St Patrick’s Day, Red Nose Day and an Irish Band Trigger Warning

I’m going to be really controversial around here today but here we go.

It’s been obvious since joining the music blogging community that there are some artists and bands best avoided if you don’t want negative comments coming your way. Yesterday however, because it was St Patrick’s Day, I thought it might be interesting to finally get to grips with why “That Irish Band” attracts such vitriol from so many quarters.

Is it because of Bono’s glasses?

Is it because they’ve become the biggest band in the world?

Is it because Bono (to quote Noel Gallagher) is a “Do-Gooder”?

Is it because they dropped their album into our iTunes libraries uninvited? (One we couldn’t then delete.)

Is it because their guitarist is called The Edge (and apparently isn’t very skilled)?

Is it because they’ve become billionaires but harp on about poverty?

Is it because they harp on about poverty but use tax avoidance schemes?

U2 in 2017

Hmm…, now that I’ve made that list it does make for a compelling argument as to why they attract so much, well…, hate.

Hate though. It’s a strong word and one I try never to use as it can’t be healthy to subject yourself to that kind of emotion. Let’s see if I can come up with any reasons to cut them some slack, as I worry about anyone who gets so hot under the collar about a bunch of musicians.

First of all, the easy ones. Bono has glaucoma so has to wear the glasses, but yes, I do think he likes the look a bit too much, what with the Gucci frames an’ all. But…, he’s a rock star, and just the kind of thing rock stars would wear if they had to. As for their silly names, I don’t know about where you come from but during my schooldays most groups of lads got silly nicknames, and many of them have stuck right into adulthood. Bon(i)o also being the name of a dog food hasn’t helped of course, and The Edge doesn’t sound as if he has ever been the edgiest guitarist, but too late to change their handles now I suppose. Possible to cut them some slack?

I was one of the victims of the Songs Of Innocence iTunes drop, as was my 80-year-old father-in-law who had just acquired his first Apple device (and who only listened to classical music). We didn’t want it but there didn’t seem to be any way of deleting it – annoying if you set your listening device to shuffle. It seems everyone involved now realises this was a bad plan – like giving you a free pint of milk but not just putting it on the doorstep but coming into your house and pouring it on your cereal, even if you were lactose intolerant. The upshot is the iTunes people had to develop a means of deleting such freebie downloads (and for the first time in years I’ve tried it and found it successful – farewell Sounds Of Innocence) but who amongst us hasn’t made an error of judgement along the way, or a major boo boo with technology? Sending an email to All-Users instead of the one person it was meant for, or accidentally letting a virus into your work computer network that creates all sorts of havoc (I can tick both those boxes). Possible to cut them some slack?

Cover of album we were ‘gifted’ whether we wanted it or not!

Are U2 the biggest band in the world right now? Not sure, but because they just keep on touring, they must be up there. As a nation we like it when bands stay small, niche and stick to the music, but if you set out to become the biggest band in the world and manage to achieve that feat (especially coming from a small country of only 5 million people), surely there should be some kudos. Possible to cut them some slack?

Now for the big one – the political activism and philanthropy. It seems as well as not liking bands to get too successful, we also don’t like them to refashion themselves as the next Messiah, which Bono kind of has. We don’t mind our rock and pop stars doing good (it was only after George Michael’s death that we found out how much good he did over the years) we just don’t want them to make a song and dance about it, especially if they are billionaires who engage in tax avoidance schemes. It was Red Nose Day yesterday and of course Mr Bono popped up on screen at one point encouraging us all, during a cost of living crisis, to part with some of our hard-earned cash. As ever I did, but it wasn’t lost on me that had he parted with 5% of his monthly income, as I did, there would no longer be any need for such charity fundraising events, but maybe I’m missing the point. Is it ever right to “hate” someone for being a Do-Gooder though? Maybe it would be better to quietly get on with things behind the scenes but not for everyone apparently. Possible to cut them some slack?

I don’t think I’m going to change anyone’s opinion of the band but maybe we should be more like my blogging buddy Rich (who is revisiting his favourite albums of 1983 at the moment), who “tries not to let artists’ personal stuff interfere with his enjoyment of their work” (his words). He wrote about their album War recently and it made me revisit some of their output from that time – rousing stuff indeed. Here is Sunday Bloody Sunday from their set which took place on that very hot sunny day at Wembley in 1985. Hindsight is a great thing, and we should probably have known from this performance what was to come from Mr Bono, but back then, their set was one of the ones I enjoyed most (not so sure about his high-heeled boots though).

Sunday Bloody Sunday by U2:

But if you have innocently dropped by and now been traumatised by what you have just read, watched and listened to, here is something to cleanse the palate. As I said it was St Patrick’s Day yesterday, but it was also Red Nose Day. On the live show it was a no-brainer that they would have an Irish group perform, but you’re quite safe, it was another one! I heard them earlier that day on the radio and here they were again on my telly screen. I give you those girls from Dublin who popped up on all of DD’s pop compilation albums when she was a wee tot, B*Witched, with Blame It On The Weatherman.

Blame It On The Weatherman by B*Witched:

Until next time…

Sunday Bloody Sunday Lyrics
(Song by Dave Evans/Paul David Hewson/Adam Clayton/Larry Mullen)

I can’t believe the news today
Oh, I can’t close my eyes and make it go away

How long? How long must we sing this song?
How long? How long?
‘Cause tonight, we can be as one tonight

Broken bottles under children’s feet
Bodies strewn across the dead end street
But I won’t heed the battle call
It puts my back up
Puts my back up against the wall

Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Alright, let’s go

And the battle’s just begun
There’s many lost, but tell me, who has won?
The trench is dug within our hearts
And mothers, children, brothers, sisters torn apart

Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday

How long? How long must we sing this song?
How long? How long?
‘Cause tonight, we can be as one tonight

Sunday, Bloody Sunday (Tonight, tonight)
Sunday, Bloody Sunday (Tonight, tonight)
Come get some

Wipe the tears from your eyes
Wipe your tears away
Oh, wipe your tears away
Oh, wipe your tears away

Sunday, Bloody Sunday (Oh, wipe your bloodshot eyes)
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday, oh
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday, oh
Yeah, let’s go

And it’s true, we are immune
When fact is fiction and TV reality
And today, the millions cry (Sunday, Bloody Sunday)
We eat and drink while tomorrow, they die (Sunday, Bloody Sunday)
The real battle just begun (Sunday, Bloody Sunday)
To claim the victory Jesus won (Sunday, Bloody Sunday)

Sunday, Bloody Sunday, yeah, yeah
Sunday, Bloody Sunday

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days. I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 57 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team, Bacharach and David. The opening line to that song was, "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

18 thoughts on “St Patrick’s Day, Red Nose Day and an Irish Band Trigger Warning”

  1. There are two (female) singers I abhor, Barbra Streisand and Cher. It’s a personal thing. BUT…there are songs of theirs that I really like; “Stony End” (Streisand) and “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves” (Cher) to name two.

    I also more than abhor the actress Jane Fonda (because I’m a Vietnam War Vet, and her visit to North Vietnam.) But that does not mean that I find her acting abhorrent. She has acted in some movies that I really enjoy (“Klute” and “On Golden Pond”)

    It comes down to separating the artist from the other things that they participate in; their politics, their views on world hunger, and many other things. So as with Bono, I cut them some slack.

    Maybe other should too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi R Guy – I see you use another term, “abhor”. Strong stuff. We are all going to warm to some artists in music or film more than others, as we do with people in life, but it is interesting to work out what makes that happen. You’ve even shared how you are conflicted, because some of those ladies’ work you actually like.

      If we could separate the artist from the other things they get involved in it would be easy, but not sometimes possible when they pop up just when you least expect (as Bono did on my television charity show last night).

      Glad to hear you are cutting them some slack though as I wouldn’t want you to go through life abhorring anyone too much!


    2. Their early stuff and it particular the song you feature were quite good. However Bono very quickly disappeared up his own backside appointing himself as god’s representative on Earth.The music subsequently became as bland as Coldplay with the ego getting larger if anything.
      An excellent post which will generate some interesting comments!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha ha CC, I was trying to be reasonably polite but you’ve just got straight to the crux of it. If they’d stuck to the music it would now be blander but they would still sell out stadiums. As it is they’ve really become a marmite band for the reasons you’ve very eloquently shared.


  2. I saw them circa 1980 at the Bijou Cafe in Philadelphia. They were barely known over here at that time. The show was sponsored by a beer company. So, the admission price was a mere one dollar, which was a super bargain even back then.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gosh, they were barely known anywhere outside Ireland back then so you really were in at the beginning of it all. I hope you kept that $1 ticket stub as it would probably be worth quite a lot of money now. A bargain indeed.

      They were mere whippersnappers then and giving it some thought you were a bit of a spring chicken yourself too!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. U2 were always there during my teens because my friend was a huge fan. I just didn’t take to them in the same way, although I was impressed when “Live At Red Rocks” was shown on TV as a special edition of The Tube and for years that was the only U2 album I owned. We had tickets to see U2 at Cardiff Arms Park in 1985 – I didn’t make it in the end and have never been tempted to see them since. I did join him for the cinema premiere of Rattle & Hum though and begrudgingly enjoyed it. I’ve subsequently amassed quite a lot of U2 music over the years, all secondhand and never full price if new but still wouldn’t consider myself a fan of their music. I have previously posted a U2 selection over at Dubhed, though, and there will be more in future.

    However, if we’re talking about Irish acts to avoid on St. Patrick’s Day (and indeed any other day of the year), then Ronan Keating wins by a country mile. He seems (to me, at least) to come across as a thoroughly unlikeable person and if I or Mrs. K inadvertently switch on the TV to find his features gurning at us from the sofa of BBC 1’s The One Show (which seems to be unnervingly often) we cannot flip channels quickly enough.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t deny that I liked their early stuff for the same reasons C articulated really well in her comment below. I have a couple of their early albums and at the time Bono’s line in the Band Aid single was my favourite despite the other lines sung by some of my favourite artists of the day. Like most bands, they passed their peak a long time ago but are one of the ones that just keep on touring and selling out stadiums. There are many others but they don’t seem to annoy people quite so much as they pretty much stick to the music and their lives of luxury. Funny how being a philanthropist can cause so much vitriol, but the way Bono goes about it I suppose and again I’ll refer you to CC’s comment, who also articulated that issue really well!

      So you’re not a fan of Mr Keating. I didn’t think he would cause such a reaction but as R Guy said, it’s always personal. Our least favourite One Show presenter is Jermaine Jenus – I’m sure he’s ok doing the football but he never seems to have an idea of who the guests are and his questions seem highly scripted. But, personal opinion of course.


  4. “…like giving you a free pint of milk but not just putting it on the doorstep but coming into your house and pouring it on your cereal, even if you were lactose intolerant.” Superb!
    But what a tricky subject to tackle – kudos to you, I really enjoyed your considered analysis, a lot of food for thought there. I find the whole ‘Messiah complex’ thing that Bono displays excruciatingly cringe-worthy but maybe he’s just playing the part his fans want him to play… it’s all theatre really when it comes down to it I suppose. I have not time for them now but let’s not be revisionist – I really did like the very early U2, when they fitted in very naturally with the way punk evolved into a more melodic longer-haired slighty gothic post-punk scene; ’11 O’Clock Tick Tock’, ‘I Will Follow’ and ‘Fire’ were right up my street (and in my singles collection). They came across to me then as this shy (!) quite alternative Irish band with well-crafted, stirring songs that fitted perfectly into the early ’80s. That era U2 and what they later became are like two completely different bands – but you’re so right, that performance in ’85 was a sure sign of what was to come.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did like that analogy and wish I’d come up with it myself but I got the jist of it from one of the articles I read about the band on Friday. It was really annoying to have that album appear in your library and then find it couldn’t be deleted – they really make a big mistake with that idea.

      Yes, it is a tricky subject and I’m shocked myself that I even tackled it but as I said I never feel it’s wise in life to “hate” anything. Can’t be healthy at all. Usually easy to just ignore something if it’s not for you but not so with these bands who pop up all over the place, meeting world leaders, appearing on our screens when we least expect it, being a bit annoying. Give me the George Michael school of philanthropy any day where he quietly got on with helping people and giving out large sums of money with no publicity at all.

      I too liked early U2 and have a couple of those early albums but after Live Aid it all started to change. Looking at that footage now (can it really be 38 years ago?) you could see they were going to get really, REALLY big but also the signs were there of what else was to come.


  5. What a wonderful post here, Alyson, and I promise I’m not just saying that because of your reference to me & my blog. 😀 We have to be careful when we write about something controversial, even if it’s just mildly so like these Irish lads. For a long time they were among my favorite bands, maybe even in the top 2 or 3, and the only reason they’ve dropped in the rankings over the last two decades is because their music (at least the new stuff they were releasing) just didn’t impress me. All the other stuff, like Bono doing all the rock star posing, never bothered me because he had been that way in the early days before becoming an actual rock star. The pretentiousness was part of his charm. I’ve often wondered about the shades and had no clue about him having glaucoma, so thanks for that info. I’m not too enthusiastic about their new album where they revisit 40 songs from their catalog based on the samples I’ve heard, but I will give it an open-minded listen soon. I just think they lost their muse a while ago and don’t have much hope that they will deliver another all-time classic. Fingers crossed that they prove me wrong.

    I knew that “Don’t Blame It On The Weatherman” song but had no idea who did it. I always assumed it was Wilson Phillips or The Corrs, or a similar all-female group. I like it. Very catchy.

    Hope you had a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you didn’t get upset that I mentioned you Rich, especially as I was being less than complimentary about a band you like, but it seems you know the score with them and agree with pretty much everything said.

      “All the other stuff, like Bono doing all the rock star posing, never bothered me because he had been that way in the early days before becoming an actual rock star.” – Good point and something I hadn’t really noticed until the Live Aid concert but yes, it seems he was born to be a rock star, and so was going to act that way from Day 1.

      You’re the only person that’s mentioned my B*Witched song and that’s true they do sound a bit like Wilson Phillips, if Wilson Phillips had been Irish. I am really familiar with chart music from the 70s/80s but also from that period when my daughter was really young, around the late 90s/early 2000s – Lots of Pop Party CDs were played in our house around then. Still look back fondly at those days when I hear these songs as back then the teenage years were far in the future so I had no idea of what was to come.


  6. CC hits the nail on the head for me. I was just coming into serious music collecting when The Joshua Tree appointed them “the biggesrt band in the world” and I just didn’t get it. But Saint Bono was everywhere and I found the ego really hard to stomach. I liked a couple of the songs on Rattle & Hum and even went as far as to take a flier on Achtung Baby (I think it was in a 3 for £15 offer) but it didn’t get played much and was soon traded in. Since then, my animosity has grown… but mostly, I find them ridiculous rather than hateful these days. The lack of humility or self-awareness will always be a barrier: it’s exactly the same with the Gallaghers for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for dropping by as I know how you feel about them. They’ve been going for so long now though, so too late to change their ways – Bono knows the score and does poke fun at himself in interviews sometimes which is good to see.

      Yes U2 and the Gallaghers – apparently Noel and Bono are actually pals so maybe that makes sense.


  7. Ah, the Bono conundrum. I wrote about this a bit last year, prompted by listening to his Desert Island Discs. My hot take? He can be a sanctimonious berk, sometimes, but not as much as he used to be. And they, as a band, have made some good records but not so many these days. I completely agree with you that “hate” is too strong a word, there’s enough of that in the world already without generating more for a musician. And I can separate the artist from the art, easily (I’ve had enough practice, following SPM). Also, “Live at Red Rocks” is one of my favourite albums, and possibly my favourite live album by anyone. As for The Edge, no, he’s not the most gifted guitarist, but he’s better than me and he’s very good at what he does, so I give him that. I do feel duty-bound to point you and your readers to Bill Bailey’s take on The Edge: it’s here … and whilst you’re there, there’s this, from Harry and Paul

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just read your post from last year – very good indeed and you articulated the conundrum a lot better than I have. Hate though, it doesn’t sit well with me that it’s used in connection with a musician – if you feel that strongly just ignore him.

      Those are two very funny clips Martin and for the second time in recent weeks I’m going to share the Harry and Paul one here. I miss those guys.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Bono is a tax dodger, plain and simple. And therefore a massive hypocrite. Yes, he’s a good songwriter but he hasn’t leaned the act of humility. Or to stop talking when he should be listening. I did like his first two albums but, like so many others, I’ve moved on. Maybe he and his band should too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I have read about the tax issue. Maybe the money he is saving in tax he is putting into a large fund for good causes (trying to be positive) but not good to hear about such behaviour. The little people all have to pay their taxes so the super wealthy really need to be seen to do the same.

      True about the 2 ears and 1 mouth – something many of us should remember to do more of (myself included but in my defence at BlogCon it was because I talk too much when a bit nervous meeting new people). I think he had calmed down of late however and does poke fun at himself nowadays a bit more – he’s learning.


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