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U2 + The Killers = Ultra Violet Greatness

The Killers have covered U2’s Ultra Violet, from Achtung Baby, for part of Q Magazines Achtung Baby Covered album celebrating the 20th anniversary of the albums release.

The Starting Place

The new Death Cab for Cutie album, Codes and Keys, came out today. I like the album overall, but one song caught my attention in particular. The song is called “St Peter’s Cathedral“. Here are the lyrics:

St. Peter’s Cathedral built of granite but ever fearful of the answer
When the candle in the tunnel is flickering in sputters and fading faster
It’s only then that you will know what lies above or down below
Or if these fictions only prove how much you’ve really got to lose

At St. Peter’s Cathedral there is stained glass, there’s a steeple that is reaching
Up towards the heavens such ambition never failing to amaze me
It’s either quite a master plan or just chemicals that help us understand
That when our hearts stop ticking this is the end
There’s nothing past this

For those that would consider themselves to be Christians, believers, followers of Jesus — you need to recognize that these lyrics represent the starting place for many, especially across Europe and increasingly in the United States. This is what they believe.

After you’ve recognized this you need to understand why. Listen to them, ask them questions. Why do they believe what they believe? Don’t preach. Just listen. And please, do it in the context of relationship. Don’t grab a stranger and expect them have any vested interest in engaging with you in a spiritual conversation.

And go buy the album. It’s good.

Top Five Albums—2010

Everyone has their lists this time of year, from top grossing movies to the top searches on Google. It only makes sense that I add my own list for 2010…albeit a short one. My top five albums for 2010 are not based on anything other than what I liked the most. Of course, I listened, and purchased more than five albums this year, but these are my favourite. Enjoy.

1. Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More.
A truly incredible album. Folk, Country, and Rock all wrapped up into one unique sound. Driving, beating anthems, and moody, passionate real life lyrics. With spiritual undertones and love lost, it could be anyone’s story. I’ve yet to tire listening to this album. For those in the UK, yes this was released toward the end of 2009. But in the US it wasn’t released until February, 2010. So I’m cheating a little…playing to both audiences. If there’s a way for me to sneak it into my top five for 2011 I might do it.

Best Lyric: In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die. Where you invest your love, you invest your life. Awake My Soul.

2. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs.
While Sigh No More could be anyone’s album, The Suburbs was my album. I immediately connected with this album about the result of suburban sprawl, the new culture it creates, and the culture that is left to die downtown. This is clearly an “American” album (even though the band is from Montreal). I’ve wondered how British listeners would relate to songs about the suburbs when the cities here in the UK are very different from the US. When I hear these songs I immediately think of Dallas and Houston and wonder what cities the British listener thinks of.

Best Lyric: You never trust a millionaire quoting the sermon on the mount;
I used to think I was not like them but I’m beginning to have my doubts, my doubts about it. City With No Children.

3. The National – High Violet (Expanded Edition)
To be honest, any of my top three albums could have been number one, but High Violet has to settle for number 3. The National have been around for a while, but I just found them this year. After purchasing High Violet first I’ve gone back and purchased their Boxer album and their self titled debut album. Boxer is also very good. High Violet is moody, and melancholy, and gloomy, and full of emotion. Matt Berninger’s voice is like a drug…you can’t get enough of it. My most listened to tracks: Terrible Love, Bloodbuzz Ohio, and Conversation 16. Listening to High Violet causes me to see myself in a movie, driving down a foggy lane with high hedges, in the middle of the night, not knowing where the road leads. Any album that can transport me to “another place” like that easily fits in my top five.

Best Lyric: I still owe money to the money to the money I owe. Bloodbuzz Ohio.

4. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
For some, mainly those that follow me in the States, this will be a controversial inclusion…primarily because of the language and themes found in this album. But musically speaking, this album is a masterpiece. Yes, it’s rough. Yes, it can be hard to listen to at times. Yes, it’s probably possible to write a song without using the F-bomb 896 times, but then it wouldn’t be Kanye, and it wouldn’t be as good. One thing that must be done when listening to this album…you must constantly remind yourself of the album’s title. The songs here definitely comprise a dark, twisted, and sometimes beautiful fantasy. I don’t for one second think that some of the themes found in this album represent real life for Kanye West. Also worth mentioning is the list of cameos by other artists: Bon Iver, John Legend, Beyonce, Jaz-Z, and samples from King Crimson. Rolling Stone has this as their #1 album for 2010.

Best Lyric: The youngsters who were programmed to continue f**king up, woke up one night digging Paul Revere and Nat Turner as the good guys. Who Will Survive In America.

As an extra bit of reading related to why I think it’s okay as a Christian to include an album like this in my top 5: Mark Driscoll – Why Christians Go Postal Over Facebook, Jay-Z, Yoga, Avatar, and Culture in General

5. Brandon Flowers – Flamingo (Deluxe Version)
I’m still not quite sure why this is a Brandon Flowers album, and not a Killers album…they are one in the same in my opinion. This is a great anthemic album, yet some might giggle at my inclusion. I guess I’m drawn to the lyrics and Brandon has written some good ones. Every song can easily be sung along with, except for Swallow It, which is a ridiculous song. The best songs on the album are: Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, Only the Young, and Playing With Fire.

Best Lyric: This church of mine may not be recognised by steeple,
That doesn’t mean that I will walk without a God. Playing With Fire.

The good albums that didn’t quite make it:
Vampire Weekend – Contra
Bombay Bicycle Club – Flaws
The Acorn – No Ghost

Let me know what you think, but be nice about it. And let me know what your top albums were for this year. While I listen to a lot of music, I’m sure I missed some very good albums.

(links are Amazon Affiliate links)

The Day After

Let me start by saying I’m a huge U2 fan. It would hard for them to disappoint. I’ve been a fan since the age of 11 in 1986…you can do the math. Having said that, of the five times I’ve seen U2 last night’s concert in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington (Dallas) was not my favorite. In fact, last night’s show would come in 3rd or 4th depending on which day you ask me.

The song selection last night did not disappoint. And to be honest, the music was quality as well. The Edge was on fire. He sounded better last night than any other time I’ve heard him. Bono’s voice seemed weak and a little off. I’d like to blame it on the stadium, which I’ll cover in a minute, but he wasn’t on the top of his game. Larry Mullen Jr. absolutely brought his A game in songs like Sunday Bloody Sunday with a hard, tight, pounding drum line. They played the favorites and played them well, including Elevation, Vertigo, and Beautiful Day. Highlights for me included I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, with a snippet of Stand By Me, which they did in the 1997 Pop Mart tour, One, with a snippet of Amazing Grace, and Where The Streets Have No Name. They played MLK which I can’t remember hearing in another tour, but I’d have to check the setlist to be sure.

On the negative side, the stage was too big. The band, at times, seem disconnected from the audience and from each other. This type of setup is not conducive to Adam Clayton. He looked lost and awkward as he wondered the stage during songs. Larry looked like a rotating duck in the middle as they appeased the crowd by spinning him around for everyone to get a front side shot of him. Bono and the Edge looked at home wondering around, but it was too much space to cover. I really missed the more intimate stage setup from Elevation and Vertigo tours. I also missed the more intimate venue as well. Watching U2 in the old Reunion Arena and in the American Airlines Center were as close to true worship experiences as I’ve been to, but that was completely lost in the big stadium. I know that U2 are big enough to carry big stadiums, but it didn’t work last night at the Cowboys Stadium. That stadium is too big. And the acoustics suffer because of it. The roof was closed and I wonder it that hurt the sound even more. I’ve heard from others that sat up in the top levels that the sound was terrible, with some leaving before the show was over. It would be interesting to see this concert in an open stadium. I could only hope that it sounds better. I don’t go to many concerts but I won’t be going to one at the Cowboys Stadium. It may be great for football, but it’s not a concert friendly stadium. Just a side note, Muse sounded horrible. I do know a few of their songs but I couldn’t make out a single word. Complete mush mouth. Again, I’d like to blame this squarely on the stadium and it’s acoustics, but since I’ve never heard them I can’t be sure that it wasn’t their, or their sound engineers, fault. The “space” concept for U2 didn’t work for me. Bono kept making vague references to “taking off” and it just didn’t go over well.

Overall I enjoyed the show. Like I said, it’s U2 and I just can’t come away disappointed with them. I did come away disappointed with how the stadium played and the concert concept.  If you’re a star kind of ranker, I’d give last night a 3.9 out of 5. Here’s the setlist from last night’s show.

Setlist:
Breathe
Get On Your Boots
Magnificent
Mysterious Ways /Sweet Lord (Snippet)
Beautiful Day /Blackbird (Snippet)
I Still Havent Found What I’m Looking For /Stand By Me (Snippet)
Stuck In A Moment You Cant Get Out Of
No Line On The Horizon
Elevation
Until The End Of The World
The Unforgettable Fire
City Of Blinding Lights
Vertigo
I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight (Remix)
Sunday Bloody Sunday
MLK
Walk On
Encore:
One /Amazing Grace (Snippet)
Where The Streets Have No Name
Encore:
Ultraviolet (Light My Way)
With Or Without You
Moment Of Surrender

Setlist:
Breathe
Get On Your Boots
Magnificent
Mysterious Ways / Sweet Lord (Snippet)
Beautiful Day / Blackbird (Snippet)
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For / Stand By Me (Snippet)
Stuck In A Moment You Cant Get Out Of
No Line On The Horizon
Elevation
Until The End Of The World
The Unforgettable Fire
City Of Blinding Lights
Vertigo
I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight (Remix)
Sunday Bloody Sunday
MLK
Walk On

Encore:
One / Amazing Grace (Snippet)
Where The Streets Have No Name

Encore:
Ultraviolet (Light My Way)
With Or Without You
Moment Of Surrender

The Day Of

Today on my Twitter stream I’ve been posting my all time top 5 songs from U2. I’m headed to the concert in Dallas tonight and am a little pumped about it. U2 is my favorite band, with Joshua Tree as my favorite album. I’ve seen U2 4 times dating back to their 1997 Pop Mart tour. That show was held at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The next 3 shows went indoors…once in Reunion Arena, once in the new(er) American Airlines Center, and once in some arena in Kansas City. Tonight’s is back to the outdoors (kind of) in the new Cowboys Stadium. I’ve read good reviews of the opening band, Muse, and am excited to hear them live for the first time.

Here’s my top 5 (and a couple of honorable mentions):

  1. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
  2. One
  3. Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses
  4. Walk On
  5. Yahweh

Honorable Mentions:

  1. 40
  2. Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own
  3. Magnificent
  4. Gloria

I’ll have a review of the concert tomorrow.

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