Bono & Co. released any new studio material. No soaring choruses about faith and love and Africa. No reverby, ricocheting guitar lines. No martial drum beats. No chart-topping uplift.

Until now. Yesterday, Bono & Co. finally ended the debilitating U2 shortage of the last half-decade and delivered a new song. It's called "Ordinary Love," and it was written specifically for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, the new biopic about South Africa's legendary anti-apartheid crusader and eventual president. It comes complete with a tasteful lyric video and limited-edition 10-inch vinyl release for Record Store Day.

U2 here is still larger than life

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Concert Review

By Scott Mervis, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

When you travel with a stage that rises 168 feet in the sky and looks like a space invader from "War of the Worlds," you risk making the performers themselves seem, well, tiny.

Unless, of course, you have a Bono handy.

Despite standing less than 5 feet 9, the 51-year-old U2 singer has a mighty big presence, which cast its shadow for the first time Tuesday night in the Steelers' house, Heinz Field.

Pittsburghers have been on the sidelines hearing about this record-breaking, $700-million-grossing "360 World Tour" now since the spring of 2009, and we managed to squeeze in there on the last week as the penultimate show (it ends Saturday in Moncton, Canada).

Having gone through the paces through 60 shows over three years, U2 might be burned out on this 360 number and ready to move on to the next album cycle, but it didn't show as the band barrels to the finish line.

Stuck in these U2 moments

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Article by Jon Bream and Chris Riemenschneider, Star Tribune staff writers

These were the most unforgettable sights and sounds of Saturday's wow-inducing show at TCF Bank Stadium.

As the battalion of roadies broke down the mammoth "Claw" stage late Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium, we similarly cleared our minds about what we'd just witnessed. The sensory overload that was U2's 360° Tour left us with these lasting impressions of what was unquestionably one of the most memorable rock concerts in Twin Cities history.

Singin' in the rain
Bono has been compared to Dylan, Springsteen, the Pope. Add Gene Kelly to the list. Toting a U.S. flag umbrella, he relished singin' in the rain. He and the Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. were undaunted by the downpour, which gave the nearly 60,000 soaked fans a glorious feeling.

(Note from our electrician: The Edge and Clayton wouldn't get electrocuted with 12-volt batteries on their wireless guitars, but there was a concern about the electric pickups on those instruments getting wet.)

Two-and-a-half hour set featured deep cuts and a Clarence Clemons tribute

By Matthew Perpetua, Rolling Stone

U2 entered the home stretch of their two-year-long 360° Tour last night at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, where the quartet delivered a generous career-spanning set with an emphasis on selections from the Nineties.

Throughout the tour, U2 have fixated on different periods in their discography - early on, they went heavy on material from The Unforgettable Fire, and in the middle of the jaunt, they would play up to five songs per night from 2000's All That You Can't Leave Behind. In recent weeks, they've leaned hard on Achtung Baby and Zooropa, inspired in part by the 20th anniversary of the sessions in Berlin that yielded both records. (It doesn't hurt that an expanded edition of the former album is due to hit shops later this year.) They kicked off the two-and-a-half hour gig with four consecutive songs from Achtung Baby, each sounding as vibrant, stylish and dynamic as they did two decades ago. "The Fly" was particularly lively, with Bono joining the Edge on guitar to add an extra layer of trebly distortion to the abrasive rocker.

U2: Turn off the decline

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Graphic by Raffi Anderian, The Toronto Star

Ben Rayner, Toronto Star

Let's get one thing straight here before we go any further: I don't hate U2.

There was once a time, in fact, when the Irish quartet ranked up there with my favourite bands. I was fully obsessed as a kid. Practically wore out my cassette copies of War and The Unforgettable Fire, loved The Joshua Tree as much as everyone else, was still right there along with the band through the spellbinding experimentation of Achtung Baby and Zooropa. And then, suddenly, U2 lost its way.

Pop was the turning point, not just because that oft-maligned 1997 album was the first truly weak entry in the U2 catalogue but because it marked the beginning of U2 pulling its punches. After the electronically enhanced excursions of Zooropa, the band crowed long and loud about making a full-tilt dance record the next time out, enlisting such electro-savvy chaps as Flood, Howie B. and Nellee Hooper to bring those aspirations to life. Yet the work that eventually surfaced from those sessions sounded every bit like the "compromise project" guitarist the Edge would later call it; it sounded like a record by a group that had gotten cold feet midway through the recording process and then hastily backtracked to behaving more recognizably like itself out of fear of alienating its audience.

Concert review: U2 at Soldier Field

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By Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune

Bono was reminiscing about the good old days of U2, circa 1997, with 63,000-plus co-celebrants Tuesday at sold-out Soldier Field.

On the '97 stadium tour, Bono suggested, U2 was "experimenting and taking risks," which is a pretty accurate summation of a big show that strived for intimacy and surprise, sometimes to its own detriment. Lukewarm reviews and a mixed response from its fan base prompted the Irish quartet to adopt a more cautious approach on subsequent tours and albums, a pattern that held true Tuesday.

Usually on the second jaunt through town on a big tour - U2 opened its current 360 tour in North America at Soldier Field in 2009 - the band opens up a bit and lets spontaneity jostle against all the gadgets and technology. But this year's model isn't just any old U2 tour - it is gigantic by design, from its four-pronged, 167-foot-tall stage-cum-"space station" to its projected record-setting revenue of about $700 million.

Gig Review: U2 in Auckland

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Nicholas Russell, Stuff

Two of music's biggest acts paid tribute to the Pike River miners at a sold out Mt Smart Stadium on Thursday night.

There was little doubt that a band with the social conscience of U2 would acknowledge the tragedy, even during the entertainment behemoth that is their 360 tour.

"People have ways of dealing with grief, in Ireland we sing," said charismatic front man Bono before an emotional version of Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For.

They followed that with local favourite One Tree Hill as the names of the 29 dead scrolled down the massive screen at Mt Smart Stadium on Thursday night.

Pitchfork Media

9.3 (out of 10) / Best New Reissue

The first song on 1984's The Unforgettable Fire is called "A Sort of Homecoming"-- not just "A Homecoming". And that shade of uncertainty-- that "sort of"-- is key. Compared to U2's first three albums-- and almost everything that has come afterward-- The Unforgettable Fire is marked by a sketchy in-between-ness that works as a gracious foil to the the band's natural audacity. It's sort of stadium rock, sort of experimental, sort of spiritual, sort of subdued, sort of uncharacteristic, sort of brilliant, sort of a classic.

After their first major breakthrough with 1983's War and its anthems "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "New Year's Day", U2 could have easily continued to perfect the fist-pumping, flag-waving arena battle cry. Instead, they sought out producer Brian Eno, a bold choice for a band looking to parlay semi-success into something Springsteen-ian. While Eno is now seen as a go-to stadium savior (see: Coldplay's Viva La Vida), back then he was still the guy who coaxed magnificent weirdness out of David Bowie and Talking Heads, to say nothing of his own work, which ranged from prog-rock insanity to elegant wallpaper. The U2/Eno braintrust has since become one of the most out-and-out successful in rock history, but The Unforgettable Fire finds the pair-- along with frequent conspirator Daniel Lanois-- feeling each other out and testing limits. The album ebbs and flows along the spectrum between the spiky, post-punk U2 of old and the impressionistic, Eno-assisted U2 they were yearning to become.

U2 blog: Song by song with the Vancouver Sun

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By Graeme McRanor, Vancouver Sun

Reportedly, U2's 360 tour requires anywhere from 120 to 189 trucks and busses to haul its giantclaw-like stage and the 500-strong crew needed for the production around North America.

Add to that the bands private jet and its 70,000 miles logged over the course of the two-year, worldwide tour and, well, thats a pretty substantial carbon footprint.

However, if we're to believe the spin from a certain American music rag, the timing for such a colossal greenhouse fart couldn't be better.

After all, with the world mired in its various crises, they argue, what better time to tour with such an audacious, irresponsible rock spectacular?

Live review: U2's 360 Tour at the Rose Bowl

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Los Angeles Times

"Enough of the folk mass!" declared Bono during U2's historic Rose Bowl performance Sunday, leading his band and the nearly 100,000 fans in the stadium out of a singalong and into a dance party. The 49-year-old singer/activist/life of the party has been making such quick metaphorical turns for much of his life, fronting a band known for transcendence but hardly immune to sensual pleasure.

Usually, Bono and his band mates travel from prayers to come-ons on the force of charisma and a sound that's ascendant and sleekly funky, structured around the Edge's stretchy guitar parts and Bono's dirty-faced choirboy cries. But for this tour, U2 has adopted another mode of transport: the four-legged circular stage rig known as the Claw, or the Space Station. This contraption is an extravagance with a big carbon footprint and an even bigger price tag. But in Pasadena, it proved worth every Euro, allowing this most ambitious rock band to genuinely reconfigure live pop performance.

Plenty of artists have played in the round, built multi-tiered sets and spent time roaming through the crowd on ramps or trapezes. But the Space Station (Bono's preferred term these days) changes the architecture of the live concert. It not only puts the stadium audience closer to the band, it cuts holes in the fourth wall between star and fan, creating a feeling of immersion and communal connection that's startling in such a huge venue, and that translated differently in person than it could have on YouTube, where the concert was streamed live.

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