U2 VidWorks – A Sort of Homecoming

This week’s topic is just a tad different from most of the videos that we have covered so far in this series. The video for “A Sort of Homecoming” is the first “live” promotional video that U2 had created up to this point in their career, and as such it has a different feel from the other videos that U2 had released. I say the word “live” in quotations because both the video material and the audio track are kind of misleading because neither was captured live in a single performance in front of an audience. The audio, taken from the Wide Awake in America EP, was recorded at a soundcheck with no audience and the cheers and other assorted live sounds were added later. The video material was from actual performance in front of an audience but was not taken from a single show. Rather, footage from several different concerts was used and cobbled together to get this video of the band performing. It has been said in the past that the band’s live concerts were ahead of where the band was as a record-selling act…that U2 was known for their live shows more than they were for their radio hits. That wouldn’t change until U2 released The Joshua Tree album in 1987. This video demonstrates why that was. There was a reason that U2’s live shows were so lauded that the band was selling out arenas in America before they ever had a number one hit in that country, and this video serves as a great exhibition of what fans could expect from a U2 concert if they were thinking of attending. Lots of energy, great passion, and a wonderfully charismatic front-man. That is not to say that the rest of the band members were lacking in charisma; they certainly were not, but the job of the front-man (or woman) is to garner attention, to keep the crowd looking at him (or her) and to be charming enough to keep the audience entertained at all times. Bono has that ability, that talent, in spades, and it was evident even in the band’s earliest gigs. Of course, he got better at those jobs with practice, and by 1985, when this video was released, he was an expert. The whole band was brilliant at bringing their songs to life in the live format.
The video for “A Sort of Homecoming” also shows some nice landmarks from the different cities that the tour had visited in Europe in 1984, and is a beautiful memento of that leg of The Unforgettable Fire tour as well as a compelling teaser of what was to come from the band’s live shows in the states in 1985. This is, in my opinion, probably the best video that the band had released up to this point in their career. It shows them doing what they do best, and it excites me as a U2 fan more than any of the videos that came before it. U2 has always been a fantastic live band, and nowhere is that more evident than in this promotional video for “A Sort of Homecoming.”

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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.

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