Thursday, 12 January 2012

U2 Preview in The Daily Yomiuri on 25th November 2006

U2: 30 years on from the kitchen
By Stephen Taylor / Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer

In September 1976, a group of Dublin schoolboys met for the first time in the kitchen of one of their members, who played the drums. Little did they realize that the band they would go on to form would become one of the giants of rock music, or that 30 years later it would take nearly two years for them to finish one of their mammoth world tours with three dates in Japan.

Although the name U2 did not emerge in that kitchen meeting, it was decided that vocals would be handled by Bono (known as Paul Hewson at the time) with Adam Clayton and The Edge on bass and lead guitar, respectively.

They have gone on to become the finest rock band in the world, and even those who question that description cannot deny that U2 are one of rock's most enduring bands. The same foursome will walk on stage at Saitama Super Arena on Wednesday for the first of three shows before ending their Vertigo tour in Honolulu on Dec. 9.

The tour opened in San Diego way back in March 2005 and crossed the Atlantic to Europe for the summer before returning to Canada and the United States in autumn 2005.

The fourth leg of the tour started in Central and South America and was supposed to hit Tokyo around cherry blossom season when, less than a month before the band's show at Yokohama's Nissan Stadium on April 4, the Asia-Pacific leg of the tour was postponed when one of the band's family members fell ill.

Not surprisingly, their first trip to Japan for more than eight years, and only their fifth in 23 years, had been eagerly awaited and, like almost every other date on the tour, was a sellout within days of tickets going on sale.

However, for those with an aversion to stadium rock, the cancellation of the original dates was a blessing in disguise as the revised shows at Saitama will be relatively intimate in comparison.

What's more, there are still some tickets to be had. As with the original spring dates, the bulk of tickets were sold in the first week of sales for the revised dates--according to promoter Avex Live Creative--but some tickets are still available, and a very limited number of tickets will also be released for sale on show days.

Twenty-six years after the release of their debut album, Boy, it's easy to forget the impact this bunch of Irishmen had on the music scene at the time, but listen to I Will Follow, the opening track on their new compilation, 18 Singles, and the energy and passion of the group is obvious.

Strictly speaking, it wasn't until the release of New Year's Day in 1983 that they began to get global attention, but the rest, as they say, is history.

The 18 Singles compilation also contains the group's new single, a collaboration with Green Day on a cover version of the Skids single The Saints Are Coming.

Recorded to raise money for Music Rising, an organization that aims to replace musical instruments lost as a result of last year's Hurricane Katrina, the initial inspiration for choosing the track was the name of New Orleans' football team, as Green Day singer Billie Joe Armstrong recently revealed on the New Musical Express Web site.

U2, and particularly Bono, have earned a reputation for championing political causes, and his campaigning to fight world poverty and the AIDS pandemic has brought the 46-year-old into contact with world leaders including Brazil's President Lula da Silva and U.S. President George W. Bush.

Earlier this month, Bono demonstrated his resolve with a guest appearance with Pearl Jam at a Make Poverty History concert in Melbourne, where they performed a version of Neil Young's Rockin' in the Free World.

What messages U2's Japanese fans can expect from the tub-thumping Bono is anyone's guess, but their reputation as one of the top bands on the road today is one the band don't treat lightly. As Bono says in U2 by U2, the book the band wrote with Neil McCormick: "Backstage at a U2 concert, it's more like a dressing room after a boxing or soccer match than a rock gig. You have to remember, for U2 every night has to be the best night."

U2 will play Nov. 29 and 30 and Dec. 4, 7:30 p.m. at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, (0180) 993-717.

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