Re: Old Tours vs. New Tours, Bono's Voice

Jeff ([email protected])
Wed, 15 Jul 1998 12:13:29 -0400

J wrote:

> Bono can do things in tour now which he could never do in 1983-87.
> First off, his flasetto was either non-existent or not refined during
> those days (see the falsetto segment in Unforgettable Fire).

I think the more general point that Rob (and others) is trying to make
is that Bono didn't need to resort to falsetto back then because he had
the pipes to hit the notes with (on good nights) extraordinary power.
Sure, I've heard many shows where he didn't quite have the vocal power
to get through the choruses of, for example, 'The Unforgettable Fire',
but, on those nights when he did have it all together, it was amazing.
More or less night in and night out, though, he always nailed the more
demanding parts in New Year's Day, WOWY, or Bad (except during the first
couple weeks of the '84 UF tour). I'm a bit baffled at how anyone who
was there in 1985-87 could claim that Bono can sing those songs just as
well today. It just seems obvious to me that he can't, having been
there then and now. WOWY from Chicago, 4/29/87 is simply amazing,
vocally--just to take one example. I've yet to hear a single version
from Popmart that comes close to that kind of intensity and power.

> Bono has now learned to sing in the "horny" tone.

I'm not sure exactly what you're referring to, but I do agree that what
Bono has lost in terms of range and power, he does try to make up for by
trying to tap into more subtle emotions and forms of vocal expression.
'Please,' to me, is probably the best example from Popmart. I think
'Promenade' captures this kind of emotion, too, though. So, I guess
he's always had it in him--or something.

> Hear him belt out the "though torn in two/we can be one" part of New
> Year's Day, and the "I'm Wide Awaaaake" in "Bad" (both on the Popmart
> Tours), they were infinitely better than the ZOO TV Tour versions and
> much like the Bono of the 83-87 era.

I guess we just disagree. Every now and then Bono seemed to do alright
with New Year's Day this tour. But 'Bad' is another story altogether.
I think you're overlooking that fact that, like 'Pride' and 'Haven't
Found', 'Bad' was also tuned DOWN in order to accomodate Bono's voice.
I think that's evidence enough that he can't handle singing it in its
normal key--A maj. (It's actually A flat maj based on standard A 440
tuning). Now it's played in A flat (Actually G maj, again going by
standard tuning.) There's only ONE reason they would do that: To help
Bono be able to sing it more easily. They started tuning 'Pride' down
towards the end of the Lovetown tour, but then went back to regular
tuning for the Zoo tour(s)--and, if anyone else happened to notice, they
played 'Pride' and 'Haven't Found' at their normal tuning for the first
Popmart show in Vegas. After that show, though, they dropped 'em both
down a half step. Those of you who have the 12/27/89 boot will also
notice that 'Two Hearts' is also tuned down--another early song that
would be terribly demanding on Bono's voice. Some people have told me
that that that version 'sounds different'. If you ever wondered what
the deal was, now you know.

> I actually prefer his voice now since it is much more controlled and
> consistent thus making him more in the tune of things.

The way I tend to look at it, is that I heard him in his prime anyway.
It was an amazing experience. But now those days are over. It's really
as simple as that for me. Now, as you and others have said, he's
finding new ways to express himself vocally, and so he may not attempt
the kind of vocal gymnastics that he once did. So be it. People get
older, myself included, and you just have to face up to the fact that
you can't do certain things that you once did easily, or took for
granted. (I can't dunk a basketball anymore...Confessions of an early
middle-aged athlete. :)

But, musically (at least in terms of their ability to play their
respective instruments), I think the band has gotten better. For
example, I think someone finally told Adam that he could wiggle his
fingers around a bit on the bass, rather than playing boring eighth
note, single note lines. His new fills during the Popmart version of
'Streets' are nice to hear, and I think they add a lot to the song. He's
also stretched out a bit to play some new lines on occasion toward the
end of WOWY. Overall, he just seems a more confident bass player these
days, and that can only be a plus, I think. I'm sure the same goes with
Larry--but I'm not drummer, so I really can't comment. I'm looking
forward to seeing how Edge's playing continues to develop. Probably my
biggest disappointment with Pop was that Edge's guitar seems to have
been kept in check, or at least not served up as the focus for many
songs, to make room for their techno-oriented grooves and

Anticipating my fair share of abuse...


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