- 22 Jun 17
Bono and Adam talked to Liam Mackey before their Croke Park gig in 1985.
July 5, 1985
With the fame that came from being an iconic part of rock 'n' roll, there came pressures and temptations. U2 was set to play at the Croke Park - entirely different to their last outing in Phoenix Park.
When talked about their War tour, Bono said "it went over the top, over the wall, very badly offside, ran across a few fields, did a real obstacle course and nearly pulled the band under with me, because I was drowning.”
Adam Clayton went on to explain their "over the top" show in Phoenix Park. “I think it was very much a case of getting into that twilight environment that you can get into, where you have been running down a tunnel for a very long time and your senses and reference points to change. That’s what happened on that tour and after it, we needed a long time to recover before we could actually evaluate what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go.”
"The War tour was very up and aggressive and loaded with ballads and a bit like a football crowd thing and you play up to that sort of approach," Clayton also recalled. They had to "tone down" a lot for The Unforgettable Fire tour.
The Unforgettable Fire laid out another platform for the band to find their sound.
“The Unforgettable Fire enabled us to get away from our live reputation in a way. We were able to say, look, we are making a record – it isn’t a live show, it’s music and it should be listened to. It is not something that should be watched. And that, in a way, is how the tour has settled in – in that the powerful moments of the set, are the musically powerful moments as opposed to whatever is happening visually. The emphasis has moved away from the stage personalities. It has become unified.”
"The personality of the music, again, is the thing. We keep repeating that the music is much more important than the musician. Maybe in the War tour, it was the other way around." Adam added.
U2’s emergence as a force on the homefront – apart all together from their later international breakthrough – was characterised by determination and imagination, as well as talent.
Acknowledging the difficulties, Bono said, “I’ve learned spiritually, if you like, that the very thing you need in your life are around you, at your feet but you don’t see them. I didn’t see them. I didn’t know I was Irish till I left Ireland. I didn’t realise that what was unique about U2 was us. I was looking here, there and every where and never looked under our feet, at the fact that we come from Dublin city – from Ireland – that there’s a feeling here and you’ve got to feel that.”
When asked about the creative process of their albums, Adam explained, “Lyrical comprehension has never been particularly important to me. I go with my instincts and if Bono is singing and it doesn’t sound right, then I’ll consult him about it and, say, “What exactly is going on – I can’t figure this one out.” But if the whole thing fits as an image, I don’t listen to what he’s singing. I listen to what I’m hearing in my head which is something completely different.”
Up until that point, it had always been the music which inspired the lyrics for the band.
The members of U2 were invited to visit the Martin Lurther King Centre by Coretta King in Atlanta – a moment in U2’s history that Adam Clayton claimed had made him the most proud.
‘M.L.K’ – the title of their elegiac tribute to Martin Luther King on “The Unforgettable Fire” was playing when they entered the auditorium.
"These people who were fighting for civil rights understood that music, more than they understood “Pride” which was rock ‘n’ roll music. They understood the tribute."
The importance of involvement had always been a huge part in U2's music and concerts.
You can also see all of U2's Hot Press covers in the flesh as part of our 40th Birthday Exhibition in the National Photographic Archive in Meeting House Square, Temple Bar, Dublin. Open seven days a week, admission free!