Saturday, February 28, 2009

No Line on the Horizon

It feels like my birthday today. I'm about to drive over the border to pick up the new U2 album. I remember their previous album releases clearly... the nervous anticipation, the expectancy, the following weeks in which the lyrics and melodies impact your soul.

Anyone that knows me will know I have had something of an obsession with this band since I was a boy. Since Lurgan Junior High when my mate Scott gave me a bootleg of their concert in Sarajevo and Bono said: 'To be united is a great thing, but to respect difference is the greatest thing' before launching into 'One'. After that I began collecting devouring every album, single and U2 book I could find.

I remember being with Procs in Lurgan College lecture theatre trying to learn U2 songs on the guitar. Also being with him for a U2 weekend culminating in the Croke Park gig. Slane Castle in 2001 was the best night of my life (So good they even released a dvd of it!) The saddest thing was building a music room at my parents house and completely plastering all four walls with U2 posters and lyrics. It still remains though nowadays serves as more of a shrine than a practice room!

Through those teenage years as I struggled with faith, love and finding truth I had a U2 song to identify with. I tried to fit in with church and with my mates who just partied and lived for the weekend, but didn't feel like I fitted into either camp. U2 didn't provide answers but they mirrored the struggle and opened my eyes to see that God wasn't necessarily how the religious folk had painted him. Sometimes finding people that are asking the same questions is of greater comfort than answers.
I'd join the movement,
If there was one I could believe in,
I'd break bread and wine,
If there was a church I could receive in,
Cos I need it now,
To take the cup,
To fill it up,
To drink it slow,
I can't let you go.

Through a mixture of coincidence and inspiration my passions of recent years have seemed to echo those of Bono's. Firstly with African poverty and the AIDS pandemic and most recently with the Middle East and a prayer for co-existence.

Unlike many reviewers I don't compare to the Joshua Tree or expect another Achtung Baby on every release. Those albums will never be equalled. I'm content and amazed by the fact that after 30 years they are still producing music that is relevant, important and good. No other band has such a back catalogue and no other celebrity has used his fame for so much good. I still think they have a lot to say and I can't wait to hear it!

Grace finds beauty in everything

Sunday, February 15, 2009

(Prayer from funeral)
Gareth was a loyal, thoughtful, wonderful friend. In his company you felt relaxed and uplifted. I have known him all of my life and we never shared an angry word.

In conversation, he had a quality that is very rare…. he thought before he spoke. He was not careless with his words. Consequently his advice was wise and words were true. His humility was an inspiration. Though talented, he preferred the background to the front of the stage. Though knowledagble and of greater intellect, he preferred to ask your opinion than to give his own. Many of our conversations and his words of encouragement resonate with me today.

The last words I spoke to Procs on Saturday were, ‘I’ll see you soon bro’.
And I know I will. Because this life is just a vapour when compared to eternity and Procs has gone ahead to join with those great crowd of witnesses. No longer chained to this body but free to laugh and run and dance and sing… I don’t know what heaven’s like but I know if there’s a worship band there, it’s just got it’s new bass player.

Let’s pray-
Father of all mystery, whose ways are beyond comprehension.
Our minds are too small to understand,
Our words are ineffective to convey the groaning of our hearts.
Yet we are here…
To give you thanks for the life of Gareth.
We thank you for his laughter, for that streak of mischief, for his strength and for his loyalty to family and friend.
We thank you for the privilege it was to know him and the blessing and inspiration that he brought to all of us.

Father, Give comfort to Gayle and Joseph, to Joy and Robert, Timmy and Leah, Trevor and Valerie, Philip and Emma and all in this amazing family circle. We thank you so much for their immense faithfulness, unending love, and endless care for Gareth.

Holy Spirit, who speaks for us in groans when we have no words. Come alongside them. Be their refuge and strength, O Lord, and reassure them of your everlasting love.

Lord Jesus,
If we have never sought, we seek Thee now;
Thine eyes burn through the dark, our only stars;
We must have sight of thorn-pricks on Thy brow;
We must have Thee, O Jesus of the Scars.

The heavens frighten us; they are too calm;
In all the universe we have no place.
Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm?
Lord Jesus, by Thy Scars we claim Thy grace.

The other gods were strong, but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.

Father we thank you again for the life of our friend. Be with us now. In Jesus name, Amen.

Friday, February 06, 2009

TOP 10

Haven't done a music post in a while which is a shame because it's my first love. I was asked recently for a list of my top 10 bands/artists. It's an impossible task but I had a go anyway and this was the result:

1. U2
2. Bruce Springsteen
3. Incubus
4. Sigur Ros
5. Biffy Clyro
6. The Arcade Fire
7. Rage Against the Machine
8. Dave Matthews Band
9. Romantica
10. Kanye West

Others loves that didn't quite make the cut (I'm sure they're devastated!) are: Radiohead, Sting, Foy Vance, Coldplay, The Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Smashing Pumpkins, Sufjan Stevens.

Here is my favourite ever moment of the greatest band to ever grace Ireland and the earth. From the Zoo TV concert in Sydney. Watch how a drug addict suffers the needle chill then sees the light through cold and broken 'hallelujahs' and is lifted into the rapture of a place where the streets have no name, where everyone is equal under the eyes of God....a glimpse of heaven. Magical!

Any suggestions for the list?