What Does U2 Mean Now?

The band that would become U2 first came together in a Dublin kitchen in September 1976. They’ve had a fantastic run over almost forty years. But what do they mean to music now? Grantland takes a look.

By the time I arrive for my interview backstage at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena, hours before the second show of a 70-date world tour that U2 launched there in the middle of May, one of the world’s most famous and tenured rock bands is the talk of all media. But it’s not for the state-of-the-art stage setup. Or the thematically ambitious structure of the set-list. Or any of the other talking points for the Innocence + Experience tour. Rather, it’s for this video of The Edge falling off the stage on opening night. As Bono joked at the next gig, U2’s laconic guitarist downloaded himself into the audience without permission, and tweeters around the world predictably went crazy.

I was at that fateful concert but somehow missed The Edge’s accidental contribution to the viral promotion of U2’s latest global conquest. It didn’t seem like the people around me noticed, either. The tumble occurred near the end of the night’s final song, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” as all four band members — Bono, The Edge, bassist Adam Clayton, and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. — walked from the main stage across a long platform that extends the length of the arena under two massive LED screens to the relatively intimate “B” stage. The Edge fell near where he was supposed to step off, so from a distance it appeared as if he exited of his own volition.1

I didn’t realize what had happened until the next day, when every person who knew I was in Vancouver messaged me to ask if I had seen The Edge get his comeuppance from that dastardly lowercase edge. A few days later, it was a joke on SNL’s “Weekend Update.” Given U2’s recent PR problems, it could have been worse: At least the public seemed to be laughing with them this time.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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