Acrobat. What more is there to say? Okay, lots. This is a beloved song in the U2 archives, and yet it’s never been played live. All the begging going on during the Innocence + Experience tour, fans wishing and hoping, but nothing (yet). It seems like the band isn’t as happy with the song as the fans are, definitely a different take on it.
I love the song, I love everything about it. It was a serious struggle to not give it a ten, I wanted to, but I couldn’t justify the slot in the end without having another couple of songs come in too. I wanted to limit the tens, and I did. But I will put it this way - when you see my top ten U2 songs, Acrobat will be on the list. Sorry for the spoiler there.
This is musically a great song, all the way through. I’ve been talking the last few days about how their early stuff was interesting but they weren’t working together, well, this is the band at their peak. Achtung Baby, so you might say just past the peak, but certainly way up there. Maybe sitting on top of the mountain that you’ve just conquered. Achtung was where they took the left turn, made things a little interesting, and this is perhaps the best of the bunch. The drums are very standout on this song, they clearly drive it along from the very start, the opening where the drums come up and take over is great. Then you get the guitar warbling from the start, coming around throughout to grab your interest. The bass is understated in places, but you’re listening away and you suddenly realize that the sound you’re concentrating on is the bass sitting in the back as usual, pushing the song around to where it needs to go.
And the lyrics. Well, first the singing, this is confident and strong Bono, again at his peak. Taking you up and down as the song needs, just like the bass did. Holding your attention, bringing in points of emotion and interest and really sounding so good. The lyrics themselves hold your attention from start to finish. Meeting a girl with fire, now she’s melting snow, what happened? The start of an amazing story (back to the movie idea I have had a couple of times this year). The whole segment of religion in the song, from “I’d join the movement” to “to drink it slow,” I so often reference that in my personal life, it has a great deal of feeling for me.
The whole final section of the song, the staccato delivery of short lines, the instructions, the feeling of giving of power, it is a great moment in the song, when you come down towards the end, it is very much lifting you up. I want to say that of all the U2 songs of religion, this one just might be the most powerful, the most giving in that aspect. When Bono talks about the show being their Sunday morning, this is the feeling he should be reaching for. And of course don’t let the bastards grind you down, that should be a no-brainer.
I don’t know anything about Delmore Schwartz and In Dreams Begin Responsibilities, but it was a major influence on the song. Guess that’s something else I need to add to the reading list.
And don’t forget there’s a Kindergarten version of the song, which in some ways is as good as the final, and in some ways maybe better. There are definitely lyrics on the Kindergarten that I wish were on the final song.
My rating for Acrobat: 9 /10