Saturday, September 6, 2008

Another time, Another Place - Part 1

Dublin, 26 February 1980. U2 are playing the National Stadium to an admiring throng of friends and fans. Bono proudly introduces “Another Day”, their second single. Among the 1,200 is an aristocratically mannered Englishman, Bill Stewart, head of A&R at Island, and he’s about to sign U2…they have cracked it. They ´ve finally won a serious long-term recording contract-that Holy Grail that had eluded most of their Irish contemporaries. Theirs has also been a most precocious success .Except for Adam Clayton, U2´s members are still in their teens…U2 have passed all their local tests. They’ve established the basics of a unique style, founded on Bono´s theatrical presentation and the Edge’s ringing guitar. They’ve also found an ambitious and equally astute manager in Paul Mc Guinness and a more sizeable , committed audience than any of their Dublin contemporaries- victories won against local apathy and even some enmity.
At the Stadium U2 are still self-consciously and intentionally juvenile. But not juvenile delinquents. This is a band who have diverged from punk’s bad-boy and bad-girl models. Bono prefers to play the Fool _incidentally the title of an early and unrecorded U2 song_ a role he claims is borrowed from studying Shakespeare at school. Bono´s Fool plays up to and with adolescent confusion, scurrying round the stage on “Boy/Girl” like a hyperactive and over-impressionable manikin on his first date. For U2 are a strange paradox: they’re actually confessing to and using uncoolness, vulnerability and insecurity as artistic devices when nearly all their contemporaries slap on masks….
The U2 paradox of being oddly normal had made them controversial creatures, a band who had both divided their own home scene in Dublin and generated no small degree of incomprehension in British record companies that had first hoped and the hesitated to sign them. Instinctively and incurably romantic and utopian, U2 had gone against the grain of those punk attitudes that, by 1980, were hardening into marginalization and antisocial cynicisms. Or-that paradox again- as Bono confessed, introducing another unrecorded song and most consciously echoing John Lennon, "The Dream is Over”. Yet if, like the hippie dream Lennon had lamented, the punk fantasy was now over, U2´s own romance was only just beginning…

Adapted from Graham, Bill. (1989)U2,The Early Days- Another Time Antother Place Arrow (A Division of Random House Group)

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