Ready For What’s Next

Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2018-11-14)

U2 finished the last date of their eXPERIENCE + iNNOCENCE tour yesterday. A number of fans are worried about what comes next. Is this the end? We here at firmly do not believe that it is the end of the band. The band has commented on the end of the tour and where it will leave them in a number of recent interviews, and we present a few highlights below that leave us thinking more is to come.

In May, in Rolling Stone, Edge revealed “I think there’s been three tours that have been on each other’s heels pretty quickly. I would say that we’ll probably take a little bit of a break at the end of this tour and regroup. There’s lots of ideas for the next records, but I think a bit of time off just to listen to music and to really feed our creative instincts is in order.” Adam in July revealed “This is the end of a four-year cycle of work and we really have no plans going into next year. We have got to the point where this is a full stop at the end of this project. We’re looking at next year as being a year of regrouping.” Larry interviewed by the Sunday Times in June said “We’ll finish this out and then there will be time to decide what we want to do next. I’d like to take a really long holiday,” and asked if this is the end said, “I don’t know. You never know. I assume there’ll be another album. I don’t know when and I’d like to think we have some time to consider it. I don’t know that anybody needs a U2 record or a U2 tour anytime soon. People could do with taking a break from us and vice versa.”

More recently there have been other indications that U2 are far from finished. In an interview with the BBC in October Adam Clayton asked whether or not they felt the need to reinvent the band replied, “We’ve been hard at it for four years now – just constant touring, I think we just need to go away for a little bit and give the audience a break.” Like other comments, the band seems to be ready to take a break, but are giving no indication that this is the end.

Perhaps the most recent mention of the future is from Willie Williams, long-time collaborator of the band, when he spoke to TPI Magazine while the band was in Paris. He discussed how the band historically discuss what’s next before the end of the current tour. Willie is asked if he has any ideas ready to go, and replies, “Of course…it would be rude not to! There are 3 ideas in the bag. They are now off the tracks in terms of what a band should be doing and that is that is immensely liberating for all of us.”

Add to that some interesting recent rumours that came out at the end of the tour from our friends at Those rumours say that the band has asked crew to be available at the end of 2019 for some special shows. The tour may have ended just yesterday, but we are able to confirm that we too have heard these rumours about new dates coming in late 2019 from our own previously reliable sources, and that we are told this will likely be a stadium tour, and will likely be in Australia. As these shows have not been announced, they should be taken as rumour for now, and until booked, anything can change, but we think we may see them on the road than anyone expects. Possibly as early as September if the rumours are true. This would not be a continuation of the current tour eXPERIENCE + iNNOCENCE tour. Rumoured cities at this point include Perth and Sydney. As to Adam’s comment they would take 2019 off in the article above? At the time of that interview, this rumoured Australian leg was planned for the end of 2018. So plans can, and do change.

We’ve given a few updates about the progress on The Joshua Tree 2017 home video release. The filming for the video took place in several locations, including San Diego, two nights in Mexico, and at the shows all through South America. Anton Corbijn is directing this film. We’ve been told that it is the footage from Mexico and San Diego that will be used, and the audio mix for this release has been completed using that material, including work by long-time producer, Steve Lillywhite. (Other cities where filming took place included Phoenix, and all of the South American shows. Some of this footage may be used for bonus footage.)

So when will the video be out? We were originally told that the video would come out this fall. But more recently we have been told that we should expect the film to be ready next spring, and that there may be some further surprises! It looks like the film may debut in a limited run in theatres. Anton Corbijn recently told a German paper that the film he has been working on with U2 will be in theatre next year. His words, translated to English are, “Also, last year, I did a film about U2, which I hope will be released in cinemas in 2019. So I cannot quite leave the music.” The interview comes via Berliner Zeitung, and was originally published in German as the tour was about to kick off. Many thanks to Joe Frady for bringing this to our attention.

More recently Anton has been seen reviewing cover photographs taken for the Songs of Experience promotional campaign. Something for the film promotion? Potential covers for the eventual home video release, or for the poster for these limited engagements in theatres?

We have spoken to our sources, and they have confirmed that the release date for the home video is now looking to be March at the earliest, and they suggested the shift back in the date was due to plans to show this in small theatre engagements prior to release.

One question we have heard a lot over the last year is ‘whatever happened to that video that U2 filmed in Mexico’? Last October, while in town for the concerts on The Joshua Tree 2017 tour, U2 took a day and filmed a video for “Get Out of Your Own Way” on the rooftop of the Reforma building in Mexico with director Jonas Åkerlund. And although teased as a video clip, in the end the video was never released and the band went with an animated video by Broken Fingaz instead. Reforma, a newspaper in Mexico, has finally answered that question. On October 27, in the paper it was revealed there was a problem with the video.

The video, a celebration of Mexico, and Mexican culture, reused some skulls that had been used in shooting the James Bond movie Spectre. And the band did not get permission for the skulls to be used in their production, which later posed a problem, and the video was never released. “Así que, por lo pronto el video está muy muerto.” as Reforma says, or “So for now the video is very dead”.

We’ve been told that the problem has not been resolved. So don’t look for that Mexico shot video to show up anytime soon.

Will U2 also release a video from the current tour? Well there certainly isn’t a release date yet. The footage from The Joshua Tree 2017 will come out first, but U2 has been filming material for a potential home video release on the current tour. Hamish Hamilton, was seen in Washington DC where U2 filmed two shows on the US leg of the tour. We are told that he wasn’t there as a director, but was brought in because of his past experience filming this stage as an advisor. The footage from Washington was reviewed, and it appears that the band has decided to film more material.

Yesterday’s concert in Berlin was filmed. This was preceded by a shake up in the set list to remove some of the songs from the “Innocence” portion of the show, to prevent it looking too much like the earlier 2015 release. Some of the songs in that portion of the show used the same choreography, video and even the same versions of the songs. These were replaced by a selection of songs from Zooropa and Achtung Baby, tying into the bands history with Berlin where the video was filmed. Additional filming was done throughout the later shows on the tour as well. This included additional cameras and lighting being spotted in the shows at Manchester, a GoPro style camera sitting on Larry’s shoulder filming him in Belfast, and cameras attached to his glasses which were visible on stage on night three in Dublin.

What will be released? Any of the footage could be used, but Willie Williams has been vocal that the band doesn’t want a repeat of the earlier Innocence video, thus the focus on adding new songs into the set prior to the Berlin concert.

The band has also filmed two different shows with 360 cameras, which film the concert from all sides, resulting in an image that you can view from a variety of angles while watching the show. These cameras were used to capture the Apollo theatre performance in June in New York City, and also used to capture a full eXPERIENCE + iNNOCENCE tour stop at Newark NJ, the same month. Such 360 shows would lend themselves to online content as many would not have home entertainment equipment of viewing these online at this time.

And after some home video releases? Don’t count on U2 being finished anytime soon. Adam and Edge have both spoken about working on new material after a bit of time to regroup. Even Larry seems to think that another album will happen after a break. But from Adam and The Edge’s comments in various interviews, it looks like the band is looking to work on new material, instead of visiting Songs of Ascent again. It certainly sounds like they are thinking about what comes next.

In the meantime we know of a few things that are in the pipeline.

The band are not quite finished with singles from the new album. “Landlady” has been delivered to radio as a single in Italy, and has been getting some strong airplay in that country. The song was released on October 19, 2018, and is averaging between 350 – 400 plays on Italian radio each day. 94.2% of the plays to date have been on radio stations based in Italy itself. The remaining 5.7% of the plays have been at Italian speaking radio stations outside of Italy including stations in Canada, Switzerland, San Marino, and more. There has not been a single release in these countries but the stations playing the song are subscribed to Italian promotional delivery services.

“Red Flag Day” was also rumoured to be a future release, and a number of remixes of that song have been commissioned. Those mixes are now in the midst of an approval process, but we are told that the band may be considering not going further with that release, and that these remixes for “Red Flag Day” may not be released. Perhaps that is also why we have not heard of any plans for the single that was cut at Third Man Records in the Spring during the tour featuring “Red Flag Day” on one side, and “Love is Bigger Than Anything in its Way” on the other. If the band has decided not to push “Red Flag Day” out for promotion they may have decided to step back from that release as well. If further information about the remixes or the Third Man Session do appear, we will let you know.

The band is releasing a single for the Black Friday event for Record Store Day (November 23), and that single is a 12-inch release featuring “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” on both sides. The A-Side will feature the current mix of the song that is being featured in the tour at Intermission. The vocals on this record were recorded by Gavin Friday, with backing vocals by Regine Chassagne, from Arcade Fire. Larry Mullen does perform on drums on the song. The song has been mixed by St Francis Hotel for this release. The B-Side is the newly remastered version of the original song, recently featured on a new pressing of The Best of 1990 – 2000. Also out on November 23? The band is releasing special coloured vinyl versions of Zooropa and The Joshua Tree in blue and gold vinyl respectively. These were made available in the UK and Germany earlier in October, but will be released in a number of additional countries on Black Friday.

These new coloured vinyl releases seem to have bumped Rattle and Hum back to 2019. Originally we were told to expect a vinyl only release of the 2017 mastered version of the album this fall, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the album, however we are told now that this will likely happen next Fall instead, but a release is still planned. We do not have an update on the release of No Line on the Horizon on vinyl but were originally told to expect it in early 2019.

The band has also recorded a cover of “Bang A Gong (Get It On)” for a T-Rex tribute album, which we are told is due out in the Spring.

As always we invite you to take a look throughout our website, and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram for further updates.

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