U2 and Pre recorded parts/augmentation

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an tha

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U2 and Pre recorded parts/augmentation
« on: June 26, 2020, 11:20:33 PM »
OK, so this has been on my mind a lot recently and I have brought it up in a few different threads.

My view is u2's use of pre recorded parts/loops etc has got too much now....it has been building steadily for a long time, but has increased IMO to the point where their live performances come across as just not authentic now.

I decided to have a look online to see if could find any discussions about it where maybe i could find discussions where people more articulate than me had discussed it and i found a fair bit....

Here are some of the more interesting posts i found online about the subject:

Im new and seeing u2 at wembley last night attracted me to this thread- wanting to discuss it. I like that this has been discussed in a constructive way, so I thought Id join in.

So yes the new show is no doubt a spectacle, but the 'computer behind a curtain' providing the backing track is too much. What worries me is its not just providing backing for musical instruments that arent there but also a (lower frequency) guide vocal for Bono- this was obvious when he mis cued his lines or wasnt spot on.
Having seen them a few times over the last few years I can say the show is polished to the point of watching a 'music video' live and they are certainly not the same 'live' band the were years ago.

That said, the show was fun and I was entertained, just too polished and homogenised for my taste as a live music lover though.

On this note, I know one of the guys in the Arcade Fire, who supported u2 a couple of years ago in Canada. He told me that they noticed that not only did u2 play to heavy backing tracks and vocal trickery but played everything 'to click'.

When the two bands covered 'love will tear us apart' together, Bono refused to do it unless they had a click track. When Arcade Fire said 'Hey, dont worry, we're playing live, we'll be fine, who cares if we make a couple of mistakes and f*ck it up a bit- it will be more fun that way!'. Bono refused to play it live, as is, so they did it with the click track.
Anyway I only bring this up because when I was told about it, the arcade fire guys were shocked that a band as seemingly confident as U2 had been using 'live aids' for so long that they were almost too nervous or insecure to go out and play live 'naturally' without them.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2020, 09:32:09 AM by an tha »

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an tha

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Re: U2 and Pre recorded parts/augmentation
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2020, 11:25:46 PM »
More comments: All these are comments i found online...they are NOT my comments!

click tracks are a normality for U2. That doesnt worry me too much though. Agree with you on all other points though. Magnificent is a shambles.


just seems that theyd rather sound like they do on the record over being able to replicate that sound live (proper live).

Bothers me this tour for some reason. Too much reliance on the backing tracks for me


Is that thing during Gone real or tracked? Cause it sounds tracked but you see Edge playing his guitar

Tracked again, Edge doesn't play anything until the chords come in.

wait, so Edge doesn't play the awesome harmonics-type-thing during the intro live?

wow, that's quite a letdown.



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an tha

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Re: U2 and Pre recorded parts/augmentation
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2020, 11:34:14 PM »
More comments i found...

Again NOT mine!

Watching the Good Morning America performance of Get On Your Boots shows how far removed from "live" rock and roll U2 has come. Larry standing up and hitting a snare drum once every 4 beats while the drum loop booms over the PA is miserable, as is his bongos during the verses.



If they are going to have parts they can not play themselves use touring musicians. No shame in that at all!
Of course some parts like the loop on Bad has to be taped. But many parts could be played by a musician instead of the cue track.

The big problem i have with the cue track it that it kills all opportunity of improvisation. Time and time again i have heard Larry end a song at a point where Bono or Edge are just getting into it. A live band can feel when a guy like Bono hits a spot of inspiration and will keep the song going until Bono is ready to end. A cue track will just kill the song where it is programmed too. Actually in my oppinion, their tendency to kill every song just at it hits is hit point is the largest flaw in U2s live performances.

Another problem is in the case of a screwup. I just saw the Brazil Pop-Mart concert. In One Bono misses his cue and goes on a small speech before starting the to sing. The problem is that he is now out of sync with the tape and has to go to the chorus after only half a verse! Very silly and would never have been a problem with a live band.


So in my opinion, use loops and tracks where those are necesary. Use live musicians for stuff that can be played live. And please, please extend the coda on your songs.

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an tha

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Re: U2 and Pre recorded parts/augmentation
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2020, 11:37:20 PM »
One more....again NOT my words...

It has always made me a little sad that EDGE is not totally in charge of his sound. Not using pedals himself, to be able to walk around is kind of lazy from a musicianship standpoint. It is almost a "lip synching" guitar,trading sound for image is a faux pas. Let Bono run around the stage, that is his job. Guitarists should do their job PLAY GUITAR!! (pedals included)
I'm not trying to rip Edge, but let's think about this. Edge is considered one of the best by many critics. Do you really think some of the best ever like Page,Hendrix,Gilmore,Anastasio,Clapton,Houser
the list goes on and on obviously, would ever consider a guitar tech having control over their live guitar? Absolutely not!! Using the pedals is as much a part of the guitar as the strings.
So in conclusion, and I have always thought this, U2 are great perfomers, but are average musicians or have become starstrucken lazy. When U2 is live, is it really live at all? I know I will get flamed for this, but please think about this before totally ripping me... Thanks for your time...


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an tha

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Re: U2 and Pre recorded parts/augmentation
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2020, 11:38:55 PM »
And last one for now....NOT my words...

Walk On is a pretty good example of what you are talking about. Nobody plays the main riff in the song. It's definitely a loop. Edge played the riff on Tribute to Heros but not at all on the Elevation Tour. He just plays mostly chords. There is also a keyboard as a backing track in that song which starts at "Walk on...you gotta leave it behind..." What may sound like an extra instrument is really just a sample and not a ghost player. In the links below it is said that Des triggers samples from his keyboards.



Yeah, Bono does play over the main riff but the main riff you hear is not Bono's playing, its a loop. I watched what Bono was playing and I saw him miss the riff and at some points stop playing over the riff completely but alas, the main riff continued even when he was not playing!


So thoughts....?????
« Last Edit: June 26, 2020, 11:40:54 PM by an tha »

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WookieeWarrior

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Re: U2 and Pre recorded parts/augmentation
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2020, 11:50:49 PM »
My view:

There's no way U2 should be charging as much as it does when each song is so extensively sculpted with backing tracks. For a song with multiple guitar parts or heavy looping, like something from Pop, it makes sense, but the band's recent, simpler material should be performed by just the four of them. These anecdotes are worse than I imagined, and if true, they suggest U2's insecurity runs deeper than the throwaway comments that I and others around here make let on.

Album arrangements of SOI and SOE tracks are "full", but they still aim to sound more raw than they are. It's not like on Pop where certain songs were, overtly, big productions that would clearly falter in a live setting without the help of backup musicians or recordings. Song For Someone doesn't need anything more than a guitar, a voice, a bass, and drums.

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So Cruel

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Re: U2 and Pre recorded parts/augmentation
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2020, 12:25:03 AM »
For me itís been about 15 years since U2 have been a really good live band. From the late 80ís through the Elevation tour they had walked the line using technology but for me never jumped over. You listen to bootlegs from the 80ís and 90ís while they used technology there was definitely room to improvise or to take a song to a special place. That hasnít been there since the 360 tour. Itís all programmed now. Itís also lazy. They follow the keys, donít sway from the script, and for me the shows have become very uninspired.
Definitive U2 Top 10: 1. One, 2. Bad, 3. With Or Without You, 4. Running to Stand Still, 5. So Cruel, 6. Ultraviolet, 7. I Still Havenít Found What Iím Looking For, 8. Hawkmoon 269, 9. Red Hill Mining Town, 10. Luminous Times

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Layton

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Re: U2 and Pre recorded parts/augmentation
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2020, 02:11:42 AM »
For the record, I haven't been to a U2 show since 2001. So maybe I'm not the best to comment here, but why let that stop me  :). I think in some ways they've become illusionists on recent tours. They've had big stories to tell and I'm guessing that they view the augmentation/illusion as the best way to drive the show creatively.

I'm not as much of a live music purist as many others are and also view illusion as a very viable creative outlet in and of itself. So, I'm not as bothered by all of this. These songs sprung from their imagination. If they'd rather 'perform' them with pre-recorded stuff from whenever, rather than cobbling things together in the moment on stage then I guess I'm forced to evaluate the creative merits of what they're doing through that lens.

As for whether they're capable of doing it the more 'live' way, I have to think they would be if they put they're mind to it, but the only way it will happen is if they downsize their imagination on future albums. I really think they see some of that purist stuff as a mental shackle. This band can't exist if they were to feel limited in letting their mind fly free.

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Neil Young

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Re: U2 and Pre recorded parts/augmentation
« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2020, 03:34:38 AM »
It does bother me quite a bit.

I can be understanding to a point. They have no one to play the filler or looped keyboards like on Bad and Streets, Bono canít play anymore on songs with two guitar parts like Walk on and Gone. Etc.

But they have gone too far and need to strip things back in my opinion. I would much rather see stripped down live versions than attempts at a perfect replica of the studio version. This used to be U2ís strength, building from their weakness as musicians. It used to add a certain kind of nerve to the performance, and opportunity for improvisation, even if it was just a longer outro or coda like for Bad.


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Soloyan

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Re: U2 and Pre recorded parts/augmentation
« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2020, 07:03:45 AM »
I think... itís one of the things that are slowly but surely killing the band.

I think a loop is fine. I think songs with keyboards like Streets would require an additional musician rather than a backing track, it would allow much more freedom for the band. Much more ę flow Ľ.

Songs like beautiful day and city of blinding lights have no interest at all since they sound exactly like the studio version.

What is bloody scary is listening to the earpiece. The things band members hear when theyíre on stage. Bono has a click track + backing track + band members + additional piano so that he stays on tune + vocal instructions so that he knows where he is (verse / chorus / break). It just kills ALL spontaneity. And if live music isnít about spontaneity, then I donít know what it is.

The story with Arcade Fire / Love will tear us apart and the way Bono needs a click track is one of the saddest things Iíve ever heard. But Iím not surprised at all.
A dangerous idea that almost makes sense...

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riffraff

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Re: U2 and Pre recorded parts/augmentation
« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2020, 08:35:22 AM »
While I respect your right to complain and share your obviously very popular opinions...I swear, sometimes you guys go out of your way to upset and depress me.
Later, guys...
Iíve seen for myself, thereís no end to grief, thatís how I know, and why I need to know that there is no end to love

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an tha

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Re: U2 and Pre recorded parts/augmentation
« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2020, 09:02:53 AM »
While I respect your right to complain and share your obviously very popular opinions...I swear, sometimes you guys go out of your way to upset and depress me.
Later, guys...

This is just silly....you are better than this kind of shite, riffy.

It is a totally fair discussion piece and it can be looked at from various angles.

Seriously, my friend.....get a grip.

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an tha

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Re: U2 and Pre recorded parts/augmentation
« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2020, 09:22:06 AM »
In terms of the issue - i wonder if it is mostly down to the same kind of issues that see them overcook/polish to death in the studio.....

I can sort of imagine them planning live shows/rehearsing and Bono and Edge saying 'this songs needs a keyboard fill'.....'we need to get that other guitar part in'.....'it does not sound big enough'......'we need more of this and that'....'how can we make this sound like the studio version' etc...

So it is all added - years of it just being done for them has made them lazy when it comes to doing it themselves and the need to be 'perfect' has got worse - so the situation has grown and grown and become more and more the norm - to what it is now.

The other view in all of this of course is they see their shows as no longer about being 'live music gigs' where it is about musicianship and all the imperfections/nuances of that, but as shows with music - and if most of that, or a lot of it is coming from computer programmes/is pre recorded etc then so what, it is all about the show not the how.....

It still makes a spectacle and people enjoy it, so what if what they are seeing and hearing is a bit of an illusion.




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an tha

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Re: U2 and Pre recorded parts/augmentation
« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2020, 09:39:59 AM »
Hey i just thought...

Aren't the 'woohoos' on my favourite song piped in as well instead of Bono doing them?

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MPare1966

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Re: U2 and Pre recorded parts/augmentation
« Reply #14 on: June 27, 2020, 09:47:40 AM »
While I respect your right to complain and share your obviously very popular opinions...I swear, sometimes you guys go out of your way to upset and depress me.
Later, guys...

This is just silly....you are better than this kind of shite, riffy.

It is a totally fair discussion piece and it can be looked at from various angles.

Seriously, my friend.....get a grip.

It is an interesting discussion, and I donít see it as criticizing the band unnecessarily.

Backing tracks, click tracks, loops, whatever you want to call them, have been is use since the 70ís. Take it from someone who grew up in the live touring business, more precisely in sound. It was always there, make no mistake about it, big touring acts just donít like to mention it, itís just part of the show. For example, do you sincerely think Pink Floyd played every single note live during their mammoth tours in the 70ís?

Back to U2, Iíve read this online though, and wanted to know if itís true. Anyone can confirm?

U2 has had a man named Terry Lawless playing keyboards and sequencers live with them for years. He normally is under the stage looking out through a window I think but they have acknowledged him from time to time.

"Take it away Terry!!!!" Bono
First Chair. Last Call.