Moncton, Canada seems like the most unlikely place for a U2 tour ending destination, considering the Unforgettable Fire Tour ended in Wercheter, Belgium, the Joshua Tree Tour ended in Tempe Arizona and Zoo TV landed its final night in Tokyo. I know these tours in the distant past, but they all ended on a pretty high note. It seems as though the ending of 360˚ Tour in the remote town of Moncton, Canada seems a little off the beaten path. I would say more than beaten path since it is a six-hour drive from Augusta, Maine, the nearest American state capital. Even better, Moncton has a population of 126,424 people, which could all be dwarfed by The Claw in one sitting.
Now that I have given you a history lesson and directions, my wonderment comes in because I have no idea where, how or who decided this small, northeastern Canadian city to be the final resting place of this humongous tour. It still stupefies me that no major United States city, like New York or Boston, was considered. I guess someone must have put a map up on the wall, blind folded each band member and then gave them a solitary dart with the simple directions “launch it towards the wall.” From all four darts, they found the epicenter in Canada which means Larry or Edge’s dart had to have landed in Greenland or the middle of the Atlantic.
Nevertheless, this great, worldwide tour, which started in Spain, will dwindle to an end in the far reaches of Canada, playing songs, all along the way, from the vault like Scarlet, Silver and Gold, and Zooropa. For me, I cannot complain that the ending is in Moncton because it really has no effect on me. To those pinning for it to end in Dublin, I am sorry it isn’t. My gut feeling is that this Canadian town needs a bridge to nowhere and U2 will donate the stage, much like the Stones donated their stage to Japan after the Steel Wheels Tour, in order to build it. How prophetic would that be?
In any case, 360˚ is coming to an end. It has to and like always, once it it is gone, we await for another outing. Maybe the band will be more modest and go back to the stripped-down, arena shows the next time out. Or, maybe they will start busking on street corners as the Dalton Brothers. Anyway, none of this matters as we the 48 + Canada + Mexico relish in the final stages of U2’s ambitious outing named 360˚ without a care where it will end. We hope it goes off in peace.
We have know about this U2.com perk for the past four months and there has been a lot discontent spewed on other sites about how U2.com subscribers were given something of a sham for their hard earned cash. I am not here to speak to those issues. What I am here to discuss is the project as a whole and how this disc, with this many duettes, would be the envy of any up and coming band to have in their catalog.
Ask any singer song writer who they would want to record with and I am sure they would answer Frank Sinatra, Elvis or John Lennon. Well, all of those musical heroes are long gone, but in the case of U2, they came pretty close. Singing with the likes of Luciano Pavarotti, Mick Jagger, Johnny Cash, B.B. King and Willie Nelson would be any artist’s dream studio date. U2 has recorded with all of them. I dare ask you to list a contemporary band that comes close to this great collection of artists, whom U2 has creatively conspired with, in their catalog and I think that list would be very, very short.
Yes, I am disappointed in the album because I have most of these tracks, but I like the concept. What is cool is that these are not the only “Duals” U2 has in their catalog. They have many, many more. In hindsight, I wished the band would have created this album with even harder to find duettes, but we have to remember that the music industry is fraught with contracts, rights and ownership. Yeah, there are a lot of “Duals” that they probably cannot touch. For example, when they were on Elvis Costello’s television show, Spectacle, two years ago. I hope you saw it. U2’s performance was commanding. They shared the stage with Elvis and ripped through a performance of Pump It Up married with Get On Your Boots. It was a hair-raising mini-concert. There are countless examples of these recordings in their “catalog” but again, does U2 have the rights to them or are they willing to pay the financial price, above and beyond what our subscription raises in cash, to give them to us as part of our membership? I’m not sure, but I am sure we can all agree that we would have loved to have that collection as a special gift.
In closing, let us be thankful that U2 has been able to invite, or be invited, to perform with others. As we have seen on the 360˚ Tour, U2 has brought onstage performers important to the country where the band is performing on that given night. For example in Sao Paulo, they brought on Seu Jorge who is a Brazilian singer songwriter. He came onstage to great applause. Yes, it was U2 appealing to the crowd but more importantly; it was this respect, to Brazil, that U2 was playing into. Duals is doing the same thing. Within the fifteen tracks, U2 are rejoicing with those who have paved the way before them. Also, U2 are sharing the creative time with contemporaries who can push U2’s sound that much further. I never thought I would hear a rapper, let alone Jay-Z, jump in on Sunday Bloody Sunday, making it sound fresh, but he did. It works and so does Duals.
I am like many of you, reeling from a great show that was lifted across borders and into our hearts last night from Sao Paulo. From the opening of Even Better Than The Real Thing to Moment of Surrender, U2 took the world out for a ride in their 360º car and it was fun.
I began following this band quite some time ago and I finally feel they have got it right when it comes to a live show. There is no clear set-list and on each new leg, of this tour, U2 adds a gem or two from their rich past. They are not afraid to dig into their their treasure chest of tunes to find a newfound gem with renewed energy. Yeah, Zooropa is not my fave but they brought it back, which means that any song in the vault is fair game.
In closing, I hope they can reel in this energy the next time around and put it into a tighter bottle. Yes, that would mean playing smaller venues, but that is okay because they are a club band who has turned stadiums, on this tour, into intimate spaces like portraits on your dresser. Each night, has been just as special as the previous. I am glad to see Larry, Adam, Edge and Bono showing their flexibility as they cover generations of fans who sit in their audience awaiting what is next even if we saw it the night before.
This week we passed another anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. In those 43 years since his passing, the world has changed for the betterment of humanity and yet, we are stuck, sometimes, on April 3, 1968 where nothing has really changed. I was born on Dr. King’s birthday of that fateful year and honored to share his birthday. I do not take it lightly. I wear it like a badge of honor because Dr. King was a mover and a shaker in this world. I believe he still is.
It upsets me to see that people cannot see the greater good Dr. King had when he spoke of his vision in the “I have a dream” speech. What I am speaking of is the birther movement in this country, chasing after our current president who is of color and one who is trying to put this country back on course. I feel as though we have stepped back into time and are in Selma, Alabama once again, ignorant and stupid.
When U2′s The Unforgettable Fire was released, I was in high school and I was one of the only ones in my class who liked the record. It was a far departure from their previous release, the War LP, but that was okay. The band took on a bigger figure in Dr. King and praised him for what he had done. Why did it take an Irish band that had very little connection to this man to write such a prophetic song? I don’t know but they did and I have been hooked on the band ever since.
U2 has picked up the gauntlet left behind by John Lennon and Dr. King. Their activism is what makes them great. Their music makes them special. As we sit and watch our country fall apart at the edges, let us think of one thing ”what is the betterment for all of us in the human race?” I think the answer is to get along, walk in peace and make sure those less fortunate get a chance in this world. Remember that famous line “the rich are getting richer and the sick stay poor.” How prophetic.