Have been listening to the new U2 album (How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb) and can’t get Bono’s sublime crooning on the track "A Man and a Woman" out of my head -- was all but expelled from a meeting for humming it unconsciously today. Major spine-shiver when Bono sings the lines "The soul needs beauty for a soulmate; When the soul wants...the soul waits..." (Stop chuckling already, go LISTEN to the song.)
One of the great things about U2 is that with all the baggage of being the world’s "biggest, bestest rock band" they are still secure and confident enough to write and perform a simple love song in the most direct, unselfconscious way imaginable. I still have to listen to the album many more times but so far it reminds me in parts of my favourite U2 record, the 1984 The Unforgettable Fire -- very acclaimed at the time but almost forgotten today, or so it seems. That album was a bridge between their early days - when much of their work was teen-angst agitprop about the political discontent in Ireland - and the maturity of The Joshua Tree. But there are also echoes here of their beginnings: The Edge’s pulsating guitarwork and the boyish, wide-eyed abandon of Bono’s singing in the opening track "Vertigo" is a nice, nostalgic throwback to their work on Boy and War.
"What a drag it is getting old!" yammered Jagger in the 1960s, and nearly 40 years later he’s still howling and bounding about the stage. The members of U2 are, of course, young in comparison; but they are in their mid-40s, and show absolutely no sign of fading. The four of them first came together as high school students in 1976 and I marvel at how they’ve spent the better part of three decades together, creating great music with so much passion, with only occasional lulls, and without poking each others’ eyes out along the way. It’s scary.