Thursday 29 September 2011

Woo Hoo Summer's Here!

It's weird to see the trees full of rich autumn colours, leaves on the ground, the nights closing in - and 25C temperatures!  Well weird, it's hotter now than it was in the "real" summer.  I've had to dig out the short sleeved tee shirts, table top fan and summer duvet again!  I'm not complaining though, it's lovely, long may it last.

I was coming home from work the other day, and because of the lovely weather decided to go by the scenic route via narrow country lanes.  I came round a bend in the road and was greeted by hundreds of pheasants everywhere, and I'm not exaggerating! I honked the horn and some ran off but many just stood in the road staring at me (pheasants must be a bit thick).  Being an animal lover I didn't want to run any of them over so I got out of the car, jumped up and down shouting which eventually made them scamper off.  Glad no one was around to see my antics! LOL!

I continued on towards home only to go around the other bend and what was there?  A herd of sheep - the joys of living in a rural county  .  I followed at a snail's pace, there was no way I could pass them, but I didn't really mind as I was watching the two sheep dogs that were herding the sheep.  They were amazing, keeping about a 100 animals on track, soon getting the odd sheep that decided not to follow the herd back in line.  After about 15 minutes the farmer got the two collies to herd the sheep off the road onto a small hill so the line of cars following could pass.  The dogs ran back and fore by the roadside making sure no sheep wandered down, as the cars passed by.  

So, a journey that should have taken me about 20 minutes took 40, but those kind of delays beat being stuck in car traffic any day!

Sunday 25 September 2011

35 Years and Still Going Strong

35 years ago today a few young lads from Dublin met up in Larry Mullen's parents' kitchen to form a band.  Amongst them, the four people who would soon become U2.  Not many bands (are there any others?) can say that they have been together 35 years in an unchanged lineup, real friends who went to school, work and socialise together.  I think the closeness between the band members is one of the things that make them special, it's a precious thing to have friends you've grown up with and who've been there for you through life's ups and downs.

How much longer will they continue as a band?  With REM's break up last week it made me think about that, because there are a lot of parallels between them and U2.  No one knows of course, but the sadness I felt at the disbanding of REM made me realise that I would miss U2 soooo much, even though I have a love/hate  relationship with them at times.  They have been in the background of my life for almost 30 years, their music has given me strength when I needed it, it's also given me much joy and the live shows are simply stunning.  I've met wonderful people who've become best friends, travelled to amazing places and had amazing experiences.  Let's hope they keep going for a while yet.

Below is a great video covering the musical and visual history of U2.  It certainly brought back some memories for me.  Like them or loathe them, it can't be denied that they are one of the most important rock bands around.

Saturday 24 September 2011

From the Sky Down, Gigwise Review

I read this review of the documentary and thought I'd share it on my blog.  I think all U2 fans knew Achtung Baby was a make or break moment for the band and it'll be so interesting to see what happened at that time and how this seminal album was created.  I have a feeling U2 is at a similar point in their career now, though for different reasons. But twenty years on, I honestly doubt they can come up with an album the likes of Achtung Baby.  We'll see.

Why Every Music Fan Should Watch U2's From The Sky Down
Jason Gregory, Gigwise, September 23

There's a fantastic moment in From The Sky Down, the new Davis Guggenheim-directed documentary about the making of U2's 1991 album 'Achtung Baby', when you get to see the Irish band in the process of creating the song 'One'.

It is, in my mind, the single most interesting example of the songwriting process caught on film.

With the benefit of hindsight, it's very easy to take a song like 'One' for granted, even though, as the band's manager Paul McGuinness noted at a Q&A about the movie I attended in London last night, it long ago earned the status of being a "classic". It's one of those songs that's ingrained on the musical memory of every music fan, whether they like U2 or not.

But during footage in the film showing U2 at the Hansa Studios in Berlin at the end of 1990, we see it in its rawest, most unadulterated form, with a different second bridge to the one on the album and before Bono had even formulated the lyrics. Indeed, it's not even called 'One'.

The reasons it's so interesting are two-fold.

Firstly, it's genuinely thrilling and absorbing to be so closely exposed to the craft of songwriting. The process, in all honestly, looks painfully destructive and frustrating. But as a music journalist who has never held an ambition to be in a band (and believe me, that's quite a rare thing), to watch a song like 'One' being crafted as meticulously as an artist working on a painting, it's capitvating; as parts get taken out and then put back in, until the finished song we are all familiar with begins to emerge, as Bono says in the movie, "from the sky down".

Secondly, 'One', it transpires in From The Sky Down, was integral in the creation of 'Achtung Baby'. Still tired from touring 1987's 'The Joshua Tree', which took U2 from arenas to stadiums, and rocked by the critical backlash thrown at their road movie, Rattle And Hum, the Irish band looked like a shadow of their former selves as they arrived in Berlin to start work on the album with BrianEno and Daniel Lanois.

In the film, Guggenheim captures this turmoil – and McGuinness stressed last night that it was actual turmoil – beautifully. We see Bono unable to write lyrics, TheEdge struggling to write his guitar parts through the break-up of his marriage, and Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen, Jr wondering whether they're even in the band any more.

And then they make 'One', and it's like a lighter fuel of creativity is sparked within all four members.

I don't want to reveal any more, because you can watch From The Sky Down when it airs on BBC on October 9 as part of the Imagine series. But If you take one thing away from From The Sky Down, it should be this: if it wasn't for 'Achtung Baby', you wouldn't have U2, and whatever you think of the band and their personal ideologies, that would be a tragedy.

Here's the official trailer from the documentary

Friday 23 September 2011

From the Sky Down on the BBC

I've heard that U2's new documentary From the Sky Down will be featured on BBC One's Imagine series on 9th October.  Must make sure I'm not going out that night!  Hopefully it will not be cut and we'll get the full version, I've been really looking forward to seeing this.

Saturday 10 September 2011

From the Sky Down Press Conference with Bono and Edge

Bono and Edge at the TIFF interview (Photo: David Abel QMI)

Just got round to listening to this interview from 9th September at the Toronto International Film Festival.  Some interesting stuff there, especially at the end, where Bono is talking about "The edge of irrelevance" appearing quite upset and vulnerable. It's clearly something he's really struggling with at the moment. At this point in their career the band is at another of their crossroads, we know it and they know it, and it seems a bit of a scary place for them.  But as Edge mentioned, they do their best work in when their backs are against the wall. Time for reinvention again guys. hope you can do it!  Watch the interview here

Friday 9 September 2011

Premiere of From the Sky Down in Toronto

Bono and the Edge attended the premiere of the documentary about U2, From the Sky Down, which opened the Toronto International Film Festival on September 8th.  Below is an article about this from the Toronto Sun website.  Looking forward to seeing this film!

Bono and Edge with Davis Guggenheim at the Toronto International Film Festival, 8th September.
Photo: Michael Peake, QMI agency
TORONTO - Rock icons U2 descended onto the Toronto International Film Festival’s red carpet Thursday for the premiere of new documentary “From the Sky Down,” admitting to nervousness over letting fans into their private world of making music.
The movie, which is the first documentary to open the Toronto film festival in its 36-year history, looks at the creative process of making their 1991 album “Achtung Baby,” tensions back then in the band.
Singer Bono and guitarist The Edge took to the festival’s opening night stage and confessed that even superstars get nervous when entering a new arena — from music to film.
“We are very protective of our privacy, particularly the creative process, not just because we are precious, which we are,” Bono told a laughing audience, before confiding that the fear was in letting audiences see them struggle to make music.
“If you knew what went into the sausage, you wouldn’t eat it,” Bono said.
The Edge added that it was “shocking” to see a lot of the old film footage from 20 years ago and “to realize how close our band came to disintegrating at that particular moment.”
The appearance of Bono and The Edge made the opening night screening one of the hottest tickets in town at the 11-day festival where other rock documentaries about Pearl Jam and Neil Young are getting top billing.
The festival, a widely-watched event often seen as a starting point in the movie industry’s annual Oscar race, features a long list of Hollywood royalty, from Brad Pitt and George Clooney to Keira Knightley and Glenn Close.
But the opening belonged to a nonfiction film for the first time in festival’s history, and organizers noted both the event and U2 originated in 1976.
The band soared to rock stardom in the 1980s, and “Achtung Baby” was seen as a daring reinvention following the huge success of 1987’s “Joshua Tree” and 1988’s somewhat less-well received “Rattle and Hum.”
“This film isn’t just about the biggest band in the world,” director Davis Guggenheim told the audience. “It’s really just about four musicians trying to make music.”
“From the Sky Down” opens as U2 is about to play the Glastonbury Festival for the first time this year and is looking to rework older songs. As Bono says: “there comes a time when it is dysfunctional not to look into the past.”
It then looks back at the rise of U2 through early film footage and leads up to the making of “Achtung Baby,” which was influenced by industrial and electronic music and featured the hits “One” and “Mysterious Ways.”
“I had goose pimples witnessing how they did it,” said Guggenheim, whose 2006 global warming film ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ won the Academy Award for best feature documentary.
“I don’t think really it’s a film about our band in as much as it’s a film about the creative process. If you’re interested in that, you’re going to be interested in this film I think, but I find it excruciating,” Bono said on the red carpet.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Dapper Rock Stars and the Dog Takes Bono for a Walk

The rock stars scrubbed up well for the GQ Men of the Year Awards in London last night.  U2 won the Band of the Year Award and the photo below (taken from the GQ website) is of them with the award - drummer man AWOL as usual.

There was a funny interview with Bono at the Awards where he talked about walking the dog in Dublin - or vice versa as it seems!  Spend more time in Dublin Bono, it keeps you grounded.  The follwing extract is taken from the (ignore the usual sarky bits )

YOU might imagine a summer holiday for Bono involves sleeping in an oxygen tent at Cannes or counting his collection of hats.
But at the GQ Awards last night the U2 frontman confessed to a far less glamorous activity — walking his new pet dog around Dublin.

I say walking. It was more a case of the chart-topping rock star being dragged around by his pet pooch.
He told me: "I've been in Dublin for the last week or so. I was in France but came home for a while.
"I rang some pals and asked what they thought I should do to keep busy. One said, 'Just walk the dog.' So I took the dog out with my wife. It's a mongrel and a really strong animal.
"It dragged us through the streets and some little kid shouted, 'Is that dog walking you, or are you walking the dog, Bono?'
"I knew I was home. You can't beat it."
The U2 star and bandmates Edge and Adam Clayton were at the GQ bash to receive the Band Of The Year gong at the Royal Opera House in London.
It certainly has been a stellar few years for U2. They earned the most money ever from a rock tour with their epic 360° series of concerts.
Perhaps Bono should stick some of the tour wedge into dog obedience classes.

Saturday 3 September 2011

Gone to Ground......

Dachshunds are known for their burrowing and liking to cover themselves completely.  It comes from what they were originally bred for, badger hunting, (dachs - badger, hund - hound in German) when the plucky and deceptively strong dogs went into the setts after their prey.  Their unique shape, short legs and loose skin helped them tunnel down into the ground.  And now, even when dachshunds are mostly kept as pets, you frequently hear stories about them having to be dug out of holes they've decided to explore whilst on a walk.

I went into my bedroom last night and saw a small lump wriggling up under the bedspread from the bottom to the top of the bed and out popped Pepsi's head!  I had to grab my phone and take a photo as he looked so cute.  Whether he went there for comfort or natural instincts I'm unsure, somehow I think it was the former!

Pepsi - pleeeease can I stay?