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U2 => General U2 Discussion => Topic started by: gottago on June 08, 2018, 08:06:50 AM

Title: Has U2 lost their "swag?"
Post by: gottago on June 08, 2018, 08:06:50 AM
This question has been floating around in my head for years now.  When I see U2 perform live I can't help but get this feeling, especially from watching Bono, of "Please love us. Please think we are cool again. Please think we are relevant."  It's in his performance and words he says as he interacts with the crowd.

Like, for example, when I think about The Stones and Mick walking out on stage, even well into their 70's, there is a confidence that they have in themselves and who they are as a band that U2 and Bono just don't quite seem to have anymore. It is something they once had, especially during the Joshua Tree and ZOO TV tours. Sometimes I wonder about the impact of POP and POPmart on them.  Did it damage their confidence in such a way that they have not ever been quite right since?

Anyone else know what I am saying?
Title: Re: Has U2 lost their "swag?"
Post by: JTNash on June 08, 2018, 08:17:20 AM
That’s always been the U2 paradox.  Or at least the Bono paradox, bold, entertaining and seems sure of himself, yet insecure.

This is most Rock Stars actually!
Title: Re: Has U2 lost their "swag?"
Post by: grhawi on June 08, 2018, 08:31:05 AM
I took a friend of mine to the U2 show in Atlanta a week or so ago.  He's not a big U2 fan - knows some of their songs, but had never seen them perform live.  He was blown away by the performance - nearly brought to tears by the Staring at the Sun / Pride sequence.  He was mesmerized from the opening song until the very end.  After the show, he said "I've seen a lot of bands perform, but I now realize I had never seen a real rock star perform.  Now I understand who they're all trying to emulate."

Yes, U2 has matured and Bono no longer climbs the scaffolding or runs circles around the arena at full speed.  But they have not lost their swagger.  The Acrobat performance every night, for example, is as electrifying and impactful as anything I've seen them do, and I've been going to U2 concerts for over 20 years.  I think sometimes the biggest U2 fans are the most critical.  We get lost in analyzing and critiquing the minutia that we lose perspective on just how powerful U2 still is as a live band.
Title: Re: Has U2 lost their "swag?"
Post by: laoghaire on June 08, 2018, 09:05:57 AM
I think both perspectives are right. First, we are talking about Bono, not U2 here.

He was always insecure and you can see it in flashes from the earliest eras. It just isn't obvious unless you're looking for the right things because his insecurity is constructed in a fundamentally different way from the rest of us. Most of us would shrink from fronting a rock concert and taking the very real risks of failure and making a fool of himself that he does, seemingly easily. But most of us don't NEED what he needs and is willing to lay it all on the line to get. Hence, a rock star. His equation is different.

So that's not new. At all.

Did he have a particular type of swagger that he doesn't seem to have any more? I think perhaps there is a particular one he has shed. Note I said "shed" not "lost." I don't think it's from increasing desperation but increasing maturity. He is more grounded now. I wouldn't change a thing - not his past swagger nor his current (relative!!) groundedness.

And while his style has changed - and it's been changing all along, the whole time - he still has it. He can still blow people away.
Title: Re: Has U2 lost their "swag?"
Post by: JTNash on June 08, 2018, 09:06:30 AM
They don’t need swagger they have magic.
Title: Re: Has U2 lost their "swag?"
Post by: grhawi on June 08, 2018, 09:46:00 AM
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I think both perspectives are right. First, we are talking about Bono, not U2 here.

He was always insecure and you can see it in flashes from the earliest eras. It just isn't obvious unless you're looking for the right things because his insecurity is constructed in a fundamentally different way from the rest of us. Most of us would shrink from fronting a rock concert and taking the very real risks of failure and making a fool of himself that he does, seemingly easily. But most of us don't NEED what he needs and is willing to lay it all on the line to get. Hence, a rock star. His equation is different.

So that's not new. At all.

Did he have a particular type of swagger that he doesn't seem to have any more? I think perhaps there is a particular one he has shed. Note I said "shed" not "lost." I don't think it's from increasing desperation but increasing maturity. He is more grounded now. I wouldn't change a thing - not his past swagger nor his current (relative!!) groundedness.

And while his style has changed - and it's been changing all along, the whole time - he still has it. He can still blow people away.

When you're talking about Bono, you're talking about U2.  When you're talking about U2, you're talking about Bono.  They are inextricably linked. 
Title: Re: Has U2 lost their "swag?"
Post by: laoghaire on June 08, 2018, 11:34:36 AM
I don't agree at all. U2 is definitely more than Bono.
Title: Re: Has U2 lost their "swag?"
Post by: SwimmingSorrows on June 10, 2018, 05:45:50 PM
U2 have never had "swag."  They sure as hell had none in the 80s, and in the 90s they sarcastically pretended to have it, but they still didn't deep down.
Title: Re: Has U2 lost their "swag?"
Post by: shineinthesummernight on June 10, 2018, 06:18:47 PM
I know what you mean about no swag, but they sure as hell rocked those photos in the '80s.  Mmmm....   I guess sex appeal and swag aren't necessarily the same thing.
Title: Re: Has U2 lost their "swag?"
Post by: 73October on June 11, 2018, 03:13:15 AM
Bono is still that boy running through the fields behind Cedarwood Road looking for an adventure in the building site that was the Ballymun Flats.  He's also still that boy who has to give as good as he gets on the street to defend his corner/reputation.  And also the boy who the girls and women found themselves kind of strangely attracted to.
So if that's swagger, then he still has it.
He's not Mick Jagger and never will be.  He's not British for a start.
Title: Re: Has U2 lost their "swag?"
Post by: wons on June 11, 2018, 07:45:05 AM
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This question has been floating around in my head for years now.  When I see U2 perform live I can't help but get this feeling, especially from watching Bono, of "Please love us. Please think we are cool again. Please think we are relevant."  It's in his performance and words he says as he interacts with the crowd.

Like, for example, when I think about The Stones and Mick walking out on stage, even well into their 70's, there is a confidence that they have in themselves and who they are as a band that U2 and Bono just don't quite seem to have anymore. It is something they once had, especially during the Joshua Tree and ZOO TV tours. Sometimes I wonder about the impact of POP and POPmart on them.  Did it damage their confidence in such a way that they have not ever been quite right since?

Anyone else know what I am saying?

I think this is all in your mind totally! U2's tours, the Vertigo Tour and the 360 tour were actually in many ways far more successful than the Joshua Tree Tour or ZOO TV tour ever were in terms of GROSS, Attendance, and the speed at which tickets were sold. Today, the 360 tour which went from mid-2009 to mid 2011 is still the most successful tour ever in music in history! It has the highest attendance of any tour at over 7.2 million tickets sold, and a gross of over $740 million which adjusted for inflation is well over $800 million dollars in 2018.

Some of the swagger of the JT tour and ZOO TV tour was actually Bono not really knowing how to deal with success on that scale yet. Ever since 2001, he seems far more confident and comfortable in his own skin then he seemed in 1987.
Title: Re: Has U2 lost their "swag?"
Post by: Mr. Sarajevo 20 on June 11, 2018, 10:02:09 AM
The band def had swag during the Popmart era...
Title: Re: Has U2 lost their "swag?"
Post by: McSwilly on June 11, 2018, 02:31:56 PM
Long lost - have you seen the tassels on Edge's leather jacket - that went out of style, or maybe was never in style.

Since they haven't made a solid good album since Achtung, I think most swag has been lost, though Adam and Larry are still damn cool.

Hard to have swag when you are curtaining off the unsold seats in your latest tour because the new songs are a total bore.

did I mention that I LOVE U2, since 1983. Best live band ever.
Title: Re: Has U2 lost their "swag?"
Post by: JTNash on June 11, 2018, 03:21:04 PM
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Long lost - have you seen the tassels on Edge's leather jacket - that went out of style, or maybe was never in style.

Since they haven't made a solid good album since Achtung, I think most swag has been lost, though Adam and Larry are still damn cool.

Hard to have swag when you are curtaining off the unsold seats in your latest tour because the new songs are a total bore.

did I mention that I LOVE U2, since 1983. Best live band ever.

I love the new stuff, no one is forcing you to stay a fan.

I’m sure you can go find Justin Bieber’s or Taylor Swifts message board to post on lol
Title: Re: Has U2 lost their "swag?"
Post by: 64ac30 on June 11, 2018, 04:27:56 PM
I think Adam has the most swag. A haircut, a change of the beanie, and a new shirt might be good for Bono Edge and larrry.
Title: Re: Has U2 lost their "swag?"
Post by: ricebird5678 on June 11, 2018, 06:02:14 PM
Time waits for no one. Even though they are still producing quality music, these guys are old and they can not relate to the millennial (my generation). Still love them though.
Title: Re: Has U2 lost their "swag?"
Post by: JTNash on June 11, 2018, 06:26:39 PM
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Time waits for no one. Even though they are still producing quality music, these guys are old and they can not relate to the millennial (my generation). Still love them though.
neither can I much lol. 
Title: Re: Has U2 lost their "swag?"
Post by: wons on June 12, 2018, 05:48:57 AM
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Long lost - have you seen the tassels on Edge's leather jacket - that went out of style, or maybe was never in style.

Since they haven't made a solid good album since Achtung, I think most swag has been lost, though Adam and Larry are still damn cool.

Hard to have swag when you are curtaining off the unsold seats in your latest tour because the new songs are a total bore.

did I mention that I LOVE U2, since 1983. Best live band ever.

Can you name a band that has never had to curtain off unsold seats?
Title: Re: Has U2 lost their "swag?"
Post by: Rasmus on June 12, 2018, 05:49:33 AM
They had swag in the 90's... The 80's were too earnest and the 00's onward too messianic complex and mingling with people of power.
Title: Re: Has U2 lost their "swag?"
Post by: wons on June 12, 2018, 06:01:24 AM
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They had swag in the 90's... The 80's were too earnest and the 00's onward too messianic complex and mingling with people of power.

They attempted to be cool during POPMART but were judged by the general public and casual fans as being very uncool.
Title: Re: Has U2 lost their "swag?"
Post by: Rasmus on June 12, 2018, 06:18:59 AM
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They had swag in the 90's... The 80's were too earnest and the 00's onward too messianic complex and mingling with people of power.

They attempted to be cool during POPMART but were judged by the general public and casual fans as being very uncool.

Maybe the only time in their career they truly were cool by consensus were Achtung Baby/Zoo Tv era.
Title: Re: Has U2 lost their "swag?"
Post by: wons on June 12, 2018, 06:37:56 AM
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They had swag in the 90's... The 80's were too earnest and the 00's onward too messianic complex and mingling with people of power.

They attempted to be cool during POPMART but were judged by the general public and casual fans as being very uncool.

Maybe the only time in their career they truly were cool by consensus were Achtung Baby/Zoo Tv era.

The late 80s, early 90s and the 00s they were considered cool.
Title: Re: Has U2 lost their "swag?"
Post by: JTNash on June 12, 2018, 07:38:19 AM
In true cool kids popular fashion, they have more fans then the cool bands so who wants to be cool?

Just like high School the click of 30 kids has less friends then the rest of us who are friends with everyone
Title: Re: Has U2 lost their "swag?"
Post by: trevgreg on June 12, 2018, 07:59:28 AM
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I took a friend of mine to the U2 show in Atlanta a week or so ago.  He's not a big U2 fan - knows some of their songs, but had never seen them perform live.  He was blown away by the performance - nearly brought to tears by the Staring at the Sun / Pride sequence.  He was mesmerized from the opening song until the very end.  After the show, he said "I've seen a lot of bands perform, but I now realize I had never seen a real rock star perform.  Now I understand who they're all trying to emulate."

Yes, U2 has matured and Bono no longer climbs the scaffolding or runs circles around the arena at full speed.  But they have not lost their swagger.  The Acrobat performance every night, for example, is as electrifying and impactful as anything I've seen them do, and I've been going to U2 concerts for over 20 years.  I think sometimes the biggest U2 fans are the most critical.  We get lost in analyzing and critiquing the minutia that we lose perspective on just how powerful U2 still is as a live band.

This. I think that last sentence represents a good argument here as well. If you pay attention to a band long enough, you’re going to overanalyze things and think you’re seeing certain things which might not really be there. That’s not a cut into the OP either… this happens on just about every band/music/movie/TV forum I go to. People will read into body language or looks and think someone has health problems, or look like they’re going through the motions and don’t want to be in the band, etc. I don’t really allow myself to do that because really, we don’t know what’s going on other than what we’re seeing. Think of all the stuff we hide or don’t tell our co-workers, friends or even family members… how can I really assume what’s going on unless I’m the actual person, you know?

Grhawi’s experience with their friend here also reminds me of what happened last year when I brought my sister to a show. She wasn’t a huge fan before that and only became familiar with some of the songs when I told her to give them a few listens before the show. She was blown away. Enjoyed a lot of the songs, got a wave from Bono at one point, and even choked up during a song or two. Afterward, she told me “You told me you were taking me to a show! You didn’t tell me it was going to be an experience!” She didn’t go and hear Vertigo and thought, “Someone’s trying too hard” or that the 2017 version of WOWY was worse than the other tours. Unless you pay attention closely over the years, those types of opinions aren’t going to come up. You either enjoy it or you don’t.

When I saw the band live last month, I didn’t see much out of the ordinary, honestly. I saw a band appear to enjoy what they’re doing and certain members doing the usual theatrics. No one was screaming “Love me!” to the crowd or dressing like a 20-year-old singing rapping over hip-hop beats.
Title: Re: Has U2 lost their "swag?"
Post by: julez728 on June 12, 2018, 09:26:28 AM
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I took a friend of mine to the U2 show in Atlanta a week or so ago.  He's not a big U2 fan - knows some of their songs, but had never seen them perform live.  He was blown away by the performance - nearly brought to tears by the Staring at the Sun / Pride sequence.  He was mesmerized from the opening song until the very end.  After the show, he said "I've seen a lot of bands perform, but I now realize I had never seen a real rock star perform.  Now I understand who they're all trying to emulate."

Yes, U2 has matured and Bono no longer climbs the scaffolding or runs circles around the arena at full speed.  But they have not lost their swagger.  The Acrobat performance every night, for example, is as electrifying and impactful as anything I've seen them do, and I've been going to U2 concerts for over 20 years.  I think sometimes the biggest U2 fans are the most critical.  We get lost in analyzing and critiquing the minutia that we lose perspective on just how powerful U2 still is as a live band.

This. I think that last sentence represents a good argument here as well. If you pay attention to a band long enough, you’re going to overanalyze things and think you’re seeing certain things which might not really be there. That’s not a cut into the OP either… this happens on just about every band/music/movie/TV forum I go to. People will read into body language or looks and think someone has health problems, or look like they’re going through the motions and don’t want to be in the band, etc. I don’t really allow myself to do that because really, we don’t know what’s going on other than what we’re seeing. Think of all the stuff we hide or don’t tell our co-workers, friends or even family members… how can I really assume what’s going on unless I’m the actual person, you know?

Grhawi’s experience with their friend here also reminds me of what happened last year when I brought my sister to a show. She wasn’t a huge fan before that and only became familiar with some of the songs when I told her to give them a few listens before the show. She was blown away. Enjoyed a lot of the songs, got a wave from Bono at one point, and even choked up during a song or two. Afterward, she told me “You told me you were taking me to a show! You didn’t tell me it was going to be an experience!” She didn’t go and hear Vertigo and thought, “Someone’s trying too hard” or that the 2017 version of WOWY was worse than the other tours. Unless you pay attention closely over the years, those types of opinions aren’t going to come up. You either enjoy it or you don’t.

When I saw the band live last month, I didn’t see much out of the ordinary, honestly. I saw a band appear to enjoy what they’re doing and certain members doing the usual theatrics. No one was screaming “Love me!” to the crowd or dressing like a 20-year-old singing rapping over hip-hop beats.
I definitely find myself overanalyzing things.  I have to remind myself to take a step back sometimes.

I took a coworker to a show last year that knew a handful of U2 songs, but not a lot.  After the show she said "I now understand why you go to multiple shows."  Sometimes it helps to look at a U2 show through the eyes of someone that has never seen them before.
Title: Re: Has U2 lost their "swag?"
Post by: McSwilly on June 12, 2018, 10:29:59 AM
I think last night in Harlem they showed the ability to have some swag. no screens, no bells and whistles just rock and roll.

Those of us who have seen them over the years may also take for granted how badass they are live - I have also taken newbies who were blown away.
Title: Re: Has U2 lost their "swag?"
Post by: podiumboy on June 12, 2018, 02:52:36 PM
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Long lost - have you seen the tassels on Edge's leather jacket - that went out of style, or maybe was never in style.

Since they haven't made a solid good album since Achtung, I think most swag has been lost, though Adam and Larry are still damn cool.

Hard to have swag when you are curtaining off the unsold seats in your latest tour because the new songs are a total bore.

did I mention that I LOVE U2, since 1983. Best live band ever.

Can you name a band that has never had to curtain off unsold seats?

Exactly.  Even The Rolling Stones don’t sell out every concert.  From what I’ve read, their recent show at Croke Park Dublin “only” sold about 60,000 / 80,000.

 I saw Bruce Springsteen in Columbus a few years ago.  Had nosebleed seats, as I’m just a casual fan looking to not spend s bunch.  We were moved to a better spot, and our section was curtained off.  Same thing happened at Metallica in the same arenas. I was shocked, I assumed both of those bands sold out every show.  Still, both were great concerts, and both bands eventually returned to that same arena.

I’ve seen less popular bands like Muse, Arcade Fire and Kings of Leon, where they had the entire upper bowl of the arena curtained off.  It happens a lot, we’re just not used to it with U2.
Title: Re: Has U2 lost their "swag?"
Post by: trevgreg on June 14, 2018, 07:04:34 AM
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I’ve seen less popular bands like Muse, Arcade Fire and Kings of Leon, where they had the entire upper bowl of the arena curtained off.  It happens a lot, we’re just not used to it with U2.

I felt bad for Arcade Fire to an extent when I saw them last fall. They also played a local arena in 2014 and were still able to bring in close to 10k, so it was decently full in parts even if not all. But when they played a similar arena last fall, they were lucky to bring in half of that. The upper deck was closed off and the lower deck wasn't even full.
Title: Re: Has U2 lost their "swag?"
Post by: U2Tim on June 15, 2018, 05:30:57 AM
Innocence and Experience show they haven’t lost their musical swag.