The Devolution Of The Edge: The Real Elephant In The Room Against Larry

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jick

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With The Edge-produced Songs Of Surrender just around the corner, it's good to remember the only other U2 album ever produced by The Edge - Zooropa.  That album showcased The Edge reaching for the bleeding edge of his musical limits and comfort zone.  The lead vocals in Numb were unlike anything from a rock band's guitar player.  The guitar sound to Numb was so different, radical, and innovative. But that's just one of them - the same can be said for the rest of the songs - Lemon, Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car, and so on and so forth.

How the mighty have fallen!  Now, The Edge just penned a letter to U2's fans that the band had re-imagined their songs but confessed that it was mostly through Bono's perspective.  The songs based on the three complete releases and the snippets from Bono's audiobook reveal very little of the rhythm section.  There is even very little of The Edge, with Bono's voice being so high in the audio mix.  The Edge's departure from reinventing the sounds a guitar is capable of into acoustic piano/guitar elevator music has been coming for a while. 

A. U2's slow erasing of Larry Mullen Jr's drums have been coming.  Here's proof:

1.  1997 Popmart Tour: After failing to nail live performances of Staring At The Sun, it was transformed to be a Bono/Edge guitar medley devoid of Larry.  Later on tour, U2's most iconic drum intro - Sunday Bloody Sunday - was transformed into a drumless/lifeless Edge solo track.

2.  2001 Elevation Tour: Whatever happened to "the bang and the clatter as an angel hits the ground"?  It was re-imagined into a Bono-Edge medley.

3.  2004 Vertigo Tour:  The song "Yahweh" was converted into an acoustic bit, and Larry was relegated to playing one-note synth parts that could have easily been done by pre-recorded music in the PA system or through Terry in the underworld.

4.  2009-11 360 Tour:  This is around the time Larry said he wants U2 to always tour new music rather than be a Vegas resident act.  The newest U2 song which was their single "I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight" was reimagined to be devoid of Larry in the drumkit.  Instead, he was holding a drum in his waist walking around the stage as if his drum part mattered, but they were actually drowned out by the electronic drum beats on their re-imagined version of that song.  Stuck In A Moment was converted into an acoustic song during this tour.

5.  2015 Innocence Tour:  Perhaps one of the strongest tracks of Songs Of Innocence - Every Breaking Wave - was re-imagined to be, you guessed it ...devoid of drums!  It also featured another fetish The Edge had been leaning towards which is the piano.  For some reason, Edge started to convince himself that the audience wants to listen to his piano playing instead of his iconic guitar sound.  This is a problem that will manifest itself more in the coming years.  Meanwhile, Sunday Bloody Sunday was played again minus Larry's signature drums.

6.  2017 Joshua Tree Tour: When fans heard that U2 were finally going to play Red Hill Mining Town live for the first time in their careers, the band made it into a piano arrangement devoid of Edge's signature slide guitar sound in that song.  When U2 dusted off A Sort Of Homecoming, Edge did not anymore play the song's riff but just played filler guitars as the riff came courtesy of a pre-recorded backing track. 

7.  2018 Experience Tour: Summer Of Love which was a full band song in the album, was converted to just a Bono-Edge version.  You're The Best Thing About Me - which was the single to launch the SOE album and played full band in the previous tours, was "acousticized" just like most other new U2 songs and Larry was against slowly obscured.


B.  Then there are also signs to show that The Edge actually feels their audience has some interest in his piano playing rather than his signature guitar sounds:

1.  playing October and piano Every Breaking Wave back-to-back in the Innocence Tour
2.  The Little Things That Give You Away live in the 2017 Joshua Tree Tour
3.  Invisible started with Edge playing the guitar solo live, then ended with him just playing filler while the guitar solo notes are played off the PA
4.  Ordinary Love
5.  Your Song Saved My Life
6.  the conversion of Every Breaking Wave and Red Hill Mining Town into piano songs
7.  Song For Someone and other "acoustic" songs from the SOI special album release


C.  There has also been the agenda of U2 pushing to the casual listener that they really are Bono and Edge, with the acoustic-leaning undertone:

1.  HTDAAB bonus disc with just Bono and Edge doing acoustic version of album songs
2.  Achtung Anniversary release with Bono doing Achtung Baby songs solo acoustic in Hansa Studios
3.  All the TV appearances of just Bono and Edge sans the other two, which acousticizing Vertigo, Love Is Bigger, Walk On, etc
4.  The Bono/Edge side project with Martin Garrix for the Euro Cup soccer - which ironically did not come close to charting as well as the Mullen/Clayton project for the Mission Impossible movie in the 90's
5.  Bono Edge appearance in Ukraine station
6.  Bono book tour converting U2 songs to just cello and harp, implying that it's his voice and lyrics that matter more


D.  More on the marginalization of Larry aside from slowly deleting his drum parts from live gigs:

1.  No photo of all four members of U2 in the studio since No Line On The Horizon, maybe they just email each other their parts like how Bono emailed his vocal to Lilywhite in Indonesia to remix Red Hill Mining Town for the JT anniversary release?
2.  Larry not attending a single Bono book tour show, while Edge and Clayton have been spotted   
3.  While U2.com states the replacement drummer has Larry's blessing, there is absolutely no direct quote from Larry about Vegas
4.  The article on Larry saying U2 was now run by a "politburo" who are calling the shots

CONCLUSION:  While Bono is seen as the culprit in all this, it seems to not be the case.  All evidence points to The Edge being the one who wants to "acousticize" U2.  It also points to The Edge's growing obsession with the piano, from converting songs into piano arrangements or releasing new full-band U2 songs like "Your Song Saved My Life" with mostly just piano.  U2's audience love Edge's piano in New Year's Day because he multi-tasks in that song live - and the piano is actually the riff of the song.  But for some reason in recent songs, Edge feels the audience finds it interesting to see him just play piano chords.  The upcoming Songs of Surrender seems to be The Edge's vision for U2's songs and not Bono's.  It seems Bono's issue was more on how he found the lyrics and his wailing voice cringeworthy.  Bono never complained about the arrangements.  It seems like it's the Edge who wanted to mold the new songs to his new sonic obsession which is piano and acoustic guitar.  Why The Edge thinks people find that interesting is beyond me, but he does feel that way to fight for producer credits in the upcoming album.

The Edge has been a sonic architect creating innovative soundscapes.  His effects and atmospheric creations are as much part of his art as his guitars.  But just playing guitar and piano chords devoid of any life is what he's been up to lately.  And it's sad to see how far his devolution has coming along.

It's time to gasp and wait literally on The Edge of our seats to see how U2 will rearrange their Achtung Baby songs for the sphere.  At least Larry has washed his hands clean of what is to come!

Cheers,

J

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Larry Lovebucket

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Re: The Devolution Of The Edge: The Real Elephant In The Room Against Larry
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2023, 03:58:02 AM »
Itís clear U2 have changed and will never be the same band that produced their best work. Hell, theyíll never be the same band that made ATYCLB or Bomb. The rot began setting in with NLOTH. There are multiple problems with the band as they stand:

1 - theyíre rich and have been doing this for 40 years. The novelty will surely wear off and thereís only so many cars one can buy. Theyíre probably a bitÖ bored.

2 - they simply donít fit into the musical landscape anymore. Their quest for Ďrelevanceí is an impossible one to win. U2 are a rock band. Trying to make pop music doesnít work for them.

3 - bono s Ďactivismí and endless bullshit is the single biggest PR problem they have

4 - their hands off approach. It used to be that u2 appeared - at least on the surface of things - to care about their fans. These days nearly every aspect of their brand seems to be in the hands of corporate goons.

I donít think Larry is the problem here. Heís possibly a symptom of wider issues but his health, to my mind, isnít really the point.

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Alphane

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Re: The Devolution Of The Edge: The Real Elephant In The Room Against Larry
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2023, 08:16:19 AM »
I'm pretty sure I read that Larry was in attendance for one of Bono's book shows. Aside from that, Bono and Edge have taken more control of the band over the years and it feels like they're the only ones who have any real input, though none of us can know that for sure.

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Phoenix Rising

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Re: The Devolution Of The Edge: The Real Elephant In The Room Against Larry
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2023, 10:55:28 AM »
Oh hell,  now you've gone and done it.

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Soloyan

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Re: The Devolution Of The Edge: The Real Elephant In The Room Against Larry
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2023, 11:46:12 AM »
Jick, I really enjoy your posts but I think this one is a typical case of "I have a theory and I'll make sure to twist the facts so that they fit this theory" rather than the other way around.

A. U2's slow erasing of Larry Mullen Jr's drums have been coming.  Here's proof:

1.  1997 Popmart Tour: After failing to nail live performances of Staring At The Sun, it was transformed to be a Bono/Edge guitar medley devoid of Larry.  Later on tour, U2's most iconic drum intro - Sunday Bloody Sunday - was transformed into a drumless/lifeless Edge solo track.

Staring at the Sun : It's called fixing an error. The acoustic version worked much better, that's all.
SBS : you forget that, at this point it had been barely played live since the Joshua Tree Tour 10 years before. It's only because they went and played Sarajevo that it made sense to revive the song. And the Edge solo version was perfect in a country still mourning their dead.

2.  2001 Elevation Tour: Whatever happened to "the bang and the clatter as an angel hits the ground"?  It was re-imagined into a Bono-Edge medley.

It's called an acoustic break. U2 invented it for the Zoo TV tour and used it since then.

3.  2004 Vertigo Tour:  The song "Yahweh" was converted into an acoustic bit, and Larry was relegated to playing one-note synth parts that could have easily been done by pre-recorded music in the PA system or through Terry in the underworld.

I thought it was a nice way to allow Larry into a song he would not have been in otherwise.

4.  2009-11 360 Tour:  This is around the time Larry said he wants U2 to always tour new music rather than be a Vegas resident act.  The newest U2 song which was their single "I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight" was reimagined to be devoid of Larry in the drumkit.  Instead, he was holding a drum in his waist walking around the stage as if his drum part mattered, but they were actually drowned out by the electronic drum beats on their re-imagined version of that song.  Stuck In A Moment was converted into an acoustic song during this tour.

On the contrary, they seized the occasion of the remix to allow Larry to enjoy a tour on the catwalk, which is something drummers very rarely do. It was a highlight of the show.

5.  2015 Innocence Tour:  Perhaps one of the strongest tracks of Songs Of Innocence - Every Breaking Wave - was re-imagined to be, you guessed it ...devoid of drums!  It also featured another fetish The Edge had been leaning towards which is the piano.  For some reason, Edge started to convince himself that the audience wants to listen to his piano playing instead of his iconic guitar sound.  This is a problem that will manifest itself more in the coming years.  Meanwhile, Sunday Bloody Sunday was played again minus Larry's signature drums.

We've discussed it elsewhere. It's not directed at Larry. They tried to emulate Adele.

7.  2018 Experience Tour: Summer Of Love which was a full band song in the album, was converted to just a Bono-Edge version.  You're The Best Thing About Me - which was the single to launch the SOE album and played full band in the previous tours, was "acousticized" just like most other new U2 songs and Larry was against slowly obscured.

Summer of love was always an acoustic song. Best thing was always a crappy song.

Yes, Edge has developed an attraction for the piano. So what ? People change, get over it.
A dangerous idea that almost makes sense...

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jick

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Re: The Devolution Of The Edge: The Real Elephant In The Room Against Larry
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2023, 08:53:34 PM »

Yes, Edge has developed an attraction for the piano. So what ? People change, get over it.

Exactly the point of my post.  The Edge changed.  And it's not so what.  I think that change is part (with health issues another part) of what has driven Larry away from the band.

I remember one interview when Adam Clayton was asked (and I am paraphrasing): "What inspired you to come up with that amazing bass sound in The Blackout?"  To which he replied: "Edge wrote the bass lines to that song.  I just inhabited it."

Cheers,

J

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SlyDanner

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Re: The Devolution Of The Edge: The Real Elephant In The Room Against Larry
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2023, 09:01:35 PM »
jick you raise some interesting points but I still think the band's deterioration has more to do with Bono than Edge.  as for Larry - I think this is the start of his walking away and who can blame him?  Imagine having to work with Bono for 40 years.  Only surprise is no one has been killed.  Yet.

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So Cruel

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Re: The Devolution Of The Edge: The Real Elephant In The Room Against Larry
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2023, 09:56:39 PM »
Itís pretty obvious from his recent comments that Larry isnít particularly happy with the dynamics within the band for the last while. It could be a number of things, but it likely is his input isnít as welcome as it once was and Edge and Bono are calling the shots without Larry who was the only one who would call them out. I agree that the bands deterioration falls on Edge and Bono.
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Re: The Devolution Of The Edge: The Real Elephant In The Room Against Larry
« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2023, 12:36:09 PM »
Itís pretty obvious from his recent comments that Larry isnít particularly happy with the dynamics within the band for the last while. It could be a number of things, but it likely is his input isnít as welcome as it once was and Edge and Bono are calling the shots without Larry who was the only one who would call them out. I agree that the bands deterioration falls on Edge and Bono.
They no longer record the way they did in the 80s and early 90s. Starting with pop, they got used to the idea of recording without Larry, and bringing him in only later on in the process. That having been said, they started the atomic bomb sessions without Bono, and the result was the worst album theyíve ever recorded.


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So Cruel

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Re: The Devolution Of The Edge: The Real Elephant In The Room Against Larry
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2023, 01:02:31 PM »
Itís pretty obvious from his recent comments that Larry isnít particularly happy with the dynamics within the band for the last while. It could be a number of things, but it likely is his input isnít as welcome as it once was and Edge and Bono are calling the shots without Larry who was the only one who would call them out. I agree that the bands deterioration falls on Edge and Bono.
They no longer record the way they did in the 80s and early 90s. Starting with pop, they got used to the idea of recording without Larry, and bringing him in only later on in the process. That having been said, they started the atomic bomb sessions without Bono, and the result was the worst album theyíve ever recorded.


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BULLSHIT!! Bomb won a bunch of Grammys. How can it be their worst album?
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Tumbling Dice

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Re: The Devolution Of The Edge: The Real Elephant In The Room Against Larry
« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2023, 02:06:04 PM »
So basically the band has played one or two songs acoustically on every tour since PopMart most probably to slow down the tempo of the show.  And it doesn't surprise me you think the decline began on POPMART!


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Zeropartii

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Re: The Devolution Of The Edge: The Real Elephant In The Room Against Larry
« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2023, 04:56:56 PM »
They let him be the star of Electrical Storm video


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Alphane

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Re: The Devolution Of The Edge: The Real Elephant In The Room Against Larry
« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2023, 07:59:28 PM »
Having acoustic songs during a show is common. Everyone from Foo Fighters to Radiohead has done it; it has nothing to do with trying to erase the rhythm section.

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jick

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Re: The Devolution Of The Edge: The Real Elephant In The Room Against Larry
« Reply #13 on: February 21, 2023, 09:37:21 PM »
jick you raise some interesting points but I still think the band's deterioration has more to do with Bono than Edge.  as for Larry - I think this is the start of his walking away and who can blame him?  Imagine having to work with Bono for 40 years.  Only surprise is no one has been killed.  Yet.

It seems Larry has already walked away if you check in the social media periphery.

Neil McCormick tweeted that all is fine in the U2 world after a video chat with The Edge - a photo of which he shared.  I'd like a photo of a video chat with Larry Mullen Jr.

U2.com's promotional article on the Vegas shows acknowledges the absence of Larry but not quote from Larry himself.

Those who have watched the recently released "Kiss The Future" documentary said there were interviews with all the band members except Larry.  Also, Larry's name does not appear in the credits but the other band members' names do.

There is a podcast where Larry's drum tech, Sam O Sullivan, was interviewed.  He was not just a drum tech since 1985, but also became U2's studio manager - taking care of their studios in Ireland.  Well, he has since admitted to no longer be in any of those posts and his focus this 2023 is working to help music programs of many schools in Cork, Ireland.  Without expressly saying it, it seems he has admitted he is no longer connected with U2.

And to those who commented that this post in an overreaction to U2 playing a few songs acoustically live - you should read the first post in its entirety and get the context.  I am also discussing U2 morphing to virtually erase Larry - from Bono and Edge TV appearances in the past and two upcoming ones including Letterman and a newer one from some library; and the the sonic signature of what we have heard from Songs of Surrender so far.

Cheers,

J

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MPare1966

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Re: The Devolution Of The Edge: The Real Elephant In The Room Against Larry
« Reply #14 on: February 21, 2023, 10:08:34 PM »
I remember a band from Liverpool, whatís their name? They also had 2 very strong leaders who took center stageÖ

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