The Pop album and PopMart tour have gotten a bad rap over the years. Let's be honest, a lot of us had a WTF moment while watching the "Discotheque" video for the first time. But 12 years later, there seems to be a lot of buzz around this album again. On Monday night, at the last show in Boston, Bono did a snippet of "Mofo" before "City of Blinding Lights".
I think back to when I first bought Pop and how utterly surprised and at the same time, disappointed I was. The Pop album houses perhaps my LEAST favorite U2 song of all time, "Playboy Mansion". I haven't listened to the song in years and I don't even have it on my iPod for sake of album completion. That's how much I dislike it. At the time, I was listening to a fair amount of electronic music so I certainly appreciated where U2 was trying to go...but this was U2, not the Chemical Brothers. But everyone was getting in on the dance music movement of the late 90's...even Noel Gallagher. Then the tour announcement...at K-Mart. I tried to keep up hope that this was going to be more like ZooTV and less like a bad Vegas light show. Remember, I was 13 when Pop came out...just keep that in mind. Anyway, between the new sound, cheesy tour announcement and the "Discotheque" video with disco balls and go-go dancers, I was really irritated at U2. I had missed out on the ZooTV tour due to my mom thinking I was too young, but she had promised me that I could go to the next one. And this was gonna be it? Swell.
I didn't immerse myself into the PopMart tour news, I had my Propaganda issues that would come and I'd put them aside...I was mad at U2 for this new angle. I wanted MacPhisto back!!! By the time the show rolled around, I had seen enough on the ABC Live in Vegas to be a little wary of how it would turn out. Of course, it was fantastic. I remember so little now, but I do remember being blown away by the music, not the flashiness of the stage show. But I still didn't appreciate the songs from Pop live, even as I stood in that stadium.
When the PopMart Live in Mexico VHS came out, I bought it as a default, thinking I'd give it another chance. However, I bought it around the time that All That You Can't Leave Behind was still on heavy rotation in my CD player and still couldn't really appreciate it. Fast forward to the DVD release of Live in Mexico. Again, another default buy. I popped it in my DVD player and my screen lit up with music and flashy lights. The sound was amazing. I immediately started chastising myself for not giving the VHS a chance before once "Mofo" started.
But midway through the DVD, I had wandered off into my kitchen and could hear the screeching of the Mirrorball Lemon. I remembered this from my concert. I walked back in to watch and the opening chords of "Discotheque" began. "Ho-hum," says my brain. But I keep watching..."This is quite good." Soon, "Discotheque" became a song that I really loved instead of kinda disliked. The performance on the DVD is fantastic and I love the transition into "If You Wear That Velvet Dress"...
All in all, the DVD is a really great showcase to the songs from Pop.
So why is it, then, that U2 neglect the Pop album? There are so many interviews of them talking down on that whole part of their career. At the time, I did too...but I really sense a renewed love amongst U2's fans for the Pop album and PopMart Tour. Perhaps U2 are afraid of PopMart/360 Tour comparisons? I can't say that I blame them, but the 360 Tour, once you see it in person, is not as over the top as it appears in pictures. It actually makes sense. But the songs from Pop, like "Discotheque" or even "Mofo" would fit well after the "Crazy Tonight" remix instead of "Sunday Bloody Sunday" which is a must live but oddly placed after a song that gets everyone partying and dancing, why not keep the party going? Rave, U2 style! In addition to "Stay" or "Stuck in a Moment", "Please" or "Staring at the Sun" would be a good Bono/Edge acoustic addition. I think those songs would really translate well into the current set. But maybe Bono is hearing all the Pop buzz and he threw a bone with the "Mofo" snip. Bless him for it too.
So to sum it all up, I pooped on Pop for many years...it was only recently that I started to appreciate the album. U2 may have felt rushed in it's making, but it did give us some songs that are amazing live. I have admitted to my Pop nay-sayer sins...c'mon U2, it's time for your Pop reconciliation...