- 11 Nov 17
In advance of their appearance in Trafalgar Square in London tonight, Adam Clayton and Edge spoke to a group of 15 Irish media personnel.
U2 held a mini-press conference for a 15-strong group of Irish media this afternoon, hours before the band were due onstage at Trafalgar Square, where they play a gig tonight for MTV.
In advance of what is a hugely-anticipated appearance in the heart of London, the band were represented on the podium by guitarist Edge (pictured) and bass player Adam Clayton. There was a lot of routine stuff asked – and answered with the usual care, consideration and intelligence by the U2 men. However, the conference occurred against the background of a stormy week for lead singer Bono, as a result of the media coverage of the Paradise Papers, which reported that he had, at one time, held a minority share in a property in Lithuania, via an offshore company.
Following widespread criticism in Irish media, as well as on social media, Bono has already issued a statement clarifying the matter, and emphasising that the issue of tax compliance is hugely important to him.
"I would be extremely distressed if, even as a passive minority investor in UAB2 in Lithuania, anything less than exemplary was done with my name anywhere near it," he stated. "I've been assured by those running the company that it is fully tax compliant, but if that is not the case I want to know as much as the tax office does, and so I also welcome the audit they have said they will undertake."
Asked if the band felt that Bono had been unfairly treated by media, Edge was reflective. However, he made the point that there had been inaccuracies involved in at least some of the coverage.
“It’s a complicated thing," Edge said. "You could say it comes with the territory. We are wealthy people. We are high profile.
"Sometimes you can feel a little put upon," he added. "Sometimes you feel like we don’t get nearly enough stick. We do understand why people are angry with the system as it is: it definitely needs an overhaul. It’s a complex thing – it’s not like one nation can do it on their own...
"Unfortunately," he concluded, "there’s a lot of inaccuracies (in what was) reported initially and at this point there are lawyers involved – so we will see how that works out.”
The press conference done, the band are preparing for what promises to be a very special night, for which only 7,000 tickets have been issued – that's about a tenth of the audiences to which U2 normally play. The word is that they will play at least a couple of songs from their new album, Songs of Experience, tonight, mixing them in with some of the band's outstanding back catalogue. Tomorrow night, they will receive a Global Icon Award, at the MTV EMA (that's European Music Awards), which are also being held in London. But right now, London awaits their appearance with bated breath.
If a triumphant night in London can be combined with a victory for Ireland over Denmark in Copenhagen, then this truly will be the proverbial "great night for the Irish"...