As he prepares to unleash his Who Built The Moon? album – more of which anon – Noel Gallagher tells Stuart Clark why Bono is one of his favourite people, and provides us a blow-by-blow of account of partying with U2 and An Taoiseach following their Croke
“They’re not known as a party band, but when Bono, in particular, is up for it, you’re talking carnage!”
Noel Gallagher is grimacing somewhat as he recalls the thoroughness with which Dublin’s Fab Four celebrated their Croke Park homecoming in July, and some of the other quality post-gig hair letting down as Mr. G and His High
Flying Birds opened for U2 on the European and South American legs of the Joshua Tree 40th Birthday Tour.
“It was the best, just the best!” Noel enthuses. “I fucking lost me voice ‘cause I was doing two gigs a night. I was singing mine for an hour and then singing all the way through theirs, pissed, for two-and-a-half hours. You can’t have any more fun than you have with Bono; it cannot be done. We had a brilliant, brilliant time. It was just like, ‘Fucking, wow!’ - and, ‘Fucking, ouch!’ following the after-show. We left at something to six in the morning when the party was still fucking throbbing. I woke up to the phone ringing and Bono saying, ‘Where are you?’ I was like, ‘I’ve no idea… I can see trees and the sea.’ ‘You’re in my guest-house.’”
The conversation then unfolded as follows:
Noel: “Am I?”
Bono: “Yes, you are. Get up ‘cause everyone’s here.” Noel: “Why, what’s happening?”
Bono: “The lunch I’m throwing in your honour is about to start.”
Noel: “You never told me that.”
Bono: “Didn’t I?”
Noel: “I don’t fucking think so!”
Bono: “Well, anyway, the Prime Minister’s just turned up.”
Yep, three months before (allegedly) getting the Repeal The 8th-related bum’s rush from LCD Soundsystem, Leo Varadkar was partying on down with Noel ‘n’ Bono.
“I hadn’t heard a great deal about your Taoiseach, but he seemed a nice guy,” Noel proffers. “He’s young, for starters, openly gay and of Asian extraction, which seems nicely emblematic of the modern Ireland. The U2 boys were saying he’s quite progressive. Whether he remains that way as he gets stuck into the job we’ll have to wait and see. Others who’ve seemed that way at first have ended up being major fucking disappointments. Hopefully he’ll be an exception.
“You can’t have any more fun than you have with Bono; it cannot be done.”
“Anyway,” he continues, “the lunch started at three and went on until four in the morning, and then we got up the next day and flew to Paris. I managed to be really drunk and really hungover at the same time, which is fucking rough. I get off U2’s jet – at this stage we’ve been at it for three days with just a tiny bit of sleep and a few bacon sandwiches – and Bono goes,
‘I’ve got to go off and do something. I’ll see you back at the hotel.’ I’m like, ‘Fuck, I need to get to bed…’ Anyway, that something turns out to be a live press conference with the President of France! I’m thinking, ‘Who puts the batteries in this fucker?!’”
Noel and Bono have been bezzies since 1997 when U2 invited Oasis to play with them in Oakland, California on the PopMart tour – an event which merited putting them, Liam and Edge on the Hot Press cover.
“He’s been very sweet with my two lads who’ve become huge U2 fans and are having a kind of love-in across the Irish Sea with him at the minute,” Noel told us in 2008. “Bono’s sent Donovan some of his glasses and pictures and all that. Top man!”
He also revealed the contents of a “what’s it all about?” conversation they’d recently had.
“Before going to see U2 in Manchester, me and me girlfriend (now wife) Sara were saying, ‘I wonder what it is with Bono and God?’ Anyway, we’re sat round a table after the gig and I go, ‘Explain it to me ‘cause I was brought up Catholic and it means fuck all to me.’ We had a good three-hour conversation about his religious philosophy, which is basically, ‘Go to God, tell him what all your flaws are and say, ‘Can you work with me?’ Which is completely different to the ‘Don’t drink, don’t screw, don’t take drugs and always go to church’ bollocks you get taught at school.
“I didn’t think a whole lot more about it until two days later when there’s a knock on the door and the recorded delivery guy hands me two books - Searching For The
Invisible God and What’s So Amazing About Grace?, which are both by Philip Yancey that have been sent by Bono. There’s also a little note, which reads, ‘I don’t know if you were serious the other night, but here’s something that might give you a bit more of an understanding.’”
Impressed not one jot by this mutual admiration society is Paul Weller who holds Noel personally responsible for U2’s actions
“He’s never liked U2, mainly because of the haircuts,” Noel explains. “And the clothes. And the shoes. The day Songs Of
Innocence miraculously appeared I got a disgusted text from Paul saying, ‘Why do I have their fucking album on my computer? You’re a mate of Bono’s; you must have known, you cunt!’ I was like, ‘Why would they keep it secret from everyone else in the world except me?’ It didn’t change anything; Weller still thought I was a cunt!”
Fast forward to now, and Noel sums their bromance up thusly: “Bono’s one of my favourite people. Everyone thinks of the politics and saving the world, but all I fucking do with him is talk music. He’s so passionate about the new U2 album – and rightly so. There’s a track on it, ‘The Showman (Little More Better)’, which is one of the best things they’ve ever done. Of course, it could be a dub reggae song by now. U2 have this habit of playing you a 'finished' album and then tweaking it for another year. You're like, 'Let it go!' but in their minds it's got to be as good as Achtung Baby or The Joshua Tree. They care, man, they care…”
For our full Noel Gallagher interview – including further adventures with Bono – grab hold of the Hot Press Christmas Issue, out on Thursday December 7.