Saturday, May 28, 2016

from the archives: U2 3D

(It's always fun hanging out with local cinephiles. Along with the great company and conversation there's usually at least one epiphany of a shared affinity, and it's usually for something one would never expect. So quite a delight to chat today with Brian Darr, the proprietor of the indispensable Hell on Frisco Bay, and discover that he was as fond of U2 3D as I was. This never-since-re-screened concert film is a pretty terrific experience - as Brian later reported on Twitter, "I'm really not much of a fan of the band. But that movie made me one for 2 hours." I dug thru my pre-HOS blog over on LiveJournal (IT STILL LIVES) and unearthed my own comments on the movie, which I pasted, unedited, below.)

So there's a heroic moment (in this huge movie that's full of them) in which the band perform "Miss Sarajevo", a lovely cut (and really the only saleable single) from their PASSENGERS album with Brian Eno. As performed by the band in the film, the song loses none of its power - its quest for even a single moment of innocence and hope in a war-torn world remains as potent as ever, even as the strife in Sarajevo has faded into history.

But there's a bit about two-thirds through the song on the album, which has been all about build, where it really takes flight, where it breaks with tentativity and ambiguity and finally embraces the light and joy that the rest of the song has so desperately sought. At this point guest vocalist Luciano Pavarotti takes over the vocal from Bono and just sends the whole track soaring, and the listener with it.

So in the film we're getting to this point, and it's still just the four members of the band at this point. Bono's vocal line continues to the bridge, and I'm wondering if some guest vocalist is going to pop in to hit Pavarotti's part...

...and Bono crouches down, his body language more modest than we're used to from him but still declaring, unambiguously, I fucking have this, and he launches right into the Pavarotti line without missing a beat. The performance of "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own" earlier in the set offered a potent reminder that Bono's the descendant of tenors, and here in "Miss Sarajevo" he takes his place in the lineage carved by his father, filling the role of Pavarotti, giving voice to a dream of the world, and knocking the song out of the arena.

(George Michael covered "Miss Sarajevo" on his album SONGS FROM THE LAST CENTURY. Despite the fact that the song needs something at the Pavarotti bridge, Michael just simply stopped singing, and left that crucial moment as an instrumental bridge. You know what, fuck George Michael.)

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