On March 14, acclaimed Broadway belter Maxine Linehan will teach the Great White Way what Ireland already knows, that super group U2 is no slouch when it comes to eleven o’clock numbers.
Starring in One, The Songs of U2, Linehan will return with an all-new Broadway meets Madison Square Garden centered show, while igniting the unforgettable fire that made U2 the world's biggest band in the first place.
Performing U2 classics like “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” “With or Without You,” and “One,” the gifted Irish vocalist’s show is the perfect way to get in the mood for St. Patrick’s Day – and it’s not just Broadway that’s paying attention.
Linehan recently released a curtain raiser with her searing performance of “One” on YouTube and it has clocked an astonishing 20,000 rave views since February 17.
“My connection with ‘One,’ aside from loving the song since it was released back in the 90’s, resurfaced when I recently did my Beautiful Songs show and album,” she tells the Irish Voice.
“’One,’ to me, and possibly to a lot of people, is U2’s most beautiful song. When I performed it in the theatrical concert style my album was recorded in I was blown away by the response from Broadway audience members specifically to that song.”
Two worlds that are usually held apart were colliding, but many of Linehan’s listeners didn’t know that it was Bono, not someone like Cole Porter, who had written the song.
“There were theater goers who had never heard it before. They weren’t versed in rock. It was so interesting having people come up to me and say, ‘Did you write that song?’”
Linehan also laughs at the memory of having to explain who U2 are, where they’re from, and why they can write music this accomplished.
“In performance we have stripped away the percussion and the strings to allow Bono’s word, and the emotion behind those words, to stand on their own. It made me so happy to introduce this song to people who had not heard it before,” she says.
“The depth of emotion in those words is something else and when I perform it, it just sort of takes me over.”
The proceeds from the sale of the single, which will be released on iTunes on March 14, will go to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, as will all the proceeds from the live concert on the same night.
“I was inspired to do that based on what U2 had done in 1992,” explains Linehan. “All the proceeds of that single when it was released went into AIDS research.
“Bono and the band were hugely active in raising money and awareness for that cause. I wanted to echo that in some way and make it specific to our city and our theater community.”
The single was mixed by Kevin Killen, the five-time Grammy winning engineer, producer and mixer who worked with U2 on their most important albums, and who has also worked with Kate Bush, David Bowie, Bryan Ferry, and many more.
“Kevin was the mix engineer on Unforgettable Fire, and when he agreed to mix this for us it was really exciting. Sitting in his studio, knowing his history with this music was really special. And he loved it,” says Linehan.
“It’s also an achievement to have U2’s most passionate fans appreciate and share my interpretation. That is just so special to me.”
Will Linehan give us a full preview of the set list?
“People will have their own idea of what has to be covered and I’ve tried to be fair to their work from the start of their career until now.”
During the course of the show, she reveals, she will be joined on stage by two special guest stars to be announced.
“I don’t plan to do an impersonation. I’m taking their songbook like someone would take one by Gershwin or Sondheim and dig into it to find the songs with the deepest meaning,” Linehan offers.
“That makes the night so personal and so alive to me. These are songs that I have heard and sung along to for 20 or 30 years. I think it’s going to be a really fun night for U2 fans and non-U2 fans.”
One, The Songs of U2 begins at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 14 at Birdland (315 West 44th Street). Tickets are available at BirdlandJazz.com or by calling 212-581-3080.