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U2: Tops of the Pops

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Eileen Murphy

It was deja vú all over again for U2 as the band performed on the roof of their Clarence Hotel recently. The occasion was their appearance on the popular UK show "Top of the Pops" to promote their new album, "All That You Leave Behind," which is due to hit stores at the end of the month.

U2 fans will remember their famous rooftop video for "Where the Streets Have No Name," filmed way back in 1987 in Los Angeles. In fact, it was during that video shoot that Bono got the idea for his movie script, "Million Dollar Hotel." If you look closely during the video, you’ll see the marquis of the actual Million Dollar Hotel in the background.

Of course, the band got the idea for both open air shoots from, shall we say, a higher source.

"We’ve stolen more than one idea from the Beatles," Bono chuckled to Hot Press last week.

Fans lined the quays. We’re sure the Ha’penny bridge was groaning under the weight of the faithful as the band got down to business. Though almost nothing was visible from the street, the fans were able to hear the band rehearse the album’s first single, "Beautiful Day," and another song, the appropriately titled "Elevation."

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But what would rock and roll be without a bit of scandal to keep things spicy? Irish papers were in a dither last week, reporting that a convicted IRA ma, John Noonan was assigned to usher Bono around the shoot.

"He should have been minding the trucks out the back of the hotel," Dreamchaser’s Ned O’Hanlon told Hot Press (we assume, sheepishly). "I’m not quite sure how he came to be so close to Bono."

But back to the business at hand. The tour kicks off in Miami next March, and get this: they’ll be playing arenas instead of stadiums.

"For us, [it’s] the equivalent of playing club dates," Bono said. The singer/statesman is champing at the bit to get back to his day job.

"I tell ya, this is not a tour to miss," he said excitedly. "We’ve been playing a lot together, and there’s something indescribable, almost combustible happening between the four of us.

"I won’t be cliched and call it magic, but there’s something going on that I believe will make these shows extraordinary."

We can’t hardly wait.

Going her way

Irish-American actress Moira Kelly, who stars in the hit TV drama "The West Wing," thought seriously about becoming a nun — and sought permission from her parish priest to do her first movie nude scene.

Kelly, who grew up in Ireland and in Ronkonkoma, N.Y., attended St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. She was torn between her desire to enter religious life and her love of performing.

A few well-chosen words from the priest put her feet on the road to Hollywood. And when producers of one of Kelly’s early movies, "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me," asked her to shed her clothes onscreen, she again checked with the priest, who gave her the all-clear. Hey, who said the church was conservative? (Put your hand down, Sinead O’Connor!)

Briefings

This month’s Vanity Fair features a diverse group of singers on the cover, in celebration of the magazine’s music issue. Familiar faces include Bono, Bjork and Chuck Berry, among others. Inside, Bono reveals that he’s a big fan of Patti Smith, The Clash and The Buzzcocks, and reiterates his claim that U2 are, in reality, "the loudest folk band in the world."

According to bookmakers, the unstoppable Gael force that is Westlife are 3-to-1 favorites to have the No. 1 Christmas single in the Irish/UK charts this year. This puts them above other pop acts like Robbie Williams (7-to-2), Britney Spears (9-to-2) and Eminem (20-to-1). Ex-Boyzoner Stephen Gately will probably be less than thrilled to hear that his odds are a whopping 66-to-1. Ah, those teen fans are soooooo fickle.

Speaking of numbers, we should note that the new Corrs album, "In Blue," is No. 21 on the U.S. album charts — and that’s on the strength of just a few high-profile TV appearances like the "Tonight Show" and "Late Night with Conan O’Brien."

Samantha’s American adventure

More good news for Irish music fans: pop queen Samantha Mumba, the "little sister" in Louis Walsh’s family of pop acts that includes Boyzone and Westlife, has one of the 30 most-played videos on MTV-U.S. The 17-year-old Dubliner has also been offered a cameo role in the Muhammad Ali film biography "Ali."

Mumba’s understandably excited about her film break, but it’s mostly at the thought of working with the film’s star, Will Smith.

"I love Will,," she giggled like, well, a 17-year-old. "He’s so hunky!"

Sweet life for Cranberries

We haven’t heard much from Limerick’s favorite rock tarts, The Cranberries, in recent months. Their last album, "Bury the Hatchet," went multiplatinum, despite a lukewarm critical reaction and Dolores O’Riordan’s charges that Irish radio stations weren’t giving it a fair shake in the airplay department.

But fans will be happy to know that the band’s spirits "are mighty high," according to drummer Feargal Lawlor. The quartet have spent the last few months in the recording studio, working on material for their next album.

"We had eight songs practically ready to go when we walked into the studio," he said. "We were flying through them, and the inspiration was flowing big time."

The band are taking a break until the new year, as lead singer Dolores prepares for the birth of her second child. Then it’s back to the grindstone to finish off the album, which should be in stores next summer.

Sunny forecast for Gray

British singer David Gray, who’s become something of a phenomenon in Ireland for his laid back but quietly intense musical style, is having the kind of year that most performers only dream of.

His current album, "White Ladder," is selling like hotcakes in the UK and has charted in the U.S. His live shows usually sell out, and now he’s dipped a toe in the lucrative movie music market.

One of Gray’s songs, "Sail Away," has made it onto the soundtrack of the upcoming Robert DeNiro/Ed Burns cop film, "15 Minutes," which opens next year. And in case anyone’s wondering: no, we don’t think the title is a bad omen for Gray’s career.

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