Supergroup U2 Reaches For New Horizon


Published: February 26, 2009

While many of rock’s supergroups such as The Who have left their best days behind them, U2 have managed to stay relevant after 30 years.  It is difficult to predict the lasting effect U2’s latest album, No Line On The Horizon, might have, but it’s easy enough to guess.  The band’s first album since 2004’s How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb is more in line with their experimental work from the ’90s than the straightforward rock from their last two albums. Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. have taken on a long journey to complete their latest work.

The album was finished up around the end of 2008 at London’s Olympic Studios, where one of U2’s biggest influences, The Who, recorded three of their albums, including Who’s Next, the follow-up to Tommy.  No Line On The Horizon’s origins can be traced to Fez, Morocco in June 2007, with the band deciding to bring Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois on board as both partners in a song-writing capacity and as principal producers. U2 attempted to work with Rick Rubin on the album in 2006, but the sessions were left to the wayside. Eno and Lanois have worked with U2 on four of their most successful albums—The Unforgettable Fire, The Joshua Tree, Achtung Baby and All That You Can’t Leave Behind.

On Dave Fanning’s RTE Radio show, Lanois said, “I think we can safely say it’s one of the great, innovative records from U2.”  The atmosphere of Fez, as well as the creativity of Eno and Lanois, has greatly helped the group to create what’s being hyped as U2’s most inventive album since 1991’s Achtung Baby. Considering that U2’s earlier work, like The Joshua Tree, influenced some of today’s largest groups, such as Coldplay and The Killers, it looks like No Line On The Horizon will be just as big as its predecessors.

However, the band’s new album is expected to be more than just creatively important.  The record industry looks toward groups like U2 to give flagging sales a shot in the arm.  As it stands, U2’s record labels, Mercury Records and Interscope Records (U.S. only), will be having a good March.  According to, No Line On The Horizon ranks third in sales, just from pre-orders.  The album will hopefully match the debut sales of How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, which sold 840,000 copies.

Another area which the music industry hopes U2 will help to bolster is the touring industry.  While no specific dates have been announced, Bono mentioned in Q Magazine that the band is planning an outdoor tour for this year.  This would be U2’s first outdoor tour in America since 1997’s Popmart tour.  Both the band and the music industry wouldn’t mind a repeat of their last tour’s success.  The Vertigo Tour grossed $260 million with a 100 percent sellout rate in 2005.

If all the hype turns out to be true, it will further enhance U2’s 30-plus year legacy and continue to cement their place in rock and roll history.