I hope everyone had a great Christmas and is looking forward to the New Year. I certainly am.
This time last year, I thought that 2013 was going to be a very busy one for the typical U2 fan, with the expected release of a new album and the prospects of a new tour. Regretfully, 2013 did not turn out like that and instead we were disappointed to learn the album was delayed further and won't be released until well into 2014. Furthermore, the band have not particularly celebrated the 25th anniversary of Rattle And Hum (though this site did).
But at least in November we had our patience rewarded in the form of new U2 material with the splendid "Ordinary Love," the band's (unbeknownst) tribute to Nelson Mandela, who died earlier this month, and will be remembered for his great wisdom and kindness for generations to come. Mandela was one of three famous associates of the band who passed away during the year, his death being preceded by the death of two great artists -- Irish Nobel Laureate poet Seamus Heaney in August and legendary rock artist Lou Reed in October.
While U2 have been quietly recording the new album, principally in New York, it has nevertheless been an eventful year for the band. First was the marriage of Adam Clayton in September, followed in October by the retirement of Paul McGuinness. In hindsight, these events have probably been planned in some detail to allow for the band to clear the decks for their next tour, whatever shape that may take. Certainly it will be interesting to understand what format the next tour will be -- indoors (Elevation), outdoors (PopMart/360) or a mixture of both (Zoo TV/Vertigo)? For sure, whatever the format, it will take some doing to be bigger and better than the last tour.
I honestly thought that the record for the largest grossing tour would remain with U2 for some time given the size and length of the 360 tour from 2009 to 2011, but lo and behold, it seems that this record will be beaten in 2014 by ... One Direction. Good luck to them, I say. The music industry is continuing to be more and more difficult, and the live market is where the money is. I saw One Direction live back in February 2011 on the X Factor tour (I hasten to add my then 8-year-old son was a big fan of all things related to Simon Cowell -- at least that's my excuse), and certainly I failed to believe they could make a career of what they did that day (merely singing covers of songs older than themselves). Zip forward three years and I can barely believe the phenomenal success and relative longevity of these five young lads.
One of the great things about Christmas is the reassurance of spending vacation time with my family, giving and receiving presents, enjoying fine food and drink, and of course not forgetting ... Bono busking in Grafton Street on Christmas Eve, and then attending the horse races in Leopardstown on Boxing Day with his family. It's almost become a tradition, and I cannot remember when at least one of these two events has not happened!
Next week sees the final performance of the controversial Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark on Broadway, with no known theater performance in the near future, though it is rumored that Las Vegas may be the next stop for this breathtaking show. Take my word for it, I saw it in May and it was brilliant. I recently read a detailed account of the rise and fall of the show by the co-writer of the play, Glen Berger, in his book Song Of Spider-Man. Well worth a read, and a very compelling insight into the involvement of Bono and Edge, particularly during the events of the 360 tour!
And finally, as a tradition in the Govern household where I insist that I play "New Year's Day" on New Year's Day, let me take the opportunity to give you what I consider is my favourite live performance of this great song from 1983 at Red Rocks (with the classic combination of "October" preceding, oh how I wish they would go back to playing it like that again).
Happy New Year to all @U2 readers -- have a great and prosperous time, and let us all enjoy what will surely be another great U2 album and tour to come.
(c) @U2, 2013.