Tag Archives | U2

Top Five Albums – 2017

It seems bonkers that this is my 8th annual Top Five Albums post. What’s not bonkers is that it’s the only post on this site all year. I’m nothing if not consistent.

First, here are the previous years for comparison:
2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010

Second, this was the year of the concert for me. Early in the year Julie and I went to Radiohead. That was followed by a trip to Seattle with my son to see U2’s Joshua Tree tour. I killed two birds at that concert as Mumford & Sons opened. Later in the year we saw The National at “The Schnitz” (Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall). This concert was simply amazing. The Schnitz is a perfect venue for music and The National did not disappoint. To date it is my second favorite concert of all time, only being surpassed by the U2 Elevation concert in February of 2002. I attended that show in Kansas City and it included U2’s tribute to 9/11. While nothing can compete with that emotionalism, The National came pretty close. Julie and my daughter saw The Killers just a few weeks ago (I was happy to skip that one). But, I was super bummed that I missed out on a chance to see Elbow here in Portland. All in all it was a great year of live music.

Like 2014 & 2015 I need to file a couple of complaints. U2, you’re killing me. Songs of Experience is dreadful. Arcade Fire, be careful. If I’m not mistaken Everything Now is your 5th studio album. I’ll give you a pass on releasing something this bad…but you’ve been warned.

Most, if not all of these albums, plus a few more from 2017 can be found on this Spotify Playlist: URL | Spotify URI.

Now to the things I did like…

Honorable Mentions

  • Fleet Foxes – Crack-Up
  • Kendrick Lamar – DAMN
  • Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
  • The Shins – Heartworms
  • Vagabon – Infinite Worlds

Top Five

5. Big Thief – Capacity

Big Thief is new to me, but I’m glad I found them. Maybe they’re new to a lot of people as this is only their second album. This is an excellent album. I like it not necessarily for the music, but for the lyrics. Each song tells a story…some of them not easy, but all of them good. Mythological Beauty is one of my favorites.

4. LCD Soundsystem – american dream

You might be fooled into thinking this is a feel good album based on the music, but like Capacity it’s emotional, and sorrowful, and sad. But man is it a good listen. It’s tough to combine techno and somber, but you just have to love an album with a song entitled Emotional Haircut.

3. The War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding

If you read the 2014 Top Five you’ll remember The War on Drugs holding the top spot. This album is just as good. Yeah, they still remind me of Springsteen. Did you know that The War on Drugs is made up of a 38 year old one man band? Yeah, me neither. This is another album filled with sadness. Maybe that’s the theme for this year.

2. Elbow – Little Fictions

I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again. I have no clue how this band is not more popular; especially within my demographic. I love love love this album. Musically, lyrically, all of it. It’s a slow grey day with a whiskey and a cigar kind of album. And yeah, more sadness. Go listen to the song with the album’s name, Little Fictions. It’s my favorite song of the year.

We protect our little fictions
Like it’s all we are
Little wilderness mementos
But there’s only you and me here
Fire breathing
Hold tight
Waiting for the original miracle

1. The National – Sleep Well Beast

The previous high mark for The National was number three in 2010 with High Violet, but they get the top spot this year. Indie rock? American rock? I’m not sure what genre they live in, and ultimately it doesn’t matter; the songs on this album aren’t easy. Turtleneck, the end of I’ll Still Destroy You, The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness, are all musically manic and lyrically morose. If you’re going through the five stages of grief this should be the soundtrack for your life. And seeing them perform these songs live adds a whole different dimension. Pitchfork says of this album that Tom Berninger isn’t singing about how to enjoy life, but how to endure it. Agreed.

Favorite song: Guilty Party

You’re sleeping night and day
How d’you do it?
Me I am wide awake
Feeling defeated

I say your name
I say I’m sorry
I know it’s not working
I’m no holiday
It’s nobody’s fault
No guilty party
We just got nothing
Nothing left to say

Another year gets away
Another summer of love
I don’t know why I care
We miss it every summer

I say your name
I say I’m sorry
I’m the one doing this
There’s no other way
It’s nobody’s fault
No guilty party
I just got nothing, nothing left to say

It all, all catches up to me
It all, all catches up to me all the time

I say your name
I say I’m sorry
I know it’s not working, I’m no holiday
It’s nobody’s fault
No guilty party
We just got nothing, nothing left to say

I say your name
I say I’m sorry
I’m the one doing this, there’s no other way
It’s nobody’s fault
No guilty party
I just got nothing, nothing left to say

It all, all just catches up to me
It all, all catches up to me all the time

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 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.

Help support CommunityOne and buy your U2 music at Amazon.

A Sentimental Longing

A few weeks before we left Cardiff I found myself getting a bit nostalgic. We attended a community parade and festival. At the festival they had displays from different organizations in the Grangetown community. One of the displays was from St. Patricks Karate Club. During the display they played a song, Brothers In Arms, by Dire Straits. It took me a few seconds to recognize the song since it had been so long since I had heard it. But when I did recognize it I was immediately transported back to the mid 80’s.

When I was 11 or 12 my father bought me a Kenwood stereo system. This was no ordinary stereo. This was a system of separates (amp, pre-amp, dual cassette, turntable, CD player, tuner, remote control) with speakers almost as tall as I was at the time. If I can find a photo of it I’ll post it, but let me just say, it was an awesome behemoth. At the age of 11 I wasn’t real big into music. I was more of a baseball guy. But hearing Brothers In Arms a few weeks ago reminded me of playing the cassette tape of the Brothers In Arms album over and over. CD’s were still relatively a new thing but for some reason my dad had Elton John’s Ice On Fire CD. When I thought of Dire Straits, I then thought of Elton…oh Nikita you will never know. I then thought about the the vinyl version of The Joshua Tree by U2 that I was given as a Christmas present. That album changed how I viewed music, even as an 11 year old. It remains to this day my favorite album.

Since I was firmly planted on memory lane I thought back to things I had long since left behind, but for some reason found myself missing just a little. Things like Keller High School football games, good conversations with my group of friends, camping with Ryan…you get the picture. I guess part of my nostalgia had to do with us getting prepared at the time to leave Cardiff for a few months and return here to the States. Knowing I was coming back caused me think of things that have long been a part of my past.

I then thought about how I would love for my kids to experience some things while they are here in the States that will become memories for them, something that they can become nostalgic about when they’re older. But last Sunday I changed my mind about what I want for my kids while we’re here in the States, and what I want for me as well. I’m not looking for “experiences” for them, or me, to have and remember. I’m looking for relationships that can both change their lives and allow them to change others lives. I’m looking for the same for me.

I’ll take relationships over experiences any day. To invest in others, and have others invest in me, is infinitely more valuable than any trip down memory lane…even when that trip includes the greatness that is Dire Straits.