Monday 11 December 2017

How Bono cheered me up in a year lacking innocence

The end of the year is a funny time for us in the media. Because you have to review the 12 months just past, don't you? (Then, in turn, the likes of me end up reviewing the reviews - how very postmodern.)

They're pretty much unavoidable around now, as each station sees out the clock on 2014 with a patched-up assemblage of audio footage and studio chatter. Some of these look-backs are dreary, some pointless, some silly, some pompous.

Many use the dreaded "we all" at liberty e.g. "This was the year when we all protested Irish Water/cried over Garth/caught Ebola/whatever." Eh, no "we all" didn't.

Mostly, I find year-end reviews to be very depressing. Because mostly, it's depressing events which fill this vale of tears. Not in normal, everyday life, perhaps, but certainly in terms of those that make the headlines.

Some folks have an insatiable appetite for all that stuff, of course, and will have eagerly devoured every show which remembered and analysed the manifold horrors to unfold around the world in 2014. I don't, and didn't.

Being of weaker stomach and more delicate disposition, I tried to avoid the current affairs round-ups and stuck to lighter stuff, like arts, entertainment and sport.

My pick of the pile was Cian McCormack's Morning Ireland (Radio 1, Mon-Fri 6.30am) round-up of the year in sport and culture. He had a good, diverse guest-list - singer Bressie, hurling legend Anthony Daly, film journalist Donald Clarke and Irish rugby international Nora Stapleton - they covered a nice spread of stories and themes, and the whole thing was refreshingly free of pretention and pomposity.

Probably my favourite thing all week, though, was Dave Fanning's (2FM, Sat-Sun 10am) interview with Bono from last September, on the release of U2's 'Songs of Innocence' album.

I'd almost forgotten how interesting Bono can be when he sets aside the showboating, grandstanding and lame attempts at being cool, and actually talks about music.

There's no denying that U2 were a great rock band - if not, perhaps, "still are" - and Bono is clearly an intelligent, thoughtful man with a huge passion for the simple act of creating music.

And no better man than Fanning to draw it out, in an interview that ranged far and wide.

I was especially fascinated by Bono's thoughts on how technology affects the music people play - for example, the invention of microphones meant you didn't have to bellow like an opera singer.

But it was all great. Love them or loathe them, U2 remain a massive presence on the Irish cultural landscape.

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