Browsing Tag: u2

    Miscellany

    New AppleTV: Cool Because Of Its Potential, Not So Much Its Reality

    November 13, 2015

    appletv-300pxI ordered the new AppleTV (4th generation) as soon as it was offered for sale last month, and I’ve had it installed in my office for about two weeks now.

    Two-sentence summary: I think it’s going to be huge, and it’s going to define the TV experience in much the same the iPhone has defined the smartphone experience. The new AppleTV is really cool, but that’s mainly because I see its potential.

    Its reality today is nice, but not fantastic — probably much like early iPhone users described that device back in 2007-08. Today, there aren’t many apps available and the existing ones are hard to find. Sure, Apple lists the most popular free and paid apps right in the AppleTV interface, and they’re starting to categorize apps as more are added … but that hints at one of the problems. As far as I can tell, there’s no easy way to find out what new apps are available. There are no websites covering AppleTV apps and nothing else (at least none I know of), and I’m not seeing much coverage of new apps from Apple websites. There are few enough apps right now that, if there are 10-20 new apps added in a given day or week, I’d like to know about them.

    But that’ll eventually change, I think. I think TV apps is the future. I love the experience of turning on my AppleTV and being able to immediately load and play Asphalt 8: Airborne, a super cool car racing game. It’s an infinitely smoother experience because the game/app is loaded right in the AppleTV, unlike … say … the Playstation 3 out in the living room, which runs off of CD/DVD-based games. If I want to play Madden 16 on the PS3, after I turn it on, I have to check if the Madden disc is in the machine. It’s probably not, because my son might’ve been playing NBA 2K16 or Call Of Duty or something else. So I have to go find the Madden disc, eject whatever’s in there, put Madden in, wait for it to load, etc., etc. It’s not smooth. AppleTV apps are smooth.

    I love the idea of having all (or most) of my favorite iPhone and iPad apps available on my TV. Clash of Clans on a 42-inch HDTV screen? Yes, please. Tweetbot, Kayak travel search, Blab video chats … even Facebook (!) on my AppleTV? Yes, please.

    One of my favorite apps is already available for AppleTV. Well, several are … but the one I’m talking about here is Periscope. I do the occasional live video stream on Periscope, but I mostly use it to consume video, primarily from U2 fans streaming the concerts they’re attending. It’s very cool to watch and listen to a live U2 show on my office TV.

    appletv-periscope2

    The audio and video quality is impacted by the fact that connectivity in large arenas is usually terrible, but that’s not AppleTV’s fault. A normal Periscope stream from some non-crowded event looks and sounds great.

    But the Periscope app itself still has plenty of room for improvement, too. You can’t login to your Periscope account, for example, which means there’s no easy way to find and watch live streams from the Periscope users that you follow. And there’s no way to search for streams by keyword or hashtag. Instead, the app shows anywhere from 5-10 popular live streams from various cities around the world — Rome, Paris, New York and so forth. If you’re into watching random live streams from people you don’t know, it’s great. But most times, I’m not into that.

    Fortunately, this week I’ve been able to easily find U2 concert streams among those popular/random options.

    appletv-periscope1

    In so many ways, the Periscope app experience is emblematic of the overall AppleTV experience: filled with more potential than current greatness. Here’s hoping both the app and AppleTV itself continue to move from “pretty cool” to “great.” I’m confident they will.

    Music

    My U2 Fandom Captured In A Painting

    August 30, 2015
    (click for larger version)
    (click for larger version)

    It’s hard to imagine that someone could capture my U2 fandom (and other fandoms) in one painting, but that’s exactly what my friend Kelly Eddington managed to do.

    What you see above is a gift given to me by the @U2 crew just moments before our 20th anniversary party began last month in New York City. I’m not quite certain how it all happened. I gather that Sherry Lawrence organized the effort, that the staff pitched in financially to reimburse Kelly for her time and effort, and that she did the amazing work in recreating what’s really close to being a mini version of my home office! I know that, at one point, my wife had to quietly come in to my office and take photos to be sent along to Kelly. All of this was done in complete secrecy and I had no idea anything like this was in the works until the party.

    The detail that Kelly managed to include in this painting is beyong amazing. The upper right is a replica of a concert poster from what was my first U2 concert — April 24, 1985 in Philadelphia. To the left is a Pepperdine mini-pennant — that’s my alma mater. Below that is my book, U2 – A Diary. The laptop on the desk has the @U2 home page showing on the screen, and below is my favorite @U2 staff shirt (the magical red one) and a Seahawks “12” t-shirt, too. You may need to click the image to see some of the intricate detail — like the @ symbol and my signature “m2” that are painted on the lenses of the Fly Shades on the shelf.

    Kelly: Thank you so much. I love it. It’s perfect. Beautiful. Stunning. And it’s hanging on my office wall, in clear view as I sit and work at my desk.

    Sherry: I don’t know where you get these crazy ideas, and I certainly don’t feel like I deserve any special gifts from the team that has given me so much already, but thank you.

    @U2 folks: You guys are such a blessing in my life, particularly in the past six months when I’ve been fighting through some difficult times. Thank you for making this possible. I love working and playing with you on all the @U2 stuff we get to do. You guys are the best.

    Music

    Let It Go

    July 3, 2015

    bono-singing-600px

    At the few shows on U2’s current tour where they’ve played “Bad” — a song in which “let it go” is one of the key lines and ideas — Bono tells the audience something along the lines of, “This is a song about surrender. Whatever you’re holding onto, whatever you need to let go of — let it go. Let it go.”

    The song is accompanied by very minimal, but I believe very intentional, lighting. For most of the song, the room is black and blue, mimicking the “blue and black” referenced in the song’s lyrics. But as the song climaxes, with Bono’s urgent sing-scream of “I’m wide awake! I’m wide awake!,” every light in the house is turned on. The arena turns all white; the darkness is gone, the black and blue is gone, and it’s replaced by what my friend Tim Neufeld described as “an explosion of pure white light, bathing the audience in something akin to a spiritual blessing.”

    It’s a beautiful, emotional moment in the shows that I’ve enjoyed passively, because I’ve not felt I had anything that I needed to let go.

    Silly me.

    I was at U2’s fifth (and final) concert in Chicago on Thursday night. It was a show that I had no plans to attend until about a week earlier, when I found great airfare and Ticketmaster released a set of great floor tickets. It was a very spur-of-the-moment thing. Looking back now, it’s clear I was supposed to be there.

    After shooting photos and videos for @U2 for the first half of the show, I felt compelled to put my camera away for good and let the band’s performance wash over me.

    When “Bad” started, my friend Scott motioned to me to join him in moving up closer to the stage. For some reason, I declined. I felt like I needed to experience this alone.

    As the song began, Bono started on his “let it go/surrender” talk. I’ve heard it before, but this time I was transported back to the summer of 1989, when I was home from college and spent an afternoon watching Rattle And Hum with my parents. I guided them through the movie, explaining what the songs meant, making sure they heard the lyrics correctly. During “Bad,” we paused and I explained that the song was written for a friend of Bono’s that nearly died of a heroin overdose, and how the song’s lyrics were about that “isolation, desolation” and also served as a call to “let it go” (it = the addiction) and “not fade away.” In the movie, the band — Bono, in particular — delivers an incredibly riveting, emotional performance of the song. I looked at my dad that afternoon, and he was wiping a tear from his eye. It was the first time I was able to share my love for U2 with my dad, and it was everything to me.

    All of that came flooding back to me on Thursday night as the band played “Bad.” I saw my dad sitting in his chair in front of the TV, watching “Bad” with me. A flood of tears began to fall. My head was down. My eyes were closed. The band was playing and I took that moment to do something I wasn’t able to do before he died in February: say goodbye.

    I suppose I’d been fighting this since then. But now the song and its message was hitting me hard. I was an active participant this time. I had to surrender. I had to let him go.

    My head was still down and my eyes closed, and I think I felt a hand patting me gently on the shoulder. I opened my eyes for a moment and saw Scott’s feet. He was now standing right in front of me, in between me and everyone else. I don’t know if he did that intentionally, but it felt like he was there to protect me, to be a shield of some sort while I wrestled with this moment.

    I kept my head down and closed my eyes again and let the tears flow as the song continued. I talked to my dad some more.

    Near the end of the song, I stopped wrestling. I finally lifted my head and opened my eyes.

    And it was at that exact moment that the arena turned from black and blue to pure white.

    Miscellany

    This is What Pure Joy Looks Like

    May 11, 2013

    pure-joy

    Saturday night, April 27th at the Hard Rock Cafe in Cleveland, Ohio.

    The U2 Conference had finished earlier in the day, and this was the scene of our post-conference party — a concert put on by Unforgettable Fire, a tribute band based in NYC and Connecticut.

    I’m not generally a big fan of tribute bands. In fact, on this night, it seemed the whole crowd was a bit apprehensive for the first 3-4 songs. Not sure what to expect. And then Unforgettable Fire won us all over. They were fantastic — far and away the best tribute band I’d ever heard. I let myself get lost in what sounded amazingly like U2 itself. And I’m now a fan of Unforgettable Fire — they’ve spoiled me for every other U2 tribute band out there. They’re now the official “house band” of the U2 Conference.

    During “Bullet The Blue Sky,” guitarist Mick came out into the crowd and made a beeline for me. He did the entire guitar solo, which runs a good two minutes if not more, right next to me. I grabbed Lori-Jo, better known in online fandom as EdgeFest for her love and devotion to all-things-Edge, because she had to be right there with me during the guitar solo. Cameras were flashing, video was being shot (which I haven’t seen yet), and we were having our own little party — me, Mick/Edge and Lori-Jo.

    As the guitar solo started to wind down, something inside me said “go for it!” and so I decided to fill the guitar solo the way Bono sometimes does: by kissing The Edge! I leaned over, grabbed Mick by the neck and planted one right on his cheek. The crowd yelled. I started laughing my ass off. Behind me, Marylinn and Tassoula were in shock.

    The photo above was taken about five seconds after all this went down. It’s what pure joy looks like. Damn, were we having a great time.

    It wasn’t just the moment or the concert being celebrated in that photo; it was one of the most fantastic experiences I’ve ever had. As I wrote on @U2, something special happened that weekend at the U2 Conference. I don’t know how to describe it. No words.

    What a night. What a conference. What a weekend. Pure joy.

    (Special thanks to my friend and fellow U2 fan, Stacey Jaros, for letting me use her photo in this post. In fact, it was in the Facebook comments of this photo where she first mentioned the look of joy she captured. And she’s absolutely right.)

    Postscript: My friend and photographer extraordinaire managed to catch the kiss on camera. Here it is! Too funny!!!

    Unforgettable Fire: U2 Tribute Band

    u2live
    Music

    My U2 Playlist on U2.com

    July 1, 2012

    u2liveThe folks who handle editorial on U2.com invited me again to contribute to an ongoing series called “My U2 Playlist.” (That must mean my first contribution wasn’t a complete turn-off.)

    The premise is pretty simple: You just pick up to 15 of your favorite songs and explain why you love them. Choosing 15 songs and writing the playlist, however, wasn’t so simple. I think my original list had something like 34 songs on it.

    Since the essay is behind the U2.com members’ paywall, and since I’m always afraid that content/URLs will disappear after a while, I’m going to post my contribution below. In the U2.com version, each song on the playlist includes a photo of the album cover — I’m replacing that with various embedded videos, some of which correspond directly to the text that I wrote.

    Enjoy! And if you’re a U2 fan, feel free to comment/argue/etc. in the comments at the end.

    —– ——— ——–

    My U2 Playlist
    by Matt McGee

    The first U2 song I heard was “I Will Follow” when it was played on a Philadelphia radio station in 1981. I liked the song more with each hearing, and considered myself a fan, but I have to confess that I was still more into The Police at the time. (And a few of the more dodgy artists of the early ’80s that will remain unmentioned here.)

    U2 didn’t really catch me hook, line and sinker until a couple years later, so that’s where my U2 playlist has to begin … before it wanders off in no particular order to the finish.

    1. New Year’s Day

    I’m a sucker for a piano, and even more so when a rock band is using it. The fact that Edge was playing both the piano and guitar simultaneously — and effortlessly — was jaw-dropping. Throw in Adam’s fantastic bass line and Larry’s terrific drum work … just wow. Watch the Zoo TV Sydney version of this if you need a reminder of what a great song it is.

    2. Bad

    My first U2 concert experience was from the fourth row of a show on The Unforgettable Fire tour, and “Bad” quickly became Exhibit A when talking about U2 songs that were good on record, but became an entirely better beast in concert.

    It’s interesting how this song has taken on an almost mystical aura among U2 fans in recent years. I credit that to the fact that U2 has seriously underplayed this song in concert over the past couple tours. Here’s hoping that changes next time around. Right, gang?

    3. One Tree Hill

    Speaking of mystical auras! Another song that fans around the globe would almost die to hear in concert just once. And the lucky fans in New Zealand get it every time, don’t they? (Jealous!)

    I love the way this song simmers out of the gate and gallops along. But for me, it’s really all about Bono’s guttural wailing at the end — the Spirit coming out, the rain coming down. And all the emotion with it.

    4. and 5. An Cat Dubh/Into The Heart

    Maybe one of the most perfect pieces of music that U2 has ever created. Seriously, fire up your copy of Boy and fast-forward to about the 4:00 mark of this combo.

    The song is really starting to take off at this point and you think they’re about to go into full-flight mode. Then … what? They pull back. Restraint. Discipline. Starting at about the 4:40 mark and lasting for almost two full minutes, there’s a stunning, quiet interlude. The song crawls along at its own pace.

    I’m blown away by the patience. Boy is such a frenetic album and most songs feel like a race to the finish. “An Cat Dubh/Into The Heart” just defies logic. You have to pinch yourself and remember: U2 were 19 and 20 years old when they pulled this off. Are you kidding me?

    6. One

    It’s just one of the most perfect 4-5 songs ever written. By anyone. And that’s about all that needs to be said.

    7. Original Of The Species

    There are a handful of U2 songs that can bring me to tears in any circumstance, and this is one of them. I think Bono has said that it’s written with his daughter(s) in mind, or maybe it was Edge’s daughter(s), but I think of it more generally as a tribute to the amazing and mysterious creation that is the female.

    Some fans have said that the lyrics in this one don’t make sense but, as a guy who’s spent 40+ years trying to understand females … well, maybe the lyrics don’t need to make sense. (Am I right, guys?)

    By the way, the Live In Milan version of this song with the string section playing from the Vertigo tour’s b-stage is where it’s at for me. A real keeper.

    8. Kite

    This song was the centerpiece of the best U2 concert I’ve seen: April 20, 2001, in San Jose. That’s the first time U2 ever played this one live, and you could just FEEL it coming as soon as you walked inside the arena.

    When it finally happened, it was like the roof disappeared and the skies opened up. There was magic in the arena that night thanks to this song. For at least a while, Bono called it the best show of his life and Willie Williams called it “transcendental.” They can thank “Kite,” one of U2’s really underrated gems.

    9. Dreaming With Tears In My Eyes

    Can I go off the beaten track a bit here? This is a Bono solo effort (actually, Larry plays drums and tambourine, too) from a 1997 tribute CD called The Songs Of Jimmie Rodgers.

    I have to include it because I think it’s one of Bono’s finest vocals ever. There’s a real melancholy in his delivery. Suggest listening to this one with a great pair of headphones. It’s a gentle song, but one that doesn’t leave you easily afterward.

    10. Please

    It’s hard to imagine anything stealing the show from “Streets,” but this was THE showstopper of the PopMart tour. A more personal version of “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” I think, with Bono pleading — in concert, praying — for The Troubles to stop. It’s one of his best lyrical and vocal performances, and Adam’s bass line really stands out for me, too.

    I know peace has prevailed, but I’d love to see and hear this one again live down the road. If “Sunday Bloody Sunday” can be reworked to fit current events from tour to tour, maybe “Please” can, too.

    11. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

    This is one of U2’s overplayed Big Hits that I grew tired of … for about 20 years. But as often happens with life and U2 songs, things change. More than any other, this song helped get me through some difficult moments in the last couple years and now it’s a must for my playlist. Don’t ever count out a U2 song.

    12. City Of Blinding Lights

    75,000 people screaming in unison: “Oh! You! Look! So! Beauuuuutiful! Toniiiiiiight…….”

    Really, how can you beat that? It’s far and away the best live song that U2 wrote in the 2000s with lyrics that hit me right at home in so many different ways.

    But what I really love is how Edge makes his guitar sing as Bono asks the crowd, “Can you see the beauty inside of me?” Listen at the 2:32 mark of the Live at the Rose Bowl version and you’ll know what I mean. Chills.

    13. Cedars Of Lebanon

    I’m not sure why I’m putting this track here, right in the middle of several big concert hits. But, then again, “Cedars Of Lebanon” would stand out no matter where I put it, right?

    This song sounds so un-U2 to me. Maybe it’s Bono’s mostly-spoken delivery? Maybe it’s the third-person storytelling? I don’t know. It’s certainly not the only quiet and moody song U2 has written. Heck, most of their album closers fit that description.

    But this is the song that I return to time and again from No Line On The Horizon.

    14. Ultra Violet

    I’d forgotten how much I loved this until the 360 tour rolled around. Since then, there’ve been nights when I’ve played it on repeat, non-stop for 45 minutes while walking on a treadmill at the local gym. There are also nights when I’ll turn off the lights, put on my headphones and watch the Live at the Rose Bowl version about 6-7 times in a row in silence and awe. Light my way, indeed.

    15. Where The Streets Have No Name

    Sorry to end on a cliché, but I can’t tell you how much this song means to me. I’ll just say this: In between tours, this is the song I most want to see and hear again. And when I think about the fact that someday U2 is going to call it quits, nothing scares me like the thought of never experiencing “Streets” live again. Nothing.

    Just missed the cut: “Stateless,” “Out Of Control,” “Beautiful Day,” “Yahweh” and “Unknown Caller.”