At this point, neither they nor we are looking for surprises.
The surprise came in 2000, with the reputation-saving All That You Can’t Leave Behind. Since then, U2 have been in consolidation mode.
Assisted as usual by Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno, U2 have never sounded more like themselves.
Above Adam Clayton’s one-note-a-bar solidity and Larry Mullen’s energetic rumblings, the Edge shudders and chimes, while Bono continues to overreach himself in ways both charming and embarrassing.
About half of it sticks.
The three-track run from I’ll Go Crazy to Stand Up Comedy is excruciating, and the likes of Magnificent and Fez Being Born suffer from a lack of focus and/or melody.
But the last three tracks: the plangent, pretty White As Snow, the redemption-song hallelujah of Breathe, and closing protest-ballad Cedars Of Lebanon – remind you why both they and we are still here, and why it’s good to have them around. WILL FULFORD-JONES