Pop music for the masses
Big, bigger, biggest. Reach for the book of superlatives as U2 flattens Edinburgh. Words: Jonathan Trew
Oasis may be the most hyped band in Britain at the moment and may well go on to become truly global but. for the time being. the international music stage is dominated by two enormous bands. ()ne of them. REM. toured the globe and played Murrayfield two years ago: now it‘s the turn of the other behemoth of the rock world to play to as many people as possible on the biggest stages available. And you know what'.’ U- aren‘t coy about it.
Now. let‘s not pretend for a minute that stadium gigs are mainly about seeing a band or. less still. hearing a band. It's all about a bigger spectacle. some form of shared experience. being able to say ‘I was there at that huge event’ rather than ‘I saw and heard l52‘. Despite being generated by the band. the event is bigger than [32 themselves and assumes a significance beyond [52‘s own influence because of its sheer si/e. 'l‘rying to make sense of it all beyond that is more difficult because it is such an overwhelming event. Watching 40.000 people swaying in unison is an awe-inspiring sight that’s amplified when the crowd‘s 80.000 hands start clapping together.
If your mind boggles as a spectator then you can‘t help but wonder how Bono feels on stage. Is that
Who would have thought that they would see The Edge leading the audience in the world’s largest karaoke version of 'I Am Sailing"
U2: have found what you‘re looking for
what it feels like to be treated like a god or. by the 80th odd concert. is he just bored and dying to nip back to his hotel for a cup of tea and a spot of telly‘.’
‘Hope you like all this.’ says Bono. pointing to the huge screen and by now familiar giant lemon. inverted golden V and huge olive. ‘Because you paid for it.’ And indeed the audience did. although you get the feeling that perhaps they were happier paying for the anthems. the ‘New Year’s Days‘. the ‘I Still Haven't Found What l’m Looking Fors’ and the ‘I Will Follows‘ than the still odd grind of ‘Miami‘ or the cut and paste stutter of a radically reworked version of ‘Bullet The Blue Sky‘. And who would have thought that they would see The Edge leading the audience in the world‘s largest karaoke version of ‘I Am Sailing“? Or Bono and The Edge performing an acoustic version of ‘Staring At The Sun'. standing at the precipice of the catwalk. bathed in an eerie blue light while the banks of technology on the main stage fall dark and silent‘.’
Strange days indeed. but moving nonetheless. And that‘s the point of the stadium gig — the choice of songs and how well they are performed is relatively insignificant compared to the entirety of the experience. At one point. Bono is held out over the crowd. touching the hands of the fans like the modern day equivalent of the medieval king curing scrofula with a fleeting brush of the palm. Not such a far-flung allegory when you consider the nature of contemporary celebrity: stars the size of U2 are venerated as untouchable. almost completely beyond the reach of you and l.
The big gig. the stadium shuddering sound system is the only way to communicate UZ's globe straddling stature as well as their contact. their relationship with the individual. ()n the strength of tonight‘s gig. they can still do both better than anyone else in the world.
Edinburgh: Murrayfield Stadium, Tue 2 Sep * * ‘k i:
live reviews MUSIC
Edinburgh: Planet Pop, Cas Rock, Sat 30 Aug * t it
Though in danger of being eclipsed by the big boys at Flux, the second Planet Pop has served up a veritable smorgasbord of Scottish musical delights. Most of these have been of the noisy guitar-led variety, epitomised here by support band Cruyff, who swagger into melodic life like Ocean Colour Scene would if they didn't stink of too many dead pop stars. Tight as a gnat's chuff, Cruyff’s path is a well- trodden one, though it may be too late to take it any further. D’you know what I mean?
But what better way to finish than to party with Edinburgh’s longest serving, expectation-confounding, musical pioneers Fini Tribe, playing one of their first live sets for four years. And some interesting norses they’re making these days too, as core duo Davy Millar and Philip Pinkski’s ranks are swelled by a tantalising array of live drums, violin, melodica and keyboards mixing and matching the assorted taped beats, while a y0ung chanteuse Sings on several numbers.
lt’s initially a dark affair, awash With abstract bass-led dubliries, painting thrilling after-hours soundscapes produced to seduce to. Before long, the tempo rs upped With some scattershot drum ’n' bass. Only on the vocal tracks do things get a tad meSSy. Not because the woman can’t sing, but because when you can hear her, she serrnds peachy, but at the moment, she’s too far back in the mix to claim the song for her own.
Though by no means a shambles, and certainly in possemon of a refreshing edge, the Tribe would benefit from a bit more togetherness Hi the second half to make things kick as bzg as they did in the first A few more gigs should sort this, making them contenders rather than mavericks. (Neil Cooper)
Fini Tribe's Millar and Pinkski
l.’ Sep 2‘) \ep l‘l‘l/ THEUST47