U2 IN EDMONTON: Where the streets literally have no name

It’s a beautiful day in Edmonton when love comes to town, where anticipation wasn’t better than the real thing – in a place where the streets literally have no name. Just ask the people walking down 82nd Avenue, or “Whyte,” as some folks insist on calling it. Perhaps Bono and the Edge and the Other Guys were there, shopping for tea and guitar strings and signing autographs for homeless people. They played last night at the Commonwealth Stadium.

U2, not the homeless. Read some fan reviews here.

Who are these guys and why were they so great? Are they still? Let history show. Applying scientific method to rock ‘n’ roll is ridiculous – but fun! See if you can spot any hidden correlations in the following U2 historical timeline:

1976: U2 forms in Dublin, Ireland. Singer Paul David Hewson adopts nickname “Bono,” and later, a mullet.

1980: Boy is released. U2’s coming-of-age album yields the hit “I Will Follow.” It is not meant to be ironic.

1983: War is U2’s first “political” album and the first dash of greatness. The Unforgettable Fire (1984) is the first misstep.

1985: Live Aid. U2’s performance at Wembley stadium prompts Rolling Stone to declare U2 “The band of the decade.” Bono begins his activist career in earnest.

1987: The Joshua Tree is a huge commercial and critical success. Bono is almost charged for spray painting the words “rock ‘n’ roll stops the traffic” on a public fountain in San Francisco. The tour starts in Arizona – with a statement from the band condemning Arizona Governor Evan Mecham’s decision to cancel the state holiday on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. The rescission is eventually rescinded.

1988: At the Grammys, where the Joshua Tree wins album of the year, Bono declares at a press conference, “We’re slipstream, not mainstream.”

1991: Achtung Baby is another massive success.

1993: Zooropa is not. On tour in the Netherlands, Bono calls Dutch right wing politician Hans Janmaat in the middle of a show to sing “I just called to say I love you” into his answering machine in front of 50,000 fans. The Independent (UK) blasts the tour: “The posturing, the self-aggrandising gestures, the parading of conscience, everything that is dubious about rock music rears up in the current U2 show – offered ironically, we are told, but the question is: how can we be sure?”

1994: At the Grammys, Bono says, “We will continue to abuse our position and fuck up the mainstream!” It’s not the first or last time he drops the f-bomb on TV.

1997-1999: “Pop” amps up the irony as an album of pop music that parodies pop music. Band plays a show in war-torn Sarajevo, appears on the Simpsons, works with Salman Rushdie, records benefit song “New Day” to benefit Net Aid and the Wyclef Jean Foundation. Bono calls the Pope “the best frontman the Catholic church ever had … a great showman, the first funky pontiff.”

2000-2003: On African aid, Bono meets with Jesse Helms, Orrin Hatch, Desmund Tutu, Nelson Mandela and, eventually, US president George W. Bush. Of the latter, Bono says, “I’d have lunch with Satan if there was so much at stake.” All That You Can’t Leave Behind comes out, meanwhile, described by the great Toronto Sun critic John Sakamoto as “the sound of a band that has lost its nerve.”

2004-2008: Live 8 and a big few years for Bono: Meets with lots of world leaders, Time magazine Person of the Year, Nobel Peace prize nomination, raises $50 million to fight AIDS in Africa, considered for job as president of the World Bank, meets with Al Gore, appears on Oprah, on American Idol, is knighted. He can’t call himself “Sir Bono” because he’s Irish. How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb receives mixed reviews.

2009: Reviews were likewise lukewarm for No Line on the Horizon, which debuts at No. 1 around the world before slipping quickly off the charts. Bono starts writing for the New York Times. A New York street is named in U2’s honour as he and the Edge put the finishing touches on their new project: the Broadway rock musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.

2010: The musical runs into various problems, while Bono suffers a back injury that puts U2’s massive 360* tour on hold.

2011: The New York Times, which had given U2 so many glowing reviews over the years, trashes Spider-Man: “It’s not only the most expensive musical ever to hit Broadway; it may also rank among the worst.” On Nightline recently, Bono responds, “We don’t disagree with the New York Times.” The 360* Tour, meanwhile, is ON!


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