It Might Get Loud is a 2009 documentary about three guitar players, Jimmy Page, Jack White and The Edge. If you’re reading this you’ve probably seen it, if not, well, although it’s a really interesting show for guitar players, it doesn’t have too much specifically U2 content to keep the interest. Now, I say that but there are a couple of photos that I hadn’t seen before, and there are a number of clips of early U2 (but you can see them on YouTube), but actually now that I think about it there are several interesting parts featuring Edge by himself. So it might be worthwhile for the U2 fan. It was for me, but I’m also a guitar fan.
Interesting that the movie starts with Jack White building a guitar out of a bunch of scrap, and later they talk about Edge and his brother Dick building their first guitar. Is that one of those rites of passage that you have to go through to become a successful guitarist? Shouldn’t think so, since they didn’t mention Jimmy Page doing it.
There was some interesting detail about Edge and the way he works. I’ve noted before that he seems to have a different guitar for every song, and that is somewhat backed up by shows like this (and any other article where they take a look at Edge’s setup), where they had Dallas saying that he has 23 effects settings for 23 songs. That’s a reason that I can’t perform like Edge can, because I have a single delay pedal and not all the others (yes, that really is the reason why I can’t play as well as Edge, it’s all about the equipment, right?).
Showing Edge working on a song in the studio brings an interesting point to his methods, namely that he is hearing something in his head and working the guitars and effects until he gets to the sound he wants. Also interesting when he played the start to Elevation and it sounds good, and then he turns off the effects and he’s playing just a ding, ding, ding and the effects are doing all the work. I have felt this regularly with my own experiments with delay, and with various tutorials I’ve watched online, kind of knowing that’s the way it sounds, but I still get the feeling of trying to play more notes than I should be.
On the other hand, Jack White made a comment in there that was kind of a diss of Edge, something about stripping back the sound to the basics and not trying to use all the same tech that Edge uses.
So for the U2 fan, the various video of Edge around Dublin was interesting. Was that his own kitchen? Seems weird, looked like a regular old kitchen full of the usual junk that anyone would have. You’d expect him to have a fancy house with a rockstar kitchen. And his car looked like a piece of junk, I noticed the check engine light was on (Big Bang Theory fans will laugh here). Then to the school, Mount Temple where they all met, where they played early gigs, and the infamous noticeboard. Good stuff.
There was an interesting piece for Jimmy Page, going back to one of Led Zeppelin’s early recording sessions, and noting that they had set the drums up in the hall and got a good sound, and then other bands had started copying that. I mention it because as you know U2 did the same thing on Boy, but it was because the drums were too loud, or they didn’t have enough room, and they moved Larry out into the reception area of the studio and got a great sound. Then other bands would come in and try to reproduce the great drum sound and be confused why they couldn’t. So, is there a conflation of stories there? Does Jimmy think U2 copied Led Zep?
Interesting part as well was about New York, Edge went there as a teen and thought it looked and sounded just like the movies. I went there for the first time just a few years ago, and I can tell you I had the exact same feeling. He continued on to the story of finding his Gibson Explorer in the music store there, and the best quote of the movie was that 20 minutes in that music store defined the sound of the band forever.
The final quote I’ll mention, this is a paraphrase actually, where Edge said that when he’s recording by himself that sometimes it doesn’t work. He said you get nothing and you come out feeling like you know nothing and you can’t play guitar. I have a message for you on that one Edge: I get that feeling all the time, and I can’t play. At least you get to come back tomorrow and have the possibility of coming up with something great.
My rating for It Might Get Loud: 7 / 10