U2 want to rework early music

SOMERVILLE, Massachusetts Thu Mar 12, 2009 1:32pm EDT

Members of the rock group U2, Adam Clayton (L), Bono (2nd L), Edge (2nd R) and Larry Mullen (R), attend a ceremony where a portion of West 53rd Street was renamed U2 Way in New York, March 3, 2009. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn

Members of the rock group U2, Adam Clayton (L), Bono (2nd L), Edge (2nd R) and Larry Mullen (R), attend a ceremony where a portion of West 53rd Street was renamed U2 Way in New York, March 3, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Gary Hershorn

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SOMERVILLE, Massachusetts (Reuters) - Irish band U2 gave a prelude to its upcoming world tour with a brief private show on Wednesday for just 950 fans who got a chance to make news by asking the band some tough questions.

Among the revelations from the banter with the crowd: U2 is considering reworking and re-releasing some early work including its debut album "Boy" released in 1980 that included U2's first big hit "I Will Follow."

"I would love to sing that album again and finish that," said lead singer Bono. He said they were rushed from the studio producing "Boy" because they "couldn't afford another hour."

"The early records, there's some beautiful songs that feel a little bit unfinished to us," he said.

Pressed on what he'd like to change, the Irish rocker singled out his "phony English accent" on "Boy."

The back-and-forth with the crowd in Boston's neighboring city of Somerville followed an energetic set of five songs from U2's new album "No Line On The Horizon" which debuted at No. 1 in 30 countries, including the United States and Britain.

An early contender for biggest record of the year, "No Line" is being closely watched by a business seeking to reverse deep declines in album sales. It has been described as the band's most experimental album since 1991.

Mainstream critics have generally warmed to it. Rolling Stone calls it a "five-star masterpiece" and Mojo magazine gave it four stars. But influential music website Pitchfork describes it as "rather pitiful."

In the 95-year-old Somerville Theater -- a brick venue originally designed for stage shows and vaudeville -- U2 tested four of its new releases: "Get On Your Boots," "Magnificent," "Breathe" and "I'll Go Crazy, If I Don't Crazy Tonight."

The band ended the show, broadcast live on radio, with 2005 hit single "Vertigo."

In the past two weeks, U2 has played on the roof of the BBC in London, had a street temporarily named after it for a week in New York, and performed an unprecedented five-night engagement on CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman."

Wednesday's show capped a three-night, syndicated-radio event across the United States that included one-hour interviews conducted in Los Angeles on Monday and Chicago on Tuesday.

About 2,000 people gathered outside the theater, held back by metal barricades and hoping to catch a glimpse of the band. Tickets to the free-concert were distributed through radio station promotions and to guests selected by U2's label.

Asked which songs he would never tire of playing and which he never wanted to play again, guitarist The Edge said there were plenty of old U2 songs he's happy to avoid,

"There are so many U2 songs that I am quite happy not to play. But the thing is we still want to rewrite some of them, and who knows we may at some point re-release a few of our early albums with a few changes," he said.

There were several other revelations from the Q&A session moderated by an MTV Networks reporter.

The Edge revealed that even his mother calls him "the Edge." Bass guitarist Adam Clayton took a shot at rock star Sting, saying: "Sting's only problem is that he is too cool. He is too cool to be cool."

And drummer Larry Mullen Jr. said one of his most memorable onstage moments with the band was when a woman got up on stage and handcuffed herself to Bono's leg.

(Editing by Vicki Allen)

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