History of Achtung Baby Tribute Band
1992 - 2008
THE ACHTUNG BABY DAYS
Three consecutive nights at Fibbers - somebody pass the camp bed... Shift. The incentive for spending so much time chez Hornsby and Hodgen was a long weekend of varied, and brilliant, music which took over York’s premier venue and blew all other options away. Saturday featured Achtung Baby; a U2 tribute band drafted in at the last minute to replace Doppelgangers - another U2 tribute band (sore throat, don’tcha know...). Even better than the real thing? Even better that the Doppelgangers? We may never know the latter but, as for the former, well of course not. But then want do you want for three quid? Son of Tribute Band looked the business and did the business. The ridiculous posturing of the Achtung-Zooropa-dissapear-up-his-own-self-importance Bono was spot on, the guitarist looked like The Edge, the bassist looked like Adam Clayton and the front four rows of the busy pub shut their eyes and dreamed of Wembley. Left buzzin’ by the usual rockin’ set from Aldo’s Oprhans, the swarm of Fly’s tried gamely to turn Fibbers into a fitting venue for stadium rock. It never quite came off but, as U1-and-a-half raced through most of the Achtung Baby album plus faultless versions of Pride, Desire, Angel of Harlem, New Year’s Day and I Will Follow, no-one was left in any doubt that the U2 phenomenon is still up and running - if only to stand still.
Thursday 21st September, 1995
Tribute bands usually have to do something special to gain the approval of an audience, and Achtung Baby, the U2 ‘soundalike’ band who perform at the Royal Hotel on Saturday, appear to have done just that by being voted one of the best acts on the university circuit. They are recognised by the official fanclub too. Although they can recreate any of U2’s styles, they will be concentrating on the band’s earlier material, including Pride, October and Sunday Bloody Sunday. Reviewers have been surprised at how well the band recreate U2’s sound and look, and point out that an audience can enjoy a more intimate live performance of their music that the real U2 could now manage. Tickets are available from the Royal Hotel and the doors will open at 8.30pm.
Weekender, Saturday 30th September 1995
RIOTOUS NOSTALGIA WITH NEARLY U2
Story by Jo Porter
When I was a lass they were called cover bands. Today they’re known as ‘tribute’ bands and have been enjoying something of a resurgence lately with the demise of the good old-fashioned rock and roll four-piece. New bands like Blur and Oasis might be taking the music scene by storm, but until recently there has been little to rival the great live bands of the ‘70s and ‘80s - U2, Simple Minds, Dire Straits, Queen and the like. Few can pay more of a tribute to the original band than Achtung Baby, who model themselves on Irish rock band U2. Led by Andy Bagnall, the Bono lookalike who was a finalist in TV’s Stars In Their Eyes this summer, the group have only been around for a few months yet are already proving extremely popular on the university circuit. It was not hard to see why after enjoying a riotous nostalgia trip at Beau Sejour last week. Although only 180 people - most of them only just out of nappies when U2 had their first hit 5 years ago - turned up to watch this look and sound-alike band, they more than made up for it in enthusiasm. As the lights dimmed, the smoke swirled and the first bars of Where The Streets Have No name began to play, the small crowd which had been loitering at the back of the Sarnia Hall surged to the front and from then on it was just as if U2 themselves had deigned to drop in on little old Guernsey. Lighters held aloft, fists punching air, if you closed your eyes and listened to the music you could almost be at Wembley! Even better than the real thing? Not quite, but certainly an excellent imitation and musically, spot on. Andy really did look like Bono and had obviously done his homework, right down to the rock star posturing - leather-trousered legs crossed, both hands gripping the mike, eyes closed behind dark shades, even the scuffed cowboy boots of Bono’s early years. Luke ‘the Edge’ Pepper really does look like - well, the Edge, and bassist Steven Kean, with his little round specs, sleeveless vest and Doc Marten boots, looked just like Adam Clayton. They even spoke with soft Irish accents = that is until the intrval when, joining the lads for a quick chat between sets, I was greeted with the broad Yorkshire vowels. The story goes that Rotherham lads Steve and Luke, both committed U2 fans for many years, met at a U2 concert on the Zooropa tour two years ago, and decided to form a band. Only one problem - they needed a singer. Meanwhile just up the road in Barnsley, Andy was warbling away in the bath to all his old U2 favourites. That was in July and since then they’ve gone from the dole queue to full-time surrogate superstardom, playng two or three gigs up and down the country a week.
by Iain Henderson
Even better Than The Real thing? A Dutch roadie thought so - and even ushered members of U2’s tribute band Achtung Baby in to the Irish mega band’s dressing room when they turned up to watch their gig in Rotterdam. Luke, who plays The Edge, and Steven (Adam Clayton) were shown into the empty dressing room by the roadie who was convinced they were real U2 members. The night before before the U2 show, Achtung Baby, whose name comes from one of the band’s albums - played to about 2,000 fans at a sports centre in the Dutch city. They have supported bands such as The Lightening Seeds and Echo and the Bunnymen and taken their act to Portugal, Germany, Bahrain, Ireland, where they have played in Dublin and even caused a riot in Sligo.
Introducing... Achtung Baby
Achtung Baby are the newest U2 tribute band to hit the clubs of the UK. The group formed as a result of four U2 fans from Yorkshire meeting up at U2’s 1993 Zooropa show at Leeds Roundhay Park. They decided to form their own U2 tribute band and within six months were out on the road playing gigs. The original line up was Gary (Bono), Steven (Adam Clayton), Dean (Larry Mullen Junior), and Luke (The Edge). Achtung Baby started gigging in their native Yorkshire initially, but by the summer of this year had moved further afield to such places as Norwich and Torquay. Also, in the summer, the first Bono, Gary left to be replaced by Andrew Bagnall, fresh from his triumph on ITV’s ‘Stars In Their Eyes’. The band have now started to build up a loyal following and are gaining rave reviews wherever they play. They have played twice in London (at the Forum and the Venue) and more recently have played in Ireland. The band play a full two hour show which includes a mixture of old and new, including Gloria, I Will Follow, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Desire, Stay and Mysterious Ways. Unfortunately we at Silver & Gold haven’t been able to get to an Achtung baby show yet, but judging by the live reviews written about them, they are meant to be even better that the Doppelgangers! In the next issue we should be able to bring you a live review of an Achtung baby show as well as an interview. On the next page is a live review of Achtung Baby plus a list of forthcoming dates. If you do manage to catch Achtung Baby live over the next few months, write in and tell us what you think of them.
Lots of hits, lots of punching the air, lots of that pompous - and somehow sinister - brow beating, and plenty of shiny happy people (who’d paid a tenth of the cost of a real U2 ticket.) This was last Friday night’s Baths gig, organised by Papa Crumb, which saw tribute band ‘Achtung Baby’ give a solid live reading of that greatest hits album Bono and co. are sure to soon foist on us. Even better than the real thing? I couldn’t possible say, but everything you’d expect to hear was here - from the (almost) punk-pop of ‘I Will Follow’ to the frazzled CD-vibes of ‘Mysterious Ways’ and ‘The Fly’, via the angst anthem ‘Pride’. Spirited. Binoculars were not needed to enjoy this warm and spirited show - none of your four ants on a stage and a couple of big TV screens contrivance - just a gut full of beer and a healthy sideways glance. ‘Achtung Baby’ almost looked like U2 (authentic looking hats or sunglasses in place), certainly played with a genuine love of the music, and grew in confidence as the hearty Scunthorpe crowd lapped it up. For this they have to be congratulated - whatever your opinion of U2. ‘Achtung Baby’ give their audiences exactly what they want, far cheaper and much more enthusiastically that their heroes. They are the U2 you can actually see properly, hear properly, touch, and be part of. It’s down to the fact that they aren’t U2, only a tribute band that means intimacy is possible - they’ve found this peak, and fair play to them, they’re milking it for all it’s worth - because this sweaty and tight budget bombshell is something U2 could never again achieve.
AS GOOD AS THE REAL THING
They mightn’t be quite the real thing, but for U2 fans around Europe, Achtung Baby are the next best thing. The Mancunian band, who have been together for six years, were the first U2 tribute ac, and to their growing number of fans, are still the best. In addition to playing extensively in Europe, particularly in Holland and Germany where they have a large following, they have also appeared at numerous U2 fan club conventions around the world. They have even earned the grudging respect of Bono and The Edge who witnessed one of their shows in Rotterdam. Achtung Baby’s to hour show, loosely based on U’s PopMart Tour, features all the band’s greatest hits including ‘With Or Without You’, ‘I Will Follow’, ‘New Year’s Day’, ‘Pride (in the name of love)’, ‘Angel Of Harlem’, ‘One’, ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ etc. The band, who are on their third Irish tour this year, are paying their first visit to Dundalk when they play at tomorrow (Sunday) night. As anyone who has seen other top tribute bands such as Thin Az Lizzy, Abbaesque and Buffalo Soldier know, a mega night’s entertainment is promised.
Achtung Baby live at the Standard Music Venue, Walthamstow, London - December 1995
At the third attempt, Silver & Gold finally got to meet up with Achtung Baby, the latest U2 tribute band to come out of these shores. This was their London gig, but despite the cold night outside they succeeded in warming up the audience, who were slow to recognise the talent in front of them. Opening with ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’, Achtung Baby laid their stall for all to see with a set that concentrated on the Joshua Tree era of U2. Singer, Andrew Bagnall strode confidently up to the Microphone, mimicking the swagger and movements of Bono perfectly. When he opened his mouth to sing, the likeness was excellent. Just close yours eyes and imagine that it’s really Bono singing! In between songs he speaks at times with Bono’s ZOO TV American accent and at others with Bono’s native Dublin drawl, making the effort to portray his hero 100%. He is a strong vocalist, whs years of singing in the bath have paid off! The other members of the band, Luke (The Edge), Steven (Adam) and Andy (Larry) all play competently as a tight unit, belting out U2 standards all evening. The set tonight might have disappointed some U2 fans, as no material from Achtung baby and Zooropa was played, but in return we got some rarely played U2 songs, like ‘In God’s Country’, and ‘Surrender’ (from the War album) which made a nice change. In the thirty or so gigs that they have played so far, the band have learnt their stagecraft well, managing to lift the audience up with such songs as ‘Desire’ and ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’, and then bring them down again with the likes of ‘October’ and ‘Runing To Stand Still’. (This was done in its original setting, a version I much prefer to the ZOO version). At one stage among the crowd dancing down the front, there were people even headbanging away to the music! Achtung Baby were not afraid to cover other band’s songs as U2 have done, so we were treated to strong versions of ‘All Along The Watchtower’ and ‘Helter Skelter’ as well as Eddie Cochran’s ‘C’mon Everybody’ (which U2 played at the 1986 Self Aid concert in Dublin). Of course they climaxed with the trio of ‘With Or Without You’, ‘All I Want Is You’ and ‘Bad’ (which Andrew dedicated to us - thanks mate!) Al three songs are very powerful and they can completely take you out of yourself if you let the music take over. All in all I was very impressed. Achtung Baby have the music of U2 off to a tee and at the same time they seem to be having fun while they do it. If they’re playing near you, make the effort to see them. You won’t be disappointed. Mark Chatterton.
If it’s a Bank Holiday Sunday night, then there is only one place to go and it’s Derryhale Hotel. Over the last couple of years we have been treated to performances from the likes of Thin Az Lizzy, Buffalo Soldier and Abbaesque, but this time something special is planned because U2 tribute band Achtung Baby make their Dundalk debut in what promises to be a sell out night. Hailing from Yorkshire and formed in 1993, Achtung Baby were the first U2 tribute band to make a name for themselves, and have spent the last six years touring the world and bringing this mega show to U2 fans everywhere. Such has been their popularity that they have been constantly touring ever since and have become absolutely huge, playing regularly in Holland and Germany along with many U2 fan club conventions. They have even earned the grudging respect of no less a duo as Bono and The Edge who caught their act in Rotterdam and seemed happy with what they had seen. The band’s two hour show is certainly one of the most comprehensive performances around and is loosely based on the Popmart tour so you can enjoy such hits as ‘I Will Follow’, ‘New Year’s Day’, ‘With Or Without You’, ‘Pride (In The Name Of Love)’ ‘Angel Of Harlem’, ‘One’, ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ and many more. This will be the band’s third visit to Ireland and on their last tour they sold out the Olympia for two nights in a row, so the critical Dublin audiences certainly love them. A major night of U2 tunes is expected in the Derryhale on Sunday night, so go early if you want it to be the U2 gig that you have always promised yourself you’d see!
ZOO2 is the new U2 tribute band which is the result of splits in U2 tribute bands The Doppelgangers and Achtung Baby. The band has jut released their first CD single featuring a reworking of ‘The Electric Co.’ and a new version of ‘Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me’. The Zooropean’s intrepid reporter Mac Phisto plays devil’s advocate to Bono’s ex-Doppelganger Wayne Allen and asks how it all came about. Mac Phisto: Before we talk about the CD single, what happened with The Doppelgangers and Achtung Baby? Wayne Allen: Well, we’d just some to the end of the line really. I was increasingly finding that I wanted to do different things, in a different way to the rest of The Doppelgangers, and I found that I had more in common with the guys from Achtung Baby, who still enjoy what they do and are still very enthusiastic. The Doppelgangers were taking things too seriously for me. I want gigs to be fun. I think the split has been the best all round. Everybody’s a lot happier now. M.P.: So what’s the line-up of ZOO 2? W.A.: I play Bono, Luke does a great job of being Mr. D. Edge on guitar, piano and backing vocals. Steve looks so much like Adam on bass it’s surreal, and Dean is happy as Larry. He’s as quiet in interviews as Larry, too. M.P.:How did the CD come about? W.A.: Well, I always wanted to rework / remix U2 songs, with The Doppelgangers but it never really happened. I’ve always thought there’s no point in a tribute band recording exact copies of songs -- who’d want to hear them? Even if you could copy the sounds accurately, which would be extremely difficult and time consuming, you could never capture the same feel or expression. And even if by some freak chance you did, what would be the point, anyway? People might as well listen to the original. So I started experimenting with different versions of U2’s songs, trying to record them with a different mood or atmosphere. I thought an interesting thing to do with a band like U2, whose sound has changed so much, would be to take an early song and record it in a contemporary style using sequencers and samplers, which is what we’ve done. M.P.: Then how come you ended up recording a version of ‘Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me’? W.A.: I was coming to that. It was public demand, really. People heard our reworkings of other songs and asked if we’d done a version of Hold Me... Being as there was no alternative, from U2, I thought we might as well try to record one, giving it a different feel. Luke and I jammed a version of the song at my little home studio and I played the bass line from ‘Let’s Go Native’ from the Passengers album. It seemed to fit and it gave it a strange hypnotic groove. We added some keyboards and E-bow guitar and people liked it! M.P.: How did your version of The Electric Co. come about? W.A.: That came from the original idea of taking an early U2 song and trying to imagine how that song might have sounded if it had been written today. It also gave us a chance to put a bit more of ourselves into the music. Paying tribute to your favourite band in a live situation is great fun and enjoyable for audiences who haven’t been able to see that band for a long time, but there’s no point trying to re-record that band’s records. In a studio I think it’s much more interesting to try to interpret U2’s music, than to just copy it. That’s why I sang ‘The Electric Co.’ as myself and didn’t try to impersonate Bono. M.P.: Do you plan to do any further remixes in the future? W.A.: It depends on how this single goes, I suppose, but I’d like to. Another idea I’d like to try is the opposite of what we did with ‘Electric Co.’ Take a new song and record it in an early style. Who knows, maybe a version of Mofo would be fun. No samples, just plain old-fashioned guitars. Well, maybe not so old-fashioned...
Hundreds of U2 fans enjoyed a concert by the Irish tribute band Achtung Baby, at the Fiddlers Green, Diplomat Hotel, last night. Achtung Baby, one of today’s leading tribute bands to the Irish band U2, will give the last of three performances at the hotel tonight
Fiddlers Green is the venue for three concerts by Achtung Baby, the ultimate tribute band to U2. The concerts will take place on September 30 ad October 1 and 2. As a group, Achtung Baby was formed in 1994. During 1995, the band built up a cult following in England which quickly spread to Scotland and Wales. Numerous sell out appearances in such venues as JB’s in Birmingham and The Forum and Venue in London gained the band valuable media attention. After many reveiws in U2 fanzines such as Silver and Gold and the official U2 publication Propoganda, Achtung Baby were now firmly established as the leading U2 tribute band in the UK. It was only a matter of time before Achtung Baby took the next inevitable step - to play live in Europe which naturally was a huge success.
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