There's just one person who has yet to figure out why U2 is the superstar band it is.


The 49-year-old singer says something "very strange" happens when he walks into a room with bandmates Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr. and the Edge.

He explained: "There's something very strong when the four of us walk into a building. I'm pretty famous so I'm used to walking into a room and having people look up, but when it's the four of us the hairs on their necks stand up.

"What they don't know is that is what's happening to us as well, which is really the bit that I'd still like to figure out."

The Irish rockers have been writing hits for over three decades, but Bono admits they have only just got used to their worldwide fame.

He said: "It has never felt less weird to be in U2. We've come out the end of a storm. The thunder and lightning that fame feels like when you're 20 turns out to be a little bit of inclement weather that's not really worth hiding indoors from.

"You realize you don't actually have to have your life turned upside down, you can have a family, and you don't have to end up in rehab. There are more interesting viruses to catch than the common cold called self-consciousness."

Bono says he and his band-mates can anticipate each other’s onstage antics like a rehearsed dance routine.

"I’m acutely aware of what I, Edge, Adam, and Larry are doing, whether or not we catch each other’s eyes.

"It’s like some part of dance. There’s an element of which is much more mysterious, which is the way the magic happens to be working that night. And you’re only a small part of that."

A Trinity College professor who has studied the people of Ireland since the heady days of the Celtic Tiger said Bono's remarks don't come as a shock.

"There is something very real in the Irish personality that makes 'hard times' seem normal and makes success feel very strange indeed," said the academic, who preferred that his name not be used for this article.

"Yes, you would think that after these many years of fame and stardom that Bono would not only be used to the bright lights, but in fact would be 'just going through the motions' onstage. But that's not what happens. He seems to treat every concert as a new and exciting challenge — and the dynamism infects the audience, which in turn, makes him and U2 a success."

Likewise, Bono's generosity and involvement in charitable causes fits the mold, the professor added.

"Just as many Irish didn't know how to deal with wealth when the Celtic Tiger roared," he said, "so they have not forgotten the years — generations, really — of very hard times. Their generosity and fellowship is extraordinary. And even for the very wealthy, there is a strong sense of 'where I came from' that stays with the Irish.

"And Bono is the perfect example."