That rings true...
Some good discussions from everyone here and all opinions (nice ones) are good ones. I appreciate some fans may not have seen earlier tours and sure always good to see them live.
The thought I like to leave you all with is "Will SOE be their defining album? The one that topples ATB and JT in terms of commercial success? One hopes it is and that the time spent doing the JT 2017 tour isn't something that could have been used to make SOE even better.
What makes a great U2 album become one that we will cherish? Answer: Pressure, conflict and self-doubt.
If you think back they always delivered the goods when under pressure and challenged either by the critics or their own self doubt. The Joshua tree came out of them feeling they were not real musicians. Pre-JT, U2 were a raw energetic young band fighting to establish themselves on the World stage. They were big but not really as well known as other greats. They went away to discover harmonies, the blues...and wrote those songs you will hear again in a few months.
Then in the late 80s, the critics tore them apart for Rattle and Hum. They were made out to be the boring clean cut band trying to save the world. Self righteous, etc. The result...a time of confusion and self-doubt at the end of the 80s. They went away and through probably one of their most challenging periods gave birth to Achtung Baby ushering in a new era of irony and Rock and Roll. Underneath all that glamour, it was U2 having the last laugh because their passion for their personal causes remained strong. It just found a new vehicle in which to reach out and make a difference.
Roll forward to ATYCLB - they felt like giants of the past. Confined to the stadiums. What did they do? Small arena gigs to "reclaim their fans". Striped down music, no efforts just the guys on stage reconnecting with their fans and picking up new ones. Again a successful album and tour because there was a purpose behind what they set out to achieve. It was strong enough for them to stay on course.
And now 2011+, I see a lack of direction and purpose. SOI and SOE?..no just SOI and then we will do SOE a year later because most of the songs are ready. Then no, we are going away to do some writing because we've had a creative spurt...Then yes dust off the Joshua Tree because it is relevant again.... As someone above said, they can do what they want. That's true. But this is U2 and we know they have a connection with their fans to release great music. They don't want to be a heritage act (not just yet!). They want to be creative and push the envelope as far as it can go...and push it even further... That, for U2 means there needs to be inherent challenges and outside forces to drive them to greatness. They need to be pushed into a corner like a boxer. Against the ropes, trying to find a way out. If that happens, we just might have something much bigger than the sum of its parts. Bigger than U2 itself.... We have seen them do that in the past. I want to see it in the future.
I see the JT 2017 tour as a distraction for them. Something we often do when we don't want to face what we should really be doing.
SOE will be good. I don't doubt that. I am just not sure(at this stage) if it will be epic... well let's hope it is...
Good night and see you in London on the 8th.
Phone is ringing..Looks like Bono telling me to stop my nagging as he has a plan up his sleeve...