U2 kicked off their Innocence + Experience tour at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena this week, and Rolling Stone had 20 minutes to ask a few questions. One query involved a technical question, and Bono answers it hitting sign-points in the only way he can – electronics, life, the world, and his audience.
Can you talk a bit about dividing the arena in two with the LED screens and the philosophy behind that?
Bono: That’s an experiment that we’re really only going to see tomorrow for the first time. But look, we’re a very divisive band I’m told, although one of the great music critics, Robert Hilburn, said, “The great thing about a Rolling Stones show is that you get to feel great about who you are. The great thing about a U2 show is you get to feel good about who is standing next to you.”
We do have a unifying thing within our audience, but outside of Madison Square Garden it can be tough being a U2 fan because we’ve been around a long time. We elicit very strong feelings from people. People either love us or loathe us. On the last album, No Line on the Horizon, a song called “Cedars of Lebanon,” there’s a line that says, “Pick your enemies carefully because they’ll define you. Make them interesting.” That’s because they’re going to be with you all your life. The core idea behind the Innocence + Experience tour is this movement from “them and us” to “there is no them, only us.”
When we were younger our enemies were clearly drawn, very visible to us. They were very real, they weren’t imagined. And we organized against them, whether that’s with Amnesty International or anti-apartheid groups. As you get older, you start to discover that the greatest enemy you will encounter in your life is often yourself. You are the biggest obstacle in your own way. Suddenly then the landscape changes. I don’t know who wrote the line, “I have met my enemy and it’s partly right,” but it’s a great line. It’s a book title. When there’s no clearly defined “us” and “them,” the world changes shape. It’s harder to negotiate. It’s really your own hypocrisy in the crosshairs. We started that journey with Achtung Baby and Zoo TV. It continues today, but what’s happened recently is that I’ve personally been revisiting the black-and-white monochrome days, because I miss that person.
“The breaking down of the fourth wall has been the theme of all of U2’s live shows.”–Bono
I’ll give you a lyric from [the upcoming U2 album] Songs of Experience. “I was living a lie. I was calling it a compromise. I was making bad deals in front of everyone’s eyes. Deals now everyone denies. I was giving evidence in the court of the hearts desire, falsifying documents, virtue thrown in the fire. Sometimes I wish that I was stupid and you were not so smart. Overcome the head will always overcome the heart.” The chorus goes, “Lead me in the way I should go. I’m running out of chances to blow. That’s what you told me and you should know. Lead me in the way I should be. Unravel the mystery of the heart and its defense. The morning after innocence.” The song is called “The Morning After Innocence.”
Then it goes, “Is that your fountain pen? Navy with a nib of gold. Could you write your name again and do anything you were told in 10 Cedarwood Road. I’m your older self, the song of experience. I’ve come to ask for help from your song of innocence. Lead me in the way I should go. I’m running out of chances to blow. That’s what you told me and you should know.”
So, the older self is coming and asking the younger one for hope. It’s interesting. It’s a reverse. That happens in this show. What happens in this show is the younger self harangues, harasses, the older self. That’s what we were just practicing out there trying to figure out in “Bullet the Blue Sky.” The guy who used to be on the barricades in black and white comes up to the guy who is on the other side of the barricades and says, “What are you doing here?” He says, “It takes everybody. It takes the blues, the greens, the me’s, the you.” He goes into this rant. That’s the dialectic at the heart of the tour from a lyrical perspective.
Then from a visual perspective, you have analog vs. visual. Some of the artwork is handmade, drawn printed, vs. distressed, treated. Musically, you have the simplicity of the three piece, the rock band, and then you get to a more electronic thing in Experience. Sorry. You probably regret asking that question.
Via Rolling Stone