Larry Mullen Jr.

Happy Birthday to Larry Mullen Jr. who turns 54 today.

So if you were wondering why I did the October summary yesterday, this is the reason. I can move the summary, but I can’t move Larry’s birthday. And I saw pictures of him riding the tube to the show today, which is just awesome.

Larry is in many ways the heart and soul of the band. Let’s start with him being the one who posted the note on the board at the school, which attracted the rest of the guys to come to his kitchen and play together. As is famously told, it was called the Larry Mullen Band for about ten minutes, until Bono took over and made it his own. At that time I believe Larry was the only one with any kind of musical training, having performed as a drummer in a local marching band for a while. It was some kind of military band, I think, at least that is what I have always thought, and the first few years of U2’s music seem to bear that out, with the sound of drums being very militaristic on the early stuff. Especially War, of course, the natural theme of that album led right into the drumming style of Larry.

I have been known to be a little critical of Larry, and Adam, saying more than once that they are the two in the band that could be replaced and not missed. I commented on that a few days ago, Bono’s point being that the one time that Adam missed a show, Bono clearly felt the difference. That’s something that doesn’t step into the mind when you think about it, you assume that what you’re hearing is fairly simple and anyone could do it, even a drum machine could do the job. But you get to the people performing, you get to their mindsets, and you realize that no, these guys work together as a team and each of them puts in their own input and produces the result they need. The fact that every night Bono makes the joke that “it’s a blessing for you to know me, Larry” should tell you something. I’m not 100% sure but I think that Larry and Bono are closest to each other in the band, and for him to continue to say that line each night suggests they can take a joke at each other’s expense.

Larry has always been the cool one in the band. From the leather jackets to the Harleys to the Elvis love. This along with being behind the drums has always made him seem a little separate from the fans, not aloof but certainly outside of everyone else. Up until this year I would have said that he was the least likely to be a fan favorite. But during this tour he has seemed to change his demeanor, he has smiled much more than he ever smiled before, and it seems like he has been more involved with the fans too. Getting him out from behind the drums is a good thing, getting him marching down the ramp to the e stage, and being out there among the fans, maybe that has been the difference. But he has smiled, he has given away his drumsticks, he has just generally been much happier it seems. It’s been great for him, for the fans, and for the whole band.