The History Mix: Canada 150

Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2017-06-29)

It’s Canada’s 150th birthday this weekend, and Bono and The Edge will be joining thousands of people celebrating this historic day on Parliament Hill in our nation’s capital city, Ottawa, ON. They are expected to play one song, near the start of the festivities. Canadian Heritage says that the event annually attracts about 350,000 people, although the 2011 event including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge was estimated to attract 510,000 people, and the 150th birthday is expected to draw larger crowds perhaps similar to that year. The event is being televised across Canada with broadcasts on CTV stations starting at 11am EST, and on CBC stations starting at 10am EST. U2 are expected around noon. Why so early? Well they do have a concert that night in Cleveland to get to. If you want more details about how to watch, scroll down to the end. We’re taking a little look at Canada and U2 first.

The whole event gives us a chance to look back at U2 and their relationship to Canada over the years.

U2 Live in Canada

U2’s first live appearance in the city was December 9, 1980, where they played a small club called El Mocambo. During that visit to Canada they also did a photo shoot with photographer Peter Noble. The photos were taken at a small park in Toronto in the snow, and some additional photographs in the Allan Gardens Conservatory.

Since that first show in Toronto, U2 have played a number of cities. To date they’ve played Montreal in Quebec; Ottawa, Toronto and Hamilton in Ontario; Vancouver in British Columbia; Winnipeg in Manitoba; Edmonton and Calgary in Alberta and Moncton in New Brunswick. That’s six of the ten provinces in Canada.

The last time that U2 have missed visiting Canada when on a North American tour was the 1st leg of The Joshua Tree Tour in 1987. That tour only saw performances in Canada on the 3rd leg with shows in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. The current plans for the current tour will also see Canada missed for the 3rd leg of The Joshua Tree 2017 Tour, with full concerts in Vancouver and Toronto having happened on the first leg only.

It’s not uncommon for U2 tour legs to start or end in Canada in recent years due to logistics and financial considerations:

  • Zoo TV Leg One ended in Vancouver, British Columbia
  • PopMart Leg Three started in Toronto, Ontario
  • Although Leg One of Vertigo started in San Diego, CA, rehearsals were done in Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Vertigo Leg Three started in Toronto, Ontario
  • The U2360 Tour Leg Two ended in Vancouver, British Columbia
  • The U2360 Tour Leg Seven ended in Moncton, New Brunswick (Final show of the tour)
  • The Innocence and Experience Leg One started in Vancouver, British Columbia
  • The Joshua Tree 2017 Leg One started in Vancouver, British Columbia

With the performance on Canada Day, U2 or some member of U2 will have played in Canada a total of 74 times since that first show in Toronto. Of those performances 67 have been full concerts. The other performances are special appearances including U2 filming a video for “City of Blinding Lights” in front of an audience in Vancouver BC, and Bono performing solo with Pearl Jam. More on these special performances can be found below.

Many thanks to U2Gigs.Com for their Canada information.

Bono and Canadian Politics

Bono routinely meets with Canadian politicians when he visits the country and when they travel internationally.

In 2001 on an International visit to Genoa Italy, Bono and Bob Geldof met with Prime Minister Jean Chretien which may have been Bono’s first meeting with a sitting Prime Minister. In May 2004, Bono visited Parliament Hill to meet with Prime Minister Paul Martin. In 2015, while the band was visiting Montreal for a series of shows, Bono traveled to Ottawa to meet not only with Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, but he also met with the leaders of the opposition parties, the Liberals (Justin Trudeau) and the NDP (Tom Mulcair).

The ties go a little deeper however, as on November 14, 2003, as the Liberal Party of Canada was electing a new leader to replace Jean Chretien, Bono made a full speech as a keynote speaker at the Leadership Convention of the Liberal Party of Canada.

During that speech Bono did speak about the country with great praise:

I’m here is because I’m a fan of Canada . I met Canada …I met Canada through the holy voices of Leonard Cohen, Neal Young, The Band, Daniel Lanois. The Canadian voice is hard-wired in my heart. I’m a fan because a certain kind of idealism lives and still seems to be alive in this country. You’re not an insular place. You’ve always looked outside yourself, beyond the line of the horizon, you’re not so self-obsessed and this is coming from a rock star, so believe me, I know self-obsessed. I see it in the mirror, you know what I’m saying? I’m a fan who believes the advertising. You know, the annoying fan who believes the hype and the slogans. I believe the world needs more Canada . Why is that? More Canada, yep. God, I’m good at this, maybe I should run for office.

Bono over the years has continued to use the slogan “The World Needs More Canada”, in concerts and elsewhere. The words actually come from a tourism slogan from the 1990s which was used throughout Europe to pitch Canada as a global leader. Not sure if Bono would have seen those ads or not, but it’s certainly not the first time we’ve heard the praise. It is also currently being used in advertising from Indigo Chapters stores in Canada. The full keynote address can be found here.

Another side of the political work that Bono has been involved in, saw him and Bob Geldof working as guest editors for one of Canada’s national newspapers, The Globe and Mail, on May 10, 2010. It was the first time that the Globe was edited by a guest editor, and the focus was placed on Africa and the future of that continent. The paper was done in the lead up to two summits being held in Canada that year, the G8 and the G20. The pair was joined by Kenyan activist Ory Okolloh as guest editor of the digital version of the paper.

Work with Canadian Artists

U2 has worked with a number of Canadian artists over the years, perhaps none so much as Daniel Lanois. Lanois was brought on to produce U2’s album The Unforgettable Fire, and he obviously made an impression, because he’s been a part of the picture ever since, most recently having contributed to 2009’s No Line on the Horizon. Daniel has worked with the band as a producer, and as a musician on many of the albums he has produced. In 2002, when Lanois was named to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame at the Juno Awards, U2 sent a short video of themselves singing “Danny Boy” as a message of congratulations.

Daniel also has a solo career outside of his work with U2, and occasionally U2 appears in that work as well. Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton both guested on his first solo album, Acadie, performing on two tracks, “Still Water” and “Jolie Louise.” Lanois also produced Emmylou Harris’ 1995 album Wrecking Ball, as well as performing on a number of tracks, and Larry Mullen joined him for that album as well. Lanois also contributed to the Million Dollar Hotel soundtrack, working on tracks with U2 and with the Million Dollar Hotel Band. Bono would also guest on Lanois’ album Shine in 2003, singing an alternate version of “Falling at Your Feet.”

Lanois was also the producer on the 1987 album by Canadian Robbie Robertson titled Robbie Robertson. All of U2 appear on that album, on two tracks recorded while U2 were recording The Joshua Tree. “Sweet Fire of Love” and “Testimony” both appear on the album. “Testimony” has also been remixed a number of times and has appeared on a number of compilations of Robertson’s work, as well as a B-side to the single “Fallen Angel”.

More in the pop vein, Bryan Adams has also performed with U2. In 1986 he was part of the Amnesty International tour with U2, and a number of times Adams would be present on stage in a big group sing-a-long alongside the rest of the performers. One such performance was included on the album ¡Released! The Human Rights Concerts where Adams and Bono both appear on the song “I Shall Be Released.”

Bruce Cockburn is the Canadian artist who gave U2 the lyric, “Got to kick at the darkness ‘til it bleeds daylight”. U2 famously used the line in “God Part II” on Rattle and Hum. Bono mentions in the song that he’s borrowed the line from another:

Heard a singer on the radio
Late last night
Says he’s gonna kick the darkness
Till it bleeds daylight.
I, I believe in love.

The original line from Cockburn comes from his song, “Lovers in a Dangerous Time”:

When you’re lovers in a dangerous time
Sometimes you’re made to feel as if your love’s a crime
But nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight
Got to kick at the darkness ‘til it bleeds daylight

Although U2 has not worked directly with Cockburn, Bono does appear in a 2012 documentary on Cockburn, Pacing the Cage, reading Cockburn’s lyrics for “If I Had a Rocket Launcher.”

There were some experimental instruments used on The Joshua Tree and some of those were developed by Canadians. The Armin Family from Ontario feature on The Joshua Tree. In the liner notes for the album, it lists “One Tree Hill – Radd Strings: Recorded by Bob Doidge. Played by the Armin Family”. The family is Dick, Paul and Adele Armin, and they recorded strings for “One Tree Hill” at the Grant Avenue Studio in Hamilton Ontario by Bob Doidge, under the supervision of Daniel Lanois. The instruments known as the Radd strings were developed by the Armins as well. The Joshua Tree also saw the use of the Infinite Guitar on “With or Without You.” The guitar was designed and built by Canadian Michael Brook, who had collaborated with The Edge on the soundtrack to Captive. Unlike the Armin’s, Brook does not play on the album, but it is him that gave Edge the guitar used for “With or Without You”.

Leonard Cohen is another collaborator that U2 has worked with. U2 has included a performance of “Tower of Song” with Leonard Cohen on their 2007 single, “Window in the Skies”. Bono has covered “Hallelujah” and has contributed a reading of “Anthem” to the “Poems for Refugees collection. And Cohen has been covered many times throughout the years in concert, including the Edge performing in the Sistine Chapel, where he covered “If It Be Your Will.” In a prior History Mix Column we looked at all of these ties to Cohen throughout the years, and you will find video and links to each there.

Live from Canada Releases

A number of performances from Canada have been officially released on video or audio recordings. These include a number of U2 appearances, as well as some solo appearances by one or more members of U2. Below is a list of some of the appearances, as well as links to the discography to find out more about these releases.

  • “With or Without You” (Live from Edmonton, June 14, 1997) Appears on U2’s “PopHeart” EP
  • “Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me,” “Mysterious Ways,” and “One” (Live from Edmonton, June 14, 1997) Appear on U2’s “PopMart Live from Mexico CityDVD
  • “Stay (Faraway, So Close!) (Live from Toronto, May 25, 2001) Appears on the “We Know Where You Live, Live!DVD and the European version of U2’s “Walk On” Single
  • “One” (Live from Toronto, September 9, 2005) [U2 with Mary J Blige] Appears on the “Shelter from the StormDVD
  • “Love and Peace Or Else” (Live from Toronto, September 10, 2005) Appears on the “React Now Music and Relief” digital album
  • “Rockin’ In the Free World” (Live from Toronto, September 19, 2005) [Pearl Jam with Bono] Appears on Pearl Jam’s “North America 2005: Toronto, ON / Sept. 19th” Album
  • “Stuck in a Moment,” “Stay (Faraway, So Close!),” “Two Shots of Happy,” “Pump It Up / Get On Your Boots,” and “Alison” (Live from Toronto, September 15, 2009) [Bono and The Edge with Elvis Costello] Appears on “Spectacle: Elvis Costello with…Season Two” Compilation
  • “Out of Control” (Live from Montreal, July 9, 2011) Appears on “U22” Album
  • “40” (Live from Moncton, July 30, 2011) Appears on “From the Ground Up: Musical Edition” Album

Other Touches of Canada

One fondly remembered moment from the original Joshua Tree tour was U2’s cover of “Springhill Mining Disaster.” The song was originally known as “The Ballad of Springhill” and was written and performed originally by Peggy Seeger and Ewan MacColl. The song deals with a mining disaster on the East Coast of Canada, in the town of Springhill, Nova Scotia.

The song was first performed by U2 live on RTE Television on March 16, 1987, as part of a tribute to the Dubliners. That performance was eventually released on DVD and audio CD. Throughout the tour that followed, U2 would perform the song 15 times. It was retired at that point until the final concert of the U2360 tour, in Moncton NB. Moncton is thirty minutes away from Springhill, and U2 made note of this by including a snippet of the song in “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” that night. The town of Springhill threw a “U2 day” and invited concert participants to visit the day following the concert in Moncton.

Differences in The Joshua Tree 2017

U2 recently performed in Toronto as part of The Joshua Tree 2017 tour, and the tour opened back in May in Vancouver. Elements of the tour are changed around when the band is performing on Canada to reflect that it is a different country than the USA. A number of Canadian women are featured on the screen during “Ultra Violet.” Musicians such as Joni Mitchell and k.d. Lang are featured on the screen, and Canadian politician Chrystia Freeland shows up at both shows. A full run down of the women featured can be found here.

The words by Omaima at the start of “Miss Sarajevo” are different. In the United States her words have been, “My name is Omaima, I’m from Syria. I am 15 years old. I want to be happy and I want you to be happy. I want people to be able to achieve their dreams. I would love to go to America because it’s a very beautiful country and one can be happy there. It’s a civil country, it’s a land of dreams.” For both Canadian shows a different response was heard, “My name is Omaima, I’m from Syria. I am 15 years old. I would love to tell them to achieve their aspirations and to turn their convictions into reality. I dream of becoming a lawyer so I can defend the rights of every person. I want everyone to have hope. I want everyone to have dreams they can make real. I can’t abide to see any more sad people.”

At the end of “Bullet the Blue Sky” in Toronto, it became “Into the arms of North America” at the end of the song.

Bono stopped multiple times in Toronto to talk about Leonard Cohen, and even sang an extended piece of Cohen’s song, “Suzanne” in the middle of “Bad” as well as some lines of “Hallelujah.” He also later sang part of Canada’s national anthem, “Oh, Canada” and Bono spoke at length about Canada throughout the show, including this, “Canada, when others build walls, you open your arms! When others divide into tribes, you build a beautiful mosaic!”

How to Watch on Saturday?

U2 are expected to perform around noon on Saturday (Eastern Time), however programming starts an hour before on most stations, at 11am EST, and a set time has not been given for the performance at this time.

Canada has three major television networks, CBC, CTV, and Global. Each plans coverage of the Canada 150 event.

Availability outside of Canada may vary, but under each Further Information link above a variety of other options from each station is discussed including television, radio, Facebook, and other outlets.

To our Canadian readers out there, Happy Canada 150, and to the rest of the world, thank you for helping us celebrate! Special thanks to Angelo at “U2 – In the Name of Love 2 U” for some assistance with this article, please give them a visit.

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