Column: off the record . . . vol. 11-472

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off the record, from @U2

Earlier this year, Paul McGuinness revealed the news that remastered versions of Achtung Baby and Zooropa were on the way for this fall. Zooropa is one of my favorite U2 albums, and this remastered version is something I anxiously await. More than anything, I cannot wait to see what they include for the secondary disc that usually accompanies these deluxe versions.

There are some rare tracks and mixes that just scream for inclusion. "Numb (The Perfecto Mix)" and "Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car (The Perfecto Mix)" are mixes I'd be happy to see on this release. "Numb (The Perfecto Mix)" was released only on a relatively rare promo. "Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car (The Perfecto Mix)" was played only on radio and never had an official release. The soundtrack mix of "The Wanderer" includes an entire new verse and would be a treat for many as that soundtrack becomes more difficult to track down. And I'd love to hear some of the early versions of songs that were being readied for Zooropa but didn't make it out until later such as "Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me" and "If God Will Send His Angels," both of which can be seen on the cover of Zooropa in the purple writing if you look really carefully. I would also love to hear a version of "The Wanderer" with Bono on vocals. I just ask that they steer clear of releasing a disc of all the iterations of the "Lemon" remixes. I can do without a disc of those.

I am hoping for a super-deluxe version of Zooropa as opposed to the smaller packages we got for Boy, October and War. I'd love a DVD to go with this set. (Or even better, a Blu-ray disc). I'd love to see a live DVD from one of their London or Dublin shows in August 1993 where they were starting to introduce the Zooropa material. Or even another Boomerang show that we have not seen before. I personally would love to see the end of the tour, in Tokyo, where Macphisto finally rested his head, if it was filmed. And please don't forget to include the "Numb" video single in amongst the bonus features!

A week from today the 360 tour will have ended, and there are only two shows to go at this point. I was lucky enough to see the show in Barcelona on opening night, and will be lucky enough to see the final show in Moncton NB this week. In between I've been lucky enough to see shows on four legs of the tour. I've seen the tour morph and change as it has traveled the world these last 25 months.

I've been asked a lot what my favorite shows have been. I don't have to think about an answer: It was Europe last fall. There was an excitement there that is hard for me to explain. Being there in person to hear new songs played was special to me. I loved the energy of opening with "Stingray Guitar" and loved being there the first night they played "Mercy" live even if it meant getting wetter than ever before in the pouring rain. I find myself missing those new songs when I go see the current shows. Maybe I'll hear them again on the next tour.

Another question I am often asked is, "Is it not all the same?" It hasn't been. Each leg offered unique experiences for me. The shows I'm seeing now do not feel the same as the ones I saw in Barcelona two years ago. But even if it was all just the same, I'd still do it. U2 has been showing night after night that they are on the top of their game with strong performances. Bono continues to amaze me with the amount of energy and passion he shows. And I get to share some really great concerts with a group of friends I don't see enough of. That makes each night worth it to me even if the set lists don't change as much as we may like at times.

Am I the only one who really enjoys these fan cam shots that are posted on after the shows are finished? For those who haven't been there, two guys come out on stage dressed in yellow T-shirts and take a series of photos from either the main stage or the outside point of the circle. One guy takes the photos, and the other is there to get the crowd cheering. The whole process takes about 15 minutes after the opening act.

The result of those 15 minutes of photo taking? You can see a photo of the entire stadium, where you can clearly pick out details, even on the most distant person in the venue. These were first posted for the shows in Africa, and have been done for every show on the current North American leg.

I've really enjoyed these for the shows I've attended. It's nice to have a photo of yourself at the show with friends, if you can find yourself in the crowd. And in a few cases I've been surprised to see friends nearby in the crowd who I had no idea were so close. The Montreal photos have also come in handy as I show co-workers and friends traveling to Moncton to see the show for the first time what to expect from the seating and the stage.

I think offering the prints from these is a great idea. A great souvenir from the show you have attended. And I have to say, from what I've witnessed personally, what I've been told by friends, and what I've seen in the forums, the level of customer service from the company doing these is high. Just waiting to see what a friend thinks of the quality of her print from Nashville before ordering a print from the Montreal shows of my own.

The mid-'90s were a favorite period for me for all things U2. And it was during that time that I became interested in the work of Gavin Friday, who has long been a friend and an influence on Bono and U2. He recently released a new album, Catholic, which has been on repeat in my stereo this summer. Recently he released a video for the first single, "Able," which is just fascinating to watch.

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