Larry Mullen pounds away like the Eveready Bunny on speed. Adam Clayton’s fingers stampede up and down his bass guitar’s fretboard. With his amp dialled up to 11, The Edge fires off savage riffs of mass destruction. U2’s misfiring ‘Get On Your Boots’ certainly relies on a shock and awe approach. And yet what hits hardest is an almost throwaway line from Bono: “I don’t want to talk about wars between nations.”
And, for most of the band’s 12th studio album, the man who never shuts up about poverty, Aids, third world debt and wars between nations actually keeps his word. The Big Themes are edged out by character studies of ordinary people, himself (“Napoleon in high heels”), and, clearly unable to ditch the political entirely, an Afghan man wounded in a bomb blast.