A peerless display of rejuvenation
Dennis O'Dell 2009
Never was an album title more apt. Following the ironic reinvention of U2 in 1991 (with Achtung Baby), accompanied by tours that matched their widescreen music with eyeball-melting visuals, they'd again become a little adrift. All That You Can't Leave Behind sees them return, if not to basics, then to safe ground.
Three years previously, Pop had found the band grasping a little too desperately for the newest trends to ride. While they could ease dance tropes into their bag of tricks, the full-on electronica approach had alienated many fans. It was time to head back to guitar land.
Recruiting the old dream team of Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, and working in their homeland, this became an album of more straightforward rockers and ballads that highlighted their skills as writers rather than as fashionable stylists. The tactic paid off. First single Beautiful Day was a heartfelt slice of optimism of the kind that the public had missed. As such it won them a Grammy.
You could almost hear the sighs of relief as U2 reclaimed their crown with 11 filler-less tracks. Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of is a beautiful tribute by Bono to his deceased friend Michael Hutchence. Elevation is another slice of adrenalin that marries studio wizadry to pure rock thrills. The list goes on. And so, thanks to this peerless display of rejuvenation, would U2.