Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Awesome

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  • rodgerd,

    U2 only have one good song? I don't much like U2, and I'd cheerfully argue that. Sunday Bloody Sunday, for starters (written, one notes, at a time when it was decidedly not the done thing for Irish artists to be putting too much energy into suggesting that the Glorious Struggle wasn't that flash).

    The thing I find interesting that no-one seems to mention is how much of what's emerged as being supported by facts were things Trevor Mallard alluded to before, during, and after the election (dodgy US nutters advising Don, money from abroad, the affair, and so on). Has Mallard got unusually good sources, or was this stuff common knowledge and Mallard the only one with a big enough mouth to blab about it?

    And if it was common knowledge down the Beehive end of town, what the fuck are the Gallery reporters doing? Oh, that's right, in the words of NatRad's chief political reporter, they think Don Brash is too nice a chap to report negative stories about him.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 512 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    Now, it wasn't just me who thought that ref was not up to it, was it? Or the linesmen, either. There was one point where a Welsh player running up the sideline clearly put his foot into touch, and the linesman (who was right there) was watching the oncoming tackle and missed it. I don't suppose we can expect them to be perfect but, christ! even Paul Honiss would have picked that!

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2934 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    U2 only have one good song?

    I said one great song, but I'm open to argument. The point was more how much, as a non-fan, I was completely won over by what they did.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Grant Robertson,

    Carl Hayman was in the first three All Blacks to the breakdown more than any other player - yes, even Richie. The big guy is a champ.

    there was even a moment in the game when Nisbett or Mexted actually mistook Hayman for McCaw at the breakdown. I nearly cried with happiness for the big fella.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 25 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    there was even a moment in the game when Nisbett or Mexted actually mistook Hayman for McCaw at the breakdown. I nearly cried with happiness for the big fella.

    That turnover was a simply tremendous piece of play, showing strength, speed and awareness. And it led to a try.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington,

    U2? Jeez Russ what's next, expounding on the technically brilliant guitar playing of Mark Knopfler? Rating which Pink Floyd albums sound best on your new SACD player?

    It's like punk rock never happened...

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 949 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Dubber,

    Thanks for this Russell. I am a U2 fan. I hate that I am a U2 fan, but there you go. An accident of time and place, friends and influences that left me with a crucial chink in my otherwise tasteful and widely variegated musical persona.

    U2 for me were the early days of Radio with Pictures -- the video for 'A Celebration' was shown on the first episode I ever saw (an Ireland-only single that came out between Boy and October). Later, the band I ended up in did a cover version of that song -- and it was quite a bit less dreadful than some of our others.

    Perhaps most importantly, U2 made it finally okay to be a pointy-headed Eno fan at the age of 16 in 1984 with the release of The Unforgettable Fire -- and gave me my first real taste of postmodernism with Zooropa.

    I was also at the Zoo TV concert in 1993. I didn't get to see much of it, but I was really excited that they included the Disposable Heroes' 'Television' intro that I'd seen on TV with the cut-up video of George Bush (the earlier, cuter one).

    It happened to be my son's first birthday, but -- partly because we really needed the money and partly because it was U2 -- I ended up driving for the concert promoters that night. As a result, I ended up backstage for most of it -- and I ended up working much longer hours than I'd anticipated.

    Otis Frizell was the actual official band driver, if I remember correctly -- but as I was dropping some of the crew members off at the Hyatt, out spilled Bono, Larry and Adam with their tour manager and a woman they'd met at a Ponsonby cafe earlier in the day. My van was commandeered and off we went.

    A quick stop into Mikey's Squid Bar, and a stroll down Vulcan Lane, stopping in at Rupin for a coffee and a bite to eat (man, I miss that place and its wonderful staff) then we dropped Larry and Adam back at the hotel before taking off to see the sun come up over One Tree Hill.

    Yep - I saw the sun come up over One Tree Hill with Bono.

    Finally, after what I thought had been enough of a religious experience for one evening, at Bono's request we found an early morning Sunday service. I took us to St Matthew-in-the-City because despite having a part time gig as a driver, my street geography wasn't very good, and it was the only church I was reasonably sure I could get to without all the embarrassing detours that been such a major theme throughout the night.

    It turned out to be a good move, and Bono was suitably impressed - as were the handful of other worshippers, bemused at the celebrity within their midst.

    Finally, as the full light of day was upon us, I drove back to the hotel and signed off for the night. Not even so much as a cameraphone to record the event.

    Aucklanders, I have to say, made me proud. As Bono and crew walked the late night streets of the city, at what seemed at the time the height of their influence, not a single person was unpleasant, gushy or graspy. We had a lot of thumbs up and 'cher for the concert, mate - that was sweet' in passing -- and one young woman was moved to give the singer her copy of the then new Strawpeople album, but for the most part Aucklanders seemed to react to fame with a polite 'very happy you're here' vibe.

    So - I'm glad you enjoyed the concert. I have a soft spot for that band even though I haven't deliberately listened to a single track of theirs in quite some time.

    I tell you what though - the moment Bono dies, there'll be an autographed backstage pass from Auckland 1993 up on eBay. Till then, it hangs proudly in my office waiting for the moment an unsuspecting student innocently asks 'What's that?' -- and then I get a chance to tell my story again.



    Ume√•, Sweden • Since Nov 2006 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    U2? Jeez Russ what's next, expounding on the technically brilliant guitar playing of Mark Knopfler? Rating which Pink Floyd albums sound best on your new SACD player?

    It's like punk rock never happened...

    I know, I know ... but it was a grand act of communication. I did think at times that it would have been fun to have a few more doubting thomases to hand to check their reaction. Like Paul Litterick for when it got a bit churchy ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Now, it wasn't just me who thought that ref was not up to it, was it? Or the linesmen, either. There was one point where a Welsh player running up the sideline clearly put his foot into touch, and the linesman (who was right there) was watching the oncoming tackle and missed it. I don't suppose we can expect them to be perfect but, chirst! even Paul Honiss would have picked that!

    Seriously, having watched the league test on Saturday evening, very little that happened in the rugby test could have left me disappointed with the quality of refereeing.

    I think a couple of times the guy refereeing the league game penalised players for 'making good tackles'. He wasn't biased, but to quote Tana Umaga... "it's not tiddly-winks!". For the biggest international of the year too.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    U2 are in fact post-punk. They started in the early 80's and were actually credible for quite a time. I saw them at Lansdowne Rd (in Dublin) for the Zoo TV tour in about '93 - they were pretty good then and one of the first bands to put on a proper show in a stadium (as opposed to being tiny figures on a distant stage).

    I do notice that there is a definite disconnect between Russell's experience and Graham Reid's (the latter I'm guessing as a paying punter).

    The problems Graham notes with stadium gigs in NZ aren't likely to go away with any new national stadium (does anyone realise that once the naming rights have been sold it'll be the Emirates Stadium or the Halliburton Bowl?)

    - The queues to get in are intrinsic to having tens of thousands of people arrive for a fixed time.

    - The stadium promoter has a monopoly on everything to do with the event - and monopolies have zero interest in improving the customer experience. Hence they employ the minimum of serving and gate staff, sell one kind of beer they can get a discount on, make sure the bar areas have less atmosphere than the moon, etc..

    - The NZ liquor laws contribute to the whole 1970s eastern european style at large events. Limiting booze to a drinkers "leper colony"; making everyone queue and show ID to get into said area; selling the special Eden Park low alchohol brew; etc. Incidently sporting events seem to get a lot more slack than music gigs - they can sell booze at matches without making the whole area R18.

    (Pirongia Races seem to get away with all of this - booze allowed anywhere; BYO and bar sales both permitted; no repression of public drunkenness. Maybe they could cut the new / revamped stadium similar slack).

    Incidentally, does anyone have any idea on how the viaduct style bar & restaurant precinct we're promised for the new stadium environs would work on match days? Will the bars be shuttered completely, or will they switch to offering high speed fillups at half time?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • rodgerd,

    Incidentally, on the spin front, Michael Basset was on NatRad this morning claiming Hager forged his evidence, although he declined to identify which evidence was forged. That could get... interesting.

    (As is the way so many Nation-defending bloggers are on-message with that spin, eh, Craig. NZ politics gets more depressingly like the States every day...)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 512 posts Report Reply

  • Rogan Polkinghorne,

    I'm so very glad everyone (except maybe Graeme) had such a lovely time at U2.

    Personally, I would rather set myself on fire and throw myself in front of a train than sit through one of their concerts (I come out in a horrible rash when exposed to anything Bono-related; I mean, flying into soundcheck in a helicopter? Get your hand off it mate!).

    I'm just wondering...with the concerts finally over, does that mean the rest of us non-U2 fans will stop having to endure the non-stop babble about how 'amazing' this rather bland band is?

    A-town • Since Nov 2006 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi,

    The funny thing about concerts is that they do tend to make a believer out of you. Maybe it's just that so much of our perceptions of musicians nowadays have little or nothing to do with their music, and so much about everything else.

    I remember a truly glorious experience seeing the Smashing Pumpkins play at the Supertop in '97 (IIRC) and going from an interested observer to an obsessive fan over the course of the night. Simply being in that sweaty, rapturous crowd was a wonderful introduction, and the band were (at that stage) still tight, lean and hungry-the light show was straight out of 1970, but it didn't make it any less enjoyable.

    A similar experience was (stretching back a bit) John Farnham of all people, playing in a sheep paddock at the Hastings Showgrounds in the late 80's. (His parents lived in Havelock North, so it was a bit of a lark for the Blond Mullet, I think.) The entire town turned out, laying blankets out over the sheep poo, reinforcing the idea that it was The Concert of the Century (remember, Farnsey was a superstar here for a while.) I memorised the words to "You're The Voice" that night, and would get a little bit choked up every time I heard it for years afterwards.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    See, now that's odd, I was at that same Pumpkins gig (IIRC it was a few years earlier than '97), and, while I really enjoyed it, I was more affected by having Mellon Collie on high-rotate on my cd player.
    Tool at the North Shore events centre was a different story though, I had enjoyed the albums previously, but watching them on stage, esp the drumming & guitar kicked my appreciation up to a new level, and the buzz of being in the midst of a crowd truly going off was the icing on the cake.

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    No comment on the Farnham thing though... ;-)

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Lloyd McDonald,

    Excellent review Russell. I am a fan and had seen them the week before in Sydney at Telstra Stadium. The Auckland concert was far superior. In this case the smaller stadium worked a treat and the crowd involvement was far more intense. A brilliant show, you need to see them twice to see the care, imagination and total respect they have for their audience. Finishing with One Tree Hill on Saturday night was a treat worth the trip alone.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi,

    No comment on the Farnham thing though... ;-)

    Good call. I was devastated to learn I didn't have the necessary neck hair to grow a decent mullet, so it's still a bit of a sore point for me.

    Ah, the tribulations of being twelve...

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    I've never been anything even close to being a U2 fan, but I appreciate Russell's account of the performance and technology (geek!) at the concert.

    The sea of cellphones sounds like a slightly more modern of Robbie Williams' sea of camera flashes at his Knebworth concerts. Either would be brilliant (in more ways than one) to take part in and to witness.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington,

    I'm not sure what message they're so grandly communicating though Russ. It's all just Nike adverts to me.

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 949 posts Report Reply

  • JP Hansen,

    ; I mean, flying into soundcheck in a helicopter? Get your hand off it mate!

    Well, if you're staying on some private island in Mercury Bay off the coromandel peninsula and taking in some of the local ambience, I dare say that a chopper will get you to the soundcheck faster than either a Richies coach or a Fullers Ferry...

    Waitakere • Since Nov 2006 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Hi Dubber, I remember that story of yours from back in the day, it was the stuff of legend, and rightly so. Whilst I'm not a fan as such (I'm with Russell..they have one or two great songs but, hey, they ain't The Clash ;)) I was mightily impressed.

    I was lucky in that I got to spend the 1989 gig backstage (through a variety of connections and met and hung out with BB King (and the hookers he was playing poker with)) and then stood on the side stage as U2 played. That I was allowed to surprised me, but there seemed to be no problem as long as I kept out of the way...it was a huge stage. As I said, not a fan, and I've stood side stage on more than a few occasions with other acts, but the electricity and tension between the four of them was incredible and I think it was that cohesiveness, and the unity of the fact that each one of them is on that stage as a 1/4 of the whole, that gave them the power. Like, I said, not a fan, but I still rate them as one of the great rock'n'roll bands of all time.

    The Edge presented Joel Haines with a signed guitar...Joel ran off and got BB King to sign it, which he did. Quite a score for an 18 year old guitarist.

    They hired out my club in 93 for their party, via my buddy Doug Hood, who was the promoter. Bono then told Paul Oakenfold he had to play a public gig in the Box (which he did for $250, and told Urb magazine later it was the highlight of the world tour). Cause Celebre was private, with fairly tough security from their own ex-SAS guy. It was very hard to get in and only with the OK of the band, Paul McGuiness, Doug Hood or myself (we were asked to provide an invite list and had to explain to McGuniness who each one was) and there was quite a stream of "celebs" turned away. I was amused when the MD of PolyGram, their record company turned up with entourage and The Edge told the security to tell him to get lost. They were giggling about it like schoolkids....

    Of course, the fact that Big Audio Dynamite's Mick Jones was wandering around the club meant as much to me...a member of The Clash on our dancefloor was about as cool as it got....a friend of mine over from London was beside himself.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Tomorrowpeople,

    I don't mind U2, well I didn't until their last few crap
    'Nickleback-meets-Robbie Williams' albums....

    My favourite U2 album is Zooropa which most U2 fans and zealots write-off as 'U2 losing their way' etc etc.
    I guess they can't deal with anything that doesn't have 'three chords and the truth'.

    I also liked the Unforgettable fire and parts of the Joshua Tree.
    'B.A.D.' is a nice wee song.
    Bits of Atchung Baby are OK.

    I saw the 93 Zooropa show in AK (remember U2 chosing the 3Ds as the support act?'.
    I thought it was a great show.

    So, while I don't give a toss about the new stuff I would have liked to have seen the gig - U2 tend to do a good show.
    They've had 30 years of practice - lol

    The Craps tables at the B… • Since Nov 2006 • 188 posts Report Reply

  • webweaver,

    Now that's the sign of a great review, Russell - to make those of us who weren't there wish we had been!

    I saw U2 a couple of times in the early 80s, quite a long time before they became a fully-fledged stadium band, and they were pretty good gigs. The overriding impression I came away with was how Bono truly owned that stage from the moment he walked on until the final chords of the final song.

    Both times Bono pulled someone out of the audience to be with them on stage for a song - one time a girl carrying a flag - which he wrapped around both himself and the girl as he sang. The second time it was a guy who knew all the words to whatever song they were singing (I think it was In the name of love) and I seem to remember the guy got to sing with the band and maybe even played a bit of guitar with them.

    Sounds pretty cheesy, bringing fans up on stage, but even the second time, when I knew it was going to happen, they did it with such grace and charm that it felt as fresh as if it were the first time it had ever been done - and I'm sure those two people will remember it for the rest of their lives. Awwww!

    It didn't even occur to me to go and see them this time - I'm not a great fan of stadium gigs I suppose - but I think I'm regretting it a bit now....

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 332 posts Report Reply

  • Tomorrowpeople,

    Speaking of chciks being pulled up on stage...

    One of the Sunday rags featured a large spread on a chick who was 'pulled' from the audience to be on stage with Bono.

    Now, this chicky-babe was blonde and good looking, not to mention very well made up and photogenic.
    Hardly the sort of picture you get of someone after they have been in the U2 mosh pit or called up and photographed by a newspaper photo hack just hours after the show.

    It reeks of a 'set-up' to me.
    Just like the chick Robbie Williams 'pullled out of the crowd' at Western Springs (which was pre-rigged).

    Add to this the fact that "Bono and I were both wearing the same wrist bands for Make Poverty History"... blah blah blah....
    Sounds like something that Pead PR would set up.
    Did the chick say "Bono, you are starkish!" when she was on stage?

    Hmmmm - time for a Hager exposé me thinks!

    The Craps tables at the B… • Since Nov 2006 • 188 posts Report Reply

  • James Littlewood,

    Showing the age: I caught U2 at the Logan Concrete Bunker in 1984. Four Irish guys rocking out on stage with nothing but a PA and a few parcans.

    I remember 3 things. They wore black jeans, and still do. Bono's sole fell off his boot, and he needed a roadie to gaffer it back together in the middle of "I will follow". And the show ended with the audience singing along with the chorus "Hhhooowww lllooonngg, sssinng thiiis soooong". One by one the the musos all left the stage, leaving the audience looking pretty bloody stupid singing afore said chorus.

    Put me off them for life, that did. Still, sounded like they redeemed themselves at Mt Smart.

    Relating this to a 20something colleague she was appropriately impressed that I could stand just 2m away from bono hisself. What I wonder now is: if U2 are the new Stones, who will be the next U2? Franz Ferdinand? Arctic Monkeys? Or some yankee emo croud?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 7 posts Report Reply

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