This is a review of the book U2 Show by Diana Scrimgeour.
I have a fairly large collection of U2 books, a couple of dozen or so. I have reviewed many of them here this year (over on the right you’ll see a link to Books), and more to come. But I’m going to tell you something right now: of all the U2 books I have, this one is the best, and if I were to recommend a single book about U2 it would be this. But there’s a caveat to that, because this is in many ways only for the U2 fan, rather than the casual fan. If you wanted just an overview of the band, this might not be it. On the other hand, if you wanted a pictorial history, this would be it, but it is so much more.
The funny thing is there are picture books about the band (maybe photo books is a better term, picture books sound like they’re for kids), and they’re okay, with the exception of the Anton Corbijn book which is really good. Then there are detail books about the band, and often they’ll go too shallow because they don’t have anything but the public stories. But this book combines the best of both, a large section (the first two hundred pages or so) of photos, and a smaller section (a hundred pages or so) of interviews and talk about the band and touring. It is really well done.
The first two thirds of the book are the photos, of tours from the beginning through Elevation (yes, like every other book my complaint is that it is quickly out of date, I wish they had could update it to the latest tour). Each tour has a small intro, maybe a couple of pages about it, then the rest is just photos with a very rare blurb or quote between them. There is not much within the intro that isn’t know, it’s essentially a recap of the tour with somewhat interesting snippets. But the photos are the stars in this section, and there are a lot, and I am happy to say that I hadn’t seen many of these photos before this book. Also happy they identify the show the pics were from, and that there were some from one of the shows I was at. Brings it just that little bit closer.
The last third of the book is the interviews, and this I think is the true gold of the book. This is where you get into the heads of the people running the tours, or creating them, or being tangentially involved with them but enough that they are interesting. There’s also a set of bios in the back of people involved with the band, which puts a little more detail on the names that you’ve heard for so long. But these interviews, this detail, this info about the backstage or offstage stuff, this is what I’m interested in. You don’t get this from the public persona of the band, you see the front, but never the back part of it. But here you get the setup in the studio, how they like things laid out, or stuff on how they decide on things that become very important (the description of the stage creation, with Bono adding a little bit then Adam taking out the center is great). I still go back and dip into the book every now and then, rereading certain parts and getting a little different info each time.
So, if you want detail, get it. If you want pics, get it. If you want the best of both, get it. It’s not like being at a show, but it’s certainly a peek backstage.
My rating for U2 Show (book): 9 / 10