Why I’ve stopped listing to U2, three posts archived from U2MoLog

U2MoL has come of age, it was borned in tha autumn of 1994 and is over 20 years old now, but it has started to wither away. It is still maintained and you are welcome to send your contributions, but I have moved on and nearly stopped listening to U2 altogether.

I created a blog for U2MoL in 2007, the U2MoL (b)Log, or U2moLog, and although that blog is no more I wrote a few texts about why I’ve stopped listening to U2 and don’t consider myself a fan anymore. I wanted to retain these, in the case someone might bother, and included these below. Each one is the text straight from the blog.

A brief Table of Contents:

  1. Why I will move away from U2 — and already has
  2. Putting the finger on what I am missing?
  3. Disappointed

Why I will move away from U2 — and already has

(This post was first published on 3rd February, 2007.)

I saw the video of Window in the Sky at YouTube in the middle of December, and the video got me thinking. I was able to, not for the first time, and certainly not for the last time, express a feeling I have had for quite some years by now; I do not recognize U2 anymore. Window in the Sky gave a sample of a style of music that has almost nothing left of what I think characterized the U2 I have been so fascinated by for so many years — I bought the first album, Rattle and Hum, in 1989.

I am sitting and listening to So Cruel and it has quite some in common with Window in the Sky, e.g. Bono’s long oooh-sounds, but Window in the Sky, and How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb before that, has a much smoother finnish, it seems to lack a certain spark, an internal anger, an involvement and a commitment. There is involvement in both HTDAAB and Window in the Sky, but the longing for actually be performing the song, the music, has diminished. I seriously doubt that I will buy the next album by U2 as I am seriously disappointed by HTDAAB (it is the record that I have played the least number of times — maybe not even 15 times!) and after have been listening to Window in the Sky am I just more convinced of which path I will walk. The path away from U2. I have bought every studio album U2 has made so far without hesitation and now I know that I will listen to the next album before I will consider whether to buy it or not. Considering what kind of website I have built, this is quite a step…

U2 is extremely good musicians, but I think that Bono has realised that he can make the world a better place much easier and with a much higher chance of succeeding by talking to the leaders of the world, instead of singing about it in front of thousands of fans (many of whom won’t get it anyway). Has he discovered that music cannot change the world? That music can make people aware of an injustice but to really make a difference you have to talk to the politicians?

Personally, I think that Pop belonged to the ”old” U2, where the music where to only thing that really mattered, that it was the vessel and the channel for any message they wanted to be communicated, that the music where the tool with which Earth would be moved — remember what Bono said during Popmart about their dread at the thought that the corporate monster might eat them? Popmart was about eating the monster before it could eat them, but I think that the monster devoured them (before or after Popmart, I do not know) and Bono has really not yet understood it. All That You Can’t Leave Behind marked a change in Bono’s approach to their music. Up until then, Bono had always been singing in a dialog with the listener; he had been aware of a listener and he has had a message for him or her, and where directing it toward the listener. But from All That You Can’t Leave Behind a change came, he is more singing to himself, he is looking down on the floor and hoping that someone will listen and hopefully hear that there is a message. The message is as strong as ever but the lyrics is not any longer the main tool for changing the world, it is the lobbing with politicians that really pays off. The new style of music is much more humble in one sense, it seems like they are asking are you listening to us?, maybe this humbleness was what they couldn’t leave behind?

All That You Can’t Leave Behind where a change in their music, very much like Achtung Baby, but this time I think it went for the worse. I still listen to U2’s music, all pre-Pop, but it becomes all the more infrequent. Why should Bono be reaching out to his fans at a concert and ask them to make a difference when he can speak to the world leaders at Davos and try to make them change the world — it is by our leaders where the real power lies. It doesn’t matter what you want to accomplish, sooner or later you have to go to the politicians and ask them to make some decision, and Bono has found out that the leaders now listens to him. I think that we will see Bono’s political message and U2’s music will start to drift apart, maybe we will see the same thing as happened with Midnight Oil where Garrett decided to leave the group to become a full time politician? The difference between U2 and Midnight Oil is that the latter worked on a local scale while U2 work on a global scale. I don’t think that Bono will join any political party, his cause is far too global for working for a single political party in one country. The music still fuels U2 and will continue to do so, but the anger that drove October and War, the social commentary of Achtung Baby and the pleading for understanding in Pop won’t come back in my opinion. It would be a much more laid back commentary in the future albums, where Bono comments and sings about his causes but does not use his music to influence the audience and make the audience to write to their politicians. The change is good for the AIDS-stricken in Africa, but not for us.

There are thousands of bands in the world, some of them ought to be good, and I can live without U2, Africa cannot.

Putting the finger on what I am missing?

(This post was first published on 13th July, 2008.)

Maybe it is so that Stephen Thomas Erlewine put his finger on what I found wanting in U2’s latter albums, quoted from his review of How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb in All Music Guide:

(…) a strange fact about the album: it was a conservative affair. After grandly taking risks for the better part of a decade, U2 curbed their sense of adventure, consciously stripping away the irony that marked every one of their albums since 1991’s Achtung Baby, and returning to the big, earnest sound and sensibility of their classic ’80s work. (…)

(…) but U2 are so concerned with recreating their past that they don’t know where to stop peeling away the layers. They’ve overcorrected for their perceived sins, scaling back their sound so far that they have shed the murky sense of mystery that gave The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree an otherworldly allure. That atmospheric cloud has been replaced with a clean, sharp production, gilded in guitars and anchored with straight-ahead, unhurried rhythms that never quite push the songs forward. This crisp production lacks the small sonic shadings that gave ATYCLB some depth, and leaves How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb showcasing U2 at their simplest, playing direct, straight-ahead rock with little subtlety and shading in the production, performance, or lyrics.(…)

I miss those small sonic shadings

Disappointed

(This post was first published on 2nd October, 2009.)

It is a bit hard, but at the same time easy, to state that I am disappointed with U2. I am disappointed with their last three albums and the last 360 tour.

Their last album, No Line on the Horizon, contained energy and some quite rocky tunes, but where were the spark that made you want to change to world after listening? I’m sorry, but No Line on the Horizon will be the last U2 album I buy and I doubt that I will listen to it any more then the twenty-odd times I’ve listened to it so far. The same goes for How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, but not as much for All that you can’t leave behind as the latter has grown since it was released. But it takes months between each listening.

As for the tour, lets just say that everything was against a good experience. I attended the 31st August concert in Gothenburg and the high wind prevented quite a bit of the party it could become, but that is no excuse because I also attended the 1993 Zooropa concert in Stockholm and then it was raining without anyone really noticing. I’ve read a review that stated that the second concert in Gothenburg where pure magic, and I don’t doubt it, but I wasn’t there and I doubt that my impressions would have changed. I was standing in the inner circle, the one inside the cat walk, slightly to the right of The Edge, and something that struck me was that people around me was standing most of the time. There where very little singing and jumping.

There where a group of younger fans that really enjoyed With or Without You and some of the other songs but it felt like I was the only one of about 30 that stood closest to me that actually sang during Ultra Violet (Light my Way). I can understand if most haven’t listened to more then the last three albums and the Best of, but Achtung Baby is one of their more iconic albums and more then that should know about Ultra Violet, IMHO. Especially in the inner circle!

Or am I just being old?

When it came to U2’s performance it was without the igniting spark more or less throughout. The first three songs, all from No Line on the Horizon, all proved that the new tracks are not arena rock, they cannot ignite tens of thousands of people.

I know that one bad concert shouldn’t make me shun the band, but it was the last drop. I am, as I said above, disappointed with the last three albums and this didn’t help. If nothing changes very soon, then this concert will be the last concert with U2 and I won’t buy the next album.

But what makes this of U2MoL? Well, U2MoL is simply too famous to kill off – I get about 800 page visits per day, this is not the same as unique visitors as one single visitor might theoretically read one page 800 times, and it has been around for far too long time. It will turn fifteen years this autumn! So I will continue to maintain it for the foreseeable future…

7th of February 2017