By Edna Gundersen, USA Today
U2's starring role in Live 8 marks a confluence of anniversaries. It has been 20 years since the Irish band made a splash at Live Aid, the Africa-relief benefit that inspired the similar Live 8 concerts being staged Saturday. A quarter-century ago, U2 was celebrating its first single and recording its debut album, Boy. By some barometers, 2005 is also the 50th birthday of rock itself.
This could be a nostalgic weekend for the planet's most driven band - if it had a reverse gear.
"I wince a little at the term 'veteran band,' because we're releasing records as popular and as creatively alive as anything we've ever done," says bassist Adam Clayton, 45. "We still get videos played on MTV. Rolling Stone, which tends to put half-naked ladies on its cover, had a very successful issue with U2 on the cover.
"These things are not the industry norms. These things make people scratch their heads. It's humbling to be in that position."
And unique. The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and other boomer warhorses subsist on tour receipts or catalog sales that emphasize past glories while new music gets tuned out. U2 is the only rock band to survive on top this long without converting into an oldies act. With no mentor or model to guide them, the foursome's next challenge will be sustaining that unprecedented stretch of critical and commercial success.