On The Road With U2: Tales from The Joshua Tree Tour

Before the sold-out Seattle date on their Joshua Tree tour, U2 sat down with Hot Press to reflect on the creation of their iconic masterwork, the current political climate in the US, their upcoming Croke Park date, and their hotly awaited new album. Plus we report on the spectacular show itself and dip into the album’s mouthwatering deluxe reissue.

“It’s the Presbyterians! The fucking Presbyterians!” May 14th , 2017: Four o’clock on a chilly Seattle afternoon and, onstage in the modernistic, state of the art CenturyLink Field stadium, Bono is totally slagging off Edge. The U2 guitarist is apparently being a tad tardy coming in with the distinctive intro of ‘Bad’ – linking on from ‘A Sort of Homecoming’ – and the black-clad singer isn’t letting him away with it.

Indeed, obviously in fine slagging form, he’s not letting anybody away with anything today. Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jnr. join them, strolling down the walkway that links the main stage with the smaller, tree-shaped, satellite one, and the drummer sits under a plastic roof sheltering his kit from the elements. “Larry has a house!” Bono laughingly mocks, his voice echoing around the near empty stadium. “Those in plastic houses shouldn’t throw stones!”

The stadium may be practically empty, but there’s almost 70,000 people on the way, a good number of them already gathered outside cheering the soundcheck on in the far distance. In just a few hours time U2 will be playing the second show of their much-hyped The Joshua Tree Tour (which will ultimately play to 1.7 million fans over 33 dates in North America and Europe), but there’s no obvious sense of nervous tension coming from the band as they prepare. They opened the tour in Vancouver two nights ago, and the reviews were particularly strong. After 40 years of gigging and globetrotting, the four Dubliners are by now pretty comfortable in their stage skins. Hot Press is standing beside Gavin Friday by the massive sound desk in the centre of the stadium. A friend of Bono’s since early childhood, he’s their ‘Artistic Advisor’ on this tour (as he has been for many years). Busy with his own creative projects, he won’t be on hand throughout the whole thing though. “I usually just do the first few dates,” he explains. “Just to sort out any snags and get the whole thing up and running. But I’ll pop over to see it every now and then.”

Up on the stage, the soundcheck is done. Or perhaps not quite. “Should we run through ‘Little Things’?” asks Adam, referring to a scorching new ballad entitled ‘The Little Things That Give You Away’ from their forthcoming Songs of Experience album. “Fuck, I almost forgot about that one,” Bono says, laughing again. “Yeah, I suppose we’d better give it a go.”

Just as well Adam remembered. It’s the little things that can trip you up, too…

Thirty minutes later, Hot Press and various other representatives of the Irish media are escorted to the crew restaurant deep in the bowels of the stadium.

There’s maybe 100 people in the room, all grabbing a quick bite before the gates open and the madness begins, but we’re taken to a large round table in a relatively quiet corner. No sooner have we all taken our seats than Edge is brought in by publicists Regine Moylett and Lindsey Holmes. Time is tight, we are informed, but the guitarist can spare us 15 minutes if we have any questions.

Needless to say, we have a few…

How are you, Edge?

“I’m really good. Better than the crew (laughs). The stage and screen has been put together in 36 hours, so all the crew are exhausted. You can see there’s been a few rough moments. It’s up and it seems to be working. We’ll find out tonight when they turn on the screen whether it works, but so far so good.

“We’re thinking about it, that’s why we were doing it in soundcheck. You know, we try and find the perfect set and in that process, there’s always tweaks being made as you go along and then new ideas being tried out. So our show is never static, it’s always evolving and changing. But we don’t do the thing of ‘Let’s completely change it every night.’ Actually, we don’t think it’s the best show and we don’t feel like we’re giving our fans the best possible night if we do that, so it’s a more evolutionary thing. So far, second night, we’ll have changed I think one song, for sure, and we’ll see how it goes. More changes might happen as we go along.”

How many from Songs of Experience will you be playing? There’s one in the setlist already.

“Well, that’s all that we’re doing so far, ‘The Little Things That Give You Away’,” replies Edge. “But we’ll see. You don’t really know until you start to listen again to your new record from the point of view of a fan, because when you’ve first made it you’re so close to it. You just have your head all twisted around. I remember seriously sitting the guys down with Unforgettable Fire and saying that the first single is clearly ‘Indian Summer Sky’. Clearly! ‘What are you talking about ‘Pride (In The Name Of Love)’? That’s ridiculous!’ (laughs).

“So perspective comes back slowly when you finish a record. Who knows, in other words, whether that song is one of the great songs on the record or actually something that is going to get released as a single.”

Was that an older song that you came back to, or was it written in the last 18 months?

“A bit of both,” he responds. “We had elements of it that have been around for a while, but it was substantially rewritten. I mean, it’s virtually unrecognisable.”

How did Canadian fans react to ‘Little Things’ on Friday night? “Well, it’s interesting,” reflects Edge. “Maybe because of the title of the tour and because of the way that we’ve billed it, I felt that people were listening in an attentive way that they hadn’t for a few tours, maybe ever actually, thinking about it. I wouldn’t say it was a complete surprise, but it was certainly noteworthy: people were really listening to everything that was going on.”

So you might do an anniversary tour for every album that was released? “Well, I don’t know about that (laughs).”

At the Vancouver gig you started off very political, with a lot of the big anthems like ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ and ‘Pride’. It was almost like a political statement from the get-go.

“There’s that interpretation, which I think is a part of it,” nods Edge, “but there’s also, I think, telling the story about how we got to The Joshua Tree. In some ways it’s a chronology of what we were doing leading up to that album and, you’re right, a lot of it was political and spoke about the times and what was going on in the culture in a way that it isn’t now. So it really does stand up as being quite different to the music culture of today, for better or for worse. We weren’t operating in a vacuum. We were inspired by a lot of the bands that were around at the time. I’m not saying it’s all about us and what we were doing.

“The Clash, all of those bands, were our heroes and definitely influenced our take on music. But it is surprising to me that the response from music is still quite muted. I haven’t seen an awful lot. Maybe in hip–hop there’s a bit more. But in rock and roll, it’s like where’s the comment?

Where’s the response? Maybe it’ll come, but I haven’t seen it yet.” Do you feel that responsibility as a band, when you look around and see that no one else is doing it?

“In a weird way, I wouldn’t say a responsibility, but… It’s probably the fact that we have been here before, and maybe that gives us a little bit of a different insight. I’m just fascinated to see where the protest voice is going to come from. I mean we’ve seen it in a physical sense with the Women’s March and all that. People are out on the street, but in terms of music culture, not so much yet. But I think it always happens, and it will inspire a wave of response.”

You played ‘Red Hill Mining Town’ in Vancouver, and it was the very first time you ever played it live. How did that decision come about?

“Well, I mean it’s on the album and we’re calling it The Joshua Tree Tour so we felt it incumbent upon ourselves to play it. The reason we’d never done it before – really, it was simply because of the tempo. For a song to get into the U2 set it’s got to earn its keep, it’s got to make sense, and ‘Red Hill’ was just too slow for us.

“I think we’ve allowed this show to be about just the breadth of our work and we’re kind of okay with allowing the energy to ebb and flow a bit more, and it does, and that’s okay. In a normal U2 set we’re constantly aware of the energy that we’re putting out and the crowd’s response to us. Slow songs, you really only put them in if they are a really amazing song that everyone knows.”

Did this process begin with U2 making Songs of Innocence? I mean, on that album you were looking back at your formative years, and then you get to The Joshua Tree in 1987, which was your big breakthrough album. Was that what inspired the idea of revisiting older work, do you think?

“Maybe, I mean, it wasn’t a plan,” considers Edge. “It was quite a spontaneous thing. We just realised with the election happening and our timing and the way things seemed to be about to unfold... We weren’t really sure if the album that we had finished was necessarily what we wanted to put out. We wanted to take that moment to contemplate the work and just make sure it was in step with where we are at.”

Where are you at with that album now?

“Actually, the work has survived pretty well and I don’t think that we’re going to change that much. And the Kendrick collaboration has fit perfectly, in a way, into the trajectory of launching the record, because again, he is getting out there and making some comments about where things are at. Hip–hop is, as I said earlier, more actively engaged politically. So I don’t think we’re going to have to change that much.”

Reagan versus Trump

Thirty years ago it was Thatcher/Reagan, today it’s Trump/Theresa May. Which pairing is worse?

“Ha! (laughs). Time will tell. I mean, at the time there were so many people, in Central America particularly, who were so against the policies of the Reagan administration, and yet now amongst a huge section of the political commentators he’s seen as like a golden moment for the Republican Party, and his administration is held up as a benchmark for how well it can go. So really what you see depends on where you stand, very much so, in that regard.

“If you asked people now, 90% would say that Ronald Reagan was the political giant and Donald Trump was the aberration, but we’ll see. At the time, Ronald Reagan was by no means seen as a reasonable and progressive character. He was seen as very reactionary and his foreign policies caused a lot of heartache in Central America. So time will tell.”

From the soundcheck it sounded as though ‘Miss Sarajevo’ has become ‘Miss Syria’, largely because of that very powerful video from the Jordanian refugee camp. How did you feel when you first saw that video and you put it to music?

“We worked a little bit with the French artist JR on previous things, he’s a friend and an amazing artist,” explains Edge. “And his work is always finding locations of either conflict or controversy, and putting art somewhere where you would just never expect to see it. So it was perfectly consistent with what he’s about. So first of all, it was great to find a way that we could collaborate with him, so we talked to him in New York about this idea, and when we finally saw the film we were like, ‘Wow!’

“We didn’t quite know what he was going to come back with, but it was kind of mindblowing. It’s a beautiful portrayal of the essential problem with the whole migrant problem, that really, they’re just like us, but coming from a different place, a different culture, but with all the same aspirations. I think right now that’s a very important message to get out there.

“It’s too easy to be fearful, and to miss that fact, in light of international terrorism and all that, and right now, it just seems that the narrative has gone the other way everywhere. You know, like immigration equals a threat, and I don’t think it should be seen like that.”

To change topic – why no second Croke Park show?

“It was more logistical than anything,” says Edge. “The venues were booked and we had only a very short window, and it’s tight to try and get around everywhere, so... sorry, lads! (laughs)”.

Edge takes his leave, and Guy Oseary – U2’s manager since 2013 (he also manages Madonna and Amy Schumer) – pops over to say hello. An impeccably polite Israeli-American, the 44-year-old shakes hands with everyone at the table. Asked if he’s going to be around for the whole tour, he responds, “I’m going to be on most of it. I mean, I was on most of them before I even managed them. I always just loved going to U2’s shows.”

A few moments later, Adam and Bono arrive. “How can I help?” the singer quips, taking his seat at the table. “I came about the job!”

Let’s jump straight to it – was it surprising, the lack of response from the musical community towards Trump, Theresa May, Brexit, immigration laws etc, etc? Do you believe that younger people today compared to 30 years ago…

“There’s an amazing response happening in the US now,” interrupts Bono. “I think there’s real grassroots movement against the kind of stupidity that’s going on. The women’s movement for a start, that’s a real clue. I think one of the most inspiring things for me is seeing women grabbing hold of this… you know, I did look down to see my own daughter at the march with Pussy Power on her hat, and I went… (pulls shocked parental face) ‘OK! OK!’ I’m really quite inspired by that, but I think that it would be really interesting if it wasn’t along regular lines of demarcation between the left and the right. They seem like useless terms.

“People are angry, and globalisation isn’t working for all the people. It’s working well largely in the south of the equator, but what happens to blue collar work, with automation, is nothing to what is going to happen to white collar work with artificial intelligence. Workers, clerks, all stuff that my dad did and my uncle and whatever. So the whole concept of labour is being revaluated. What is it to work? I’m not sure that just leaving it open to the free market is going to work. But neither is old school protectionism. So it seems to me that the left and the right are a little stuck for the real solutions for people going forward.”

What’s your take on Trump?

“I see Trump as a different matter, outside of politics,” says Bono. “I mean, in the party of Lincoln, it’s a hostile takeover. As I intend to communicate tonight, people who voted for Trump are very welcome here. He’s not! But I think that I’ve got to understand why people are angry and I think it’s wrong to be like, ‘Why are people angry and how has this happened?’ And there’s stuff to learn, maybe a little bit of humility which doesn’t come easy for some of us (smiles). In listening and trying to understand why people voted like that. Why, for example, 52% of college educated women voted for Trump? So it tells you something, and I’m sure it doesn’t tell you that they think he really regards them.”

When U2 go to somewhere like Pittsburgh, you might be playing to a lot of Trump fans…

“Yeah, I hope so!” says Bono. “I hope so! And I really want people to feel the American idea. I’m always reminding myself that America is not just a country, it’s an idea. And we’ve all got a stake in that idea succeeding and becoming contagious, and I would like to feel it. There will be a lot of people who voted for Trump at our shows, and as I said, they are welcome, he is not. Not that he is clamouring to get in.”

Have you ever met him before?

“No,” replies Bono, shaking his head. “Never.” ”A small price to pay”

If you did meet him, what would you say to him?

“I wouldn’t want to meet him,” says the singer, “because he’d have more photographers than I would and it just gets drowned out, that kind of thing. There’s many things that are upsetting, but there’s a paper emerged over the new year, that was circulated, of cuts to a lot of programmes that a lot of us have fought very, very hard for over the years. There’s essentially a 47% cut to eight budgets being mooted. It’s not happened on some of the accounts I’ve particularly worked on, but people tell me it’s coming. And the idea is that they’re not going to cut the aid, on PEPFAR or Global Fund or the fight against HIV, they’re just going to level it off.

“And Bill Gates will be here tonight and he’ll tell you (imitates Gates) ‘But that doesn’t work, because you can’t level it off, because people will die!’ So I don’t want to meet that person who… [would do something like that]. The Americans, this is one of the greatest things they’ve done, and I don’t think this is hyperbole, but it’s of Second World War-like importance.

“The largest intervention in the history of medicine is the fight against HIV/Aids, and the Americans have led it. There’s been cross party support, Bush started it and Obama continued it, even though he wasn’t going to get the praise for it. I think he’s even spent more money. “If I remember correctly, it was $15 billion for George Bush, which came at the end of Bush’s run, and it’s up to $46 billion now. So it’s an incredible amount spent on this tiny little virus. It’s a heroic story, and Americans, when you tell them that there’s 18 million people alive because of this, that’s why we love America. The idea that Trump might undo that has me right on the back foot.”

When you met Mike Pence in February, was that part of the conversation?

“Yeah,” nods Bono, “because I can deal with people of conviction, even if they don’t agree with me, even if we don’t have much in common. You just have to have one thing in common to have a conversation, and he had fought for PEPFAR. I had particularly wanted to see him and to be very friendly with him, and to say, ‘Look, can we work with you because I heard that this is coming?’

“And I think he has been fighting our cause in there. My friends fell out with me over meeting Pence, but it’s kind of my job, you know. Working with people that you don’t look good in a photograph with is a small price to pay.”

Two of the songs in your setlist, ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ and ‘Streets’, refer to the Northern Ireland scenario. A hard Brexit might mean the border going back up again. Do you have any thoughts about that whole situation?

“That’d be a great laugh, wouldn’t it?” comes the sardonic reply. “Ah, the good old days, they were great weren’t they? All the shooting and rioting and everything… they were great, brilliant craic, you’d miss it! (laughs) It is mad, the border thing, because borders are impossible really now to deal with, and you’ve seen what a country the size of Syria has done to Europe, to the shape of Europe.

“So now imagine a country the size of Egypt, what that would do, or a country the size of Nigeria, were it to implode, which is the stated objective of Boko Haram.So Europe, as we know it, then becomes what? Fortress Europe? Can you really build walls that high? We’ve shown that people will strap themselves to tin cans, to pieces of wood, so I think the whole concept of the border will be have to looked at again. I don’t think there’s a drawbridge big enough to block the future.”

Adam, why is there no musical response to Trump to Brexit? Where are the Public Enemies, where are the Manic Street Preachers?

“Kendrick!” protests the bassist. “You know, I don’t think that’s true. I think there have been a lot of people objecting to Trump during the campaign, but I suspect that now that he’s in power, people are looking at it in a slightly different way. Everyone may turn out for the marches… which is the first time that group of people has been politicised in 10 or 15 years, turning up for marches without really much provocation. So I’d be positive that there is protest out there.”

“That Kendrick album is unbelievable,” adds Bono.

What’s happening with Songs of Experience?

“Em, well, if it was up to me,” says Bono, “I’d be playing it.”

Is it done?

“Pretty much,” he replies. “It’s a very special piece of work. I think it might have benefited from the pause that we took. Because I would’ve put it out a year ago. Things have changed now, it just had to happen. Our songs come out as stories, breaking news as well as what’s going on in our own lives, what’s going on in the community. U2 always came out of that and the whole world changed and you just didn’t want to be singing about the Millennium bug!”

How important is the Croke Park date going to be for you?

“It’s great to go back there,” enthuses Adam. “We went there on Unforgettable Fire to begin with. It’s always fun playing to a home audience. Playing that particular record to a home audience is going to be amazing.” What kind of memories do you have from the ‘87 show?

“I can’t remember the ’80s at all!” laughs Adam.

“I remember a fight with Paul McGuinness going into Croke Park,” reflects Bono. “We couldn’t get the sound right and I was going after him, going, ‘This is the kind of place we have to make music in? This, like, concrete mess?’ Paul just said, ‘Well, you asked me. You personally.’ It was one of those ones. One thing, nobody on the night before last felt nostalgic. The strangest thing, songs feel like they were written for this moment. “It’s the wildest thing. ‘Desert sky, dream beneath the desert sky, the rivers run but soon run dry, we need new dreams tonight’ – that’s sort of the theme of the Joshua Tree Tour. It’s just the thing, we need some new ideas. I always think of Bob Dylan, in ‘Brownsville Girl’, in the middle of the song he sings – one of his greatest ever songs – (imitating Dylan), ‘If there’s an original idea out there right now I could use it’. That’s I think everyone feels right now.”

“Talking about what I remember,” adds Adam, “it was a very, very naked show, the Joshua Tree show. We didn’t have cameras in those days, we didn’t have anything that we now have, and we kind of learned from that. Anton Corbijn has done some amazing films, which you’ll see tonight, that kind of illustrate where we’re coming from – if you like, it’s an animated album.”

Next album

Can you tell us a few song titles from the forthcoming album?

Bono: “There’s one called ‘American Soul’. That’s the one that Kendrick really likes, he has a piece of that. There’s ‘The Little Things That Give You Away’. There is one person, I have to say... Eamon Dunphy had a very big influence on our new single. He said, when speaking of my missus, that Ali was the best thing about Bono. So we’ve written a song called ‘You’re the Best Thing About Me’.”

How does it feel to still be getting up on stage and rocking out after 40 years?

“It’s pretty amazing,” enthuses Adam. “It’s something where we still have to pinch ourselves. When we were starting out, you might get one or two singles, you might get an album… and then it feels serious. But we’ve being doing it for a while now. It’s pretty amazing to stand in front of that audience and have them suspend their disbelief of you. I mean, if they saw you walking down the street they might not feel the same way about you, but it’s great for a couple of hours.”

Bono: “It’s a thrill and you think, well, how long can this last?”

Could you live without it?

“I think we probably could,” considers the frontman. “It comes with cost.”

Would you want to?

“We don’t have a choice,” Bono insists. “Well, what else are we qualified for? (laughs) We don’t have a choice in terms of the songs, meaning... you write the songs to make yourselves well, you know. It’s a feeling that only songs can answer for me. We become, and I think this is boring for some people, but we become real students of songs. That’s why having Noel Gallagher out for Europe, you know… wow, he’s the songster. He’s the songman. We want to be around that. A lot of the songs we’ll be playing tonight, we didn’t think about songs. We were just trying to communicate with interesting music. But as we became students of the form, that kind of keeps us. Because there is something Darwinian about a great song.”

How do you mean?

“It’s better than other songs. I learnt this actually from Oasis. I think I heard Liam Gallagher say to another singer – it wasn’t very nice what he said but he just said, it was really simple, he just went (imitates Liam Gallagher), ‘Our songs are better than your fuckin’ songs.’ And I thought that’s so juvenile (laughs), but then I thought, ‘No, I really know what he means.’

“At a certain level, there was a point in time where we’d all go, ‘We just don’t get it.’ A great song is its own argument for itself and that’s keeping us songwriting. The hard bit is leaving your families, leaving the community. It gets harder. We have become somewhat domesticated animals.

“I don’t think that was natural for me – I was the person who slept on Gavin Friday’s couch. I’ve been moving since I was in my early teens. For me, a band was just a replacement for the family I didn’t feel I had. Then the wanderlust came with it, like you know, wherever we go, wherever we are, that’s where it is. Only recently I realised that I had a home – and it was Dublin. I came home after the Paris show and I was walking through the house, and I often do walk through the house at night. I walk in and see the kids while they’re asleep and I just felt, ‘I think I really like being at home.’ So that makes it harder to leave.

““It’s funny how you say, would you miss it?” chimes in Adam. “It’s not that you bump into people now who tell you you’re a fucking eejit. It’s that you actually bump into people who tell you you’ve helped change their day or their lives and that’s something that’s an amazing experience – and you’d miss that. They affect your day – that’s a gift that somebody that you don’t know comes up to you and gives. That’s an amazing thing.”

“One of the humbling things was realising that these songs sort of don’t belong to us anymore,” notes Bono. “After 30 years, they belong to people, whatever they’ve been through. I think this album in particular… it seems to be, we seem to be the least… we seem to be the smallest part of it.

“Is it okay to say this? At the end of Friday night, we finished playing The Joshua Tree, and we were all like,’Wow, we got through that, that was a bit, whatever that was’. And we went up to do a big bow sort of thing, and nothing happened. We were the least bit of it. People were in their own thing. I was like, ‘You can applaud now!’ (laughs)”.

Mouthwateringly brilliant

The applause comes several hours later. Speaking of which, home to the Seattle Seahawks, the CenturyLink Field held the Guinness World Record for loudest crowd roar at an outdoor stadium, first at 136.6 decibels in 2013, followed by a measurement of 137.6 decibels in 2014.

Can it be broken again tonight? Well, certainly not by the audience’s response to Mumford & Sons. The London folk-rock outfit do a fairly decent job of warming up the crowd, but truthfully very few are really here to see them. It’s hard to command a large body of mostly middle-aged people still searching for their seats.

But fuck all that. U2’s set comes in three sections. As the familiar strains of the intro to The Pogues’ ‘Rainy Night in Soho’ blast through the soundsystem, Larry Mullen Jr is the first member to appear onstage, striding purposefully down the promenade runway to the second stage where his drum kit awaits (the plastic roof has been removed). Edge, Bono and Adam soon follow and the game is on. Today is Sunday, so it’s appropriate that their opening salvo is, em, ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’. They nail it. A wonderfully energetic start.

They bang into blistering versions of ‘New Year’s Day’, ‘A Sort of Homecoming’, ‘Bad’ and ‘Pride (In The Name Of Love)’. Bono is welcoming and funny, but the first section is essentially a straight trip through the hits that preceded the seismic 1987 release of The Joshua Tree. But their playing is on fire. Unforgettably so…

Interestingly, for all the times they’ve performed ‘New Year’s Day’ (more than 700 since its 1983 release), tonight is the first time ever that Bono actually sings the lines from the final verse: “And so we’re told this is the golden age/And gold is the reason for the wars we rage.” There’ll obviously be no shortchanging of the songs on this tour. They’re playing everything in its original entirety.

“We’ve all come to look for America,” cries the frontman at the emotional coda of ‘Bad’.

Midway through ‘Pride’, in a heartfelt cri de couer for a powerful nation that has probably never been so politically divided, he implores, “Some people think the dream is dead. Maybe the dream is just telling us to wake up!”

This is the first U2 show in many years where the stage is actually located traditionally, ie. at one end of the stadium. For the 360º and iNNOCENCE +eXPERIENCE tours, the stage was in the centre of the venue. For this tour, they’ve reverted to a more normal setup. Well… ish.

It would be hard to top their visuals from the last two tours, but creative director Willie Williams has given it a go. Comprised of 1,040 individual panels, the massive 200 x 45 ft screen behind the band is apparently the largest LED screen ever used in a touring show. Throughout tonight’s set, when it’s not featuring a huge orange and black Joshua Tree image (which it does for the entire opening section, nodding to the absence of technology in their earliest years), a series of haunting and evocative Anton Corbijn films play panoramically in the background, framing every single song. It’s truly a visual feast. There’s so much happening between the band onstage and the striking images behind them, that it’s literally impossible to take everything all in at once. As advertised, they play The Joshua Tree in its entirety from start to finish, from the memorable ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’ – the stadium erupts when that oh-so-familiar intro starts up – to the moving ‘Mothers of the Disappeared’ (they’re joined by Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder and Mumford & Sons for this one).

This writer was 16 when that album was released and there’s a lot of associated memories. The whole thing is just really fucking powerful. I’m practically in tears during ‘With Or Without You’, vividly recalling a schooldays heartbreak. That song, in particular, has undoubtedly soundtracked many painful breakups.

After 40 years in the business, U2 have a mouthwateringly brilliant back catalogue, but after their Joshua Tree segment, they close with a relatively predictable trip through their hits: ‘Beautiful Day’, ‘Elevation’, ‘Ultraviolet’ and ‘One’. They’re somewhat reworked and the accompanying onscreen visuals are paricularly spectacular (‘Ultraviolet’ showcases a series of images of powerful feminists from over the years, including Mary Robinson and Caitlin Moran), but the feeling is that they’re holding back the big socio-political guns for now.

Well, almost. At one point Bono shouts out, “Governments should fear their citizens, not the other way around!” The show draws to an emotional close with ‘Miss Sarajevo’. As the stadium cheers the image of a young female Muslim Syrian refugee, Bono recites the Statue of Liberty quote from Emma Lazarus’ famous sonnet The New Colossus: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.”

It all ends with ‘The Little Things That Give You Away’. Not sure if anyone from the Guinness Book of Records was in attendance, but they might need to update their ‘Loudest Crowd Roar’ entry. This is a very happy audience.

The Joshua Tree originally had a working title of The Two Americas, and the band had specifically requested Hot Press, along with the rest of the Irish media, would see the Seattle show rather than their Canadian debut.

The expectation was that Bono was going to take a serious pop at President Trump, but other than a mocking mention in the visuals accompanying ‘Exit’ (in which a clip from an old B&W western is shown and a cowboy asserts,“You’re a liar, Trump!”), it simply didn’t happen this evening. Not a complaint, but the suspicion is that the band is still finding its feet on this tour and that Bono is going to choose his moment for a direct verbal assault on probably the most despised POTUS since Richard Nixon.

Seattle simply wasn’t it. Watch this space. Meantime, though, there’s really no faulting this truly triumphant show celebrating a classic album that’s sadly even more relevant today than it was three decades ago. Forty years into a spectacular career, U2 still aren’t faking it. The best may be yet to come. And the real hope is that the Joshua Tree Tour will run a lot longer than Donald Trump’s presidential term…

 

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U2 have always put more into the crucible of live performance than almost any other band on the planet, endeavouring to make every tour an artistic and creative statement in itself. In advance of the return of their Joshua Tree Tour to Dublin, we chart the circumstances of their tours, recall the iconic moments and the visual highlights and reprise what it is that makes them the world’s pre-eminent live act. By Olaf Tyaransen

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U2: The Complete History of Their Live Tours - U2-3/Another Day to October (Part 1 of 4)

U2 have always put more into the crucible of live performance than almost any other band on the planet, endeavouring to make every tour an artistic and creative statement in itself. In advance of the return of their Joshua Tree Tour to Dublin, we chart the circumstances of their tours, recall the iconic moments and the visual highlights and reprise what it is that makes them the world’s pre-eminent live act. By Olaf Tyaransen

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Chester Bennington's Final Hot Press Interview

The late Linkin Park singer spoke to Hot Press about their Minutes TO Midnight in Lisbon back in 2008

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Mundy, Paddy Casey and SON star at Party for Ava

With Vera Twomey and her family exiled in Holland, where medicinal cannabis is legally available, it is impossible to escape the political backdrop to the Party for Ava which took place last night at the Tivoli Theatre in Dublin. Richard Boyd Barrett and Gino Kelly took up the pics...

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The U2 Covers: No. 39, "The Edge on tour"

Olaf Tyaransen caught up with The Edge just as the band prepared to bring their iNNOCENCE & eXPERIENCE tour home for dates in Belfast and Dublin

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The U2 Covers - No. 35: 'U2 Put The Boots In'

As U2 geared up for the release of No Line On The Horizon, they met HP to talk about the creation of their latest masterwork, meeting world leaders, the way they’re perceived in Ireland, the current state of the music business and their future plans.

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The U2 Covers - No. 36: 'U2 Live'

7 years ago, Olaf Tyaransen reported from U2's No Line On The Horizon tour in Barcelona, ahead of the band's Croke Park headliner.

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The U2 Covers - No. 31: 'U2: Closer To The Edge'

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THE U2 COVERS: No. 38, "High Flying Words"

Hot Press' Olaf Tyaransen caught up with the band as they flew to Germany to promote Songs of Innocence

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The U2 Covers - No. 28: 'U2: Boys To Men'

Back in 2000, Olaf Tyaransen spoke to U2 following the release of 'Beautiful Day', with their 10th studio album, All That You Can't Leave Behind, imminent...

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Very Special Guests Promised For 'A Party For Ava' in the Tivoli Theatre Tonight

The fundraiser is in aid of six-year-old Dravet Syndrome sufferer Ava Barry.

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The U2 Covers - No. 26: 'Adam Clayton: A Bass Odyssey'

20 years of U2, through the eyes of Adam Clayton.

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Longitude Special: Lucy Rose comes to Dublin

With her third album Something’s Changing about to be released, Warwickshire-born singer-songwriter Lucy Rose explains how her Twitter tour of Latin America renewed her love of music and changed her approach to recording.

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Irish actress Iseult Casey talks about the realities of abortion dramatised in her new film Twice Shy

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Rónán Ó Snodaigh, Paddy Casey, Susan O’Neill and Mick Flannery to play fundraiser for Ava Barry in the Tivoli

Hot Press’ Olaf Tyaransen will be interviewing medicinal cannabis advocate Vera Twomey live onstage on the night…

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Album Review: WAS, Bear Worship

Irish indie kid get experimental.

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Hot Press 40th Anniversary: The Biggest Events Since 1977 (Mid'00s-Onwards)

Hot Press has lived through some truly extraordinary moments over the past four decades. Over the course of four parts, Olaf Tyaransen rounds up the 40 most seismic events since Hot Press was born.

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Hot Press 40th Anniversary: The 40 Biggest Events Since 1977 (Mid '90s- early '00s)

Hot Press has lived through some truly extraordinary moments over the past four decades. Over the course of four parts, Olaf Tyaransen rounds up the 40 most seismic events since Hot Press was born.

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Hot Press 40th Anniversary: The Biggest Events Since 1977 (1987-1993)

Hot Press has lived through some truly extraordinary moments over the past four decades. Over the course of four parts, Olaf Tyaransen rounds up the 40 most seismic events since Hot Press was born.

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Hot Press 40th Anniversary: The Biggest Events Since 1977 (1977-1986)

Hot Press has lived through some truly extraordinary moments over the past four decades. Over the course of four parts, Olaf Tyaransen rounds up the 40 most seismic events since Hot Press was born.

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The Full Interview with Ian Bailey - Victim of the State

In 1996, the French film director, Sophie Toscan du Plantier, was murdered just outside the small town of Schull, in West Cork. Twenty years on, no one has any idea what happened on that fateful night. What we do know is that someone in the Gardaí decided that Ian Bailey – a journalist from Manchester who had moved to West Cork six years previously – was the prime suspect. What followed is a tale of incompetence, corruption, abuse of due process, and perversion of the course of justice – plunging Ian Bailey into a never-ending, Kafka-esque nightmare. Here, for the first time, he talks openly and in great detail about the case to a journalist.

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Irish Lion: The Full Hot Press Interview with Damien Dempsey

With the release of his seventh studio album, Soulsun, imminent, DAMIEN DEMPSEY discusses his occasional battles with depression, why marijuana should be legalised, having dinner at Brian Eno’s house, and working with the likes of Dido, Pauline Scanlon and Imelda May. Interview: OLAF TYARANSEN. Photography: KATHRIN BAUMBACH

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Album Review: Hair Like Blood, The Cute Hoors

Excellent effort from veteran Irish rockers.

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SON To Support Sharon Shannon At The National Concert Hall

It’ll be an all-Clare line-up onstage in the National Concert Hall in August with Ennis-born singer-songwriter Susan O’Neill (aka SON) confirmed as the support act to Sharon Shannon on the 17th of that month. Tickets (starting at €25) are on sale now.

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Album Review: Galvany Street, Booka Shade (featuring Craig Walker)

Return to roots for Ireland/Germany collaboration.

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U2: Donald Trump Takes A Back Seat In Seattle

Bono, Larry, Adam and Edge played the CenturyLink Field, Seattle last night and Olaf Tyaransen was on hand to give his verdict.

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The Full Walking On Cars Interview

With the massive European success of their double platinum-selling debut, Everything This Way, Kerry’s WALKING ON CARS pretty much owned 2016. Currently back in Dingle writing the band’s second album, frontman Patrick ‘Pa’ Sheehy takes time out to tell OLAF TYARANSEN about their planned shows in Dublin, Cork and Belfast this summer, Fungie the dolphin, Danny Healy Rae, their creative process – and why quitting their day jobs was the best career move they ever made.

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Patrick Bergin talks Red Rock, Irish politics and a life in front of the camera

Currently starring in TV3 soap Red Rock, veteran Dublin actor Patrick Bergin reflects on fame, success, money, and why some Irish politicians should be put naked in a roomful of wasps.

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Rooney Tunes: Visual artist David Rooney talks swapping the paintbrush for the guitar

After three decades making his living as a visual artist, Hot Press illustrator DAVID ROONEY has just released his debut album. He tells OLAF TYARANSEN how Glen Hansard and Declan O’Rourke helped inspire him to swap his paintbrush for a guitar.

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Dowd-Mouth! Interview with Eamonn Dowd

Veteran musician Eamonn Dowd on his new album Dig Into Nowhere, working with Nikki Sudden, and how rock n' roll saved him from a life of drudgery in rural Ireland.

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Craig Walker & Booka Shade’s Galvany Street Out Now

When Craig Walker and Phoebe Killdeer were put together in a Paris hotel room for a songwriting session by their music publisher in 2009, they wrote the No 1 hit ‘Fade Out Lines’ in just five minutes. Now they’re collaborating on a new Berlin-based THEM THERE project.

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Interview: Berlin's New Music Duo Them There

When Craig Walker and Phoebe Killdeer were put together in a Paris hotel room for a songwriting session by their music publisher in 2009, they wrote the No 1 hit ‘Fade Out Lines’ in just five minutes. Now they’re collaborating on a new Berlin-based musical project called THEM THERE.

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Galway writer Alan McMonagle chats with Hot Press about his debut novel Ithaca

Having drifted aimlessly through his twenties, Galway-born ALAN McMONAGLE didn’t start writing seriously until he turned 30. Now aged 43, all of his hard work has finally paid off with the success of his debut novel Ithaca.

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Personal? Jaysus! - The Full Depeche Mode Interview

Booze! Drugs! Lesbian strippers! One of the biggest rock bands on the planet, Essex synth warriors DEPECHE MODE also used to be amongst the most hedonistic. But on the release of their 14th studio album, Spirit, founding member Andrew ‘Fletch’ Fletcher tells a truly gutted OLAF TYARANSEN that their decadent days are long behind them...

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Album Review: David Rooney, Bound Together

Stunning debut from Hot Press illustrator

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Book Review: Peter Dunne, The 50 Things

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Building Up Momentum: Hot Press looks ahead to the 14th International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival

Momentum Acting Studio are presenting a three-play suite about love, at the 14th International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival. Director LIZA MICHAEL talks about what attracted her to the work of Neil LaBute and Louis CK.

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Canadian Government Moves Towards Full Legalisation of Recreational Marijuana

Making good on his 2015 electoral promises, yesterday Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party government introduced legislation that will potentially see marijuana fully legalised in Canada by July 2018. Rapper Snoop Dogg had already tweeted his approval…

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Back In Black: The Reinvented Imelda May

Imelda May’s stunning new album, Life. Love. Flesh. Blood, is strongly informed by her 2015 break-up with ex-husband and band member, Darrel Higham. In a remarkably revealing interview, she discusses working through personal pain on the record, reinventing her look and sound, collaborating with legendary producer T Bone Burnett in LA, and how advice from her friend Bono helped shaped the material. “I put my whole heart and soul into this album,” she tells Olaf Tyaransen.

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Murphy's Draw: We talk to Cillian Murphy about his new film Free Fire

Peaky Blinders star Cillian Murphy discusses his return to Ireland after many years in London, his working methods, and his role as an IRA man in Ben Wheatley’s ultra-violent new action movie Free Fire.

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Mod Save The Spleen: Going toe-to-toe with Sleaford Mods

It took numerous albums and over a decade of hard graft for cult Nottingham duo SLEAFORD MODS to finally start making a living from music. They’re now signed to Rough Trade, and Iggy Pop is a major fan, but acerbic vocalist Jason Williamson still isn’t happy…

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Book Review: Alan McMonagle: Ithaca

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Ian Bailey: “I’m Going To Be Arrested on Thursday”

Long-time murder suspect, Ian Bailey, has spoken to Hot Press about his current legal travails, the planned Jim Sheridan documentary about his case and his debut poetry collection, The West Cork Way.

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The Stunning's Steve Wall describes fatal car accident as a "tragedy beyond belief"

Despite the car crash which claimed the life of the singer’s young niece, The Stunning’s Galway benefit show in aid of five female NUIG lecturers’ equality cases will still go ahead next week…

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From The Archives: Hot Press last spoke to Martin McGuinness when he ran for President in 2011

His entry into the Presidential race came as a bombshell, throwing many political commentators, as well as the Fine Gael party, into a tailspin. It has also been the catalyst to a surge in support in the opinion polls for Sinn Féin. So who is Martin McGuinness? What is he like as a man? And can a self-confessed former IRA leader convince the Irish peope that he has what it takes to be the President?

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Trip Through Your Words: Bono and the books that became the seeds for The Joshua Tree

Having once memorably sung “Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief”, BONO has never been shy when it comes to acknowledging his artistic influences. Norman Mailer, Truman Capote, Flannery O’Connor, Sam Shepard and Raymond Carver were amongst his literary reference points when it came to penning the lyrics for The Joshua Tree. By OLAF TYARANSEN

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Reach Out And Touch The Flame - The Full Joshua Tree Cover Story

The Joshua Tree was the album that transformed U2 from being a big band into one of the most powerful and enduring forces in the history of rock music. On the 30th Anniversary of the release of the landmark album, OLAF TYARANSEN sets the scene, listens to some of the key players, and reflects on the extraordinary sonic magic that was conjured in a disused house in Rathfarnham, on the south side of Dublin, by a group of four Northsiders and their various musical accomplices…

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It's A Long Way From Tipperary... Una Healy Talks Going Solo

Best known as a singer with successful girl band The Saturdays, and also as a TV judge on The Voice, singer-songwriter Una Healy has waited a long time to release a solo album, but The Waiting Game is finally over… and out.

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Top Geary: Interview with Karl Geary

The chisel-cheeked KARL GEARY first shot to fame when he appeared in Madonna’s Sex book in 1992, but he’s more than just a pretty face. Having just published his debut novel, the Dubliner talks about his love of writing, his accidental acting career, the legendary Sin-e, and having Allen Ginsberg, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed as neighbours in 1980s Manhattan.

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Book Review: The Mattress, Wasps vs. Humans

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Keeping It Lit - The Full Interview with Elbow's Guy Garvey

With Elbow’s seventh studio album, Little Fictions, about to drop, recently-hitched frontman GUY GARVEY talks about his (slightly) healthier lifestyle, the departure of drummer Richard Jupp, the twin disasters of Trump and Brexit, and why his actress wife makes him feel naughty.

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James Darkin - Go No Matter What

Thrilling debut from the electro Dub

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Montpelier Parade, Karl Geary

What a long, strange trip it’s been. Karl Geary – brother of musician Mark Geary – high-tailed it from Dublin in the 1980s.

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Book Review: Montpelier Parade, Karl Geary

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HOT FOR 2017: The top 10 books to look out for this year

From exciting Irish debuts to new releases by international heavy hitters such as Martin Amis, Paul Auster and Joyce Carol Oates, 2017 will be a big year for literary fiction. Olaf Tyaransen selects ten books they’ll all be talking about this year…

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Elbow's Guy Garvey on Trump and Brexit

“It feels like a return to fucking Dickensian values,” says the singer.

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Fast Train Coming - An exclusive interview with Irvine Welsh

A full 21 years after making one of the biggest British cinematic hits of the 1990s, the original cast and crew of Trainspotting have finally made a sequel. Author IRVINE WELSH talks about the stop/start process involved, the importance of the soundtrack, the possibility of a third installment, and why he thinks the election of Donald Trump will be great for artists. Interview: OLAF TYARANSEN

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Rising SON: Susan O'Neill talks treading her own path this year

Susan O’Neill, the husky-voiced backing singer with Propeller Palms and King Kong Company, is going on her own in 2017.

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Film Review: Olaf Tyaransen on Danny Boyle's T2 Trainspotting

A bad sequel can drag an iconic original movie down. Thankfully, however, Danny Boyle has beaten that trap with his update of Irvine Welsh's landmark Trainspotting

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Olaf Tyaransen celebrates the illustrious life of Howard Marks

One of the most notorious drug dealers of the modern era, in almost every way, Howard Marks went against stereotype. He was a highly intelligent, erudite and charming man, who enjoyed life to the full – while running rings around law enforcement agencies for years.

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Paul Howard opens up about Ross O'Carroll and Irish aristocrats

Olaf Tyaransen catches up with million-selling author Paul Howard, who currently has two new books out at the moment. One is the latest in his satirical Ross O-Carroll-Kelly; the other concerns an entirely different class of Irish legend...

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EXCLUSIVE: Irvine Welsh On The Election Of Donald Trump

“From a citizen’s point of view it sucks, but from an artist’s point of view it’s fucking great!” says the Trainspotting author.

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MUSE NAMED ‘HEADLINER OF THE YEAR’ AT EUROSONIC’S EUROPEAN FESTIVAL AWARDS

Matt Bellamy & Co. are going to have to extend their mantelpiece again...

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WATCH: Walking On Cars receive EBBA at Eurosonic

The Dingle indie rockers were presented with the award by Jools Holland...

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BEATLES’ FIRST MANAGER DIES

As 2016 draws to a close, the Grim Reaper has struck again.

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Author of the year 2016 Paul Howard

Million-selling author Paul Howard has two new books this year. One is the latest in his satirical Ross O-Carroll-Kelly series; the other concerns an entirely different class of Irish legend...

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U2 Promise Fans "A Very, Very, Special" 2017

U2 have posted a very interesting Christmas teaser on their website, remarking on the 30th anniversary of The Joshua Tree and hinting about a new album – and all that goes with it

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Actress Carrie Fisher Suffers Heart Attack On Flight

Best known for her starring role as Princess Leia in Star Wars, Carrie Fisher is currently in intensive care in a hospital in Los Angeles.

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TG4 Documentary On Acclaimed Trad Band To Screen On Stephen's Night

The Tulla Céili Band were one of the forerunners of the trad revival, who gigged all over Ireland as well as internationally with great success. Now they are the subject of a documentary by director, John O'Donnell

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THE 12 INTERVIEWS OF XMAS: Bell X1

The acclaimed Irish rockers Bell X1 met Olaf Tyaransen in October to talk about international success and new album Arms, the "most difficult that we've ever made."

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THE 12 INTERVIEWS OF XMAS: Pixie Geldof

Pixie Geldof talked with Olaf Tyaransen back in November about her love for Ireland, her unlikely music influences, and the pros and cons of being from a famous family.

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THE 12 INTERVIEWS OF XMAS: Kings Of Leon in London

The Followill family had some curveballs in store for interviewer Olaf Tyaransen during a highly charged interview back in October.

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The Drugs Don't Work

Well, not in the manner intended anyway. The recent report from Forensic Science Ireland on the adulteration of the most widely used illicit drugs on this island makes for depressing, but mostly predictable reading.

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Book Review: Helena Mulkerns, Ferenji and Other Stories

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Pixie’s Lot: Interview with Pixie Geldof

Former model Pixie Geldof is about to release her debut album, the Tony Hoffer-produced I’m Yours. She talks about her love of Ireland, her unlikely country music influences, meeting Courtney Love, recording in LA with Beck’s father, and the pros and cons of being from a famous family. Interview: Olaf Tyaransen Photos: Kathrin Baumbach

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A Love Supreme: Interview with Larry Love

Larry Love of Brixton-based outfit Alabama 3 on playing outlaw funerals, recording the audiobook of Howard Marks’ final memoir, Ronan Keating’s polyps, and their three new studio albums.

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Palm Dog Award - An Interview with Propeller Palms

Paul Butler of acclaimed Waterford outfit Propeller Palms on smalltown jealousies, musical ambitions, the logistics of managing an eight-piece band, and their long-awaited second album, Old Dog, New Tricks.

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Album review: The Heavy Entertainment Show, Robbie Williams

Excellent comeback from pop icon.

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To Bell and Back: Interview with Bell X1

Acclaimed Irish rockers Bell XI discuss meeting Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, attempting to replicate their huge Irish success internationally, and the challenges of creating their latest masterwork, Arms. “This record has been the most difficult that we’ve made,” they tell Olaf Tyaransen.

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Wild Boys: An Interview with Bastille

Wild World is out now on Virgin. Bastille play the SSE Arena, Belfast on November 9 and 3Arena, Dublin (10).

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Album Review: Floatus, Lambchop

Hip-hop inspired album from nashville pioneers

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New to Hot Press: Sub Motion

Meet the band defiantly pushing against the grain of indie and folk bands in Ireland…

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Louth Mouth: An Interview with Jinx Lennon

It’s been six years since Irish urban troubadour Jinx Lennon put out his last studio effort. He’s now set to simultaneously release two new albums – and is still sounding as angry and acerbic as ever.

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Galway musician Fia Rua stars in musical version of Playboy of the Western World

The award-winning radio musical, based on John Millington Synge’s Playboy of the Western World, has now been adapted for theatre – and premieres in Galway tonight.

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Album Review: Pixie Geldof, I'm Yours

Impressive debut from model-turned-singer

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A Life Well Lived: An Interview With The Late Mark Kennedy

One of Galway's great characters, Mark Kennedy, died last week. But there was far more to the man – and his history – than even those who knew, and loved, him might have been aware. He gave a rare interview to Hot Press’ Olaf Tyaransen in the recent past – at least in part with an eye to posterity.

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Album Review: Lady Gaga, Joanne

Pop maverick presses 'reboot' with sometimes compelling results.

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Galway Legend Mark Kennedy Dies

An actor, writer and journalist, Mark Kennedy was a larger than life figure, who made Galway a better and more interesting place. By Olaf Tyaransen

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Royal Family Values: An Interview with Kings of Leon

In advance of the release of Kings Of Leon seventh studio album, Walls, Matthew and Nathan Followill discuss living in Nashville, record company pressures, working with producer Markus Dravs, the US presidential race, Caleb’s meltdown in Dallas, and fighting over a girl in a Dublin bar.

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Divine Inspiration

Divine Comedy frontman Neil Hannon on the band’s superb comeback album, Foreverland, living a life of domestic bliss in the Kildare countryside, and his encounter with the late David Bowie.

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Cook who’s talking: Hot Press meets JP McMahon

Owner of three hugely popular Galway restaurants – including the Michelin-starred Aniar – JP McMahon has become one of the country’s most controversial chefs. He discusses Twitter spats, falling out with his head chef and best friend Enda McEvoy, the stresses of maintaining a successful business – and why so many chefs fall prey to sex, drink and drugs.

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Album Review: Bell X1: Arms

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Light Follows Jay: Hot Press Meets Jay McInerney

Acclaimed American novelist Jay McInerney on early literary success, the influence of James Joyce, being a member of the eighties brat-pack, hanging with Mick Jagger in Manhattan, and his latest novel Bright Precious Days.

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The War On Drugs Arrives In Carlow and Kilkenny

‘Operation Thor’ was the name given to a major Garda operation in Carlow and Kilkenny last Thursday. But with a staggering 210 police officers involved, and just €34,000 worth of drugs seized in the sting, was it even a remotely good use of time, resources and public money? Report: Olaf Tyaransen (pictured right with RTE's Dan Hegarty)

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Great Scott! An Interview with tattoo artist Scott Campbell

Internationally renowned American tattooist Scott Campbell on his early years in Louisiana, tattooing Heath Ledger and Courtney Love, and his work on Hennessy Very Special Limited Edition.

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