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Friday, 28 December 2012

#68: Me Juan, Inspired by U2 — Part Three

U2’s PopMart Tour stage featured an enormous golden arch (a dead ringer for the McDonald’s logo), a 40-foot tall mirrorball lemon, and the largest LED screen in the world.

If laid flat, Martians would have been able to watch the concerts from outer space, while munching on their Mars bars.

The tour kicked off in April 1997, with the band now all in their mid-30’s and seemingly improving with age. As well as becoming ever-more fearless. No sign of creaking bones yet.

As with Zoo TV, the idea was to rib pop culture and send a sarcastic message to those accusing U2 of commercialism. However, it backfired somewhat.

Many were confused by the band's new kitsch image and elaborate sets, while the delay in Pop's release (to actually fill the album with enough songs) drastically reduced rehearsal time for the tour.

As such, performances in some of the early shows were reminiscent of the fledgling four banging pots in Larry’s family kitchen as teenagers.

However, the memorable Sarajevo concert saved the day. U2 became the first major band to perform there after the Bosnian War. Mullen described it as an “unforgettable experience”, while Bono called the show "one of the toughest and one of the sweetest nights of my life."

Another sweet U2 career moment followed hot on the heels of the PopMart Tour. A month after it wrapped, U2 featured on the 200th episode of The Simpsons, in an episode entitled: “Trash of the Titans”. The show saw its star Homer Simpson disrupt the band in mid-flow during a PopMart concert.

Overall, Pop went down about as well as a tonne of lead balloons, forcing the band to once again retreat to their castles in Ireland and southern France – and The Edge to purchase another 300 guitars – in a bid to reinvent themselves once more.

To read the rest of this column, check out BC Johnny's upcoming book: Chilled Almonds.

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