Saturday 18 November 2017

Bono reveals new song is inspired by Eamon Dunphy and says Donald Trump is not welcome at US gigs

Irish rockers U2 perform during their world tour celebrating the 30-year anniversary of their
Irish rockers U2 perform during their world tour celebrating the 30-year anniversary of their "Joshua Tree" album in Vancouver, British Columbia, Friday, May 12, 2017. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP)
Barry Egan

Barry Egan

Bono still hasn’t found the President he’s looking for. "Trump's supporters — the people who voted for Trump — are welcome at U2 gigs in America , but Donald Trump himself is not welcome at U2 gigs in America," the U2 singer said in an interview with before U2's Seattle show last night.

"I welcome his supporters. But him? I don't want him here. A person like that."

The President of The United States, of course, mightn’t want to come to a U2 show if he is made aware of some of the content. Before U2 performed the song Exit last Friday night in Vancouver , the band played a clip from a an old western on the huge screens behind them — featuring a double-dealing snake oil salesman with a familiar name who is trying to con the townspeople with a crackpot idea to protect them from a fire that is going fall from the sky...

Trump: ‘I am the only one. Trust me. I can build a wall around your homes that nothing will penetrate.’

A cowboy: ‘What do we do? How can we save ourselves?'

Trump: ‘You ask how do you build that wall. You ask, and I’m here to tell you.’

Another cowboy: ‘You’re a liar, Trump.'

"I don't want to meet a person like that," Bono said referring to the fact that Trump's administration is allegedly cutting funding for HIV AIDS research. "I don't think this hyperbole — the largest intervention in the history of medicine is the fight against HIV AIDS and the Americans have led it. It has had cross-party support. Bush started it; Obama continued it, even though he wasn't going to get the praise for it. And the idea that he [Trump] might undo that has me right on the back foot," Bono said.

Bono continued that when he met Vice President of the United States Mike Pence in February the administration’s “leveling out”, as the U2 singer described it, of funding for HIV AIDS research was very much part of the conversation.

"I can deal with people of conviction, even if we don't have much in common with them,” Bono explained of Pence.

“You just need one thing in common to have the conversation. I particularly wanted to see him to be very friendly with him to say to him, 'Can we work with you?' because I heard that this thing was coming. I know Pence has been fighting for this. I think this is important. I have fallen out with some of my friends over meeting Pence. But it is kind of my job, you know? But working with people you don't look good in a photograph with is a small price to pay."

Sipping his soup in a maze-like backstage area, Bono also said that the broadcaster Eamon Dunphy had inspired a new U2 song when Dunphy said that "my wife Ali was the best thing about Bono."

"The song is called You're The Best Thing about me," Bono said, before he went onstage last night in front of 75,000 at the Century Link Field stadium last night.

Bono also said that “it was women who are leading the protest movement. It is the women who are leading the dissent. I saw my daughter wearing a Pussy Power at a protest and I just thought, ‘ That was great.”’

How did he feel about the borders in Northern Ireland possibly going back up as a result of Brexit?

“That will be a great laugh, wouldn’t it?” Bono laughed. “They were a great laugh. They were great days!” Bono joked. “All the shooting and rioting. Brilliant craic, You’d missed it.”

Becoming serious, Bono said that “it is mad, the border thing, because borders are impossible to deal with. You seen what a country the size of Syria has done to Europe. Imagine now what a country the size of Africa or Nigeria would do to Europe. That is the stated objective of Boko Haram ,” Bono said in reference to Nigeria's militant Islamist group.

“Can you really have Fortress Europe? People are strapping themselves to pieces of wood, to tin cans to anything Can Europe has we know it really become a Fortress Europe? Can we really pull up the draw bridge to block the future?”

As he prepared to go onstage, I asked Bono could he do this forever.

“What else could I do?” he laughed. “I am not equipped to do anything else!”

Bono said he loved the life of being a musician on the road — “I have been sleeping on Gavin Friday’s couch from an early age and that hasn't changed in a way," Bono laughed. (He was in great form. At the souund-check earlier that day he had joshed with The Edge about his apparent slowness to come in with his guitar on Bad — "It is the Presbyterians! The fucking Presbyterians!" And when Larry went under a plastic roof where his drum kit was sheltered from the rain, Bono joked: 'Larry has a house! Those in plastic houses shouldn't throw stones.)

Bono continued that he was looking forward to playing Croke Park in Dublin on July 22. (The Edge had said earlier that the only reason they hadn’t scheduled two shows at Croker was “logistics.” )

The singer went on to say that he loved playing the songs from the 1987 album. “The songs from The Joshua Tree are very special songs, great songs, you know?”

“There is something Darwinian about a great song. I learned this from Oasis. I heard Liam Gallagher say to another singer — it wasn’t very nice but it was true: ‘Our songs are better than your f***king songs.’ I really know what he means, a great song is its own argument for itself,” Bono said. "The songwriting is the easy part in a sense."

"The hard bit is leaving your family, leaving your community to go on tour. We have become," Bono says looking at Adam Clayton who has joined us, "somewhat domesticated. And I don't think that comes natural to me."

"From my early teens being in a band was just a replacement for the family I didn't think I had. Then wanderlust came along. And I thought, wherever we go, wherever we are — that's where it is. And only recently I realised that I had a home and it is Dublin. I came home after the Paris show and I was walking through the house — and I often do walk through the house and I look in and see the kids when they are asleep -— and I thought to myself: 'I really like being at home.' So that makes it harder to leave," Bono said 5000 miles away from Dublin.

I asked him what’s the latest with Songs Of Experience — the U2 album that was "held" because it was written before Donald Trump moved the world on its axis when he was elected President.

“If it was me, we would be playing it now,” Bono answered. “It is pretty much done. It is a pretty special piece of work. I think it might have benefited from the pause that we took. “

Has it been rewritten?

“Things have changed on it, yeah,” Bono said. “It had to happen. Because our songs are stories, breaking news as well as anything else; what is going on in our own lives, what’s going on in the world — U2 always came out of that. And the whole world changed . We didn’t want to be like Y2K! Then fuck ! Nothing happened!” Bono laughed.

Plenty happened last night in Seattle, as 75,000 fans would happily attest.

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