U2's Bono and The Rock Critic
It's U2 versus the Chicago Tribune's critic Greg Kot.
Kot has written at length about U2's career slide which culminated in a negative review of the first concert in U2's four-night sold-out run at Chicago's United Center. The criticisms prompted a call from Bono and an interview.
Kot writes in Chicago Tribune article 'We need to talk':
"My review focused on the tired set list. U2 played some new songs early in the two-hour performance, but instead of building a case for the new album and possibly redeeming it, the quartet reserved all the big-bang moments for its greatest hits, songs that had been in the set list for a decade or more. They sounded more than ever like the bands they once arose to replace, the dinosaur acts of the '60s.
All of this is part of what should be the relationship among the artist, the critic and even the audience, which at the United Center was wildly cheering (as they always do) every note. Critics, on the other hand, are not cheerleaders. They are paid to honestly and passionately react to what the artist does -- for better or worse. When it's the latter, audiences are often more vocal in their defense than the artists. But Bono was different."
Bono is less than pleased with Kot's criticisms, which in the end admits to being well placed.
Bono:"Some of what is going around as a result of your article is not just unhelpful to our group and our relationship to our audience, but just really problematic for what in the broad sense you might call rock music. The things you think are wrong with it, and the things that I think are wrong with rock music, are polar opposite. Your vision of rock and mine are 180 degrees apart. And that's why I need to talk to you."
Kot challenges Bono on U2's "sellout" moves such as the Super Bowl halftime show and the iPod commercial. Bono fires back.
Bono: "There's this poverty of ambition, in terms of what rock people will do to promote their work. That's a critical issue to me. The excitement of punk rock, in the Irish and UK scene when we were coming up, was seeing our favorite band on "Top of the Pops," right next to the "enemy." That would be exciting. We did talk shows, TV shows, back then. The great moments of rock 'n' roll were never off in some corner of the music world, in a self-constructed ghetto. I don't like that kind of thinking. I know some of it exists, and some of our best friends are part of it. It's not for me. Progressive rock was the enemy in 1976. And it still is. And it has many, many faces. This beast is lurking everywhere. It can describe itself as indie rock. It's the same [blanking] thing. It's misery. I have seen so many great minds struck down by it. . . . When you suggest we're betraying ourselves by doing TV shows and promotional stuff, to me the Super Bowl was our Ed Sullivan moment. It just came 25 years later. I didn't expect it. But it is one of the moments I'm most proud of in my life."
It's a fascinating interview which Mansion On The Hill has some interview highlights and Jukebox Graduate writes that "Even if you truly don't like U2, this is mandatory reading if you care about rock and roll at all."