IT'S A THINKPIECE ABOUT THE GREATEST ROCK BAND IN THE WORLD STRUGGLING WITH ITS OWN MORTALITY IN THE HARSH FACE OF NEW TECHNOLOGY: Steven Hyden visits with U2 at the start of its latest global tour:
The encore was better — “City of Blinding Lights” into “Beautiful Day” into “Where the Streets Have No Name,” a trilogy of screamingly epic songs that evoke the sort of extraordinary, larger-than-life existence that’s only possible in the space of a U2 tune. The cynical music critic in me is supposed to scoff, but I wouldn’t even like music if I didn’t buy wholeheartedly into songs like this. I’m reminded of something Taylor Hawkins, the surfer-haired classic-rock true believer in the Foo Fighters, told me: “You go see U2 and you will see your life pass before your eyes.”
Maybe that sounds like a sales pitch. Nevertheless, it’s a sales pitch that belongs uniquely to U2, which as a band never stopped wanting to be the four-headed president of rock music. The encore is U2’s stump speech, which like all stump speeches is imbued with hopeful imagery that you kid yourself into believing in just one more time. U2 promises to tear down walls and touch far-off plains in order to take the audience to a secret, magical place that can’t be found on any maps. If that reads as silly or laughably romantic on paper, it doesn’t change the fact that I was surrounded by strangers suddenly united by their desire to go back to that place.