Tony Oros and Utah U2 tribute band Rattle & Hum review No Line on the Horizon:
U2 met and formed in high school—and for the most part, have never worked extensively with any other players. Add to that, arguable monikers like “The Biggest Band on the Planet”, and you have four musicians who have every excuse to put out “yet another” U2 album, and rest happily in the sound they’ve created.
On their new release, No Line on the Horizon, they refused to do this.
While U2’s “leaked” single, “Get on Your Boots,” does hearken back to their last record’s debut single “Vertigo,” my Rattle & Hum tribute bandmates and I agree that “Boots” is the CD’s weakest track—despite Larry tastefully breaking into half-time—and R&H guitarist Philip Acup is finding this the “least linear” U2 tune yet.
Right out of the gate, the title cut hits with a driving rhythm track and a vocal performance that, in a vacuum, could be mistaken for a singer other than Bono. The man named after a hearing-aid store has been extensively training the pipes (after years of tearing them to shreds), and our reward is an array of different vocal colors. He just rips into the first line of “Moment of Surrender,” one of his finest performances in years.
The second track finds Edge pushing U2’s tonalities, with very unorthodox chord progressions for this band. You’ll get your epic, jangle-y guitar tones, but our skull-capped friend tries new riffs, AND on the second to last song, actually burns a solo! Respectably, too! I mean, Edge! Like he was on tour with Yngwie or something!
Bono’s vocal on the aforementioned “Breathe” incorporates a pseudo-Phil Lynott/Lou Reed delivery. More stretches that work!
While the U2 cynics can certainly find moments to roll their eyes at Saint Bono & Co.—he sings “I don’t wanna talk about wars between nations” but then feels a need to repeat the line—many Horizon lyrics are classic, inspired Bono:
“Two souls too smart to be in the realm of certainty ...”
“The worst of us are a long, drawn out confession ...”
“Every beauty needs to go out with an idiot ...”
Partially recorded in Fez, Morocco last summer, the band once again brought in (along with Lanois & Lillywhite) co-producer Brian Eno, which certainly paid sonic dividends to us Unforgettable Fire fans.
Drummer Larry utilizes a nice 6/8 swing-time groove in “Breathe” that he has rarely gone to, and “Stand Up Comedy” find both he and Edge in a pocket previously unexplored.
Bassist Adam is, well, Adam. But that’s why we love him. Rock solid and innocuous. I mean, hey: The cat’s got a lot going on around him.
“Cedars of Lebanon” might contain U2’s best album-ending moment since “Love is Blindness” off Achtung Baby, with Bono singing of one’s enemies, leaving us hanging in a curious and dark state. Any band can end an album with an exclamation point—but to close with a question mark takes balls.
The R&H boys recommend three listens before locking into your own Siskel & Ebert (old school, eh?) but No Line on the Horizon has been on our heavy rotation since ... um ... the release day... Tuesday! Yeah, that’s the ticket!
Predictions? “I’ll Go Crazy” will be a big summer hit (somewhere!) and Horizon will be a spring-skiing fave on iPods across Utah.
“The sweetest melody is the one we haven’t heard ...”