U2 announces new two-disc live set from smash 360° tour, but there's a catch

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U2 is releasing a lavish, two-disc set of songs from its record-smashing U2 360° tour — but to get access, you must be a member of U2.com, where there’s an annual subscription cost of $50.

The U2 360° tour, which lasted from 2009 through 2011, was comprised of three legs and some 110 shows. Originally launched in support of 2009’s No Line on the Horizon, the sets were eventually reshaped to include a series of previously unreleased songs in ’10 and then tracks marking the 20th anniversary of Achtung Baby in ’11.

U2 360° became for the highest-grossing concert tour ever, with $736 million in ticket sales, and was also the highest-attended tour with more than 7.2 million tickets sold.

This new 22-song set, called U22, includes hits like “One,” “Where the Streets Have No Name,” and “Even Better Than The Real Thing,” along with fan-selected tracks including “Moment of Surrender,” “Ultra Violet,” “Bad,” and “Zooropa.” Members of U2.com get immediate access to 11 downloads while the album ships — along with bonus track called “Unknown Caller.”

The two discs are featured in an LP-sized booklet of photo from the tour. The liner notes include new comments on each song from bassist Adam Clayton.

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Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on U2. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

ONE TRACK MIND: U2, WITH GREEN DAY, “THE SAINTS ARE COMING” (2006): And so I sat in this darkening cathedral, thinking not of football — those days, and weeks and months and years of downs and distance — but what had happened to this city, and in this site. “There is a house, in New Orleans,” Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong started to sing, “… they call the Superdome …” The group of fans around me, at the sound of this deft reworking, surged out of their seats — like a hymn had raised them. I was, already, overwhelmed. Then the chorus began, from a stage as small as the opening coin tossed in the middle of that football field, and it filled every part of this place. It embraced us all: THE SAINTS ARE COMING. Rebirth, Bono said, almost in prayer, during the solo. And there was a frenzy of emotion, as memory mixed with hope for the very first time.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: U2 – HOW TO DISMANTLE AN ATOMIC BOMB (2004): When returning to this U2 record, I thought it’d be kinda fun to just type in my impressions as the tune goes by — listening while at lunch: tuna on a sesame bagel, small cup of broccoli soup. We all know its history by now — as How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb ended up winning nine Grammy awards, selling more than 9 million copies (making it fourth biggest seller of 2004), and made Rolling Stone’s 100 Best Albums of the Decade, at No. 68. Still, going in, there were those who thought U2 was past its prime, unable to fashion a more straight-ahead rock sound after years of experimentation with dance music in the 1990s. Here are some more thoughts, between bites.

U2 – ACHTUNG BABY (1991; 2011 deluxe edition reissue): Who lost their mind here? The band, their manager, the label? Was it all of them at once? I don’t get this one at all. Many others don’t get this one. One of the absolute classic albums of the last two decades and they completely screwed this one up, seemingly out of greed. What a mess, what a stupid, stupid mess of a release. Where the previous expanded remasters of their albums had proven to be worth the extra money to invest in, this one makes it seem kind of like they were just warming us up with those to try and slip the worst possible release into our hands at the highest price possible. The two disc version isn’t so bad, full of b-sides (most of which big fans already have) and a scattered few unreleased tracks, but the meat was obviously held for the bigger set, just like the other releases — except this time you have to cough up at least an extra $100, or more, to get that stuff.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: U2 – THE JOSHUA TREE (1987): My best friend, he’d been brainwashed back then, plastering his room with posters and hand-drawn replicas of U2’s albums. The song he and his girlfriend called “theirs” was “With or Without You.” I couldn’t bring myself to tell them it wasn’t really all that happy of a song, kind of like how people dedicate the Police’s “Every Breath You Take” to loved ones not realizing it’s actually about an obsessive stalker. Back then, all I wanted to do was ignore U2. I let the band click with Achtung Baby and it’s been a slow climb ever since then. I’m thoroughly in the “fan” category now, and I fully acknowledge that The Joshua Tree absolutely is one of the best albums of the ’80s, if not the best.

ONE TRACK MIND: U2, “NEW YEAR’S DAY” (1983): “Old Lang Syne,” this will never be. It doesn’t have the required sentimentality. No, U2?s “New Year’s Day” is a political song, but a special one in that — like the best political songs — it started out as a love song: I want to be with you, be with you night and day … Then lead singer Bono heard that the Polish government’s brutal early 1980s-era martial law was to be lifted on New Year’s Day. The lyrics — amended to refer to the Soviet bloc’s first independent trade union, led by Lech Walesa — appear to take a hopeful turn, but instead with each pause reveal a bubbling sense of cynicism about real change: “Nothing changes, on New Year’s Day. … I, I will begin again. I, I will begin again. …” Appropriate, since it took the balance of the decade for workers’ rights to take hold in Poland.

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The Something Else! webzine, an accredited Google News affiliate, has been featured in The New York Times and NPR.com's A Blog Supreme, while our writers have also been published by USA Today, Jazz.com and UltimateClassicRock.com, among others. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
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