U2 are eagerly planning to get back on the road having been inroduced to the concept of Understatement by listening to a bunch of records they are planning to rip-off in an insipid and half assed manner.
The "Understatement" tour will be carried from country to country in a fleet of trucks, each with one letter of the word "Understatement" painted on the roof, tracked in a helicopter panning shot like the bit from that crappy Emerson, Lake and Palmer film.
Said trucks will arrive in unsuspecting cities like Prague, and disgorge a whirling laser and holographic light show that lasts 4 hours, covers six stages, and employs two whole drama troupes, four orchestras, a Zeppelin, the Vatican Swiss guard and Lady GaGa.
Striking, but ultimately rather empty images pertaining to said concept will be projected across the sky onto hillsides, and Bono will croon about understatement in that pained voice which suggests heartfelt meaning, until you listen to the chuffing words and realise he is still inserting the odd relevant phrase, apparently at random, into a bunch of poetry he wrote in 1978.
At the same time, every media outlet in the world will carry endlessly the accompanying media and PR puff, in which the man himself preaches to us peasants as to the meaning of understatement, what understatement means to him, how it has change his life, and how it should, and goddamit, change all ours, as if he is the only fucker to have thought about it ever.
Meanwhile, the rest of the band will troop around after him with that rueful look that seems to say "Yeh, we know. But it's a cash cow, innit?"
Despite the the sheer bloody awfulness of the prospect, most people remark that they don't want to dislike U2. Some are actually partial to a bit of unchallenging AOR every now and then. They may have a Supertramp album somewhere and quite like Pub Rock. They may not happen much to like U2's brand of AOR, but are usually prepared to live and let live. There never seemed much point in laying into Del Amitri, for example.
When asked in the street, the record buying public consider that this is the deal - AOR stays on Absolut Radio, and if you want it, you can find it. Then when the Stereophonics come on, you switch off. Simple.
However, there is increasing frustration that U2 are just bloody everywhere and have been since 1986. Trevor Fringe, a sixth form student, sat down to watch a documentary on Roxy Music the other day. Bloody Bono was on it. Young professional Claire Jumper bought herself a book to teach herself bass guitar only to find it a sodding Adam Clayton quote on the back. Older music fans remember them being mentioned on Grange Hill. They're now even getting publicity because the BBC gave them too much publicity.
Tony Black-Poloneck, music critic, has examined in depth how this bunch of knockabout, somewhat shouty, rather one trick rockers came to be treated like a combination of the Beatles and the Stones, with added Brian Eno and John Lee Hooker.
The results are shocking. For example, The Edge is 24th on the list of Rolling Stone's greatest guitar players. Ever. Rolling Stone thinks only 23 people have ever played the guitar better than The Edge. He beat Buddy Guy, Bo Diddly and Peter Green. He beat Robert Fripp, for gawdsakes. Black-Poloneck points out that The Edge would give a bollock to play the guitar like Robert Fripp.
Music industry insiders point out that U2 appear to be commonly held to possess the inventiveness of Krautrock, the energy of punk, the political sensitivities of the MC5 and the musicianship of the progressives. They are indulged with an "Indie" sensibility, despite having a corporate structure that rivals that of Charles Montgomery Burns.
Also, no one, as far as can be told, has ever pointed out that the first three singles off The Joshua Tree are to all intents and purposes the SAME FUCKING SONG.
An increasing lobby of anti U2 activists have drawn up a seven point plan to avoid buying a U2 album.
1) If you like Eno, just buy an Eno album.
2) To enjoy Motorik rock, get a proper Krautrock album. Neu!, for example, will have set up, delivered and fucked off whilst Bono is still choosing a hat.
3) You want Indie? Get Indie. Some band that goes to Austin will do. I dunno - Kingsbury Manx?
4) Roxy music had done all the good bits of U2 by 1973.
5) Spiritualized do the multilayered stuff.
6) If you really, really, have to have the sound of a man who has forgotten where the hell the off button for the echo pedal is, then get John Martyn's "Solid Air."
7) It appears "Rattle and Hum" was meant to be a folk-blues album. You could probably get away with going down the pub on band night to cover that one.
It is clear however that most people will continue buying U2. The reasons are clear. Remember that Richard Hammond once spoke favourably of U2 on Top Gear. Richard Shitting Hammond. Like him, many folks will get a U2 album because it ticks all the boxes, ticks them competently, never falls completely flat on it's arse because it's over reached and rarely needs to be skipped on a track. It won't be £10 down the pan. Well, not completely. Just mostly.
Studies have drawn parallels between buying U2 albums and the ways middle aged men choose a car. Apparently, they head off to the dealers wanting an MX5, before they recall that they have two kids, so switch to a Range Rover, but then remember it doesn't fit on their drive, it costs a bomb to run and will get them shouted at by Greens. They then fancy a BMW, Audi or Merc, realising at the last minute that they can't afford one that actually has back doors. So they get a people carrier. It does everything quite well and nothing badly. It seems like a sensible choice. But, part of them still wants that MX5, so they get an ever so slightly sportier one.
"And thus," says Professor Huber Flange of Stockport college of Music, " the world has given us U2, the ever so slightly sportier people carrier of Rock."
The Spoof's leading music critic comments; "Enjoy the fucking tour morons. I hope you get your eighty five quids worth."