Introducing the Wolves
Guest Article by Tim C. / @WTSHNN (2016-03-20)
U2 have long been branded as rockers with a political inclination. Their desire to spread the message of social justice has been an important component of their music since they were a young band known only to those following the Dublin music scene of the late 70’s. Since the early 1980’s critics have frequently placed the group in the box of a political band; it continues to this day and the band seem all too willing to exploit their celebrity to further their philanthropic ideology.
Not since the satellite linkups with the besieged city of Sarajevo during 1993’s Zooropa tour have U2 been as blatant and unapologetic about the live delivery of their political message as they were during the Innocence + Experience tour’s section of “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “Raised by Wolves”. These two songs would help serve as part of the transition from the show’s innocence theme of the first half to the experience theme of the second half; what Bono refers to as “the end of innocence”.
“Sunday Bloody Sunday” (SBS), a song that has seen numerous live transformations over the previous three decades, still resonates with crowds today making the song a natural introduction into “Raised by Wolves” (RBW), a new and more personal narrative on the violence that kept Ireland on edge for generations. Telling the story of Andrew “Guck Pants Delaney” Rowan, a friend of the band who grew up on Cedarwood Road and was caught in the middle of the Dublin bombings in May of 1974, RBW brought a new sense of anger and urgency to a 41 year old atrocity.
We know that the performance theme for the I+E tour followed the idea of innocence before experience and for the most part that held true on the presentation of material in concert. This theme was seemingly flipped when it came time for the finale of the innocence part with the combination of SBS into RBW. Taking on the most dramatic transformation since The Edge’s solo version on the later part of the Popmart tour, the new reworking of SBS, complete with the theatrics of the four band members filing down the catwalk, came across as a solemn procession where the drums were quiet echoes of what they used to be and the voices pleading with a more mature tone than we have heard in the past. Gone was the fury, no longer was there such a dire sense of urgency, it was a reverent reflection on the pain and disappointment of the past, something that could only come with experience.
Any individual in the audience who thought that U2 had gone soft on the delivery of their political messages because of the reworked SBS had only wait a minute for a display of fury and urgency as “Raised by Wolves” pounced on the audience with a new sense of significance regarding the violence in Ireland. The new working of SBS coupled into RBW gave the impression of the older generations using SBS as a private and measured tone to bemoan the violence and RBW came across as the kids taking their fight to the streets.
My friend Gavin (Friday) who grew up on Cedarwood Road with me, said you have to explain the narrative. ‘Explain what’s going on in the songs, and it’ll cohere.’ It worked.” – Bono in an interview with the Chicago Tribune, 26 June 2015
It would appear that U2 were well aware of the fact that a majority of the people in the audience would not be familiar with the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 17 May 1974, the deadliest attack in the history of the Republic of Ireland. U2 had to be sure to educate the crowd about the weight that was about to be dropped on them without sacrificing the needs of the show. Gavin Friday was tasked with creating a historical mash-up of audio over a simple animated video to impart the severity of the song they were about to perform “I was told to make the song really real” said Friday in an April 2015 NY Times article.
Believed to be illustrated by Oliver Jeffers, the video is simple; a slow zoom across a barren and grey wasteland toward a small car on the distant horizon. A simple image to draw the viewer into the act of terrorism they were about to have explode into the show. The vehicle resembles a Hillman Avenger; the car that contained the first of three bombs to explode in Dublin. The divider screen would slowly descend during this interlude, coming to a rest just above the band’s heads by the time the interlude was over.
In the show “Sunday Bloody Sunday” slowly tapers to an end. One can easily imagine standing on the side of the street as a parade passes by, the music slowly dying down as the crowd marches further along. Meanwhile a church bell chimes in the distance.
The grouping of audio clips and the way they come in and out of focus is intentional so as to give the listener the experience of what a person walking down the street would have heard coming out of various store fronts and pubs on that Friday in May of 1974.
With five loud and staccato beeps followed by a sixth and sustained beep serving as the count-in for the rest of the audio the interlude starts;
Good Evening. This is the Six O’Clock News. Three car bombs have exploded in Dublin, killing 23 people and injuring more than 100 others during rush hour. Five more people died and another 20 were hurt in a blast which hit the border town of Monaghan an hour later. [BBC News Report]
The script for this narration, minus the opening of “Good evening this is the six o’clock news” is taken from a BBC article used in their “On This Day” feature which gives a flashback to historical events. The dialogue is narrated by Caroline Erskine, an Irish journalist and wife of Barry Devlin, a longtime friend and collaborator of U2. With this audio, one of the more crisp and discernible segments of the audio mashup, the band was able to successfully deliver a briefing of the bombings to the spectators in the audience unaware of the attack.
Some have listened to this audio clip and mistakenly thought there was an error either in the narration or the lyrics of “Raised By Wolves” as it pertains to the number of dead. This can be explained as 23 people died in the Dublin bombings on May 17th and another 5 died in the Monaghan bombings the same day. Five more people would later die from injuries they sustained in the attacks. The RBW lyric of “33 good people cut down” is still accurate to depict the total number of people killed in the attack.
“Seasons in the Sun”
We had joy
We had fun
We had seasons in the sun
In the sun
In the sun
In the sun
Just as Erskine gets to saying “five more people died…” the opening guitar tremolo notes of Terry Jacks’ “Seasons in the Sun” begins to come in followed by the chorus. The song was the number one song in Ireland the week of April 18th, 1974. The use of this song includes a three time echo of the line “in the sun” at the end of the snippet.
With a trotting drum beat Mud’s “Tiger Feet” comes in and gives the image of a shopper quickly weaving their way in and out of the crowd, late for some unknown affair. “Tiger Feet”, by England’s Mud, was a number one song in Ireland for two weeks in January of 1974. The song is a quintessential early to mid 70’s glam-rock. The snippet used does not include any of the lyrics from the song.
Warning; this may be the most 70’s video that ever 70’d.
“Any Dream Will Do”
The World and I
We are still waiting
Any Dream Will Do
The final song used in the mix is “Any Dream Will Do”, written by Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice for the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat. Irish crooner Joe Cuddy covered the song in 1974 and it was the number one song in Ireland from 2 May until 29 May 1974, which includes the date of the bombings. It does not appear that the version of the song used by Gavin Friday is the Joe Cuddy version as the one utilized in the interlude features a prominent guitar that is missing in any version of the song found while researching this article.
“I say to the Dublin government…”
In early 1974 Ian Paisley delivered a speech about the “Sunningdale Agreement” to a gathering of supporters. The agreement attempted to create a Council of Ireland comprised of representatives from both Ireland and Northern Ireland. In the speech Paisley makes the declaration of;
I say to the Dublin government Mr Faulkner says its hands across the border to Dublin. I say if they don’t behave themselves in the South….
The use of the quote in the interlude is stopped at that point but the continuation of it ends with “it will be shots across the border!” (Paisley also was one of four politicians to appear on the sleeve of 1997’s “Please“ single, his quote in the below video starts at 0:33.)
“Ireland go four points further…”
Back goes Milliken. Milliken on the ground and its hacked on by Evans and Uttley. Ensor though picks up. Ensor is clear. He’s got Gibson to his right. He’s up to the 25. He’s over the 25. He’s faced by two men. Gibson gets him. Gibson just went over the line. He’s going to score. Under the posts I would think…and Ireland go four points further into the lead.
[AUDIO] (starting around the 1:00 minute mark)
This audio is taken from a sports broadcaster announcing a Rugby match between England and Ireland that took place on 16 February 1974 when Ireland defeated the home team 21-26 in London. This portion is the play by play announcing of a try by Ireland’s Mike Gibson. Ireland eventually won the championship besting France, Wales, Scotland, and England for the title. In concert the clip was edited to remove a portion that said “As Declan comes to challenge him. He touches down to the right of the posts” just before “and Ireland go four points further into the lead”.
Then, just when we’re feeling comfortable, we go into a surround-sound Dublin car bombing, which is about the most visceral thing you can imagine – Willie Williams, livedesignonline.com
Much has been said about the innovative speaker system Joe O’Herilhy designed and used for the I+E tour as it provided perhaps the clearest sound quality ever heard in an arena rock show. This was best demonstrated when the audio mashup came to a close and the sounds of three loud explosions reverberated throughout the arena. These sound effects rivaled that of a Hollywood action flick with their low-end sonic concussions causing bodies to shake and the piercing sound of shattered glass to ring out in the audience’s ears.
The visual accompaniment of the explosive sounds evolved as the tour went on. The first few weeks’ worth of shows had the screens illuminating with a brilliant white light at the first explosion. The screens flashed more than once for the first time at the final LA show on 3 June. For the remainder of the tour it varied from night to night as to how many times the screen flashed.
For the final two nights of the tour in Paris an announcement was made before the concerts started warning people that there would be the sound of loud explosions as part of the show.
The band stands stoic at the same spots as their “Sunday Bloody Sunday” posts for most of the introduction.
Right as the count-in to the Caroline Erskine dialogue starts The Edge would relocate to the darkened e-stage, sidestepping Larry. Often during this time he would gaze up at the upper deck of the arena, looking at the crowd whose attention was drawn away from him, his fingers wandering over the strings of his muted guitar as he waited for his cue to start.
Larry would produce the only audible reaction from the band during the interlude as he would bang out several sharp reports on his snare drum. This typically seemed to start at the “five more people…” portion of the Erskine newscast and would continue through the explosions. Comparing several shows the number of rimshots fluctuates from show to show but appears to be around 17 strikes before the explosions. Starting with the first Phoenix show (22 May 2015) Larry would add another three or four during and after the explosions. It should be noted that this is one of the rare moments in the show where Larry did not utilize a click track in his monitors to help him keep time, most likely a deliberate attempt at not having his drumming be perfectly in time. Once the other members of the band began to move Larry would step towards the edge of the catwalk to allow The Edge and Bono to pass him by. He would then turn his back to the main stage for the rest of the strikes, shortly after the final explosion he would turn around and hurry back to the mainstage, handing off his snare to Sam O’Sullivan before sitting down at his kit for RBW.
Adam Clayton, closest to the stage during SBS, would remain stationary until the rest of the band began to move at which point he would go back to his spot on the mainstage.
Most nights Bono seemed to stand with his feet apart, his head looking straight down, and his hands clasping the microphone at his waist. He would proceed to the mainstage without drawing any particular attention to himself. Clearly, he wanted the message of the video and audio to reach the audience.
Despite my best efforts there are still more audio clips I’m unable to discern enough to determine what they are and the significance to Ireland and the band in 1974. Throughout most of the interlude there is what appears to be dialogue from some sort of movie. In parts of this it sounds like horse hooves are clopping down the street.
The audio I’d most like to identify is the very last part of the mashup before the explosions. It is my belief that the last thing said appears to be from a movie and is a man saying “you can’t go wrong if you’re always on a winner. Remember that now.”
Update March 20, 2016:
The U2 fan community is filled with amazing and resourceful people who never leave a question unanswered. With much thanks to Valerie @u2partygirl5 we now know the origins of the unidentified background noises and dialogue.
It turns out that the background chatter comes not from a movie but rather from an RTE special that first aired 28 October 1974 called ‘The Humours of Moore Street: An Impression in sound and vision of a Dublin market place’.
Moore Street is an open air fruit and vegetable market on the Northside of Dublin that is believed to be the city’s oldest.
As “Seasons in the Sun” fades out the sound of horse hooves clopping down the street comes in and a man barks out “the small shop for big value”. At least four separate times a woman states “five pence a pound the carrots”. A monotone man adds in “You’re saving nearly eighty pence on every shoulder of bacon you buy here this morning”. During “Any Dream Will Do” a woman cries out “turnips and parsnips”. The Moore Street audio finishes with a man exclaiming “Two pounds of chops now for fifty pence” almost immediately followed up with him announcing “You can’t go wrong you’re always on a winner remember that now” at which point the three explosions shatter the din.
With these final clips identified it further cements the intention of the interlude; to put the audience on a crowded Dublin street in 1974. While the accents and currency may differ the above scene is easily pictured by every person in this world and conjures up their own Moore Street in their own hometown.
Update March 25, 2016:
A U2 tour is always evolving as it travels down the road. While the majority of the aspects remain static the minutiae are more fluid. There is always something more to find in the noise of the clip and listening to one show will fail to accurately capture every nuance used on the tour. Thanks to Kathleen, @bflosenrab, for pointing out that there was an unidentified piece of audio that appeared to have a woman talking. Not heard during the North American tour dates reviewed for this article, this audio of a woman speaking is layered over the Ian Paisley speech and debuted for the start of the European leg in Turin, Italy.
…our enemy is not the ordinary working man who differs in religion. Our enemy is the Ulster Unionist Party, and particularly the Ulster Unionist Party’s insurance policy, the Loyal Orange Order. This vicious sectarian bully in the name of civil and religious liberty has divided this community into Catholic and Protestant…[ RTÉ Audio Clip]
The dialogue is taken from a campaign speech delivered on 13 April 1969 by Bernadette Devlin. Devlin was running for a seat in Parliament as a member of the Nationalist Independent Unity Party. She was ultimately elected and served until 1974.
This audio clip is unique as compared to the other samples as this one comes from 1969, predating any other audio clip by almost five years. The use of this clip, especially considering it’s placement over that of the Paisley speech, serves as a way to balance the political views expressed in the interlude.