I Just Can't Do It……(Profuse Apologies, this is Undeniably about U2)

I try really, really, really hard to not do posts that are specifically about U2. Why? Because I know myself too well, and know that with my just normal posts of spitting out whatever happens to be in my head at the time, a good portion of the posts will inevitably mention U2. And by ‘mention’, I mean ‘idolize, adore, fantasize about, and otherwise frighten those who are less serious about tone and music.’ Because, of course, if you don’t like U2, you are obviously not serious about tone and music. ;) However, I’m not really in the proper mindset for a self-deprecating post, as I actually kind of maybe liked my sound this past week (which means me and my tone are in for a huge falling out this week…if you have any guitars you’ve been looking to move, get ‘em ready). And it was an incredibly busy weekend musically, so I haven’t recorded any new demos. There could possibly be a good post about how one of the churches I played at did a Lincoln Brewster song and……I……actually liked it a little bit? (Basically because he did all U2 riffs in it.) But even though that would make a grand post, I just can’t bring myself to admit that as ‘out loud’ as an entire post would be just yet. So I’ll bury it within this paragraph and hope no one finds it. And no gear broke, and nothing incredibly hilarious happened, and I didn’t see my tone bringing tears to people’s eyes. (Blast!) So the only other thing that I’ve been doing is watching superb video after superb video of U2 opening their tour in Barcelona.

And I really, really was not going to post on this. See, it’s widely known and conversated (that word got a red squiggly underline from wordpress…guess I made it up) about even amongst people who don’t like or are indifferent about U2, that Edge has very good tone and a very good sense of musicianship, and that there is something special about when these four guys get together to play live. It’s kind of the same way with me and American Idol; I can’t stand the show, but I can’t deny that there is some talent mixed in every once in a while there, and that there’s something special about a show that can create such a sense of community among the majority of the world, who wouldn’t normally talk to each other at all, were they not talking about American Idol. So, in that sense, talking about U2 is quite relevant to most of the discussions and articles on this site. (And if you disagree……haha……what am I saying? Disagreeing would be unthinkable. Nope. Quiet. Unthinkable.) But last night I had a dream that I was on the stage, underneath the claw, playing guitar next to Edge on the U2 360 tour. And we were all wearing these long African skirt type deals over our pants, to show support for some foreign crisis. And Bono complimented me on my great idea. (And by the way, if you’ve yet to have a dream about playing on stage with U2, I highly recommend it.) So, after dreaming about playing in African skirts which was obviously my idea in the dream, on stage with U2, it’s almost like I have no choice but to post this.

So, here are some clips from the recently-launched U2 360 tour that will change your life. And your tone. But, by ‘life’, I obviously meant ‘tone’. This first one is one of their older songs that they have brought back for the tour. Just to get you in the U2 mood. This one’s a soundscape, and just pure bliss for me:

This one is the title track from the newest album. And it just works live. Loved it on the album, but live, the minimalistic approach just works. Powerful:

Another older one, from Achtung Baby. I love hearing the work U2 still puts into things. On the last tour, Edge may have delved a little too far into the digital side of guitar rigs, and his tone got just slightly less warm and real than usual. And Bono’s getting older and his voice was fading a bit. But on this clip, you can tell that Edge has re-worked his rig, and Bono has re-learned how to sing with an older voice. Very cool to see how seriously they still take the music, and this is one of my all-time favorite U2 songs. I thought they would never play it live again. U2, if you’re reading this, and you’re not, please keep this in the set for Pasadena. If you do, hugs all around afterwards, on me:

This next one has been the concert opener for the first two nights; a beautiful anthem. And it’s one that I didn’t really identify with at first, on the newest album. And then I saw it live on Letterman and a couple other places, and I finally ‘got it.’ U2′s songs are meant for arenas. And then I saw this, and it just made absolute physical sense:

Alright, this one’s going to polarize people. It’s a remix of one of the singles from the newest album. But it’s just beyond words. To see the four band members just strolling all over the 360 degree stage is awesome! This one I hated for the first two minutes, and then by the end I was just knocked flat on my back:

And lastly, an old faithful. Just listen to Edge’s tone on the outro riff, and watch how the band gets to totally run around the whole stage, getting the audience into it. I promise, I’m done after this:

So again, I apologize. No……not really. It’s hard to apologize for showing videos that are literally making you a better musician just from watching them. Those of you who haven’t made the leap yet…that wondrous leap of ceasing to deny that U2 can’t be good because there’s no ‘technicality’ and then just opening your arms to the soundscaped beauty……you will. Oh yes. You will. (Sorry, Wayne’s World was just on tv.)

Splendid. Oh so splendid.
Karl.

0 thoughts on “I Just Can't Do It……(Profuse Apologies, this is Undeniably about U2)

  1. Yeah I would only see them this concert if I could be at least as close as that person filming. Sadly I have seen them at so many large venues, I’ve had enough of paying $$$ to watch them on a big screen, I might as well do it at home. Don’t get me wrong, they put on a good show, but, well, its too big.

    As an aside, I saw death cab for cutie play at the belly up in solana on friday night, with 599 other people, and that was awesome, dare I say better then the last 3 u2 concerts I’ve gone to. So awesome that I sang part of “I will posses your heart” for communion.

    Hopefully more videos will continue to be put out, thanks for posting them!

  2. u2 as always takes it to another level – that’s just who they are. They probably wouldn’t be that good in a small venue, honestly. Anyway – I would probably give a kidney to see them in Vegas in a few months…

  3. Kenrick–I’m so stoked to see them! What’s cool about this time around is that the floor tickets are the cheapest ones; and it’s first come, first serve as far as who gets the closest to the stage. So we’re camping out hopefully! hehe It’s cool, I think they’re really trying to appeal to us poor college age kids with the cheap floor tickets! lol But I totally hear ya that if you’re gonna have to sit 300 yards away in the upper deck, may as well just buy the dvd when it comes out.

    And I’m jealous of the Death Cab show! I totally spaced on that one…shoulda gone. How’s Chris Walla’s tone live? On their latest album, it was superb! :) Have I said I was jealous yet? hehe

    Alex–you’re totally right. It’s inspiring to me…not to just get comfortable, even if you’re one of the biggest bands in the world. And are you gonna see them in Vegas?! That’d be so rad. My wife and I have tickets to the Pasadena show in October. I’m going to have to be careful not to cry too much as I lean over the stage to glimpse Edge’s pedalboard, otherwise he might slip.

    And of course, I have to give you the credit you deserve for that one fateful night after I ripped (or more aptly, clunked) what I considered to be a face-melter, and you changed my life with, ‘Ya. So have you ever heard of U2?’ Thank you, Alex. Thank you.

  4. I was right in front of the state, and yeah checked out his pedal board and set up. He used mostly rickenbackers the whole night, with the occasional fender starcaster, and they were through some fender head (couldn’t make out the name, looked like thunder something), and then had 2 cabs which looked custom made with 1 12 in each.

    He uses 2 fulltone fulldrives, I think one is just a back up, as he never hit it, a maxon (the pink) delay, and a couple other boutique pedals that were difficult to read sideways (sorry no cameras were allowed and my phone doesnt have a camera :( ), but he didn’t really hit them that much during the night. I was right in front of him (he even waved at me one point, I hope, since I was trying to get his attention).

    The show was only announced on fan list and the belly up list, thats how I found out about it.

    His tone overall was pretty good. Being so close to the stage I got more stage volume then main mix, so I could hear his more then Ben’s. In fact there were a few times where I couldn’t hear Ben’s guitar at all.

    Have fun at the u2 show. I hope to see pics, and maybe a story about how you were invited backstage to show Edge the intricacies of delay.

  5. I don’t think U2 is making it to Northern Calif this trip. I was listening to Linsey Buckingham on PBS’ Soundstage the other night and his Rick Taylor guitar was occasionally making some “Edge” type sounds — at least in terms of delay.
    Not sure if this illustrates that, but it’s some impressive fingerstyle playing.

  6. Kenrick–right on! Thanks, bro! A Fender amp? Interesting. Lovin’ the Rickenbacker’s! :)

    And lol. Good form on the Edge comment. That’s exactly what I should tell him! ‘You know, when I rip off your guitar parts, I set my delays like this. Sounds pretty good. You might want to think about doing that.’ haha ;)

    Randy–ya, at least not yet. I’ve heard they’re opening some more dates, but nothing concrete yet. Maybe next leg?

    Ooh, Soundstage! Fantastic. Linsey Buckingham? Alright, I’ll check that out. Thanks!

  7. Kendrick took the words right out of my mouth.

    I had to spend a lot of money on ebay to get to see U2 from the bleachers on the last tour. It was worth it once but I’m just not willing to pay that kind of money again unless I can get right up front, which with what floor tickets are going for on the second hand market, isn’t going to happen.

    I’ll also second the positive Death Cab concert comments. I’ve seen them twice now. The first time at Bumbershoot last year was amazing. Open air, big but not huge venue. I wasn’t super familiar with all their songs at the time so I didn’t really listen much for tone or musicianship or anything like that. The second time though, I was very impressed. Although when Ben throws that nice tele across the stage (he did it both times) to his tech I was a bit concerned. Doesn’t he remember what it was like to not have nice guitars given to you?

  8. I can’t wait. I’m seeing them in Norman, OK. So you chose not to post the video of One from Barcelona. It might seem strange to say this, but it was almost refreshing to see that even the greats like U2, mess up every once and awhile.

  9. Keith–ya, getting U2 tickets secondhand is almost impossible! I wasn’t able to see them last tour because the prices were so bad secondhand. But this year, my wife got me a subscription to u2.com for my birthday, which means they open tickets to their subscribers two days before they’re opened to the general public. It’s like, the only way to get decently priced U2 tickets. And the subscription is really cheap, and they send you free cd’s and stuff that you’ll probably end up buying anyway! haha So, it’s totally worth it.

    And Ben was throwing guitars? haha Don’t you just want to be like, ‘Can I just have that one you don’t care about?’ hehe But I do love Death Cab. Guess I’m behind on the shows!

    Jonathan–lol Actually, I felt the same way…relieved that they make mistakes, and also pretty impressed with how well they recovered. Although, they did have to totally kill the loop even after they re-started that second verse. I’ll bet the band gave Bono an earful after that…I think his in-ears gave out, and so he wanted to sing the second verse again. But what he forgot about was that ‘One’ is on a string loop…so it’s not just something you can improv where you want. So the band was following the loop because they kind of have to stay in tune and not kill the song, and hoping Bono would just catch on……but he didn’t. And then they had to eventually kill the loop altogether. Bono really should have handled his ears going out better than he did. lol

    But like you said, very cool and relieving to see the big guys messing up, too! haha

  10. mmmm u2… although i do find it hard to really get into videos from the audience…

    not sure if this is the right spot, but i want to know if anyone has tried the new Vox AC4TV? I need to get rid of my Marshall AVT50 (bought at a time when i really didnt know what i was up regarding amps as I was expanding from acoustic player to dabbling into some electric). The whole “hybrid” valvestate doesnt really do it for me but the main thing is it is just too loud! At home i dont really get it above 3 and on stage at church it gets mic’ed and through the monitors so you dont need much more than 3 on the master vol again as you dont want amp plus monitors on stage (yes too much guitars is a bad thing)!
    So the Vox seems right for what i want… low volume but good valve tone.. and low price… i should be able to sell my marshall and pick up an AC4TV for the same price and maybe a little change :-/

    Karl, have you seen one of these? anyone tried one?

    obviously i will go and try one but there are not too many places that stock them in Perth Australia yet!

  11. Cam–I hear you on the video thing. It makes total sense. But I’m such a freak, I’ve just been watching those videos over and over the past week! lol

    And great choice on the Vox over the valvestate Marhsall. Basically Valvestate in any manufacturer means ‘solid state, but we threw the word valve in there.’ There’s not much difference in sound between valvestate and solid state, as you’ve probably deduced. :) The AC4 seems like a cool idea, although if you ever play somewhere where you need a little more volume, it won’t be able to give up the goods. I’d suggest maybe a 15 watt Blues Junior with a speaker swap and tube change. But if 4 watts is all you need, it might be a fantastic choice! I know Steven Bruce, who posts here every once in a while, has done some videos of the AC4. He’s the ‘Elevated Praise’ blog on my blogroll.

    Dan–haha Me too! Props to Bono for taking such control, but he does it so well that it took me awhile, too, to realize that it was actually him who made the mistake of forgetting the chords change in different places on the ‘One’ loop. hehe

    Thanks for the link to that gear site, too! That’s fabulous. I usually use the Atomic Edge one, but the one you linked to has newer updates. Bless you. :)

  12. I did notice the loop going dead at some point during the song. Random question that you might know the answer to. I noticed on one of the more recent DVDs (Chicago Vertigo or Elevation Boston) when they showed backstage there were a couple of keyboards. Do they ever have someone playing during the show other than the 4 band members or is it simply loops?

  13. You know, that’s a great question. I’ve seen some keyboards under the stage on some behind the scenes stuff like you said, and I’ve also heard rumours of Edge’s guitar tech, Dallas, playing keys under the stage. However, I don’t have any ‘official’ evidence of this. All the strings, piano, and pad sounds I hear sound like either a loop or, obviously, when Edge goes over to the keyboard, and of course, when the keyboard sounds are coming from Edge’s guitar.

    Although now that you mention it, I’m remembering the Slane Castle version of Walk On, where the 4 note piano line at the end seems to stay with them even as they are improvising. So, it’s probably a mix of both…sometimes loops, and sometimes a keyboardist under the stage. Sorry that I couldn’t answer that better! hehe

  14. Thanks for the insight. I’ve always wondered what they do for strings, synth, piano when Edge is playing guitar, etc. I guess it is kind of a mystery.

  15. Totally. I think it’s mostly loops, but I like the idea of not knowing exactly how they do certain things. For instance, the whole orchestral intro to City of Blinding Lights on the Vertigo Tour……it really looks like Edge is doing that from his guitar when you watch what he’s doing…which would be awesome! :)

  16. your dream sequence reminds me of a show they did at Staples Center Los Angeles (I think it was 2005) – they pulled some gal from the crowd, put her on stage, handed her a guitar – she spent a short minute going through 3 or 4 chords with the Edge – and then Bono brought her out to the front of the stage. It was awesome – the crowd was going nuts. “It pays to advertise” is what Bono said (she had been holding up a sign about how she could play). So, she cooly played through her assigned chord progression while Bono riffed and led the crowd in a short song … he then brought a mic stand over to her and asked her to sing too. She shook her head ‘no’ and backed away from the mic, all while playing through her chords without missing a beat.

    that was surreal – that one sequence was worth the price of admission for sure – if I was that gal, I think I would have soiled myself.

    So … bring a big sign, you might get lucky!!

  17. haha That’s awesome! Alright, I’m totally bringing a sign. I just can’t promise that if I were ever holding one of Edge’s guitars, that I wouldn’t just make a bolt for it! hehe

    By the way, cool blog. I’m gonna add you to my blogroll, if that’s cool. :)

  18. I’m going to my first U2 concert this October. My wife are excited. I bought tickets in the stands cause… well, I’m short, and I don’t think I would enjoy standing in the back of thousands of people trying to see screen so it would be better for us for our first show to view it clearly. Plus it’s a 4 hour drive to Tampa from where I live… I wanna make it count.

    I’m also excited because we in the east coast got the best supporting act for the show… MUSE! It’s gonna be amazing.

  19. Pingback: I Can’t Wait Until October: U2? » Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where it falls, there will it lie

  20. I am so jealous of you, bro! I have to stand through a whole Black-Eyed Peas set so as not to lose my spot where I can touch Edge. (I think security might have something to say about that…but I’m still hopeful!) And you get Muse! So jealous. lol But I’m stoked you’re seeing them! This will be my first time, too. October 25th!!

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