Author Topic: An Open Letter to U2  (Read 5212 times)

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benhur1999

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An Open Letter to U2
« on: October 29, 2009, 11:44:42 PM »
An open letter to U2.

Here's the deal.

You've been doing this for a while & you are very good at what you do.
I've been to a number of your concerts and love them.
Now I assume that you are aware of the numerous requests for you to vary your set.
And I respect your creative decision, up until now, to take a different approach.

I realise that since ZooTV, your shows have been more like broadway shows. With planned 'movements' and themes.
BUT and here's the rub.

If the U2 Live show wants to remain a hot ticket for the next 10 years.
Things have to change. Why?
Because the world has changed.

Zoo TV, Popmart & Elevation, 95% of people who went to a U2 concert had to wait until the DVD of the tour came out if they were to get an another perspective on the tour.

Now, more and more people will know your exact moves before they arrive.
If this is the case. I reckon the next world tour you do will end up being your last. 

Why? No element of surprise.
Now let's face it. You have done everything you can to surprise us with the staging of this tour. It is incredibly ambitious. But where do you go from here?
Back to Arenas? nup, you did that with elevation. Worked well then. Predictable now. You could try to go bigger. But really it will start to get ridiculous.


So, to maintain interest. You need a new approach.

I know it may be very difficult for you as a band.
But what you need to do is SACK Willie Williams.

Williams is a genius. Don't get me wrong.
But once you have Williams and a whole team of creative directors.
The creativity of U2 is no longer necessary.

You don't feel you have to be creative.
So what happens?
You get lazy.
Or you work really really hard on your set-pieces.
And you pull off a brilliant show that can be taken around the world.
But with Youtube, instant access, more and more people who buy tickets to U2, will take a peek at what the tour is like.
And when the rest of the world see you are doing the same thing, night after night.
You're game is up.

But here's my prediction:

if this is not U2's last world tour,
 U2360 will be the last world tour U2 will be able to 'get away with' a set-piece-show, and still draw the crowds. It will mark the end of a 19 year tradition for the band.

If they keep doing a set-standardized-show, they will be in a Vegas equivalent contract very, very soon.


1989 you went away and 'dreamed it all up again'. You reinvented your songs, your music your approach to life, you made a brilliant stage show. And you have reinvented your music a number of times since then.

BUT

You now (for the first time in your career - a bit risky I know!) reinvent your approach to playing together live.

You need to spend a year NOT recording an album.
But playing your entire back catalogue, together as a band.
Learn to be bit impromptu as a band,
Learn to be able to scribble a setlist out in the dressing room.

Be the first band that can fill stadiums AND be different every night without relying on a Willie Williams magician.


learn to be able to pull off any song (within Bono's vocal range) at the drop of a hat.
It will be hard.
But it will be worth it.

U2 shows will once again have a buzz about them.
They will no longer be known for themed sections of the show, but for the uniqueness of each individual show.

Now, you say, this only appeals to the hard core fans.

Perhaps. But don't under value your hard-core fans, they are the only people you can guarentee (for the time being) will actually turn up to your concerts.

If you lose your fan-base, you've lost your tour.

U2 are not beyond their ability to generate a buzz, create mystique and fill stadiums.

But they have to work really hard on lifting their live game.

If the adrenalin is pumping because they are about to play Last Night on Earth and straight into Heartland, followed by a sped-up version of Pride. That won't be too bad will it.



They need to get the fans to do the promo for them.

You have so many fans, that they can mobilise for PR.
If the set-list is changing every night, there will be a buzz, because fans will want to chat again.
And when millions of global U2 fans chat.
U2 comes back.
Mystique is regained.
The world is a better place.


Come on U2.
Stop songwriting and start playing properly.
Don't outsource your creativity.
Come on U2. Do it.



hurricane hugo

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Re: An Open Letter to U2
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2009, 12:45:54 AM »
I'm really tempted to give this the derisive answer it deserves, but I'll say this instead: North American fans got to see large segments of the European dates. Didn't seem to slow down the sales a bit. They smashed damn near every existing attendance record and sold millions of tickets. Enormous media interest followed.
...and you say there's no "buzz"? I say you've got a good one going. Bottoms up!

#@!

Offline So Cruel

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Re: An Open Letter to U2
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2009, 01:23:59 AM »
Dear Benhur,

We've been at this for 30 years and have just played one of this biggest tours in the history of mankind. We do have a bit of a clue about what we are doing.

Sincerely,

Bono, Edge, Adam, & Larry

Offline The Exile

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Re: An Open Letter to U2
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2009, 01:43:29 AM »
Clap...

Clap....

Clap, clap...

Clap, clap, clap...

Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap...

CLAPCLAPCLAPCLAPCLAPCLAPCLAPCLAP!!!!!!!!!!!!

Offline markreed

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Re: An Open Letter to U2
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2009, 03:50:02 AM »
worst haiku ever

Offline markreed

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Re: An Open Letter to U2
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2009, 05:03:11 AM »
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An open letter to U2.

Here's the deal.

You've been doing this for a while & you are very good at what you do.
I've been to a number of your concerts and love them.
Now I assume that you are aware of the numerous requests for you to vary your set.
And I respect your creative decision, up until now, to take a different approach.

I realise that since ZooTV, your shows have been more like broadway shows. With planned 'movements' and themes.
BUT and here's the rub.

If the U2 Live show wants to remain a hot ticket for the next 10 years.
Things have to change. Why?
Because the world has changed.

Zoo TV, Popmart & Elevation, 95% of people who went to a U2 concert had to wait until the DVD of the tour came out if they were to get an another perspective on the tour.

Now, more and more people will know your exact moves before they arrive.
If this is the case. I reckon the next world tour you do will end up being your last. 

Why? No element of surprise.
Now let's face it. You have done everything you can to surprise us with the staging of this tour. It is incredibly ambitious. But where do you go from here?
Back to Arenas? nup, you did that with elevation. Worked well then. Predictable now. You could try to go bigger. But really it will start to get ridiculous.


So, to maintain interest. You need a new approach.

I know it may be very difficult for you as a band.
But what you need to do is SACK Willie Williams.

Williams is a genius. Don't get me wrong.
But once you have Williams and a whole team of creative directors.
The creativity of U2 is no longer necessary.

You don't feel you have to be creative.
So what happens?
You get lazy.
Or you work really really hard on your set-pieces.
And you pull off a brilliant show that can be taken around the world.
But with Youtube, instant access, more and more people who buy tickets to U2, will take a peek at what the tour is like.
And when the rest of the world see you are doing the same thing, night after night.
You're game is up.

But here's my prediction:

if this is not U2's last world tour,
 U2360 will be the last world tour U2 will be able to 'get away with' a set-piece-show, and still draw the crowds. It will mark the end of a 19 year tradition for the band.

If they keep doing a set-standardized-show, they will be in a Vegas equivalent contract very, very soon.


1989 you went away and 'dreamed it all up again'. You reinvented your songs, your music your approach to life, you made a brilliant stage show. And you have reinvented your music a number of times since then.

BUT

You now (for the first time in your career - a bit risky I know!) reinvent your approach to playing together live.

You need to spend a year NOT recording an album.
But playing your entire back catalogue, together as a band.
Learn to be bit impromptu as a band,
Learn to be able to scribble a setlist out in the dressing room.

Be the first band that can fill stadiums AND be different every night without relying on a Willie Williams magician.


learn to be able to pull off any song (within Bono's vocal range) at the drop of a hat.
It will be hard.
But it will be worth it.

U2 shows will once again have a buzz about them.
They will no longer be known for themed sections of the show, but for the uniqueness of each individual show.

Now, you say, this only appeals to the hard core fans.

Perhaps. But don't under value your hard-core fans, they are the only people you can guarentee (for the time being) will actually turn up to your concerts.

If you lose your fan-base, you've lost your tour.

U2 are not beyond their ability to generate a buzz, create mystique and fill stadiums.

But they have to work really hard on lifting their live game.

If the adrenalin is pumping because they are about to play Last Night on Earth and straight into Heartland, followed by a sped-up version of Pride. That won't be too bad will it.



They need to get the fans to do the promo for them.

You have so many fans, that they can mobilise for PR.
If the set-list is changing every night, there will be a buzz, because fans will want to chat again.
And when millions of global U2 fans chat.
U2 comes back.
Mystique is regained.
The world is a better place.


Come on U2.
Stop songwriting and start playing properly.
Don't outsource your creativity.
Come on U2. Do it.


Actually, the more I read the more I realise that this is complete nonsense. U2 shows have been chereographed since 1979 when they first wrote a setlist, and Bono first started playing "The Fool".

No need to sack Willie. I've seen more than enough shows to know that Willie is one of the most talented lighting designers there is. If you doubt it, his work on REM's tours in 98/99, 2003, and so on is further proof.

If you want the element of surprise, well, U2 are performing songs on this tour that they haven't played since 1990, if ever. This no 'game' to be up. No fooling, no attempt to use smoke and mirrors. It's a show, a fine, damn good, show, that U2 work very hard to keep creative and also expend a lot of energy running.

People are bitching about how U2 aren't playing enough of the hits now...  they'd be bored stiff during Last Night On Earth / Heartland. If you really want a target pick Roger Waters : same set, exactly the same set in the same order, same visuals, everything, 110 nights in a row.

Your problem isn't U2, it's YouTube.

Offline whitewave

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Re: An Open Letter to U2
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2009, 06:10:26 AM »
I'm not going to address the letter directly.  Just a different perspective of it.  Being a long time fan and having been to all of the concerts since AB,minus this one, I have noticed a difference with this tour. Even though it is a bigger tour in size of venues I get the feeling the actual 'buzz', as you put it is down.  I wish Matt could pull up the figures on the activity on this forum from the time frames of the past 2 tours vs this one. To me it feels lighter than recent years-- but have no stats to back that feeling up.  As far as the comment on Willie Wms--do you happen to be missing a few marbles? Bad enough Corbin hasn't been too involved with this production.  I personnally prefer the more stripped down tours of recent years than the Popmart type scenarios and do hope that when they go and reinvent themselves again they do not feel they need to Supersize/McDonaldize their productions again.

Offline miami

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Re: An Open Letter to U2
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2009, 08:14:35 AM »
i agree with op's part about u2 needing to practise for about a year on most of their back catalogue so that they can improvise a set-list at the top of a hat. i know they're not fantastic musicians, but they wrote the songs for god's sake! it would make concerts more enjoyable for the fans AND for the band members themselves.

they have a 30 year back catalogue, i think it's time to mix it up a bit!!

Offline 1985

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Re: An Open Letter to U2
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2009, 08:41:14 AM »
If you could use super powers to get your open letter into the hands of all 80-100,000 people at one of these shows, how many people do you think would sign it? How many people would trade Elevation for Last Night on Earth? I Still Haven't Found for Heartland? Great camera, video and light production for minimal production? Well-rehearsed songs for raggedy? Do you think you'd get even a thousand signatures? 1%? 2%? Would the band find that persuasive? Should they?

Here's what you could get some signatures for: Replacing Unknown Caller with Bad every night. Replacing Boots with I Will Follow. Replacing No Line with Pride. Replacing Breath with Desire. Replacing MOS with 40. In other words, my bet is that the overwhelming majority would actually prefer that U2 embrace its inner Rolling Stones. They'd want more familiarity, not less. That's why I give the band enormous credit for challenging its audiences with seven new songs nearly every night (even when the audience has zero recognition), Your Blue Room, Ultraviolet (nearly extinguished), and Unforgettable Fire (nearly forgotten).

The 1-2% can wait for the full-immersion, in the round, U2 3-D virtual reality show...coming to a basement near you. It'll be a blast. Just you and your virtual pet.

Offline Dream Out Loud

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Re: An Open Letter to U2
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2009, 09:13:24 AM »
what I wouldn't give for U2 to play as many new songs as they want, play the few usual classics (Streets, One), and then have the ability to really shake it up:

Night 1:  Desire, Angel of Harlem, Stay and Unforgettable Fire make it into the set.
Night 2:  Wire, Drowning Man, Red Hill Mining Town and The Fly make it into the set.
Night 3:  Electric Co., 11 O'Clock Tick Tock, Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses and Electrical Storm make it into the set
Night 4:  A Sort of Homecoming, Acrobat, Kite, and Your Blue Room make it into the set
Night 5:  One Tree Hill, Like a Song, A Celebration, and Red Hill Mining Town make it into the set.

They don't lose the themes.  They don't lose the new music.  They don't lose the classics.  If the set is 23 songs, that's 5 or 6 from the new album, 12 "classics" they can keep and then 4 to really shake it up.  how wouldn't that satisfy EVERYONE?  i get that U2 thinks that they want to give everyone a great experience because this may be their only show of the tour.  But honestly, does that person NEED to hear Stuck and Stay and Your Blue Room and Elevation?  I love all those songs.  And I'd be happy to hear all 4 of those.  But you could swap those 4 for any of those 5 options above and I'd be equally happy.  and i'm sure most fans would as well. 

i think it's safe to say that u2 isn't able to play most of those above songs without some massive practice.  Enter obligatory Springsteen comparison here.


Achtung40Life

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Re: An Open Letter to U2
« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2009, 09:19:57 AM »
Bruce Springsteen doesn't play Thunder Road on a daily basis, hell, he barely plays any of his greatest hits and no one really seems to be greatly offended. Yeah, you walk away from the concert saying 'man I wished he played [this], or I wish he play [that].' But all in all, if the Boss still puts on a show with his all of his heart heart, it really doesn't matter what he plays. It's the energy, it's the feeling his songs give off. People need to stop acting like U2 are Gods and that us fans shouldn't share our opinions on what would be better off for them. U2 is flawed, plain and simple. I was in GA at Chicago 1, my first U2 concert ever, and there were literally moments during the show where I thought to myself 'this is boring, when is it going to end.' There's obviously a problem when I see my favorite band as a teenager for the first time and I'm waiting for it to end! The problem- The Sheffield broadcast was the SAME EXACT CONCERT, besides Bad. That is a major flaw in their live act, and being 4 intelligent gentlemen, it's not like remembering how to play 10-15 more  songs each leg will kill them. These are the guys that made Achtung Baby for Christ's sake, and you're telling me they are incapable of adding A Sort of Homecoming, Stories For Boys, Drowning Man, Heartland, Luminous Times, Wild Horses, Lemon, and If God Will Send His Angels. I understand U2 has never been a spontaneous live act, but there's no reason they can't change. Right now, next leg. I would, along with every U2 fan (whether they admit it or not), be greatly disappointed if the 3rd leg shares any resemblance to the first 2. They're my favorite band, but man oh man, we treat them like little kids sometimes.

Offline Dream Out Loud

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Re: An Open Letter to U2
« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2009, 10:09:38 AM »
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Bruce Springsteen doesn't play Thunder Road on a daily basis, hell, he barely plays any of his greatest hits and no one really seems to be greatly offended. Yeah, you walk away from the concert saying 'man I wished he played [this], or I wish he play [that].' But all in all, if the Boss still puts on a show with his all of his heart heart, it really doesn't matter what he plays. It's the energy, it's the feeling his songs give off. People need to stop acting like U2 are Gods and that us fans shouldn't share our opinions on what would be better off for them. U2 is flawed, plain and simple. I was in GA at Chicago 1, my first U2 concert ever, and there were literally moments during the show where I thought to myself 'this is boring, when is it going to end.' There's obviously a problem when I see my favorite band as a teenager for the first time and I'm waiting for it to end! The problem- The Sheffield broadcast was the SAME EXACT CONCERT, besides Bad. That is a major flaw in their live act, and being 4 intelligent gentlemen, it's not like remembering how to play 10-15 more  songs each leg will kill them. These are the guys that made Achtung Baby for Christ's sake, and you're telling me they are incapable of adding A Sort of Homecoming, Stories For Boys, Drowning Man, Heartland, Luminous Times, Wild Horses, Lemon, and If God Will Send His Angels. I understand U2 has never been a spontaneous live act, but there's no reason they can't change. Right now, next leg. I would, along with every U2 fan (whether they admit it or not), be greatly disappointed if the 3rd leg shares any resemblance to the first 2. They're my favorite band, but man oh man, we treat them like little kids sometimes.

I agree with most of what you said but not all.  (i certainly was never bored at the 2 shows i went to.)  Re: Springsteen...he does play Born to Run every show...that's his Where the Streets Have No Name.    What Bruce doesn't really do that U2 does is that he doesn't play much in the way of new music.  He will play a couple of things from the new album, and a couple of songs from The Rising, but everything else is basically BITUSA and before.  and even then only a couple from BITUSA.  The vast majority of his shows are more than 25 year old songs.  Where he "wins" is that he will play ANYTHING from those 1973-1985 albums...literally anything.  So, imagine U2 not really playing much after Achtung Baby except for Beautiful Day, Elevation and Vertigo.  but then imagine them playing every song from Boy through Achtung Baby over the span of a couple of tours.  That's Springsteen, for better or worse.

my suggestion in the earlier post is that there is a happy middle ground.  U2 does not have to abandon the classics, the new songs, or the themes.  and they can STILL generate spontaneity, originality, and surprise.

Offline Nlee

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Re: An Open Letter to U2
« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2009, 10:31:49 AM »
Bear in mind U2 are limited in spontaneity by the scope of their production. If Bono walks over to Larry halfway through the show and says, "c'mon start us up with I Threw A Brick, I'm feelin' it!" it's not really going to work.
The front of house engineer has a premixed preset for every song in the planned set, so it would throw him off balance
The click track the band listens to in their in-ears won't be set for the tempo of I Threw A Brick
The video screen won't be programmed for the song
Edge won't have his guitar of choice / effects for the song unless Mr. Schoo is really on the ball
Bono won't remember the lyrics

None of these would really stop them from playing it, but this is U2, and they are perfectionists to the extreme. I don't see them attempting a song without all their pre planned whizbangs to go along with it.

-Nick

Offline Vervefloyd

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Re: An Open Letter to U2
« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2009, 12:25:46 PM »
U2 is in now way limited to a static set list based on the overall production of the show.  Those limitations are imposed by the band themselves.  Landing a man on the moon is harder than expecting a light crew to know more than 30 songs yet that has been done.  My overall problem with U2 is this:  staying fresh and relevant does not mean playing 7 songs of a new album like many people say.  the only night of the show where that approach is fresh is night one.  It's U2's complete ignoring of their back catalog night after night.  These are songs they spent years writing (literally) and for the most part they don't exist after their album's tour.  sure they bring a couple rarities each tour, but after night one they are old hat.  there are no holy $%#@ moments at a U2 like Springsteen's Price You Pay opener in Phily the other night.  It's quite obvious to me that U2 does little or not work once the tour starts.  Instead of soundchecking something on the set list why not mess around with more songs.  sure they soundchecked mofo, but what told them no we can't play that.  would we fans be offended if mofo appeared in the set.  or the crappy excuse that drowning man doesnt fit in because of its emotion.  it amazing such an emotional song like that can never make a set list.

edge said everything was fair game.  am i wrong to assume that after listening to their back catalog U2 came to the conclusion that the songs are dated and don't work anymore?  bullet worked for so many years cause U2 re-did it tour after tour and made it sound brand new.  it just stuns me that bands, and not just U2, can spend time writing a song, playing it on it's tour and then never even trying it again.  would wire have been bad on the JT tour, hell no.  it was great to hear those boy songs on the last tour, why not try that with the october album.  U2 has earned the right to do what they want.  they sure have.  but they are also at a point in their career where they should not care whether people go to the bathroom during a song and realize that they need to play for themselves a little and that they alone make a song work.  i have seen U2 18 times and then nights they played best were always the nights where the crowd was a little weaker.  the best performance i have ever seen by the band was Please in 1997 at franklin field in philadelphia.  the entire floor near me was sitting in their seats near me and the band tour the damn song up.  it become my favorite song of theirs after that night.  i feel the reckless abandon is lost form the band and i believe the only way to get that back is to start playing different songs and teetering on the edge of a mistake.

over-rehearsing is great for a student trying to ace a test.  doctors needs to be over-rehearsed cause its life or death.  music is something that should be under-rehearsed cause thats when the rawness and true energy comes through.


Offline p8ru2

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Re: An Open Letter to U2
« Reply #14 on: October 30, 2009, 12:40:54 PM »
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Dear Benhur,

We've been at this for 30 years and have just played one of this biggest tours in the history of mankind. We do have a bit of a clue about what we are doing.

Sincerely,

Bono, Edge, Adam, & Larry

 ;D ;D ;D  Nothing more need to be said.