As I write this, I am still reminiscing about the U2/Beck concert that I attended this past Sunday night. Right now, I am going through my Beck library in an effort to bathe aurally in all the sounds he has created over the years that I had totally pushed aside the last couple of years. And as far as U2 is concerned, you all should know that I have been a fan for a very long time. So, it is always fun to have this type of concert. Lately, I have not enjoyed too many opening acts like I did Beck.
Some of the better opening acts I have seen over the years include AC/DC with Bon Scott as the lead singer (1979) opened for Ted Nugent (his concert helped me cut his music from my diet), The Babys opened for Journey back in the day (1980), Daryl Hall & John Oates (1981, for ELO), Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (1982, for The Police), INXS (1983, for Men at Work!), John Mellencamp (1982, for Heart) The dB’s (1987, for R.E.M.), Radiohead (1995, for R.E.M.), Green Day (2000, for blink-182!), Robert Plant (2002, for The Who), Cheap Trick (2004, for Aerosmith, but we all know who I was there for), Steve Winwood (2009, for Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers), and Capital Cities (2013, for Fitz & the Tantrums). Check out the number of Rock & Roll Hall of Famers I have seen as an opening act over the years (AC/DC, Hall & Oates, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, John Mellencamp, Green Day, Cheap Trick, Steve Winwood (Traffic), Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin), and I expect Beck and Radiohead to join those ranks in the near future. A great opening act always makes for a terrific concert, in addition to making you feel as though you got more bang for your bucks.
But, enough of the opening act Beck, let’s focus on the headliner of the concert, U2. Now, U2 may be THE band of my generation. If you think about the transcendent artists at the beginning of the Eighties, one could pick from The Clash, The Police, Dire Straits, Talking Heads and Pretenders as the artists who would be making compelling music well into the 21st century. But, while all of those bands faltered for one reason or another, those four friends from Ireland stepped into the vacuum and lead rock through rest of the eighties, throughout the Nineties and Aughts, and into the Twenty-teens. U2 faced welcome artistic challenges from R.E.M. and Nirvana, but again those stubborn Irishmen stared down them and all other challengers on their way to become the biggest draw on the tour calendar. And, the way U2 did that was through artistic integrity, laser-focused vision and the will to accept the pressure to become the biggest rock artist on the face of the earth.
Millennials can complain, because the good Lord knows I complained about The Rollings Stones not having much new to say in the mid-Eighties and beyond. But, U2 is still bringing it. They are not the cold war artifact that one particular millennial write once put it. Nor are they a symbol of world peace or some other love-based hippy ideal. Sure, the espouse loving thy neighbor, as taught by Jesus. But, they maintain an indignation toward a consumer-based society that nearly every punk band from that late Seventies scene found on BOTH sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Sure, every generation should question the motives of the biggest band of the previous generation, only if they have an artist ready to take the previous artist’s place on the mountain top. But, sorry millennials! You don’t have that one transcendent artist prepared to take U2’s place. It could be Foo Fighters, Green Day or Pearl Jam, but, let’s be honest, they all belong to the Gen X-ers. Beyonce? Rihanna? Lady Gaga? Kanye? Please. Maybe Gaga, but she still has only been on the scene for a decade. U2 has been around since 1980; that’s 37 years, with 30 spent on the mountain top. Oh, I almost forgot! Didn’t Kendrick Lamar cut a song on his latest brilliant album called D.A.M.N.? Uh, yes he did! ‘Nuff said!
Enough of this! Here are My 20 Favorite U2 Songs. Let me know what yours are.
20. “Even Better Than the Real Thing” (Achtung Baby, 1991)
19. “Red Hill Mining Town” (The Joshua Tree, 1987)
18. “Staring at the Sun” (Pop, 1997)
17. “Every Breaking Wave” (Songs of Innocence, 2014)
16. “Vertigo” (How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, 2004)
15. “Sweetest Thing” (The Best of U2, 1980-1990, 1998)
14. “Mysterious Ways” (Achtung Baby, 1991)
13. “Elevation” (All That You Can’t Leave Behind, 2000)
12. “I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight” (No Line on the Horizon, 2009)
11. “Ordinary Love” (single, 2013)
10. “New Year’s Day” (War, 1983)
9. “Numb” (Zooropa, 1993)
8. “Desire” (Rattle and Hum, 1988)
7. “Pride (In the Name of Love)” (The Unforgettable Fire, 1984)
6. “Sunday Bloody Sunday” (War, 1983)
5. “With or Without You” (The Joshua Tree, 1987)
4. “Beautiful Day” (All That You Can’t Leave Behind, 2000)
3. “One” (Achtung Baby, 1991)
2. “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” (The Joshua Tree, 1987)
1. “Where the Streets Have No Name” (The Joshua Tree, 1987)
And, there it is! My 20 Favorite U2 Songs. Let me know what think. I have included some more photos from the concert. Peace!