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Independent : They’re ready to rock the Mother are U2 ?

lundi 16 mars 1998

Source : Independent

From The Independent :

They’re ready to rock the Mother are U2 ?IAIN MACDONALD

Ready to rock, U2 landed in Cape Town yesterday to launch the biggestconcert the country’s seen since the Rolling Stones.

Forget Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and the other mega-stadium actsU2’s bigger than all of them, and Cape Town will more than blink onMonday night at the group’s first ever concert on theAfrican continent.

In fact, the Green Point Stadium audience will be treated to aneye-dazzling display of pyrotechnics on the U2 stage as the groupblitzes the crowd with the world’s biggest television a 700 square-metrevideo screen the size of an ice-hockey rink, six lightning machines,1000 lighting fixtures, 20 Xenon searchlights, and a 10-metre tall lemon.

The technical details surrounding the act are simply boggling 35 km ofcable in the screen alone, a 30-ton sound system and a further 1200tons of equipment, a touring crew of 200 and 15 buses and 52pantechnicons to transport the gear to Johannesburg.

Big’s the word for U2, and they’re completely geared up to be theworld’s biggest, flashiest, noisiest stadium act, dedicated to causesand powerful enough to make countries sit up and take noticeincluding South Africa, where the Irish group banned all sales of theirrecords here in the 1980s in protest against apartheid.

But it wasn’t always that way.

In fact, when Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen started outas fresh-faced teenagers, only nine people turned up at their firstconcert in England in 1979.

To add insult to injury, their first gig in their native Ireland was totheir school mates in Dublin in 1976 and was self-confessedly "veryvery bad", followed by some pub gigs almost drowned out by peopletalking and one in a car park.

Their first album Boy was well received by the critics in 1980, butbombed at the record stores.

Then, in 1983, came their album War, with the massive single SundayBloody Sunday launching them on a career that’s never faltered since,and, with the release of perhaps their most famous album TheJoshua Tree, has seen them rocket steadily into the pop stratosphere.

In 1993 they signed a six-album contract for R650-million, and thealbums have been musically brilliant offerings, including Under ABlood-Red Sky, The Unforgettable Fire, Rattle And Hum, Achtung Baby andZooropa among others.

Singer Bono Vox his real name is Paul Hewson took his name from ahearing-aid store advertisement in Dublin, while guitarist The Edge realname David Evans was named by Bono.

Bassist Adam Clayton was once engaged to supermodel Naomi Campbell,while Bono not only attempted to take on world chess champion Kasparovat his own game, but also went to Ethiopia with his wife Alyson wherethey lived in squatter shacks and fed the poor.

In South Africa, the group has been active in giving royalties fromsales of their records to local musicians, have spoken out againstapartheid and been instrumental in getting a controversial TVdocumentary programme on South Africa screened on US TV networks.

On a song from the group’s Silver And Gold album, Bono furiouslysupports Archbishop Desmond Tutu while railing against the life of ablack man in a shanty town outside Johannesburg.

But the group has been equally vociferous about politics all over theglobe, with song content ranging from miners’ strikes to the civil warin El Salvador.

Bono said "at the Live Aid concert, the whole question of Africa and theidea that millions were dying of starvation brought back the stupidityof the world of rock and roll.

"After that, I went out and just drove for days. I couldn’t really speakto anyone.

"We’re a band of dreamers and idealists. I can’t separate music from therest of my life and beliefs."

They followed the Beatles and the Who as only the third rock group tomake it to the cover of Time Magazine.

And a typical example of the group’s major marketing power lies in thesimple statistic that their Rattle And Hum album went double-platinum inonly 48 hours.

Now, with PopMart underpinning mega-sales of their new album simplycalled Pop not only the cash registers are set to ring in Cape Town, butdoubtless the ears of the fans attending the flash and thunderof a concert like only U2 can give.

"All we wanted to be was a country band, playing country music," Bono ison record as saying.

But drummer Larry Mullen has, perhaps, a more realistic appraisal : "Atthe end of the day we’re a rock and roll band. We play music for thehead, heart and feet."

They’ll get Cape Town tapping, that’s for sure.

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