- 20 May 20
Longtime U2 collaborator, photographer and director Anton Corbijn turns 65 today. To celebrate, we're revisiting his stunning photo-book U2 & I – which serves up a pictorial history of the band from February 1982 to April 2004.
The occasional tonsorial disaster aside, it has to be said that Bono, Edge, Larry and that other guy – God, what’s his name? – give seriously good pose.
What’s possibly unprecedented in the history of major league rock‘n’roll is how much access the Dutchman’s been given to the band. Whether it’s frolicking in a Cote d’Azur swimming pool with their kids or psyching themselves up for the first night of PopMart, Corbijn and his box of tricks were with U2 every step of the way.
“When I first met Anton,” Bono deadpans, “I had one request… make me look tall, skinny, intelligent with a sense of humour. ‘So you wanna look like me’, was his reply!
“So there goes Anton Corbijn, God’s height, new Dutch master, a funny man, a serious photographer, a silent movie maker who can dance, with a retrospective in one of the great museums of the world. So, what’s his problem? Anton as it turns out, wants to be a drummer.”
If ever a band had wanted to be immortalised you’d have thought it was U2 but, no, Bono reveals that they hate having their picture taken and suggests that Corbijn doesn’t photograph who you are, but who you might be.
A giant 416-page monster of a tome, it also features glowing testimonials from such celebrity fans as Helena Christensen who says: “I have never before experienced such an emotional reaction to music. The melodies manifested themselves onto my soul, into my veins and gave me the feeling they would be with me for the rest of my life. Just like the photographs – all those haunting images of penetrating eyes, stark landscapes, crashing lights. There is an honest intensity, a twisted reality, like something stirring under the surface.”
Those sentiments are echoed by Michael Stipe who feels: “There is a marriage between Anton Corbijn and the gentlemen of U2, a marriage that I often find myself jealous of. There’s a connection between his eye and their collective lack of fear and his brain. It is a stunning dance to watch, with a soundtrack to match.”
Featuring, as it does, 379 colour and duotone plates you mightn’t know where to turn first. So let us suggest a few page numbers –213 (Polly Harvey after a really rough night on the beer. Sort of), 240 (The Great White Hope), 292 (Doffing his Capo) and 352 (some fathers do have ‘em).