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U2 Prep Unique Sound System While Bono Struggles to Recover for Tour


A few months after Bono said he might never be able to play guitar again after a bicycle accident in New York City, the U2 frontman reveals that while he’s on the mend, his left hand is far from healed. “It feels like I have somebody else’s hand,” the singer recently told The New York Times. He also likened the feeling to rigor mortis. “They say that nerves heal about a millimeter a week, so in about 13 months I should know if it’s coming back.”

In addition to the hand, the accident had given the singer a fractured eye socket, shoulder and elbow. Bono said that his shoulder and face were feeling better, reporting that his forearm and elbow felt numb and reiterating that he can no longer play guitar. “They don’t seem to mind,” he told the Times “with a half-grin” as he gestured at his bandmates.

Bono’s inability to play guitar, however, is not holding up the songwriting process for the group’s next album, which will follow up last year’s Songs of Innocence. The singer has been using his downtime to write songs – in-progress titles include ”Red Flag Day,” “Civilization” and “Instrument Flying,” according to the newspaper – with the help from a guitarist who could play the chords Bono can’t. The group currently has a mobile recording studio in Vancouver, where it’s launching an arena tour.

“We’re keeping the discipline on songs and pushing out the parameters of the sound,” the frontman said of the new material. “They’re very basic earthy things, irreverent. They’re not lofty themes. One of the things that experience has taught us is to be fully in the moment. What’s the moment? Pop music.”

Mostly, though, U2 are gearing up for a unique arena tour. The group will be splitting each concert into two sets with an intermission. The first half will feature a “relatively fixed” set list, according to the Times, while the second may be more arbitrary.

The band is also experimenting with a new sound system on the tour. Rather than having speakers set up at the stage, the group will suspend speaker arrays from the ceilings of arenas so everyone will be able to hear the music equally. The Times reported that the sound was “uniformly transparent” and the volume was constant throughout Vancouver’s Rogers Arena, where the tour kicks off on May 14th. The staging for the tour also features three platforms, an “I”-shaped one for “innocence,” a round one shaped like a lower-case “e” to represent “experience” and a walkway.

Earlier this year, U2 continued to promote their Songs of Innocence album with an intense video for “Every Breaking Wave,” which thematically drew from the religiously charged wave of violence that swept Ireland and Northern Ireland for decades. The group also issued its “last word” on the controversial way the record as pushed out onto Apple devices, telling Rolling Stone they stood by their music. “These songs took a while, but I know they have staying power,” Bono said. “I’m still holding on to some of them quite tightly myself.”

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