Starting with Zoo Station, the opening trio of Paul Smernicki's U2 Fantasy Setlist is PURE bangers including the monster songs ‘Streets’ and ‘Beautiful Day’, but listen on. From an exquisite live recording of A Sort Of Homecoming (from the Unforgettable Fire), Paul’s choices take us elsewhere...
What more can be said about U2 as a live entity?
Well, maybe look at it from a personal perspective - in this case, U2’s performances’ impact on the life & times of Paul Smernicki, music manager (Hyyts, Swim School, Magnum House, Jessie Buckley) and long-time label executive. And at one fleeting moment, a potential addition to U2’s management team.
When you add it up (however you want to) ticket sales, record sales, words printed etc. U2 is Ireland’s biggest ever cultural export. But really, the band’s greatest impact has been on individual’s lives. When you listen to Paul’s story in particular, imagine amplifying this across U2’s millions of fans around the world. It’s mind blowing. And unquantifiable.
From attending an early show on the War tour (1983) with a family friend in Dundee Caird Hall (capacity 2,300) and from there across circa. 25 shows in 30 years or more, Paul takes us through just a few of the stories of how U2’s music and gigs had an influence on him, his life and universe.
Starting with Zoo Station from Achtung Baby, the opening trio of Paul’s very own Fantasy Setlist is full-on U2 bangers including the monster songs ‘Streets’ and “Beautiful Day’, but listen on. From an exquisite live recording of A Sort Of Homecoming (from the Unforgettable Fire), Paul’s choices take us somewhat deeper into the U2 cannon - lots of early tracks, just a couple of fabulous B-sides and one or two unusual moments including The Edge’s track Heroine (sung by Sinead O’Connor on the record, but by The Cocteau Twins’ Liz Fraser in Paul’s ‘fantasy’) and U2’s mostly forgotten Christmas song.
The subjects we talked about include tips on how to play Wire on guitar (hint: don’t bother trying) and how going to gigs from bands you love will always be worth more than sofas. In Paul’s view, U2’s Boy album is one of the greatest debuts of all time, which is something you might dispute, but only after spending some time listening to the album!
The playlist that sits alongside the podcast is a great way to re-discover U2, a much more satisfying listen than yet another compilation of their hits (or even deep cuts) whether you are a fan of the band, or exploring their powers afresh.
Although it seems fitting to render Paul’s choices with a cover from those earlier years of the band that he loves so much, listening to the collection makes us want more from a band that have continued to be a force of nature live, perhaps more than they have through their more recent recordings. What lies ahead for a band like U2 in the streaming age? Hopefully, much more.
Paul Smernicki is owner of Big Music Management, a Dundee based management co. representing the pop band Hyyts, swim school, Magnum Haus and Jessie Buckley.
Paul also chose the U2 Christmas track Baby Please Come Home, not on Spotify, but you can find the track on YouTube: