‘Songs of Ex­pe­ri­ence’ al­bum is U2’s bright new dawn of daz­zling light

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - NEWS - Barry Egan

THE ob­ses­sion with beat­ing down Bono is as Irish as a Tayto sand­wich.

For some, the in­clu­sion of U2’s lead singer in the Par­adise Pa­pers has turned him into some sort of an­tichrist of Killiney Hill.

More im­por­tant for mu­sic fans though is that U2 have emerged from the cre­ative eclipse of the last few years into a daz­zling new light.

Out on De­cem­ber 1, Songs of Ex­pe­ri­ence, the fol­low-up to 2014’s Songs of In­no­cence, is like a bright flash of hope amid the dark­en­ing hor­ror across the planet.

This is not an al­bum re­view but I can tell you that Songs of Ex­pe­ri­ence starts with Love is All We Have Left and ends 12 songs later, via Get Out of Your Own Way and Love is Big­ger Than Any­thing in its Way, with There is a Light with Bono singing:

“If there is a light

You can’t al­ways see

And there is a world

We can’t al­ways be

If there is a dark

Now we shouldn’t doubt

And there is a light

Don’t let it go out.”

In my view, Songs of Ex­pe­ri­ence is Bono’s per­sonal psalm to the power of love, to the strength of reach­ing within you for the spir­i­tual — for the good. It is like a pri­vate Ted Talk for the fu­ture of hu­man­ity. He sings on Get Out of Your Own Way: “Noth­ing is stop­ping you but what is inside, I can help you but it is your fight. Your fight!”

I’ve been lis­ten­ing to the al­bum for a week: its un­spo­ken mes­sage ap­pears to be that if a ter­ror­ist would lis­ten to his heart then he might take off his sui­cide belt and em­brace an­other way.

Bono, how­ever, wasn’t able to meet the Irish me­dia be­fore U2’s live performance — the band were get­ting a Global Icon gong — at the MTV Euro­pean Mu­sic Awards last night in Lon­don. He was mind­ing his voice for the gig — so his noshow was noth­ing to do with his un­will­ing­ness to face thorny ques­tions about tax.

In­stead The Edge and Adam Clay­ton took all the ques­tions — even the awk­ward one about the Par­adise Pa­pers. Do they feel Bono has been treated harshly on this mat­ter?

“It’s a com­pli­cated thing,” The Edge an­swered. “We’re wealthy peo­ple. You could say it comes with the ter­ri­tory. We are high pro­file, some­times you can feel a lit­tle put upon. Some­times you feel like we don’t get nearly enough stick. We do un­der­stand why peo­ple are an­gry with the sys­tem as it is. It def­i­nitely needs an over­haul.

“But un­for­tu­nately there were a lot of in­ac­cu­ra­cies re­ported ini­tially and at this point there are lawyers in­volved so we will see how that works out.”

On the mu­sic, he added: “It is a com­pli­cated al­bum. The­mat­i­cally, it is both ex­tremely per­sonal and quite po­lit­i­cal. It is quite in­ter­nal.”

“The Songs of Ex­pe­ri­ence be­ing pushed out gave us the li­cence to do the Joshua Tree shows,” said Adam. “We are per­form­ing some of the new songs with an orchestra on the BBC next week.”

The track Amer­i­can Soul is par­tic­u­larly anti-Trump. The Edge said that “to ig­nore what was hap­pen­ing with Trump would be weird”.

He added: “Ob­vi­ously democ­racy some­times throws up sur­prise re­sults and you have got to re­spect the re­sult when it goes for you as well as when it goes against you. But I think in terms of val­ues and ideals we dif­fer so fun­da­men­tally from what Pres­i­dent Trump is putting for­ward and the sen­ti­ments that he is putting out there and from whom he is look­ing to get sup­port. It is fear pol­i­tics of the most cyn­i­cal type.

“We don’t nec­es­sar­ily want to get so wrapped up in the re­sis­tance to his pres­i­dency at all. What we want to do is to just keep mov­ing for­ward with the is­sues that we care about. Keep the agenda that we be­lieve in, and that we will be get­ting back to, hope­fully.

“I was very, very in­spired by what some of the gover­nors and may­ors in Amer­ica said in re­sponse to tak­ing Amer­ica out of the Paris Ac­cord: ‘We’re stick­ing to the Paris Agree­ment any­way. We just don’t care what the Pres­i­dent says.’ That’s the spirit that we will be mov­ing for­ward with.

“We feel it is okay to take Trump on at cer­tain lev­els but we will just keep plough­ing for­ward.”

With the talk­ing over, it was time for U2 to take to the stage in Trafal­gar Square.

“I am so proud to in­tro­duce this band be­cause they come from my home town. And they are the best band in the world,” Laura Whit­more told the crowd.

Bono walked out with an Irish flag under his coat be­fore U2 launched into Sun­day Bloody Sun­day and then, ded­i­cated to the mil­i­tary be­cause it was Ar­mistice Day, In the Name of Love.

With Ad­mi­ral Ho­ra­tio Nel­son in his mar­ble coat 52 me­tres above them lit up by sky-scrap­ing blue beams, the band then per­formed the post-mod­ern an­them Get Out of Your Own Way and You’re the Best Thing About Me, both from Songs of Ex­pe­ri­ence.

Those mes­meris­ing blue eyes had not lost their mis­chief as Bono told the 10,000-strong crowd: “Lon­don, you’re beau­ti­ful.”

Then the band from the north side of Dublin lit up the English cap­i­tal once more with Beau­ti­ful Day. “When women of the world re­unite to re­write his­tory that’s a beau­ti­ful day,” Bono told the crowd.

An­nounc­ing that “we have much more in com­mon than di­vides us”, U2 then fin­ished a pow­er­ful show with One.

A beau­ti­ful night in Lon­don.

BEAU­TI­FUL NIGHT: U2’s Bono takes to the stage in Trafal­gar Square draped in a tri­colour at an MTV gig in Lon­don last night

ONE FOR THE AL­BUM: Barry with The Edge and Adam Clay­ton

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