Thursday, January 17, 2013

Let me in the sound – not! U2 conference paper proposal

I was informed (graciously) today that my U2 conference paper (April 2013) proposal was not accepted. No explanation as to why. For the record (pun intended), here was my proposal (it makes the title even more poignant!).

Update: An invitation, on 6 March 2013. Due to a late withdrawal, might I be interested, despite the late notice, in presenting my paper! Let me in the sound is, after all, a live performance option.

The paper emerged from this moment of listening pleasure, which was deemed “perceptive” by well known U2 scholar, Beth Maynard. In terms of theorising, I consider their would be some real insight to read U2 against the work of Martin Stringer, UK social anthropologist, who has a body of research applying sociology to live liturgy.

Let me in the sound: the role of one liners in the live concert experience of U2

This paper will analyse the use of one-liners in U2’s live concert performance. It will explore the differences between U2‘s known songs from their studio albums and live performances (as recorded in the limited U22 CD that resulted from their most recent 360 degree tour). The paper will catalogue the one-liners and outline how they serve as a significant dimension of the live concert experience.

Three dimensions of these one-liners will be explored. First, how they particularise, offering a unique concert experience. Second, how they reframe, providing a different hermeneutical lens by which a song might be interpreted. Third, how they humanise, enhancing the connection between the band and the feelings of concert-goers.

An example is illustrative. During the live performance on U22 of “Until The End Of The World,” the following one-liner is employed: “Where’s Frank? 13 years ago, this very evening, we said goodbye to Frank Sinatra.”

This one-liner served to particularise, marking this concert (live from Mexico) as occurring on an anniversary of significance. It served to reframe, linking the song with a legend in rock music. It served to humanise, crafting a respectful memory with regard to those who have gone before.

This analysis will be placed alongside recent liturgical writing, in particular the work of Martin Stringer, On the Perception of Worship and his argument that with regard to ritual, it is in the irregularities that significance is generated.

Posted by steve at 08:29 AM


  1. What a pity this was turned down. The implications for worship leaders would have been valuable.

    Comment by Jonathan Gale — January 17, 2013 @ 8:44 am

  2. I wonder if anyone else will be ‘back again’ or if it’s about different people Steve… either way I like where you were going. Even in a simple way I prize what I do ‘differently’ to the norm in the regular worship gigs I have in my current role and I think it’s those variations that breathe life, allow for change and ‘make connections’ with and for people…

    Comment by Rob Hanks — January 17, 2013 @ 2:45 pm

  3. Oh, and in the same way, the shout out to Cate Blanchett in Sydney on ‘Kite’ from whatever recording I got it, is also kind of stuck in that time when the didgeridoo accompanying the band made it an amazing live version with a special depth!! The good and the band… clever paper title by the way!!

    Comment by Rob Hanks — January 17, 2013 @ 2:49 pm

  4. Jonathan, I’ve blogged about worship leaders immplications here – and written about them in a more academic way in Exploring U2 edited by Scot Calhoun.

    This paper was trying to focus much more particularly on the one liners, rather than the overall technology, so yes, it is of even more relevance to worship leaders.


    Comment by steve — January 17, 2013 @ 9:35 pm

  5. Ta. Got it.

    Comment by Jonathan Gale — January 18, 2013 @ 7:38 am

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