I have a pretty clear memory of the first time I viewed the Pop*Mart Live From Mexico concert on VHS, particularly the part right before “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”. Bono was thanking the audience for sticking with the band, talking about their motivations for making an album like Pop (which I don’t really think of as a failure, although many would have argued the point at the time) and then following that record up with the audacious Pop*Mart Tour, the first shows of which were genuinely a mess. During his speech to the audience, Bono made the point that many of the things that they were being criticized for were muses that they had followed simply because it was what interested them at the time. I’ve always loved U2 for that – instead of churning out album after album of easily digestible pap, U2 have often gone against what was popular at the time to make music that they believed in. This goes for all of the band’s most maligned releases, from October to Rattle and Hum, Pop and right through to No Line on the Horizon. Even when it wasn’t good, it was at least real. As for the debacle of the early Pop*Mart shows, that just goes to show that the guys really are human. It’s good to know that even the biggest band in the world can screw up sometimes. It makes them all that much more relatable, which serves to make it that much more powerful when they do triumph, which is what happens 90% of the time, anyway.
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