U2 delivers hits, politics, high-tech stage gimmicks on new tour

28 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

The Edge of reason: U2’s the Edge opens up about that fall.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – U2’s latest live show included a call to fight AIDS, condemnation of the 1974 car bombings in Ireland, the voice of Stephen Hawking, high-tech stage gimmicks and just over two hours of music, including most of its 2014 album, “Songs of Innocence.” The Irish quartet brought its “Innocence & Experience” tour to the Forum Tuesday, the first of five nights in the Los Angeles area. U2 recently embarked on their Innocence + Experience tour, and the band have already treated audiences in Vancouver, San Jose and Phoenix to remarkable visuals, incredible sound and unearthed fan favorites popping up in the setlist.U2’s last shows in Los Angeles took place at venues like Angel Stadium in Anaheim and the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, stadiums in which sell-out crowd numbers ran in the mid-to-high five figures. For CBS Sunday Morning, U2 offered a look behind-the-scenes and backstage at their new tour, from under the stage to between the giant HD screens that project all the action. Performing together since 1976, front man Bono, guitarist the Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen, Jr. know how to put on a rock show.

Fellow band member Adam Clayton opened up about the traumatic moment, admitting he was “sick in the pit of my stomach” when the musician fell of the tall stage. But they were lacking a little in energy and excitement for their opening LA performance, perhaps relying too heavily on the giant horizontal screens suspended above their high-tech stage. The massive screens worked for some numbers, such as Bono’s autobiographical “Cedarwood Road,” lending an effect that made him look like he was walking through a cartoon town.

For four songs, it felt like the show could have fit into a small club (the band does, in fact, plan to perform an intimate show at The Roxy in West Hollywood on May 28). But when the foursome performed between the parallel screens during “Invisible” and “Even Better than the Real Thing,” they appeared to be playing on TV, not live on stage. When asked if he can remember the November crash in New York’s Central Park, Bono said he had no memory of the accident. 2015 may not bring everything that Back to the Future II promised it would: flying cars, self-lacing shoes, we don’t see ’em happening over the next 12 months. (Then again, don’t bet against Nike.) But this year will definitely pack plenty of punch when it comes to cultural happenings. Much of the first set was tinged with similar nostalgia: “Iris (Hold Me Close)” and “Cedarwood Road” revolve around Bono’s mother and childhood home, respectively, and the singer introduced “Song For Someone” as being written for his wife. “It was intimate and personal,” said Lynn Heim of Fullerton, who attended with her 22-year-old daughter Sarah and their fan-made U2 T-shirts representing their Facebook fan club group. “They keep reinventing themselves.” That trio of songs from the band’s latest album, “Songs of Innocence,” was accompanied by animations on dual video screens that ran the length of the arena floor and were separated by just enough room to squeeze a suspended catwalk. Mad Max will roar back out of the apocalypse while Mad Men rides off into the sunset, rock’s Antichrist Superstar and hip-hop’s Yeezus will rise again.

It was a creative use of space for a band that hasn’t played a Southern California room the size of The Forum since late 2005, and it integrated the video art into the live performance in a way that felt novel. The set included such hits as “Vertigo,” ”I Will Follow,” ”Beautiful Day” and “With or Without You.” After “Bullet the Blue Sky,” Bono held his hands above his head and said, “Don’t shoot.

A week after signing off on a new round of offshore drilling off the coast of Alaska, President Obama on Wednesday delivered his most direct and dire warning yet about the threats we face from climate change. Mullen marching with a snare drum gave new power to “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” and a stripped-down version of “Every Breaking Wave,” with Bono accompanied by the Edge on piano, was stirring.

But the most telling moment in the big-versus-small and then-versus-now continuum of the evening came during “Bullet the Blue Sky.” One of the several standouts from 1987 “The Joshua Tree” album, the song was originally a scorching indictment of militarism and war, especially in its spokenword coda. After the 2008 election, Obama tried to push climate legislation with arguments about green jobs and the moral imperative of taking care of the planet for future generations. But where Bono once talked about seeing “those fighter planes,” he now sees “those private planes,” and the greedy man “slapping down those dollar bills” had been replaced by a younger version of himself critiquing the Bono of 2015 for his excesses. But in the second term, thanks in part to impact of Hurricane Sandy and increasing extreme weather, Obama retooled his message and began talking about how climate change will affect food prices, the spread of infectious diseases and the public health implications of burning fossil fuels. When I began reporting my story on military and climate change late last year, it was clear to me that there are not a lot of climate skeptics in the military high command.

But Pentagon officials are reluctant to talk openly about this, in part because they don’t like to engage in heated political issues, but mostly because they fear climate deniers in Congress will slash their budgets if they tell the truth too bluntly. Obama’s latest speech also underscores the fact that he sees climate as a central part of his legacy, and one that he will push hard in what remains of his presidency. He has already signaled this by effectively killing the Keystone XL pipeline, as well as pushing the EPA to implement new rules limiting carbon pollution, which has predictably outraged coal-state Republicans like Sen. The petite New York native with the gigantic voice tore through a cover of the Young Rascals’ “You Better Run,” sticking her index finger in the face of some imaginary foe, and pointing toward a future in which women would grab rock & roll by the wallet.

Only the second-ever video played on MTV, it followed the Buggles’ synth-heavy “Video Killed the Radio Star” on the channel and helped turn the classically trained Benatar into a rock superstar with dozens of chart hits, a Number One album and a seemingly endless concert tour that continues to this day. Her initial chart hit, the blistering “Heartbreaker,” reached Number 23 and helped her debut LP, In the Heat of the Night, reach million-seller status. Spyder says this all the time, that when you write songs, the best way to write them is just piano and vocal or guitar and vocal, because it really gets it down to the essence of the song. They’re great girls, I love them, but we were hanging out and they’re talking about, “I was using this mic, I was using this. . .” and I was [mimics falling asleep]. Sometimes she’ll say, “Papa, you got any ideas for any songs?” I’ll give her one line and then wait about 10 minutes and she’ll say, “I think I’ve got something!” Benatar: “Hell Is for Children” came from an article in the New York Times, an exposé on child abuse.

Giraldo: I’ll tell you one right away: “Somebody’s Baby” [from the 1993 album, Gravity’s Rainbow.] I thought we hit something really brilliant on that. Because our record company then was so smart, they said, “We can’t get it out of our heads from the Jackson Browne song [released 12 years earlier].” What followed was this new marketing plan: “We’re going to do nothing.” Oh, that’s a great idea!

They’d expect us to say, “Oh, fuck off.” They’d go, “Wow, they’re too nice.” After months of escalating protests and grassroots organizing in response to the police killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, police reformers have issued many demands. The moderates in this debate typically qualify their rhetoric with “We all know we need police, but…” It’s a familiar refrain to those of us who’ve spent years in the streets and the barrios organizing around police violence, only to be confronted by officers who snarl, “But who’ll help you if you get robbed?” We can put a man on the moon, but we’re still lacking creativity down here on Earth. While law enforcers have existed in one form or another for centuries, the modern police have their roots in the relatively recent rise of modern property relations 200 years ago, and the “disorderly conduct” of the urban poor. Like every structure we’ve known all our lives, it seems that the policing paradigm is inescapable and everlasting, and the only thing keeping us from the precipice of a dystopic Wild West scenario. Rather than be scared of our impending Road Warrior future, check out just a few of the practicable, real-world alternatives to the modern system known as policing: Unarmed but trained people, often formerly violent offenders themselves, patrolling their neighborhoods to curb violence right where it starts.

Stop believing that police are heroes because they are the only ones willing to get in the way of knives or guns – so are the members of groups like Cure Violence, who were the subject of the 2012 documentary The Interrupters. There are also feminist models that specifically organize patrols of local women, who reduce everything from cat-calling and partner violence to gang murders in places like Brooklyn.

While police forces have benefited from military-grade weapons and equipment, some of the most violent neighborhoods have found success through peace rather than war. Violent offenses count for a fraction of the 11 to 14 million arrests every year, and yet there is no real conversation about what constitutes a crime and what permits society to put a person in chains and a cage. Decriminalization doesn’t work on its own: The cannabis trade that used to employ poor Blacks, Latinos, indigenous and poor whites in its distribution is now starting to be monopolized by already-rich landowners. To quote investigative journalist Christian Parenti’s remarks on criminal justice reform in his book Lockdown America, what we really need most of all is “less.” Also known as reparative or transformative justice, these models represent an alternative to courts and jails. From hippie communes to the IRA and anti-Apartheid South African guerrillas to even some U.S. cities like Philadelphia’s experiment with community courts, spaces are created where accountability is understood as a community issue and the entire community, along with the so-called perpetrator and the victim of a given offense, try to restore and even transform everyone in the process.

Communities that have tools to engage with each other about problems and disputes don’t have to consider what to do after anti-social behaviors are exhibited in the first place. Obviously these could become police themselves and then be subject to the same abuses, but as a temporary solution they have been making a real impact.

In New York, Rikers Island jails as many people with mental illnesses “as all 24 psychiatric hospitals in New York State combined,” which is reportedly 40% of the people jailed at Rikers. We have created a tremendous amount of mental illness, and in the real debt and austerity dystopia we’re living in, we have refused to treat each other for our physical and mental wounds.

Mental health has often been a trapdoor for other forms of institutionalized social control as bad as any prison, but shifting toward preventative, supportive and independent living care can help keep those most impacted from ending up in handcuffs or dead on the street.

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