"We are just super curious to meet our audience in India" - U2 on their show in Mumbai

U2 is coming to India and we can’t keep calm! The legendary Irish rock band will be performing for the first time ever in Mumbai on December 15 at DY Patil Stadium and close The Joshua Tree Tour 2019.

Turns out, the legendary rock band had an India tour on their cards for the longest time ever and they’re big fans of A.R. Rahman! To know more about U2 and their connection with India, read on our conversation with Bono and The Edge.

The Edge and Bono

JioSaavn: India’s been anticipating a U2 concert for quite some time. What do you guys think might be a little bit different about this concert now that you’re finally going to be in Mumbai?

The Edge: Oh, it’s impossible to predict! We are just super curious to meet our audience in India for the first time and to see how our songs work. 

Bono: Have you met singers before? We’re an insecure lot. Insecurity is our greatest security. I’m the kind of person who sweats it. I’m not being at all presumptuous. I just think if it’s true that we have a great audience in India, it’s going to be one of the great moments to be in U2.

JioSaavn: Is India going to get a taste of anything different?

The Edge: We always try to sort of be somewhat flexible so that there’s an element that’s designed for that night, for the audience and depending on what’s going on. It’s kind of too early to say but that’s part of what we try to do. Our shows are not different every night. There are artists who love to do a whole different setlist every night. We’re not like that, but our shows evolve all the time and they definitely take into account where we are. 

JioSaavn: Especially from JioSaavn’s perspective, a big part of what we value with music is culture, and threading cultures together. 

Bono: That’s what’s so great about JioSaavn is that you have gone to a great deal of trouble to understand all the different regions in India, and you’re uniquely capable of fulfilling people’s desire to hear songs in their own dialects, and we really respect that.

JioSaavn: Yes. So on that note, can you talk a little bit about your experience so far with JioSaavn? And are you looking forward to any collaborations?

Bono: Yeah, I mean, we shall see. We’re plugged in because you’re plugged in. You are a way for us to speak with our audience, you are a way for us to meet a new audience. We’re very, very grateful.

The Edge: It’s like the Indian based artists that we’re only getting to know now, we’re very excited to dive in there — courtesy of JioSaavn.

JioSaavn: I’m sure it’s also courtesy of the creative powerhouses that you are. People are really drawn to you. I think if JioSaavn can help facilitate those collaborations, it’s going to be exciting for us as well. Because like I said, that’s a big part of what we do and why we have this global company. And we’ve been putting together certain collaborations and global artists to match them with Indian artists, and seeing some really cool stuff. Are you guys looking forward or excited about any potential collaborations?

Bono: Well, we would love to do that! That would be a real thrill. We’re real fans of A.R. Rahman. We think he’s kind of incredible. We’d love to find other Indian artists. Who would you recommend? Who are the young women singers? Because gender equality is at the heart of who we are and what we do at the moment, and that’s because we have daughters who tell us what to do and wives who tell us what to do, and wives that we listen to and learn a lot from.

The Edge: One of the real joys of being there I think will be discovery.

Bono: Yeah, that’s what you’re all about, right? You’re all about discovery, your playlists and all of that. Surprising people. You know, when music, rock and roll began out of the 60s, and it was actually 50s for known, but it exploded in the 60s. One of the things that were most extraordinary about it was that rock and roll, the Beatles, the Stones, people that were played on AM radio in the U.S. and in the U.K. right next to pop, right next to, you know, sort of crooners. And that’s the excitement of coming across something that you would never normally listen to. It’s the excitement of playlists getting away from niches of music.

JioSaavn: That’s really an exciting part of what I think streaming has done and definitely a mission of JioSaavn. I think after this or later, we can really talk about some of the other female artists who we work with and who you might be interested in knowing more about. I have my personal favorites, of course, but maybe for another time!

Bono: Can you send us some? Because we could even do playlists ourselves and if every member of the band could make a playlist, that might be nice.

JioSaavn: Oh, I love that idea! We’re gonna follow up on that one for sure. So, within this context can you talk a bit about what you hope the audience in India will take away from what you guys provide as musicians, as artists, as spokespeople for some very high level, high conscious concepts? Do you think that’s going to come out in your show in Mumbai and what would you hope that the fans take away from it?

The Edge: Well, our songs are a combination of super personal and kind of high minded ideas. Social justice is a big theme. Love being in some ways the unifying element that connects the personal and the political. So, yeah, I’m curious to see how the songs work in the context of a show in Mumbai and in front of our Indian audience. I hope really it’s the songs that do all the work because they’re much more eloquent than we would ever be!

Bono: I just think it’s love and emotion, and trying to serve the songs, trying to get out of the way of the songs. You know [at] the great shows, it feels for me like the songs are singing you. That’s an amazing moment when that happens. It doesn’t happen all the time, but that would be my biggest hope for the show in Mumbai. It’s a very selfish thing, but you know, that the songs are singing in me. It’s just a different thing, it’s a different feeling. And what I would really love that. And when I say love in motion, I mean actions that follow the words. The people in their personal life feel inspired to take action on whatever it is. You know, ‘things don’t have to be the way they are’ is probably the central message of U2. The world is more malleable than you think. You can shape it. Don’t think that things have to be the way they are in politics, but also in the personal.

JioSaavn – And India is a really magical place. So I’m really excited for you guys to experience this malleability — what you’re speaking about — in India. So you mentioned non-violence, so I wonder if that’s perhaps a little bit of a clue for what we can expect?

Bono: “Ahimsa” is a beautiful word.

Artwork of “Ahimsa” by U2 and A.R. Rahman

The Edge: For us growing up as we did during the troubles in Northern Ireland, it was the thing that we held on to was his concept of non-violent resistance. Martin Luther King was our jumping-off point, but of course, his great influence was Gandhi, and that concept is central to the Hindu faith. So there’s so much there! There’s so much that connects our songs and our ideals to the culture of India. So, we’re excited to see how that all plays out on stage. But yeah, that’s something that we’re very conscious of.

JioSaavn: So what about any philanthropic or humanitarian projects in India? Anything interesting come to mind?

Bono: I’m very interested in is the rising voice of women. As I was saying earlier, there is a movement towards gender equality around the world. I’d like to understand better in India how that’s going and where that’s going and how we could facilitate it. Because for any country to solve complex problems and not use 50 percent of the population is crazy. My daughters say to me that there’s nowhere in the world where there’s gender equality, in Ireland or anywhere. So I’d love to be part of that because I think certainly women are the root of my inspiration a lot of the time.

The Edge: I would say as it’s moving so quickly forward and embracing modern innovations in communications and technology. I think there’s an opportunity there to change more than just the kind of economy of the country as it drives forward into the future. I’d love to see India at this moment in time and just get a sense of where it’s heading, because I think it’s in India where you’re seeing that the future of democracy around the world, you know. Where we’ve had democracy, democracy in Europe, in America for four centuries, India is now kind of a test ground for it in the developing world. And with so many different minority groups, it’s got so many challenges ahead but I’m very excited and hopeful to see how it handles all those challenges.

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