This is coming at you from what you would call an old school, hardcore fan. I have followed these Fair City chancers around the globe and even lived in their home town for five years...rubbing shoulders with them from time to time whether it be at The Olympia, Patrick Guilbaud's or the late great Lillie's Bordello. So I do consider myself an authority and a keen watcher from afar. A real fan speaks truthfully with realism. Ya gotta see their bad and good. Too many starry eyed, born again christian Yank fans treat them like they do their own flag- with blind patriotism. No band always makes the right move, the best song, the best album. The bombast and the soundbites can wear thin across the years oh Cuban heeled one. Alas, I digress...the album in question.
As the title says- So close...yet so far. This could have been one of the greats. The atmosphere and cover art of No Line set us up for something deep and melancholic. The title track sent the hairs up on the back of my neck and I got very, very excited. Bono has to try just that little bit harder for the upper register these days, but he's still got it. (Please stop when you don't...do not do a Billy Idol or Bon Jovi. Not that they are in your league.) Magnificent is just that, trademark uplifting U2. Some might say, not this again...I say spot on. Moment of Surrender- just as beautiful. What you must understand here is they are setting a mood. A very good one. We are heading for Classic Album territory here. Unknown Caller...yes! Yes! Love the intro...build, build harmonies. Thank-you Eno! My god this is going to be up there with some of their very best...nooooo! The next track marks the demise, the near miss, the big mistake. You just had to try for the single didnt you boys. Larry why didnt you speak up, reign the B man in? Eno you knew better didnt you? You tried to warn them. And bloody 'Boots'. I can't quite put my finger on why this is so incredibly dire, so very crap...it just is. Trying too hard again lads...you were onto something superb and you wrecked our buzz. Stand up Comedy. Again more of the same. You are not the Stone Roses. Actually, it is Bono cramming far too many naff lyrics into a fairly good tune that ruins this one. We don't need to hear about your ego...we've been hit on the head with it for 30+ years! I know you love the sound of your own voice but stop ooohhingg over every bit of nice playing Edge hits! He must get so annoyed with you at times. Sigh. Fez, ok excellent right back on track. Beautiful song. We are now back on the original mood that you lads set. White as Snow. Not my favourite ballad...I just think you are losing touch with the lyrics a bit B. What are you trying to tell us? What is this storytelling? I am not feeling the honesty. Something feels funny. The weakest of the good tracks, but not horrible and at least you are still on the right vibe. Hell, it may grow on me. Breathe. Yes! Edge you are sublime, Bono spot on, A & L a sweet groove. Great song. I might have gone a bit more minor with the chorus after the tone you set and the lyrics there are a bit weak after the verses but I'll forgive you. Cedars. Nice music. Cotinuity of atmosphere. Bono where are you at? Is it just me? I am not feeling you. Too much money for too long? Is the view too gilded from San Remo? Is the mist too thick up Killiney Hill. Come back.
Ok. A critical review. I love you no less. I bought the special edition box set. I flew to Dublin to watch you at Croker. I am doing the back stage catering at Glasto for god's sake. (Bloody 50 year old rock stars and their back spasms!) You have been with me since I was a messed up teen...'Boy' spoke for me, to me. I have spent thousands on you so I have a right. You missed the mark and you were on the right track. It is no secret that you struggle with final track listings/first singles. If you had led with Magnificent and a different video...hindsight, eh? I am certain that their were a lot of arguments and struggle with this, (look how long it took) Eno should have had final say. Your George Martin for a reason.
So there you have it. In any other hands a solid four stars, because it is you boys I dock a star for those three middle songs and Bono's often vague, grasping, unsure and unusually insincere lyrics. Have you run out of imagery, clever couplets? Yes, there are few great words...'I was born to sing for you', thank-you, but too much didnt work.
Wow. If anyone actually reads all this they deserve a medal. Still the best band around, arguably the best ever and the greatest show on earth. Bring on the next one. Long may your voice last Bono, you aint getting any younger and sort your freakin' back out! I am going to be trudging in the mud at Glasto for no reason now...
A true fan