Monday 31 May 2010

U2 360 at the Rose Bowl Highlights on Sky

Just watched the highlights from the Rose Bowl DVD on Sky.  I must admit I was underwhelmed at first, maybe it was something to do with Boots being the first song played, there was something missing.  Also I found the film editing too choppy for my liking I would have preferred more camera time on Bono as he sang.

I was looking forward to seeing Crazy as I loved that live, but the full effect didn't come across as it had in the stadiums live, disappointing.

It turned around a bit for me during Streets, there was a point where the four band members gathered close together and the camera was behind them and you could see the massive crowd all lit up singing along.  It was an amazing sight and captured a little of that U2 magic that can happen during shows. 

I enjoyed UltraViolet too.  Very powerful, liked how the "steering wheel" was lit up (it hadn't been like that in Europe) and shone on Bono's face.  Don't think he'll be swinging about on it as he was here if he does get to do European shows this summer though!

Of course the setlist was very edited to fit into the hour slot and the full flow of a 360 show was not there, hopefully I'll be raving about it once I see the full version.

Sunday 30 May 2010

A Good Friend, Pottery and Golden Hoards

I've known my friend Debbi for many, many years, but last weekend was the first time I visited her home in Stoke - a city I had never been to.  My visit coincided with a short spell of glorious weather (the only one this spring!) and I had a pleasant journey seeing the countryside at its best on my trip to the Midlands.

Debbi was there to meet me at the station and we took a taxi to her home. The first thing that struck me about Stoke was that it was hilly, I'd imagined it to be quite flat.  It was also very spread out with large empty areas, it seemed to be a place that was re-building itself. 

The area where Debbi lived was very much as I expected, and her home was modern and had a comfortable feel about it and I immediately felt at home there.  After a cuppa we went into the city centre which is actually called Hanley, it's all very confusing for an outsider, but Stoke on Trent is made up of a conurbation of six towns of which Hanley is considered the commercial centre and as you travel around you are going in and out of the six towns.

First we went to the Potteries Museum and Art Centre.  The main reason I wanted to go there was that part of the famous Anglo Saxon Hoard was there.  Unfortunately the really stunning items are now in London (I think that treasures should stay in the area they are found, why should they all go to London?).  But there were still beautiful ornate gold items on display, some still with the soil on them, that gave an indication how fabulous the Hoard was.  The Hoard was found by a metal detector, it's value is set at around £3.25 million, which wil be shared by the metal detector and the owner of the land the treasure was found on - think I'll take up a new hobby and treat myself to a metal detector!

 I enjoyed the museum it was varied and human in scale.  Below is a photo of Debbi beside a Spitfire plane - we were both amazed by how small it was.                   

On leaving the museum we walked into Hanley city centre.  On our way there we passed lines and lines and lines of bras attached to fences.  We were puzzled by it, thinking it might be some art installation, bit it turned out to be part of Breast Cancer Awareness, so of course it made perfect sense.  I did a bit of shopping before we went to a pub and had a delicious cocktail called a Berrypolitan.  Then we went to the nearby Portofino restaurant and had a delicious, leisurely meal there. 

We then went back to Deb's and popped the champagne ( we know how to live well!) and watched the Amsterdam 360 DVD, it brought back many memories.  It was still very warm and we had to have the fan on to cool down a bit, it reminded us of our evenings in our apartment in Nice last year.  We chatted well into the early hours before going to bed.

Next day we got up late and I sampled Stoke oatcakes that Debbi had got from a local shop for breakfast.  It was nothing like the hard, crisp Scottish oatcakes that I knew, it was more like a tortilla with a cheese and bacon filling.  not good for those watching their cholesterol but delicious!

The Stoke area is also known as the Potteries, as once it was a major centre of the pottery industry in this country.  Once world famous ceramics such as Doulton, Aynsley, Wedgwood, Minton and Spode were produced here.  Debbi herself worked at Spode, which like the others has now closed down.  I wanted to go to a pottery museum and Debbi took me to the Gladstone museum.  Gladstone was one of the smaller factories and is the only complete preserved Victorian factory.  A pottery factory has existed on the site since 1787 and it finally closed its doors in 1970.  

It was an amazing place dominated by it's huge bottle kilns,  it was almost as if time was frozen, it was like stepping back in time.  Everything that was needed to run such a factory was still there, I almost expected the workers to arrive and start their jobs.  Working life in those factories was hard, and the average life expectancy was only 45 years.  Women's wages were very much lower than men's and in early Victorian days children as young as eight worked there.  We are so lucky to live in the times we do - despite its faults it's so much better.  There were old photos taken in the buildings on view and I found it fascinating to see the same backgrounds that were still here now, it made the past really come alive 

We watched demonstrations of  throwing a pot on a wheel, amazing to watch, the man made it look easy - I've tried it in the past and it is very difficult!  There was also a woman skillfully painting designs on ceramics.  You could have a go yourself if you wanted to. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the visit, it was all new to me and very interesting, I think it is great that this place has been preserved for all to see.

We went back to Debbi's and she made me a lovely meal which we washed down with liberal quantities of good wine.  We went back in U2-time and watched the Zoo TV DVD, again great memories, they were great times for u2 fans. 

Next morning it was time to go home. The visit had flown by, Debbi had made me so welcome and spoiled me rotten - thanks Deb!

Tuesday 25 May 2010

American Leg of 360 Tour Cancelled

There were a couple of updates on today regarding Bono's injury and the tour.  The first 2010 leg in North America has been postponed, and the dates will be re-scheduled at some point in the future.  The Glastonbury appearance has been cancelled.  The other update - quoted below - included more details of Bono's problems.

Bono has now been discharged from Ludwig Maximilians-University (LMU) Hospital in Munich where he underwent emergency surgery on Friday, following a back injury. In order to fully recover, he is under doctor's orders to start a rehabilitation program and to recuperate for at least eight weeks.

Dr Muller Wohlfahrt confirmed, 'Bono suffered severe compression of the sciatic nerve. On review of his MRI scan, I realized there was a serious tear in the ligament and a herniated disc, and that conservative treatment would not suffice. I recommended Bono have emergency spine surgery with Professor Tonn at Munich's LMU University Hospital on Friday.'

Professor Tonn, who carried out the operation, added, 'Bono was referred to me by Dr Muller Wohlfahrt late last week with a sudden onset disease. He was already in severe pain with partial paralysis in the lower leg. The ligament surrounding the disc had an 8mm tear and during surgery we discovered fragments of the disc had traveled into the spinal canal. This surgery was the only course of treatment for full recovery and to avoid further paralysis. Bono is now much better, with complete recovery of his motor deficit. The prognosis is excellent but to obtain a sustainable result, he must now enter a period of rehabilitation'.

Dr Muller Wohlfahrt continued, 'We are treating Bono as we would treat any of our athletes and while the surgery has gone very well, the coming weeks are crucial for a return to full health. In the next days, he will start a light rehabilitation program, with increasing intensity over the next 8 weeks. In our experience, this is the minimum time.'

So it was certainly a major injury, mention of partial paralysis is scary, but it seems the operation was a success.  With eight weeks being the minimum recovery time it wouldn't surprise me if the European leg is cancelled too as the start of it falls just two weeks beyond that timescale.

It's a shame for fans who now will not be able to see the band in North America, but Bono's health is the main thing, he needs to take care of himself for a while.  I'm sure he is gutted about it all, he's a guy who drags himself onstage if he's not well and keeps going.  But he is only human and sometimes things like this come along.  I know if the European dates are postponed I will be disappointed, but I would not want Bono to risk his health in the slightest, time will tell what happens on that score.

Maybe though something good could come out of this, Bono will have to take it easy for a few weeks, this is a chance for him to do some writing and as he must be quite emotional about it all he might come up with something special.  I always think creative people are more productive when things are not going too well for them in some way.  The band could also do some recording, so maybe we'll get a new album earlier.  Sometimes bad things end up having positive sides to them.

Take care Bono, don't rush to get back to full steam, rest and regain your health in it's own time.

Bono Has Emergency Surgery

I've been away at a friend's home over the weekend (more about that soon) but just before I went I heard the news that Bono was admitted to a hospital in Munich at the end of last week for emergency surgery on his back.  He's had back trouble for a very long time, but this must be quite serious as the band have officially cancelled the gig in Salt Lake City which was to open the next leg of the 360 Tour early next month.  One thing is for sure, U2 don't cancel gigs for nothing. 

"They" say that you don't notice going from 39 to 40 but you do notice going from 49 to 50, I'm sure Bono has!  I hope he will be better soon.  If he's not 100% during the tour - if they do go ahead with it - they can always modify the stage to accommodate him .....

Monday 10 May 2010

Bono 50 Today!

I don't normally mark U2 band member's birthdays but our favouite lead singer is 50 today!  Congratulations Bono, and may you have many, many more happy and healthy years to come.  @U2 has done a great article to mark the special day, most of which I wholeheartedly agree with.

50 Things to Love About Bono on his 50th Birthday

Bono was in Toronto yesterday where he was Bob Geldof were interviewed by the Globe and Mail newspaper.  Read the interview here

On his arrival at the newspaper's offices Bono stopped to meet fans and pose for photos, I especially liked the one below.  Apparently the car belonged to the fan and it was Bono's idea to sit on it!

Sunday 9 May 2010

Gerry Ryan RIP

The Irish broadcaster Gerry Ryan died on 30th April aged only 53.  He was an institution in Ireland and a champion for U2 over the years.  I have many fond memories of listening to Gerry's morning show when I have been over in Ireland.  He was funny, irreverent and had a wonderful rich voice.   He was taken far too early.  Below is the live tribute U2 sent from New York to the funeral in Dublin on the 7th of May.  It's a fabulous version of With Or Without You, that was full of emotion.  I like Bono's words at end. "Goodbye Gerry - see you down the road."

The Lazarus Effect

RED announced a new multi-media campaign that will include a new film directed by Lance Bangs and executive produced by Spike Jonze. The documentary is called “The Lazarus Effect” and borrows its name from the remarkable transformation of people infected with HIV/AIDS when given access to antiretroviral medicine. It will premiere on May 24th on HBO at 9pmET/8c, YouTube and Channel 4 in the UK.

On 4th May there was an event at the Museum of Modern Art in New York to promote "The Lazarus Effect" amongst the many well known people to attend were Bono, Ali and Adam.  It's amazing how One and RED have grown, and are really making a difference and it's all thanks to the B-man for starting it all off!  I really admire him for all the work and time he puts into his humanitarian work.

Lovely photo below taken at the event.  Adam looking better as he grows older (and I think must have been bending at the knee or Bono and Ali were standing on boxes!), Ali as beautiful as ever and I like Bono's hair.

Monday 3 May 2010

U2 Opera!

I was watching Loose Women on TV today and they had a rather handsome, young French opera singer on called Amaury Vassili.  And what did he sing - With Or Without You,  I wasn't sure at first but ended up really liking it, even with the slight French accent.   It just shows that it is one of the truly classic songs, it can be rock, gospel and operatic and still touch your soul.   U2 music at it's greatest, to quote Bruce Springsteen, "Glory Days" indeed.

Saturday 1 May 2010

Where Did That Saying Come From?

A friend sent me these notes about how some well-known sayings came about - here are some facts about England in the 1500's - fascinating!

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water.  The man of the house had the privilege of the clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and the children.  Last of all were babies and by then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.  Hence the saying "Don't throw out the baby with the bath water."

The floor of the house was dirt, only the wealthy had something other than dirt, hence the saying "dirt poor."

Those with money had plates of pewter.  Food with a high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death.  This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status.  Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle and guests got the top, or the "upper crust."

Sometimes people could obtain pork which was a special occasion.   When visitors came over they would hang up the bacon to show off.  It was a sign of wealth that a man could "bring home the bacon."  They would cut of a little to share with guests and would all sit around and "chew the fat."

They were running out of spaces to bury people, so they dug up coffins and take the bones to a bone-house and re-use the grave.  When re-opening the coffins about one out of every twenty five were found to have scratch marks on the inside (yikes!!!) and they realised they had been burying people alive.  So they would tie a string onto the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin, up through the ground and tie it to a bell.  Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night - the "graveyard shift" - to listen for the bell.  Someone could be "saved by the bell" or a "dead-ringer."