U2 VidWorks: A Celebration

After last week’s divergence due to the fan club gift announcement, we are back on schedule today with the third of U2’s promotional videos, the video for “A Celebration.” This video was, like the pair of videos that preceded it, directed Meiert Avis, and I think it shows definite improvement over the videos for “I Will Follow” and “Gloria.” There’s even a teeny-tiny bit of a concept at work here, and the performance footage of the band in the second half is spirited and exciting.

There is also a wonderful bit of footage of a horse galloping in perfect time with the music, bringing a wonderful visual comparison to the momentum and energy of U2’s song. The first half of the video is a little strange to me, as it shows the band, mostly Bono, just kind of hanging out in a prison. Bono is wearing some fantastically colored bright red trousers that make me smile every time.

There are also some rudimentary special effects, where a light-filled doorway deposits Adam and Larry onto the prison framework. The boys are clearly playing with the idea of “breaking out” or escaping, both in terms of their careers and in a more figurative sense from the shackles of modern society. The song talks about moving beyond the fears that plagued everyday life at the time, (and still persist today) and the video plays with that idea in a very literal sense.

It is the first time that a U2 video had a concept beyond just showing the band performing, and it actually works fairly well, in my opinion. The second half of the video, though…that’s where things really kick into high gear. If you have never seen the video for “A Celebration” you might read that the second half of the video mostly focuses on footage of the band performing the song and think that you’ve seen this kind of thing before. On one hand, you wouldn’t be wrong, but this performance is leaps and bounds ahead of what U2 and Mr. Avis had filmed before.

The visual aspect of U2’s performance is filled with youthful exuberance, passion, and spirit. Additionally, the band is starting to come together, to congeal, in a way that hadn’t been captured on film before. There are some nice moments of Bono leaning on Edge and one especially compelling bit where Bono turns his head to look away from the microphone, and he just looks super-cool, oozing charisma.

As I mentioned above, there are also some fitting shots of buildings crumbling to dust, a horse galloping, and a raging fire.

Overall, this video looks less scripted than those that came before it, and the band looks to be having fun, as opposed to being concerned with acting. It is a much looser, more natural view of four lads who would one day go on to become the world’s biggest band.

Here, for probably the first time in a music video, we start to see the elements that would propel them to those heights.

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Ever since I realized as a kid, while poring over the liner notes of the Bob Marley - Songs of Freedom boxed set, that writing about music was a viable career choice, one of my greatest desires has been to write about U2. The band has been a major part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I'm thrilled to have this opportunity to contribute a little something to the fantastic online community that's been built around the band.