Tuesday 20 February 2018

Look out for the Edge: U2 guitarist's fall fails to spoil an emotional tour opener

Bono and The Edge on stage in Vancouver on the opening night of the tour
Bono and The Edge on stage in Vancouver on the opening night of the tour
The Edge has described Hozier’s debut album as ‘remarkable’
Barry Egan

Barry Egan

For U2, it was like a modern reworking of that famous Lady Bracknell epigram from 'The Importance of Being Earnest': to fall off your bike in New York may be regarded as a misfortune; to fall off the stage in Vancouver looks like carelessness.

Be that as it may, when The Edge missed his footing during 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For' at the encore for Thursday night's U2 show at Rogers Arena, nobody seemed to notice.

It had come at the end of a triumphant two-hour show for 20,000 fans.

Mercifully, the music was far more memorable than The Edge's tiny tumble. It was more his pride than his body that was hurt, not least because later he posted an Instagram picture showing nothing more than a grazed arm. Poor diddums.

The physical condition of The Edge's cohort Bono is a tad more significant, however, having come off his bike horribly in New York's Central Park last November. The singer says that part of his hand "is like rigor mortis. But they say that nerves heal about a millimetre a week, so in about 13 months I should know if it's coming back."

Bono has also been bullish about the band's tax affairs, saying wealthy people who do not take advantage of tax breaks are being "stupid in business".

"And we pay a fortune in tax, just so people know. We pay a fortune in tax and we're happy to pay a fortune in tax - people should," he told Sky News.

Onstage at Rogers Arena on Thursday night, Bono didn't look like a man waiting for rigor mortis to seize him.

He still did the vaguely camp splits and threw his hand up towards heaven during 'Vertigo', 'I Will Follow', 'The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)' which opened the show, and 'Out Of Control'.

Bono introduced the latter by way of that old chestnut: "We're a band from the Northside of Dublin". Says he, who lives on the hill of Killiney like a king.

What was undoubtedly straight from the heart was Bono's introduction to 'Iris (Hold Me Close)', the song he wrote about his mother's death when he was just a teenager.

"This is for you, Iris," Bono said as he sang, with heartbreaking presence, the song for the first time in public.

"A lot of the songs are very personal and very revealing," The Edge told me prior to the show, "I would say to play them live will be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster ride, particularly for Bono. The first few times he sang 'Iris' in the studio, everyone was devastated emotionally by hearing him sing those lyrics.

"The songs have a very powerful impact on us as we perform them."

In conversation on the day before the gig, The Edge was happy to discuss U2's album giveaway with Apple.

Does he feel the whole iTunes hoo-haa overshadowed 'The Songs Of Innocence' album?

"I think initially it did," he answered, "but I think at this point the dust is settling. People see it as a sort of faux-pas on digital manners. What's the big deal? I guess I would be guilty of believing that if you don't like U2, you are just not trying hard enough. Maybe I'm the wrong person to ask."

The Edge also talked about the Irish acts that he admires at the moment, chief among them - unsurprisingly - a fella from Bray, Co Wicklow.

"That is a remarkable album," The Edge told me of Hozier's self-titled record.

"I love it. 'Take Me To Church' is one of the songs of the decade. It is f***ing unbelievable.

"He is a great talent. He still has a lot to learn, I'm sure, but I think he is amazing."

He added his admiration for the likes of Ham Sandwich ("I love the name. I think it is a f***ing great name!"), Declan O'Rourke, Little Green Cars, The Villagers, and among many others, James Vincent McMorrow, who he describes thus: "What a great singer."

The Edge merely has to look to his left when he is on stage - assuming he isn't falling off the side of it again - to see a similarly great singer.

Read more from Barry Egan on U2's Innocence + Experience tour in tomorrow's Sunday Independent

Irish Independent

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