'songs of innocence' ~ u2 ~ why we need the biggest band in the world more than ever

It's New Years Eve, 1989 and the world is a very different place. The rock and roll renaissance is in full swing and finally the teenagers of a whole new era have been given something to believe in. The biggest band on the planet have reached the end of one of the single biggest tours of all time, where they find themselves back in the arms of their home city, Dublin, Ireland. Their frontman looks into the adoring crowd and announces they must go away for a while. "It's not a big deal...we just have to go and dream it all up again" he insists. With that, U2 went out and cut down the Joshua Tree, emerging with a string of albums and tours that would see modern pop music redefined alongside it. Since then, much has changed, but one thing which has remained constant is RTE's veteran local music legend Dave Fanning, still the most respected musical voice on the wireless since the late great John Peel. Fast forward to September 2014 and the release of 'Songs Of Innocence', U2's 13th studio album, where once again Dave Fanning is given the world exclusive right to spin each and every glittering track. Though many still argue that the band's best days are over, suggesting they may only be in it for the money. Some have went as far as to suggest that in a world as instantly forward thinking as ours, that they may be, dare we say, irrelevant? 

Having sat through Fanning's entire broadcast and listened intently to each track, it seems it's now time for Bono and the boys to once again step into the ring. Did they manage another great album, or will 'Songs of Innocence' be confined to history's dustbins? Here's our case for the defence your honour.

        1.  The Edge remains the worlds greatest guitar player on this record.

Okay, so on a technical level he may lag behind the likes of Joe Satriani or the dudes from Dragonforce (allegedly), but there is no denying that The Edge cannot be rivaled on a melodic scale. As a songwriter he has clearly written some of the greatest accompanying riffs ever (‘Where The Streets Have No Name’, ‘Bad’ and ‘Walk On’ to name but a few) and on ‘Songs Of Innocence’ he shows no signs of slowing down.

2.    Poetry is timeless.

Love him or loath him, ‘Bonovox of O’Connell Street’  (as he was once known) is an undeniable poet. From the sweeping cries of a blood red sky, to the teenage angst of Stories For Boys, it seems the born performer's way with words has not yet deserted him. Here we find tales of a man who still hasn't found what he’s looking for, that longing continuing to inspire. “I’m a long way from where I was and where I need to be…”

3.    They can still put on a show.

Despite the cynics who claimed so callously that the 360 Degree tour would surely be their last, the Dublin lads only went and put on arguably their greatest performance in the record breaking tour. The critically panned ‘No Line On The Horizon’ album was given space to breathe, alongside acoustic performances of ‘Stuck In A Moment’, ‘Stay’ and the fabulous ‘Electrical Storm’. It was proof that the fire still burns and what an unforgettable fire it is.

4.    A new generation deserves a chance.

As a teenager my Father and his friends saw U2 multiple times. They flagged down a stretch limo with an ‘incredibly chilled’ Larry Mullen Junior and Adam Clayton in the back seat and swapped gig stories with them before and after the show. This was, admittedly, a simpler time, but also scarily commonplace. Witnessing the biggest band on planet Earth was a rite of passage and one any music lover the right side of The Joshua Tree had to experience. In the 60’s, a number of factors stopped a Beatles generation from seeing their idols, as they slowly ended their touring cycle. While U2 can, they must not deny a new generation that same privilege.

5.    The world’s in a mess.

In a world witnessing increasing horrors on a daily scale, it’s refreshing to see a band discussing world peace, rather than sexual conquests. Whether the new album contains songs of the same lyrical content as ‘Peace On Earth’ and ‘MLK’ remains to be seen in future, more detailed listens. Though you can be sure there’ll be a lot of love at the live shows.

6.    They deserve the chance to defend their crown.

Since their emergence to the worlds stadia, U2 have been the undisputed kings of the arena tour. From ‘Pop Mart’ to ‘The 360 Degree Tour’, they've successfully proved and reinvented themselves time and time again. With Alex Turner’s Elvis impersonation (though we still love you Alex) and One Direction’s screaming pop-army doing the rounds as the current blueprint for live electricity, Dublin’s finest deserve a chance to remind the world what rock and roll is all about.

7.    ‘Songs Of Innocence’ sounds massive.

At first listen, Dave Fanning’s optimism seems delightfully well judged, as the album in it’s entirety opens a new chapter in the ever unfurling tale of four best friends from Ireland. ‘Every Breaking Wave’ sounds particularly promising, but don’t rule out the raw energy of ‘Volcano’ just yet.

8.    The love remains.

Finally and most importantly, despite what the cynics may claim, U2 would never release music for the sake of it. Rest assured, Bono, Larry, Adam and The Edge have more than enough money to live a comfortable retirement 100 times over. It’s obvious from their enthusiasm and the delight in their voices in recent interviews, that time cannot stop U2 from feeling the same way they did back in October 1980. The release of this new album will feel the same as their first and while the passion remains, long may it continue.

Taylor Johnson

U2 ~ 13 down...

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