Monday 23 July 2018

'They were frankly dire' - Bob Geldof admits to hating U2's early work

Bono (R) and Bob Geldof performs on stage during the 'Music And Messages' concert on June 7, 2007 in Rostock, Germany
Bono (R) and Bob Geldof performs on stage during the 'Music And Messages' concert on June 7, 2007 in Rostock, Germany
Bob Geldof sings at Live Aid at Wembley on July 13, 1985 (PA)
Larry Mullen Jr, The Edge, Paul McGuinness, Adam Clayton, Bob Geldof (Boomtown Rats) and Bono back stage at the 1986 Milk Music Awards in the National Concert Hall. Photograph: Irish Independent Archives
At the Milk Music Awards in the National Concert Hall. Adam Clayton, Bob Geldof (Boomtown Rats), and Bono. U2 won: Best International Group, Best Irish Group, and Best Irish Album for 'The Unforgettable Fire.' Pics by Jim O'Kelly and Michael MacSweeney, 13/3/86. (Part of the NPA and Independent Newspapers Ireland)
Bob Geldof with fellow Live 8 musicians Midge Ure and Bono backstage following the Edinburgh concert. Photo: Dave Hogan/Getty Images
Caitlin McBride

Caitlin McBride

Legendary rocker Bob Geldof said he thought U2 were "dire" when he first heard their music.

During an appearance in the new BBC documentary Smashing Hits! The 80s Pop Map of Britain & Ireland, he detailed his dislike for the band in their very early days right after they'd finished school.

"They were up for anything, they were kids, but I thought they were frankly dire. They would pretend they were punk stars. They absolutely were not. Stop it," he said.

He said the moment his opinion of them changed irreconcilably was when he heard the lyrics to their iconic song New Year's Day, which was released in 1983.

At the Milk Music Awards in the National Concert Hall.
Adam Clayton, Bob Geldof (Boomtown Rats), and Bono.
U2 won: Best International Group, Best Irish Group, and Best Irish Album for 'The Unforgettable Fire.'
Pics by Jim O'Kelly and Michael MacSweeney, 13/3/86.
(Part of the NPA and Independent Newspapers Ireland)
At the Milk Music Awards in the National Concert Hall. Adam Clayton, Bob Geldof (Boomtown Rats), and Bono. U2 won: Best International Group, Best Irish Group, and Best Irish Album for 'The Unforgettable Fire.' Pics by Jim O'Kelly and Michael MacSweeney, 13/3/86. (Part of the NPA and Independent Newspapers Ireland)

"All is quiet on New Year’s Day. What a great line that is because it is. They got there because they were seriously talented. They just needed time," he added.

Geldof and Bono have a protracted friendship that has spanned decades as they remain united not only in their incomparable contributions to modern music, but also their philanthropy and using their fame to shine a light on the developing world.

It was this passion which inspired him to organise Live Aid, one of the most influential musical events in history, recruiting superstar performers of the day to raise funds for victims of famine in Ethiopia - including relative newcomers U2 who were given prime spots in 'Feed the World', much to the chagrin of the other participants.

Gary Kemp from Spandau Ballet explained: "I remember all of us thinking ‘Why is that Irish group here?’ Because...you know...they weren’t as big as anyone else in the room."

"Bob invited his fellow Dubliners, U2, along, which didn’t impress all the megastars present. Bono was given the key line in the song, a line that helped take him to another level of stardom and it nearly didn’t happen."

But Geldof wanted to include his fellow Irish musicians and he spoke of Bono's reservations at singing the line, "Tonight thank God it’s them instead of you."

"Bono said, Can I speak to you like, you know, are you sure this is what you mean?’ I said ‘Yes’ and he said ‘ but what you are saying . . . ’

"I said, 'I know what I’m saying'.

"And he said, ‘you want me to sing that?’ I said, ‘Yes, bo**ock it out’."

The Boomtown Rats frontman also detailed some of his private experiences with Bono, including his seriousness at choosing a karaoke song during a night out in Tokyo.

"I think there is that soul in Bono, that giant soul. When you see him about to sing he does this . . . (takes a deep breath) . . . and out comes this huge voice. I went to karaoke with him one night in Tokyo. It’s karaoke, get a grip," he said.

"He picks Bread or some obscure band, Love or something, and he stands in front of us and starts giving it the whole Bono thing. And you’re like ‘what the f***, just sing normally’.

"But that is normal and he’s singing better than the song and you’re going ‘For f***’s sake, give it a break’."

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