Music

Friday 25 July 2014

U2 rock new technology

Niall Byrne

Published 05/08/2011|05:00

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BIG HIT: Bono and co used a Giga Pixel Fancam to photograph their audiences on the 360° tour

U2's 360° juggernaut of a world tour finished up in Moncton, Canada, last week, ending a 110-concert run around the world. Whatever you think of the band, it's hard not to admire the scale of 'The Claw' stage concept.

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The unique structure lent itself to another innovative feature of the tour, the GigaPixel Fancam ( u2.com/gigapixelfancam), an interactive panoramic photograph of each of their recent North American concerts in high resolution.

An entire audience of 60,000 people or so in the stadium are visible, no matter where they were sitting or standing. The detail is stunning. From the stage, you can zoom right up to a guy sitting in the stands holding a beverage and read his T-shirt, find the woman in the corporate box giving out to her family or decipher a girl's tattoo in the front row.

Part of the fun of the application is scanning for those people who were caught unawares: the guy picking his nose, the couple having an argument, the grizzled old guy spilling his beer over his fellow concert patron or the terrified man that is giving off a "dramatic chipmunk" vibe seen at bit.ly/dramaticu2guy.

The Fancam is certainly scarily impressive in its detail. What next? Bono looks inside your soul with infra-red cameras?

Considering the current trend for anniversary cover albums, perhaps U2 are also due one? Achtung Baby is 20 years old this year, as is Nirvana's Nevermind, which is already seeing a surge of nostalgia in its generation-defining rock music. The album, which has sold more than 30 million copies in those years, will be re-released in deluxe formats featuring DVD footage, rarities, "boombox recordings" and other unreleased material in September.

Spin magazine have already immersed themselves in the Nevermind celebrations with the release of a free download compilation entitled Newermind. Head over to facebook.com/spin and get the magazine-curated compilation which features Kurt Cobain favourites The Meat Puppets cover Smells Like Teen Spirit, Amanda Palmer cover Polly, Butch Walker do In Bloom and soulful late-bloomer Charles Bradley switch up Stay Away.

Most interesting for Nirvana fans is Scottish band The Vaselines, who finally return the favour and cover Lithium. Nirvana covered the band's Jesus Doesn't Want Me for a Sunbeam during their landmark 1993 MTV Unplugged set and Cobain was a big fan.

Meanwhile, another classic rock album celebrated its 10th anniversary last week. The Strokes' debut Is This It? first appeared in July 2001 and New York music blog Stereogum marked the occasion with the release of another covers album entitled STROKED. The compilation features a track for track re-imagining of the album with versions from Peter Bjorn & John, Austra, Owen Pallett, Computer Magic, Real Estate and more.

The album comes with cover artwork and liner notes from each act, which lend the covers some significance. Owen Pallett's piano quintet version of Hard To Explain takes its cue from a quote from Regina Spektor where she compared The Strokes to classical music, in that they were so mechanical and metronomic. Listen to the compilation at bit.ly/stereostrokes.

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