REVIEW: U2 – SONGS OF INNOCENCE 0 293

With a career spanning many decades, it may be of little surprise to learn that Irish legends U2 are back (again), this time with an album exclusively available, for free, on itunes. It’s rather fitting, considering their own lengthy career, therefore that their opening number sounds very much like the band name-checked in the title ‘The Miracle Of (Joey Ramone)’; both are considered icons of the industry. The song itself is a little simple, and certainly nothing special, but catchy enough to get toes tapping, and minds intrigued as to what will follow.

‘Every Breaking Wave’ is better in terms of the laid back musicianship allowing Bono’s unmistakable voice to really shine, while the words ‘If you go’ just beg to be sung back to the band at a live show. Church bells chiming introduce ‘California (There is no End to Love’) while the semi-chanting it opens with might be somewhat irritating to some listeners, though fortunately, by the time the guitars kick in, the track picks up dramatically.

The slowest number on the album so far, ‘Song for Someone’ is the first real ballad style song on this new collection, and though there is little to mark it down on, it is a little dull in comparison to the earlier numbers. Fortunately, things get a little better with the arrival of ‘Iris (Hold Me Close’) and although it’s certainly not as good as the the Goo Goo Dolls classic of the same name, it certainly isn’t the worst number, though it does go on a little longer than necessary, coming in at just over five minutes.

‘Volcano’ marks a vast improvement, from the moment the guitars strike up, but the song still struggles against the strength of the bands’ past material, but ‘Raised By Wolves’, despite being lyrically basic, comes somewhat close, mostly thanks to the tight musicianship presented throughout it. The albums’ best piece comes via ‘Cedarwood Road’ – it’s rocky, upbeat and pure U2 at their best. Live this song is bound to get everyone on their feet and singing along, if not waving their arms in their air; it’s that good – almost anthemic.

It’s a shame therefore that the strength of the music doesn’t continue through to ‘Sleep Like a Baby Tonight’ – another five minute piece of which the opening 60 seconds and the verses that follow on are dull enough to potentially put people to sleep. As the album draws to a close, it’s almost as if the band make a valiant attempt to rescue the collection, and they, for the majority, succeed. ‘This Is Where You Can Reach Me Now’ is a catchy little ditty; again far from anything special, but certainly much better than some of the other numbers on the album. Ending with ‘The Troubles’, the group return to their slower style and, being oddly uplifting and inspiring, with a guest female vocal, it lingers with you long after the final note has played out.

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CURTIS PRITCHARD JOINS THE GREATEST DANCER 0 16

Ballroom and Latin dance champion and Love Island 2019 finalist Curtis Pritchard will be joining The Greatest Dancer as the dance talent show returns to BBC One in early 2020.

The news was exclusively revealed on The Scott Mills Show on BBC Radio 1, Curtis confirmed that he will be welcoming hopefuls to The Greatest Dancer studio as they prepare for the biggest audition of their lives.

Curtis says: “To have left the Love Island villa just 10 days ago and to be so quickly given an opportunity to be a part of a show as amazing as The Greatest Dancer is a dream come true. When I got the call I was so honoured to even be considered for this so the fact it’s happening I can’t quite believe! Dance is my passion and I can’t wait to meet all the contestants in the new revamped reception area.”

Curtis is an award-winning professional dancer, who most recently appeared in Ireland’s version of Strictly Come Dancing, Dancing with The Stars, for three series. As well as his experience on TV, Curtis has danced in a number of critically and commercially successful stage productions including Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Burn The Floor and Rip It Up.

Curtis, alongside professional dancer brother AJ Pritchard, has also been confirmed as Choreographer on the upcoming series of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK on BBC Three.

STRICTLY 2019: ANNEKA RICE JOINS LINE-UP 0 18

Anneka Rice is an award-winning broadcaster.

The 17th series of the NTA and Bafta award-winning entertainment show produced by BBC Studios will return in the autumn on BBC One putting the sparkle back into Saturday and Sunday nights.

Anneka says: “I haven’t danced since I was seven and Miss Beer sent me home from my ballet class because I was hopelessly uncoordinated. My family and friends haven’t seen me dance since, not at a wedding or round a handbag so it’s going to be a challenge for my partner. In fact I’ve asked for two, one on each side. I can’t see myself in a long frilly dress either. But I’m feeling recklessly excited. Strictly has always been my Autumn’s entertainment and now I’m part of it! My children will probably leave the country”.

Anneka Rice shot to fame in this country as the Sky-Runner in Channel 4’s Treasure Hunt.

She also presented Sporting Chance, TV-am, Driving Force, Wish You Were Here, Capital Woman, Combat, Holiday, Hell’s Kitchen, The Royal Variety Performance and numerous other shows.

She went on to devise the award-winning Challenge Anneka for BBC One, shining a spotlight on issues like disability, homelessness and animal welfare and has raised millions of pounds worth of supplies and services for charities and communities.

Her radio work includes the Radio 2 Saturday Breakfast Show which she presented for six years; Pick Of The Week, Friday Night Is Music Night, The Arts Show, Sunday Love Songs, Loose Ends, and the award-winning podcast Fortunately.

She is a Patron of Operation Encompass, Help for Heroes and Horatio’s Garden.