17 April 2001
'Cyborg cowboy singing Pride might have been hard to take...'
Even before his triumphant turn at the podium during this year's Grammy Awards, reports Aidin Vaziri for The San Francisco Chronicle, everyone knew the Edge is secretly the heart and soul of U2.
Front man Bono may maneuver for all the media attention, what with his leather pants and round-the-clock sunglasses, but where would the Irish band be without the follicly challenged guitarist's transcendental birdcalls, as beautifully evidenced on last year's 'All That You Can't Leave Behind'? Slogging it out with Men at Work on the summer fair circuit playing Simple Minds covers, one suspects. Instead, U2 plays the Compaq Center at San Jose (formerly known as the San Jose Arena) on Wednesday. The Edge, 40, tells us why.
Q: What the hell happened to your live show? Last year you had giant lemons, cowboy hats and porn videos. Now it's just a bunch of ropy guys in jeans.
A: This time, we're trying to do something that is more about the four members of the band just playing together. The art direction is not really high concept.
Q: Are you mad at the giant lemon because you got stuck in it?
A: No, I'm still proud of the fact that we rode a 40-foot mirror-ball lemon over the stage. Those are the sorts of things that should be happening in rock 'n' roll. The difficulty, I suppose, is our fans have such strong feelings about the band, and seeing me dressed as some cyborg cowboy singing "Pride (In the Name of Love)" might have been hard to take.
Q: What do they know about anything?
A: My personal feeling is that the Pop Mart tour got a really bad rap. I think it was very amazing and groundbreaking and very ambitious, all the things I hope we continue to be as a band in the future. Some of the shows suffered from us not being as prepared and rehearsed as we would have liked to have been, but that's already the subject of history at this point.
Q: Now if your show sucks, you can't blame the electric fruit.
A: No. The last tour, I suppose, there was a lot more hardware to come to terms with. But there's always that little element of winging it, which every show has. You've always got a lot of different anticipations about what you think is going to happen but you don't quiet know.
Q: Were you drunk at the Grammy Awards?
A: You don't get many opportunities to be humorous in U2.
Q: Do you think they're too serious?
A: There is a lot of humour within the band. Since "Achtung Baby" there's been a lot more opportunity. That's why we ended up changing our approach to songwriting; introducing a certain irony gave us the freedom to do that. We felt like we were suffocating a little bit toward the end of the '80s because there seemed to be no respite from earnestness. We really needed to create some contrast.
Read the complete interview at www.sfgate.com