U2 wears NI politics on its sleeve


U2 has added a splash of colour to Northern Irish politics with the sleeve of the latest new CD single, Please. In a parody of U2's POP album cover, the faces of Bono, The Edge, Adam and Larry are replaced by images of Gerry Adams, David Trimble, John Hume and Ian Paisley, in vibrant colour.

Adams sports a green face, orange lips and orange specs, while David Trimble has blue lips, blue specs, and a yellow face. John Hume's visage is a deep blue hue, and Ian Paisley's is a fiery red. Northern Irish affairs. The political tone of the CD sleeve is at odds with U2's recent statement that its PopMart show would steer clear of politics. On the day of their concert in Belfast's Botanic Gardens in August, Bono told reporters: "There will be no politics at this concert - but a bit of shrubbery."

Please is the fourth track to be taken from POP, and will be released on September 22nd. The slow, moody ballad was written shortly after the February 1996 breakdown of the IRA ceasefire.

Some lyrics refer to the conflict in the North: "September, streets capsizing, spilling over down the drain/ Shards of glass, splinters like rain, but you could only feel your own pain/ October, talking getting nowhere, November, December, remember/ Are we just starting again?"

Other lines like "Your holy war, your northern star" could also be interpreted as referring to the Northern situation.

A spokeswoman for U2 denied that the song was political. She said it was a plea for peace and dialogue between Northern politicians. "Like all U2 songs, it's completely open to interpretation. "I can't tell you what the band were thinking when they wrote it, but it's definitely not a political statement - it's more symbolic.

"Anyone who lives in this country can relate to it, because we all want peace." The band, which plays in Paris tomorrow night, has previously featured issues such as war, oppression, torture and apartheid in its music. The U2 anthem, Sunday Bloody Sunday, directly addressed the conflict in the North but in recent years U2 has made consumerism its main hobby-horse.

The sleeve art for Please is based on the work of Andy Warhol, who once famously painted a tin of baked beans - perhaps U2 are trying to say that unless inclusive talks start soon the peace process won't amount to a hill of beans?