U2 Add a Splash of Colour to Northern Irish Politics
The Irish Times (1997-09-05)
U2 has added a splash of colour to Northern Irish politics with
the sleeve of the latest new CD single, Please. In a parody of
U2’s POP album cover, the faces of Bono, The Edge, Adam
and Larry are replaced by images of Gerry Adams, David
Trimble, John Hume and Ian Paisley, in vibrant colour.
Adams sports a green face, orange lips and orange specs,
while David Trimble has blue lips, blue specs, and a yellow
face. John Hume’s visage is a deep blue hue, and Ian Paisley’s
is a fiery red.
The political tone of the CD sleeve is at odds with U2’s recent
statement that its PopMart show would steer clear of politics.
On the day of their concert in Belfast’s Botanic Gardens in
August, Bono told reporters: “There will be no politics at this
concert – but a bit of shrubbery.”
Please is the fourth track to be taken from POP, and will be
released on September 22nd. The slow, moody ballad was
written shortly after the February 1996 breakdown of the IRA
Some lyrics refer to the conflict in the North: “September,
streets capsizing, spilling over down the drain/ Shards of glass,
splinters like rain, but you could only feel your own pain/
October, talking getting nowhere, November, December,
remember/ Are we just starting again?”
Other lines like “Your holy war, your northern star” could also
be interpreted as referring to the Northern situation.
A spokeswoman for U2 denied that the song was political. She
said it was a plea for peace and dialogue between Northern
politicians. “Like all U2 songs, it’s completely open to
interpretation. “I can’t tell you what the band were thinking
when they wrote it, but it’s definitely not a political statement – it’s more symbolic.
“Anyone who lives in this country can relate to it, because we
all want peace.” The band, which plays in Paris tomorrow
night, has previously featured issues such as war, oppression,
torture and apartheid in its music. The U2 anthem, Sunday
Bloody Sunday, directly addressed the conflict in the North but
in recent years U2 has made consumerism its main
The sleeve art for Please is based on the work of Andy
Warhol, who once famously painted a tin of baked beans – perhaps U2 are trying to say that unless inclusive talks start
soon the peace process won’t amount to a hill of beans?