Numb is a departure from the usual U2 stuff, even when you consider that it comes from Zooropa, which was a departure in itself. In fact if you were making a list of the oddest U2 songs (and I have no intention of doing that), Numb would be very high up there. Maybe not number one on the list, but on the other hand I can’t offhand think of any odder, or more bizarre, U2 songs. I’m sure there must be some though, right?
Numb is weird. It is weird music, it comes from weird sounds, it has weird pauses in it, and it is sung weirdly. Weird. When I say sung weirdly I don’t meant to insult Edge, I just mean that given that Bono is the singer in the band, it is weird to get Edge singing a song. He has done it a couple of times over the years, but this is different all the way. Zooropa was a turn toward the weirder by the band, on the way from Achtung Baby and into Pop, and this one really was one of the weirdest songs on the album. On the whole I dislike it.
And then there’s the video. Essentially Edge sits in a chair and sings while the rest of the band, and many others, do things around him. That type of video reminds me of Bono in the Sweetest Thing video, where there is all sorts of action going on behind him, all well timed, and his wife is sitting there trying not to laugh at it all. Edge sitting there doing crazy things, or rather having crazy things done to him, and he doesn’t crack a smile throughout. I don’t know how many takes it took to film, but surely it was more than one. Just the part where Adam is tying a rope around his head while Larry and Bono sing at him, how he doesn’t react to that I don’t know (that is Adam right? Pretty sure it is based on the jacket and legs which we see later, and I’m not sure but I don’t think Adam is wearing any pants). I’d be falling off the chair laughing at that point. And there is a whole lot of other action in the background that we essentially ignore, because we’re too busy looking at the guys in the front. I admit that I should go back and look at it, but I never do.
The band has another day off on the tour, heading to Antwerp on Tuesday. I got to listen to very little of Barcelona 4, I thought it being on a Saturday would help but then I ended up doing family stuff all day and getting hardly any time to listen to it, just the first couple of songs. But I am pleased to say that my son is now requesting I put U2 on every time we get in the car. Almost always he wants Miracle to start with, and he has recently switched from listening to a tour show (I downloaded Boston 3 because of Bad) to wanting to hear the album.
My rating for Numb: 3 / 10