This is a review of From The Ground Up, the official photobook of the 360 tour.
There are things I like and things I don’t like about photobooks, as I’ve said before. One is that my computer keeps trying to correct it to two words, which is a little irritating when I am typing it several times. Something else is that they can be well done or badly done, depending on how they are put together. I have read a few this year, and their content has varied, from generic well-seen photos of the band (I assume the people selling photos of the early band are cashing in any way they can), to stuff that is behind the scenes, rarely or never seen pictures. The other thing is how good the writing - if any - is, whether again it is generic, or written from an inside point of view.
The From The Ground Up book, being the book from the tour and thus from the band, is very much an inside look and therefore contains pics never before seen. From the standard shots of the band, to behind the scenes and even before the scenes were built. And the inside cover of the book shows pictures from the stage, looking out at the crowd and up into the claw, these pics alone add value to the book. The first chapter is about the design of the stage, and there are drawings on paper, pictures of the designers sitting in around a model, CAD drawings and so on, all things I haven’t seen before, and it’s all interesting the way they come about.
One of the most interesting parts is in that first chapter, describing how they came about the stage design, with Bono saying it’s all about trying to get closer to the audience. Now, you can imagine that with something this big, it’s not getting closer, it’s getting further away, but there is some kind of method to his madness. What’s more, that quote resonates with the current tour, he has repeated that exact same thing about trying to get close to the audience now, and that’s interesting in the different ways it has come about.
The other part of the book experience is the writing, and it is good in this book, describing things in a very personal way about how everything went about. The author - a guy called Dylan Jones, who doesn’t get credit anywhere except a small line on the title page - has had access to the band, talking to them, traveling with them, being involved with them in a very close way, and it shows. Their descriptions of things that were going on, some of it has been new to me, and made me think a little bit more about the band experience. This is one of the things I have enjoyed about reading the detail, getting to know the ongoing lives of being in a band and touring, switching between the slog of being on the road and the joy of being in a show. Great stuff, exactly the kind of material I like in a good book about the band.
The final word may go to Adam, who is quoted near the end as saying that the next tour is going to be an indoor one, but stripped down and “more about the music and less about the production.” I can’t say Innocence + Experience is truly stripped down, although I guess it is compared to the 360 stage, but I think it is definitely more about the music, but also more about the production.
My rating for From The Ground Up (book): 9 / 10