The day's still beautiful for U2
May 6, 2001
BY JIM DEROGATIS pop music critic
For all of the musicians' insistence that U2 is a band composed of four absolute
equals, fans know that two members are a little bit more equal than the other two.
Bono is the flamboyant frontman, the band's soul, and its prime artistic and conceptual
instigator. But the Edge is the group's heart, its key musical engine, and the workhorse
who has crafted the signature elements of its sound. He is U2's Apollo to Bono's Dionysus.
I spoke with the Edge as he hurtled down California's Pacific Coast Hwy. en route to a
video studio where the band was shooting scenes for the clip to ''Elevation,'' which is
about to be included as the signature song in the new film ''Tomb Raider.''
Q. When you guys set out some 20 years ago, did you ever imagine that the band
would still be in business at this point in time?
A. No, not really, to be honest. I feel that we're very fortunate to still be around,
because no one who gets in a band at age 18 imagines that they're still going to be in the
same band 20 years later. It's just great luck, I suppose, and also maybe because we were
friends almost before we were a band, I guess there's a certain amount of respect and
genuine friendship among all the members of the band. Maybe that's why we're still
together. But bands are like street gangs--you really don't expect it to last all that
long. If you're in a really good one, you try and make it last as long as possible. For
us, the thing that we're always trying to preserve is just the creative relationship
between the four members. I can't imagine ever getting into any kind of creative
relationship that would match it. We're four quite different people, and therein lies the
strength of it: There's always a good counter-argument to any argument proffered.
Q. I've always wondered why more bands don't take the sort of approach that Brian
Eno advocated in his ''Oblique Strategies'': If we have these limitations, how much can we
accomplish while working with the limitations?
A. That's one of the philosophies that we've used over the years: seeing limitations as
some kind of a strength and a governing influence over what you do. In the end, I think if
you're trying to get anywhere creatively, options can be your enemy, simply because they
create too much opportunity to really get confused or run off down a side street and not
really focus on the important thing. We've always used the limitations of the band as a
creative tool almost. Particularly when we went into the making of the ''Pop'' album,
where we were suddenly given a new kind of set of creative tools through the use of
technology, we really missed the sound and the sense of being a band. Almost halfway
through that project, we started slowly bringing the songs away from a trip-hop aesthetic
back to being a rock 'n' roll performance aesthetic. So even when given the possibility of
other options and freedoms, we found ourselves gravitating back to the band itself, that
chemistry. In the end I suppose that's really what we have to offer that no one else could
Q. The new album is being perceived as a regrouping and a return to older sounds.
Your quote during the making of the album was ''Let's not be afraid to sound like U2.''
But this seems like the sort of move you can only do once.
A. Well, I wouldn't overstress the looking back thing. As we were making this record,
we were not looking back at all. All we did is give ourselves the added freedom of reusing
earlier ideas that were appropriate in the song. The case in point that people keep
referring to is ''Beautiful Day.'' That song itself is a very unusual brew: It's not at
all classic rock 'n' roll in its structure. There's this kind of weird, Kraftwerk,
almost-beat-box sub-tune with this little string loop, which Brian put in there, which is
extremely machine age. I suppose because it had that electronica element, it gave me the
license to do something that was a sort of a counterbalance to that, which was more of a
classic U2 sound. Had the whole arrangement been classic U2 from earlier, I don't think I
would have gone there--I think I would have taken my guitar in a far different direction.
This kind of balancing of opposing sensibilities and feelings is something that we do a
lot within U2. I think this record is just as innovative as ''Pop,'' it's just that the
thing we're pushing to the forefront is the chemistry of the band playing together, and I
think that is why people are referring back to earlier projects. Maybe it's been a few
years since we sounded so much like a band playing tunes.
Q. I always return to something that Eno told me about working with U2: He said his
role was basically to come in and erase anything that sounded too much like U2;
that's how he pushed you in new directions.
A. [Laughs.] There were some occasions where Brian was practically physically
restrained from erasing! But I can't credit Brian and [fellow producer] Danny [Lanois]
enough for their help in making this record, although it is very much of a U2 record and a
band record. We've worked with them on more collaborative things in the past, like the
Passengers record, but we really made it clear early on this time that we wanted to make a
U2 record. Their influence over the work has been enormous, and their encouragement and
their ability to stick with us through thick and thin and to encourage at the right time
and critique at the right time was very, very crucial to how the record turned out.
With Brian and Danny, you get some extraordinary talents, apart from the sheer
intellectual strengths of both individuals. They really have a huge breadth of musical
experience and knowledge which covers areas that we aren't particularly expert or
knowledgeable in. The combination of the two of them gives us so much greater reach and
ability to kind of blast the things that we're trying to get through.
Q. You still feel as if you're learning things from them and being inspired by them
after all this time?
A. Oh, absolutely, yeah. They're very different, again, and that's also what's
interesting about them. Brian is a classic English art school product who discovered rock
'n' roll and glam-rock and was very important during the early days of Roxy Music, and
then went on to have an incredible career of collaborations.
Q. I wish you could use your influence to convince him to sing again and make
another pop record.
A. Brian might surprise you; I feel that might be where he's going. Having gone
through a phase where he really was not particularly interested in the song as a form, I
think he might be getting back there. And Danny also, having made this record with us,
seems to be very inspired to make some of his own music. I'd be very interested to see
what they do on their own.
Q. Back to the longevity of U2, it seems as if the only peer remaining from the time
you started is R.E.M. Do you listen to them much? Do you see parallels between your career
A. I think there are parallels, but I think also that we couldn't be more different
in certain respects. I'm really very fond of them, both personally and I'm a huge fan of
their music. But they are so laid back and relaxed by comparison with our band. Their
attitude to success and ambition and where they want to take their band and their records
couldn't be more different, but at the same time they have in their own uniquely Southern
approach achieved some incredible work over the years, and I love what they do. I guess
coming out of Ireland, we don't suffer at all from that sense that to really remain true
to your origins and your roots, you really should try to stay clear of any heavy emphasis
on success in any respect, commercially or critically. Our attitude from day one was we
wanted to be the biggest band in the world and we wanted to be the best band in the world.
Q. But you have the burden of being known as moral people, people who stand up for
the right thing, while working in a business, the music business, which is universally
regarded as the biggest weasel pit going. How do you walk that line?
A. It's a very hard thing to balance out. In a weird way, the constant sort of
checking and balancing act that we do within the band, I suppose fundamentally we believe
it is possible to remain true on every level and still be in the commercial world--that
they're not completely mutually exclusive. It's really about being true to your own
conscience and what you feel comfortable with and what you don't feel comfortable with.
Our whole thing is that in the end we don't want to do anything that is ever going to
embarrass our fans. That's why over the years we've turned down so many offers from
companies who want us to endorse their products. It's not necessarily that we have any
moral problem with all that, it's just that we would find it very embarrassing to do that
to our fans. In the end there's an unwritten deal there--they come to our shows, they buy
our records, they buy our T-shirts, they support the band. But only because they think
what we're doing is special, and there are certain sacred qualities to the work that we
Q. The argument that bands who do those endorsements miss is that by pairing their
songs with commercial images, they deprive me as the listener of the images that were
running through my head. What ''One'' means to me is so much more important to me than
what some commercial might suggest that it means.
A. That's really basically our attitude. And we've had arguments with all kinds of
people over the years about this. I remember talking to Lou Reed about when some of his
best songs ended up in commercials. Lou typically has a very practical, hard-nosed
attitude, which is, ''[Crap], man, I put my studio and the house together with that money!
Why should I care?'' But we do very well--our fans really have given us a great life--and
we just don't want to do anything that would in the end embarrass them and make them wince
in whatever regard with the things that we do or the things we put our music to.
Q. I recently got an e-mail from a guy who was part of the Major Activities Board at
the University of Chicago, which booked you to perform there during your first tour. The
cover charge that night was $1, including all the beer you could drink. Now the top price
ticket price in Chicago is $144.75, with the Ticketmaster service charges. I could buy
every U2 album on CD for that price. Does that seem fair?
A. It's a lot, I know, but you have to judge it in relation to everything else
that's going on and the changes that have been made in prices since those days. We played
a college at that time, and I think that also would have dictated the ticket price. Now,
we make sure that there are a large proportion of the tickets that are affordable; there's
a lot at $45 plus service charge. The top ticket price is there because of two aspects:
First of all, a lot of U2 fans now can afford that and are quite happy to pay that. I know
that there are some fans who can't, and in the end they either shell out more than they
really should on an expensive ticket, or they don't go. That I don't like, but again, this
is a balance. If you compare those prices to basketball tickets or other exclusive events
and the price changes in the same period, I think you find that rock 'n' roll is still
ultimately pretty good value compared to a lot of things.
Q. A lot of people see a revolution coming as far as business as usual in the music
industry. U2 is in a position where it could affect fundamental change, and it seemed as
if the band was going in that direction circa the Zoo TV tour. When your longtime label
Island Records suddenly disappeared, wasn't there a moment when you thought, ''Why do we
need another label? Why do we need Interscope? Why do we need this expensive concert
industry? Why can't we just do it all our own way?''
A. I think things will be going more and more in that direction over the next
decade or so--not just for us, but generally for bands. But at this moment, we have a very
good record company, and a record company we've been able to infiltrate and kind of work
with. We don't feel in the least bit like we've been taken over by the terrible machine of
the rock 'n' roll business. Of course, you have to fight your corner, and you have to
protect your work from the more kind of crass elements of commercialism which exist within
the record business. But in the end, I believe that most people who work in record
companies do so because they started out loving music. It's amazing how if you approach a
record company on that basis as we do, how much they respond. If you give somebody in a
record company something to work on that they really believe in, it makes a huge
difference, and their attitude toward what they're working on changes dramatically.
We are very fortunate we have very strong and effective management, and our record
deals have always protected our ultimate control over things, so we can't really turn
around and say, ''They've done this to us.'' If we've made mistakes, they've been our
mistakes, and we have made a few over the years. [Laughs]
Q. But I wonder if a new band coming up would be able to fashion the kind of
organization that U2 or R.E.M. has. It's getting harder and harder.
A. It is. The only thing I would say to bands is that when we first signed, we got
so little money that we were really in a position to do it our way. The record company
could see that it was working and they realized that they didn't have a huge amount of
money at stake that they could lose if we messed up. That really changes the whole
picture. If you go in as a very young band and you negotiate this massive deal and you
take a load of money off the record label, they start to think in a very different way:
They're looking for a return and success on a commercial level from the get-go. I've seen
this happen within the dance world as well. The artists or the bands that seem to survive
creatively are the ones that sort of operate under the radar. They don't have this huge
commercial expectation, and it really saves them so much grief. Any advice I would give to
a young group would be to try to avoid getting into debt, because that's what turns a
record company into a slave master, and it doesn't have to be that way.
Q. The story of U2 coming together is that Bono couldn't sing very well but you
wanted him in the band because he had a certain charisma. Over 20 years, your relationship
must have changed in myriad ways. Is he still this sort of charismatic figure for you? Is
there something special about him? Does he still surprise you?
A. There's always a surprise in working with U2 for all of us. I suppose when we
come to play live it's that sense of spontaneity and jeopardy that is so much a part of
Bono as a performer. You really sometimes don't know where he's going or what he's going
to do. Occasionally he will paint himself into such a corner, and you're just there
wondering how the hell he's going to get out of it. So often he just pulls something out
of the hat and blows you away. Sometimes he'll fall flat on his face [laughs], and you
just think, ''Oh my god; poor guy!'' But that is what's great about him: He flies without
a parachute. He's that way by nature, and he's consistently that way in almost everything
Creatively as well, in the studio when we're working together, Bono creates in a very
spontaneous way. He doesn't slave for weeks on the nuances of a lyric or a melody. He
comes in and kind of leaps, and that can be an incredibly inspiring thing to see.
Sometimes you just don't know where on earth it's coming from. I'm much more a methodical
person when it comes to writing. I develop things and I really kind of work around. I
circle things for a long time before finally moving in and finishing them off. Again,
we're very different in that respect. And it's true of Adam [Clayton] and Larry [Mullen
Jr.]; their strengths creatively and as performers really are the thing that make U2 what
it is. Without them it would not be the same.
Q. Are they still able to surprise you as well?
A. Absolutely. Adam's always been kind of the most avant-garde and unorthodox as a
musician. He's exceptional; I don't think that there's any other bass player I can think
of past or present who has the personality as a player and a performer. He always comes up
with a part that you just never in your wildest dreams would have thought of. He's a
constant mindblower. Sometimes it doesn't work, but so many times it's just the most
genius thing. If you talk to any of our producers, Adam is the random element and the true
sort of jazz element. He will throw something into a jam session that will always
With Larry, he's just so strong. He's incredibly direct, incredibly black and white,
but he's so professional and so honest. He's a one-take wonder. Say you have a tune that
is just not quite right, maybe dynamically it doesn't flow right, occasionally you'll just
say, ''OK, Larry, let's try some new drums. You just play on top of this.'' And so often
he'll just play something that in one take will sew the whole thing together. It's like
he's got this incredible way of seeing clearly what is required. Occasionally when the
rest of us are talking ourselves through all the kind of philosophical and the musical
possibilities, Larry will just sort of cut to the chase, like, ''Come on guys,'' and nail
it right on the head.
Q. Could it be U2 without one of these personalities? R.E.M. always said that it
wouldn't and couldn't, yet R.E.M. continued after Bill Berry left.
A. That's hard to really predict. I don't think it would be the same. But would we
want to continue in some way? Maybe we would. Until you're in that position, you can't
Occasionally, when you're going through particularly bad moments, you might feel, ''Do
I really need this? I could go and do something else. It's not like I'm in the military
and I've got another 10 years to serve.'' You start going through the whole thing: ''Well,
what would I do? I really still love music and I can't imagine doing anything else.'' So
you start, ''Do I want to be a solo performer?'' And you think, ''Well, no, in the end, I
prefer working with people. Collaboration is just where I live as an artist.'' So you say,
''OK, then you have to be in a band. So who do you want to be in a band with?'' And you
kind of end up with, ''Well, Bono! He's such a great singer, I couldn't imagine working
with a different singer. And Adam and Larry, what a rhythm section!'' And you basically
ending up reinventing U2 again in your own head.
In the end, I think for us, we were lucky enough to find this creative partnership at a
point where we were just finding our own feet as musicians and songwriters and it just
works for us. At this point, we probably all could have done some more solo work, but it's
just less fun. In the end, I reckon that our best work is always going to be within the
band, so why devote three months to a solo project when you could be so much more
effective in a U2 project?
Q. Why do so few bands go that distance?
A. I think we're just also lucky that we really do function as a band. We've held
onto this idea that it is an equal situation, even though every element of what we do is
not necessarily equal. Bono writes the majority of the lyrics. I write some lyrics, and I
write a lot of the music, with Bono helping out. Adam and Larry contribute where they can.
But everybody is given the same respect within the group. Larry can come in and critique a
lyric, he can come in and say he doesn't like a guitar part, and I think that sort of
mutual respect means that the competitiveness that is naturally there is tempered by a
certain understanding that it is an almost kibbutz-like arrangement. It's almost Communism
in a way. Not that there's this sort of artificial ''everything must be equal thing,''
it's just the respect for everybody, and that really counts, I think.
Perusing the U2 catalog
With a quarter century's history behind it, the U2 that arrives in
Chicago next week to perform four sold-out shows at the United Center has actually been
three or four very different bands over the course of its long and storied career. The
quartet's development may be charted through its recordings, which comprise of one of the
most rewarding discographies in rock.
''U2:3'' EP, 1978 **1/2 Inspired by the Sex Pistols and the punk explosion of London's
''summer of hate,'' the group came together in 1976 at the instigation of 14-year-old
drummer Larry Mullen Jr., who placed an ad on the bulletin board of Mount Temple High
School in Dublin, Ireland. Among those who responded were bassist Adam Clayton, guitarist
Dave Evans (later the Edge) and an outspoken chap named Paul Hewson who, even though he
couldn't sing particularly well at the time, brazenly rechristened himself Bono Vox (Latin
for ''good voice'').
The name U2 was eventually chosen for its political and enigmatic qualities (referring
to the famous spy plane, as well as the double meaning ''you, too''), and it replaced
earlier monikers such as Feedback and Hype. At first, the band trampled its way through
standard late '70s punk fare, including material by the Pistols and the Ramones, but its
own sound was beginning to emerge on its first recording, a three-song EP that won a
following in Ireland but made little or no impact in the United States. The disc is a
collector's item now, of course, but its embryonic sound isn't all that exciting.
''Boy,'' 1980 ***1/2 On the strength of its Irish success, the band signed to Island
and recorded its debut album with Steve Lillywhite, a staff producer known for the booming
drums and ringing guitars that he gave to New Wave artists including Ultravox, Siouxsie
and the Banshees, XTC and the
Psychedelic Furs. In retrospect, the relatively stripped-down if echo-laden sound of
U2's debut has aged well: It doesn't seem nearly as dated as the work of other enigmatic
guitar bands from this era--say, Echo and the Bunnymen, or Big Country, which appeared as
a blatant U2 clone in 1983.
The disc yielded the underground hits ''I Will Follow'' and ''Stories for Boys,'' but
the track that stands as most representative of the early sound is probably ''An Cat
Dubh,'' with its massive drums, tinkling bells, minimalist Edge guitar licks and anthemic
Bono chorus. All together now: ''Whoa-oh-oh! Whoa-oh-oh!''
''October,'' 1981 *** More confident and self-assured, U2 opens its second
Lillywhite-produced disc with the classic ''Gloria,'' which builds on the sonic hallmarks
of ''Boy'' while introducing the spiritual themes so important to the musicians in their
personal lives (everyone but Clayton is a devout Christian). It's a cheeky move for any
rock band to pen a tune called ''Gloria'' in the wake of Van Morrison's classic, but U2
pulls it off with a song that's almost as great, building to a transcendent choral
The Christian concerns continue on ''Fire,'' ''Rejoice'' and ''With a Shout,'' but
''Gloria'' aside, the disc isn't quite as strong as its predecessor. (The music has aged
better than the moody glamour-puss photo of the band on the cover. Check those floppy, New
''War,'' 1983 *** Having gotten religion, the quartet from Dublin now gets political.
Many fans consider this U2's first great album, but I disagree: While the
Lillywhite-produced music is probably the best example of the early U2 sound, with more
imaginative arrangements and Edge's stately piano coming on strong, the lyrics of tunes
such as ''Sunday Bloody Sunday,'' ''New Year's Day'' and ''Seconds'' are often
heavy-handed, clumsy and strident. ''Gold is the reason for the wars we wage!'' Ugh.
I saw U2 for the first time on this tour, performing at New York's Palladium. Bono lost
me when he started waving a huge white flag, urging us all to fall in step and join the
crusade. What crusade? Well, that wasn't clear, and even at the impressionable age of 19,
I thought it was all sort of goofy. The live album ''Under a Blood Red Fire'' bears me
''The Unforgettable Fire,'' 1984 **1/2 Enter U2, Mach Two. Lillywhite is out, and the
team of Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno (''ambient atmospheres our specialty!'') is in.
Unfortunately, their impact wouldn't really be felt for a while, and this remains a
problematic and transitional effort. Lyrically, Bono is becoming increasingly obsessed
with the United States--witness ''4th of July,'' ''Elvis Presley and America'' and of
course ''Pride,'' a ham-fisted tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The singer was
never more preachy, more self-righteous or more insufferable.
''The Joshua Tree,'' 1987 ***1/2 The best example of the band's second incarnation
still finds Bono crooning about America, but this time, the critiques and observations in
songs like ''Bullet the Blue Sky'' (about U.S. involvement in El Salvador) and ''In God's
Country'' are much more artful and poetic. Meanwhile, the music on tunes such as ''Where
the Streets Have No Name'' and ''With or Without You'' finds the band moving into a
starker, more mysterious sound that is less easily defined (or parodied), and which
rewards repeated listenings. Part of the credit is due to a heck of a support team:
Producers Lanois and Eno inspire the band to stretch out and experiment, Lillywhite comes
back to remix several tunes, and a talented young engineer named Flood captures it all on
''Rattle & Hum,'' 1988 *1/2 Alas, it was one step forward and two steps back. U2
followed the unprecedented commercial success of ''The Joshua Tree'' with this mix of new
material and live tracks that aspire to pay tribute to American roots music but wind up
amplifying all the worst traits of ''The Unforgettable Fire.'' It's awkward, pretentious,
ponderous--a real mess. But maybe the band had to get this out of its system before it got
where it was going next.
''Achtung Baby,'' 1991 **** The group's masterpiece, and the introduction of U2, Mach
Three. Under the increasingly powerful spell of Eno, that unparalleled artistic
instigator, the band finally abandons all lingering hints of its old chest-thumping and
flag-waving in favor of giving a great big postmodern raspberry. But while Bono's live
posturing and the whiz-bang technical assault of the subsequent Zoo TV tour were
absolutely lousy with irony, the music itself is never cold or alienating. In fact,
''One'' is probably the most heartfelt and moving song the band has ever recorded.
Overall, ''Achtung Baby'' stands as a disc that is both resonant of its time and
absolutely timeless--the perfect soundtrack for slipping on the virtual reality helmet and
flipping through 300 channels of satellite TV while waiting for the Ecstasy to kick in.
''Zooropa,'' 1993 ***1/2 Recorded in the midst of the Zoo TV tour, these 10 songs don't
have quite the same impact but they do continue the playful experimentation of ''Achtung
Baby.'' Bono in particular has blossomed under Eno's tutelage, just as David Bowie and
David Byrne did before him. In keeping with his new stage persona of a Vegas-style Satan,
he adopts a darker, more sinister tone on ''Daddy's Gonna Pay for Your Crashed Car,''
''Some Days Are Better Than Others'' and the title track, while on other tunes, he
successfully tackles Tony Bennett-style crooning (''Babyface'') and a Smokey Robinson
Bono also sits out for two songs, allowing the band to prove that its identity extends
beyond its photogenic frontman. Johnny Cash sings on the wonderfully apocalyptic ''The
Wanderer,'' and the Edge does his best Lou Reed imitation on ''Numb.'' This is far from
U2's most consistent collection. But you know what they say about consistency.
''Pop,'' 1997 ** Have you sensed a pattern here yet? U2 seems to run in cycles of one
great breakthrough album, followed by a few strong discs with various refinements,
followed by a real stinker. This is another stinker.
Eno isn't around this time--Flood and trip-hopper Howie B. are at the helm--and the
disc has a harsh digital sheen that contributes to its incorrect dismissal by some as a
''techno'' record. The band TALKED a lot about experimenting with electronic dance music,
and they actually made a fairly interesting ambient album in 1995, working with Eno under
the name Passengers. But ''Pop'' might have been better if U2 actually DID go techno.
Instead, we get tired dinosaur rock.
''Mofo'' is a plodding and inferior rewrite of ''One''; the chiming guitar break in
''Discotheque'' reaches back to ''Boy,'' and ''Last Night on Earth'' is just U2 circa
''The Joshua Tree'' tarted up with some electronics. Lyrically, Bono is still ''Lookin'
for to fill that God-shaped hole,'' but he wrongly thinks he's going to find what he's
looking for in the tired cataloguing of pop-culture icons (''The Playboy Mansion'') as
well as some lame synthesizers and tired drum patterns. The band seems to be running on
''All That You Can't Leave Behind,'' 2000 *** This brings us to the present, but it's
hard to say exactly where this effort fits in. It's a departure from ''Pop,'' to be sure,
but as fans and critics have noted, it's a return to an ''older'' U2 sound--the sound of
the second incarnation, more or less. It's an album that anyone who likes the band will
find hard to resist, even if it's unlikely to rank as anyone's all-time favorite.
There's no heavy lifting or serious artistic ambition here. ''There's nothing you can
throw at me that I haven't already heard/I'm just trying to find a decent melody/A song
that I can sing in my own company,'' Bono sings in ''Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out
Of,'' and that pretty much sums things up. The band does deliver a batch of fine
melodies--''Beautiful Day,'' ''Wild Honey,'' ''Peace on Earth,'' ''New York''--but there's
nothing as potent or memorable as ''One,'' ''Even Better Than the Real Thing'' or ''With
or Without You.''
Are Bono, the Edge, Mullen and Clayton still capable of making another artistic leap
forward a la ''Achtung Baby'' or ''The Joshua Tree''? We'll have to wait and see where the
band is going next. Right now, it has given us an apt summation of where it's been, and
the perfect fodder for an onstage celebration of all that is U2.
All about U2
May 11, 2001
After the ever-popular game of "What songs will be on the set list?" the
biggest question on the minds of many fans when U2 performs four sold-out shows at the
United Center will be "What number will the Edge be sporting?"
At every stop on the "Elevation" tour, the guitarist has worn a
different-numbered T-shirt. "It started off with the number three at the Grammys, and
it just looked really good. It's that simple," he says.
The unintentional fashion trend continued from there. "There's no deep
significance, though occasionally a number will have a significance and I'll take
advantage of that. Number 16 went down well in the Bay Area because it was [Joe] Montana's
number. And Dale Earnhardt was No. 3, which a lot of people commented on at the Grammys,
and that was not long after his tragic death. Occasionally you use the number to make a
small statement, but there's nothing underlying."
Fans who've been looking for hidden meanings might be disappointed. "Well, we can
start a rumor here," the Edge says, laughing. "It's all the Kabala! That's what
I've been getting into, and it's an offshoot of numerology.''
As for the set list, U2 has been changing it up from city to city and night to night.
Here's what the group played on April 26 at its third night at the Arrowhead Pond in
Anaheim, Calif.: "Elevation," "Beautiful Day," "The End of the
World," "New Year's Day," "Kite," "New York," "I
Will Follow," "Sunday Bloody Sunday," "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get
Out Of," "In a Little While," "Angel of Harlem,"
"Stay," "All I Want Is You," "Where the Streets Have No
Name," "Mysterious Ways," "The Fly," "Bullet the Blue
Sky," "With or Without You," "Pride (In the Name of Love),"
"One" and "Walk On."