On September 27, 2012, U2′s The Edge was seen on stage performing with Bryan Ferry at the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital Friendship Ball in London, England. They played the Irish folk song “Carrickfergus”, named after the town of Carrickfergus in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.
Surprise celebrities added their applause to a rapturous standing ovation for the world premiere of Finding Neverland.
Hundreds of people packed out Curve to see the opening night of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s production.
The show premiered on Saturday night and included two unexpected star guests – U2 frontman Bono and guitarist The Edge – who had been invited by Mr Weinstein.
Mr Weinstein said:”We were so honoured that Bono and Edge came to see our first preview of Finding Neverland in Leicester. There was real excitement amongst the cast to meet them backstage after the show. I came to see Bono’s show Spiderman in New York during previews, and he was a really good friend to come and see my first show here in Leicester.”
Speaking to the cast on stage after the show, Bono said: “Can I just say how nauseating it is to see it go so well. That was amazing.”
The musical, about Peter Pan author JM Barrie, received whistles and cheers as the curtain fell and the Irish superstars got to their feet with the rest of the audience to give the cast a standing ovation.
Joss Paine, 18, from Thurnby, had to take a second after finding himself in the same row as Bono.
He said: “It was a bit surreal. I spotted him quite early on and had to look twice.”
The show is inspired by the 2004 film Finding Neverland, based on the Scottish writer JM Barrie.
It tells the story of his platonic relationship with Sylvia Llewelyn Davies and friendship with her four young sons, who inspire the magical world of Peter Pan.
Maggie Friswell, 63, from Burbage, said: “It was absolutely fantastic. The singing was superb – in fact, everything was fantastic.
“I’ve been to London, to the West End to see shows, but this was just amazing – the technical bits were really impressive.”
Stephen Smith, 61, from Stoke Golding, near Hinckley, said: “Brilliant. It was really good.
“For the show to premiere here in Leicester really says something about the city and the theatre.”
Pam Hillyard, 74, from Thurmaston, was sat in front of the show’s producer Harvey Weinstein but didn’t know until her daughter told her.
She said: “I had no idea who he was, but I thought the whole show was fantastic.
“It really captured the essence of the story and the time in which it was set.
“The set and music was amazing.”
The musical attracted audience members from all over the world.
American Bill Rummer had travelled from London to see the opening night of the show.
The 40-year-old said: “I thought it was beautiful and moving, it was fantastic.
“I’m originally from Los Angeles and I’m in London at the minute, but I had to come up here when I heard it was a Harvey Weinstein premiere.”
Bill was not the only overseas admirer of the production.
Australian Craig Rohlf, 39, had also made his way up from London for the show.
He said: “It’s my first time here and I am really impressed.
“It’s not every day you see a world premiere of a big show like this.”
British stage and screen actor Julian Ovenden plays JM Barrie, while West End actress Rosalie Craig takes the role of Sylvia.
The show, directed and choreographed by Olivier Award-winner Rob Ashford, runs until October 13.
For information and tickets, visit:
Copyright © 2012 Northcliffe Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.
By Ken Sweeney, Independent.ie Entertainment Editor
BONO was a surprise addition to the Electric Picnic festival when it kicked off in brilliant sunshine yesterday.
Arriving by helicopter at 6.15pm, the U2 frontman wasn’t performing but turned up to catch a set by his long-time friend Gavin Friday on the first day of the music and arts event.
For decades Friday has jetted around the globe as U2′s ‘special adviser’, giving them notes about their live shows.
But last night the roles were reversed as Bono sized up the former Virgin Prune’s performance on the main stage just after 7pm.
The only problem with having a superstar pal watching your show is that photographers’ lenses were all trained on Bono watching from the mixing desk rather than on the stage.
Nevertheless, Gavin dedicated his song ‘Angel’ to Bono and his wife Ali who are celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary this month.
It was Bono’s first visit to the Electric Picnic, which is now in its ninth year.
Take That’s Gary Barlow admitted on the ‘X Factor’ last weekend that he had never heard of the Electric Picnic, but for the 32,500 Irish music fans in Stradbally, Co Laois, this weekend it’s the highlight of their music year.
Wayne Stuart (30) spoke for many. Originally from Co Clare but now working in Glasgow, Wayne had returned to Ireland specially for the three-day event.
“It’s not just the music. There are so many other attractions to the Electric Picnic like Mindfield and Body & Soul,” he said.
“I’d describe it as an adult playground. I went to Oxegen for the first eight years but I’m not 18 any more and the age range at Electric Picnic goes from kids to senior citizens.
“I love the atmosphere so much that it got me back from Scotland.”
The biggest drawback to any Irish music festival is the unpredictable weather, but by teatime last night the meadows of the 600-acre Stradbally estate were bathed in balmy sunshine.
There’s more good news, with Met Eireann promising today will start off dry and bright, and tomorrow will be even warmer and sunnier, with temperatures hitting 20C or 21C.
Tailbacks didn’t prove a problem either, with heavy but steadily-moving traffic around Stradbally last night.
That left one genuine problem for festival-goers — the clash of top names on different stages with Ed Sheeran, Christy Moore and Icelandic band Sigur Ros all performing between 11pm and midnight last night.
Even a three-hour set from Goth doom merchants The Cure tonight seems unlikely to dampen spirits.
One of the more unusual performers on the many stages over the weekend will be celeb agent Noel Kelly. (See The Diary — Review Section).
More used to representing Ryan Tubridy and Grainne Seoige, the 49-year-old will be fronting the Transformation Blues Band on the Salty Dog stage at 7pm this evening.
However, the NK management boss said his “singing the blues” had nothing to do with salary cuts for his stars in RTE.
Rather, he’s doing a favour for the band whose singer had been unavailable for the festival and looking forward to a return to his former role as frontman with Dublin blues band The Leadbellies.
Weekend festival tickets are still available for €230. Sunday day tickets are €99.50.
- Ken Sweeney Entertainment Editor
Stars follow $270m Facebook stake with backing for internet storage service
Lisa O’Carroll, The Guardian
His investment firm is looking forward to potential profits of about $1bn (£620m) from Facebook. Now U2 front man Bono appears to have developed a thirst for web technology, giving his personal backing to internet storage service Dropbox alongside bandmate the Edge.
The U2 pair were announced as individual investors by Dropbox in a picture posted on Twitter showing the musicians posing with founders Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi.
The service, which is still in its formative stages, has more than 50m users and was described as “tech’s hottest startup” by Forbes in a cover story last November. The company did not specify how much the musicians invested.
“Dropbox is excited to welcome Bono & The Edge as investors. Thanks for the support and look forward to great things!” the company tweeted.
According to Forbes, revenue is expected to hit $240m in 2011 even though 96% of users only use its free service.
Dropbox is a web service that allows users to store documents, photos and video in the cloud with the first 2Gb free. Heavy users then pay $10 a month for up to $50Gb and $20 a month for 100Gb in storage.
Houston told Forbes that even if he didn’t sign up a single new customer in 2012 his sales would double because of the growth trajectory in storage usage.
The investment by Bono is the latest in a string of tech investments for the U2 frontman.
As cofounder of Elevation Partners he has invested in Palm, Yelp and Facebook, with investment in the latter two companies inspiring the company to start building a new $1bn investment fund.
The first fund, launched in 2004, was worth $1.9bn with $270m of that ploughed into Facebook in three instalments between 2009 and 2010.
The imminent IPO could now value the company at about $100bn, which could net the firm about $1bn, according to sources.
Elevation also committed $100m in an investment in consumer review website Yelp in 2010 on the basis of a valuation of $500m, the source said. Yelp completed its stock market flotation earlier this month and currently has a market capitalisation of $1.4bn.
“They did their IPO in March and based on how it is trading today, they have tripled their investment,” said a source.
According to TechCrunch, Bono and the Edge got to know the Dropbox founders after they developed a music app on Facebook, iLike. They approached U2 to help them with the launch of a new feature which would help them promote videos to fans and ended up with an interview and a previously unreleased track.
By Tim Molloy, The Wrap News
Rock gods have the same awkward interactions with panhandlers that you do.
U2 guitarist The Edge, producer of Friday night’s MTV special on youth homelessness, “The Break,” says he, too, sometimes finds himself at a loss about how to help people on the street.
“There’s that awful thing where you realize there’s nothing you can do, right at that moment, so you kind of pretend they’re not there,” he told TheWrap. “And I think for somebody who’s homeless, particularly someone who’s panhandling, that’s the most emotionally difficult thing, is to become like a non-person. Like you literally do not exist to someone walking by.
“And I understand both sides,” he added. “The person passing by just doesn’t know what to do. So they end up blanking the homeless person. And it’s a terrible thing to see happen. I’ve been guilty of it myself from time to time.”
The musician and activist, who says he usually does give money to the homeless people he encounters, has spent three decades working on social causes like African famine relief as a member of his band. U2, the biggest touring act of 2011, has campaigned for causes and organizations from Make Poverty History to Amnesty International.
With “The Break,” the Edge and host Anne Mahlum, an advocate for the homeless, profile three young people on the street and try to help them rebuild their lives. They include a woman who was involved in abusive relationships, a gifted drummer who suffered a downward spiral, and a woman who left home because her parents objected to her lesbianism. The Edge also wrote a song for the show, “There’s No Home Like Place.”
The Edge said U2 is “slowly starting to think about work,” but the band is in no rush to get back to the studio, despite a wealth of material. Instead, it’s listening to a lot of music. After we talked about the special, he told us what he’s playing lately.
What interested you about this project?
It was something that just inspired me early on. I was questioning myself about some of my own ways of relating or not relating to homeless people, and it just started me on kind of a journey to answer some questions for myself. And in the process I started thinking about the way that the homeless are really completely marginalized, and in many cases disenfranchised.
They suffer through a lot of stereotypical views about how they got there. What I’ve learned is there is a myriad of reasons why someone might become homeless. No two stories are the same. I thought that it was time that there was a little bit more of an intelligent sense of inquiry into this problem. It’s particularly serious at the moment with the economic downturn.
I thought if we could really make a difference in somebody’s life with an intervention, it could be a reality TV kind of thing that would be very uplifting and inspiring, instead of making people view the show and feel better because they see a lot of bad behavior.
But also if somebody’s in a position of being homeless, in could be hopefully an inspiring thing to see.
The question of how to help is a particularly interesting dilemma for you. As part of U2 and singularly, you’re one of the most approached people in the world to help contribute to causes. And you’re also in a unique position to help a lot of people. How do you choose what you’re going to do?
I think it’s down to feeling like you can move the needle, that you can make a difference. And of course we can’t do everything, because then you’d be so diluted that there wouldn’t be any kind of impact to your support or involvement. That’s an important thing.
And the things that inspire you and the things that you feel moved to become involved with. As with Bono and his Africa work. He happened to be in Africa at a very pivotal time in his life and witnessed a lot of the problems with famine. And it’s stayed with him. For me, there was something about the homelessness issue that was like this voice just saying, you’ve got to try to find some way of getting involved here.
There were a couple of stories as well that sort of inspired me. One Irish homeless man, in Dublin, quite famously rescued the driver of a bus that had plunged into the River Liffey. And he and a passer-by actually climbed down though this wrecked bus because the front of it was in the water but the back of it was accessible from the bridge. And they climbed down through the broken rear window and dragged the bus driver out and saved his life. But he ended up wandering into the night with his wet clothes to sleep rough.
And it just struck me as a kind of really tragic scenario – I wasn’t the only one. It was a big story in Ireland.
Not that you’ve ever suffered through the kinds of struggles that homeless people do, but as a child or when you were trying to get U2 started, was there a time when you felt like you lived close to the margins?
I mean, friends of ours, during the early days, we would hang out in derelict buildings … and all that stuff, which was kind of almost a rite of passage, particularly if you were coming out in a punk band, the punk movement. But no, personally, I can’t lay claim ever having had to deal with not having a home. Although there are people I know who’ve had phases of being homeless, I’m not putting myself forward as an expert in homelessness.
In fact, Anne Mahlum, who’s the advocate who does all of the heavy lifting in the show, is really the person who made this possible. Without her we didn’t have even the beginnings to this film. She brings so much of her own personal experience to this amazing initiative, Back on My Feet, which for years has been brining dozens of homeless people back into regular society.
Ann’s got such a depth of experience of being not just an advocate but an interventionist. She will try in as delicate a way as possible to help someone figure out the way forward. As she says no one wants to be homeless, but a lot of homeless people just don’t know how now to be. It’s a delicate thing. It’s not just a case of knowing how to ask for help, it’s the feeling like you are worthy of help. And having the courage and strength to realize to put up your hand and realize that you need it and finding it.
We weren’t sure at the start of this production what was going to happen. We hope the interventions were going to turn out to be a positive thing but of course there was no guarantee. … As it happens with Nancy, with Rob, with Ava, all three of the featured homeless people, they showed a great sense of being able to take advantage of the opportunity and to break the stereotypical that if you’re homeless you don’t want to change, you don’t want to work, you don’t want to better your situation.
What I learned in the process of making this film is the one thing that seems to be crucial to anyone’s progress in life is a community. Supporters, family, friends, work mates, whatever. When someone has no one there to help in that isolated place it’s not that hard to fall into this kind of problem of having no home. Connecting these young people if not to their original family and friends to a new community seems like a big step to moving forward.
You’ve written so many songs that have become associated with different social causes. Do you ever start out thinking, ‘I want to do something about this problem and maybe a song will help?’ Or does it just evolve out of the music?
It’s different ways. In most cases with U2 the music comes first. The lyric will sort of emerge as it were from the music and the emotional content that the music seems to suggest. In this case, for the song I wrote for the show, I was trying to write about homelessness and the issue. In many ways we’re all looking for a home, we’re all searching.
But it’s the lack of a physical place to live, that’s the thing that’s so crippling. I think would be the only way to describe it for someone who’s in that position.
It stops you from doing so many things. Just the act of voting, getting a job. So many things are more difficult if you don’t have a place to live. We need to get better at dealing with it.
And can you say what you’re listening to now?
There’s a very interesting album called “The English Riviera” by Metronomy. It’s quite an interesting record. It’s kind of timeless but very quirky. But also very fresh. I’m enjoying that. Foster the People just for pure melody is great. And Bon Iver – I love the innovation of that sonically. It’s a very interesting record.
© The Wrap News Inc. 2012
From all media reports, the Toronto International Film Festival (abreviated by Tweeters and just about everyone else as TIFF) got electrified by hosting the premiere of the new U2 documentary From The Sky Down.
Directed by the award-winning director Davis Guggenheim (It Might Get Loud, An Inconvenient Truth) and put together in a mere months, the film will debut to a wider audience on Showtime in October. The DVD will then get packaged with the 20th anniversary deluxe reissue of Achtung Baby, followed by a separate release of just the documentary.
About collaborating with U2 on this film, Guggenheim remarked, “They said from the beginning, we want you to make the movie that you want to make and they let me.”
An anniversary peek into the creative process of how U2 re-invented themselves with postmodern post-Joshua Tree promise, From The Sky Down should be a real treat for serious U2 fans.
The review of the movie in the Toronto Globe and Mail, however, questioned its worth as a standalone film, suggesting “this documentary on the Irish quartet U2 in creative flux at the end of the 1980s is not the significant film his others are.” For many others of us though, we will enjoy the backward, reflective gaze on the band’s process, or as the review puts it, seeing “special light thrown on the mysterious ways of musicians.”