Not being a big pro football fan, I skipped last night's Monday Night Football game at New Orleans' Superdome. I also skipped the superhyped concert beforehand featuring Green Day and U2. But I should have tuned in just to watch these two supergroups pay homage to an obscure but influential old-school punk band, the Skids. (That's them in the photo, via of Punk77.)
The Skids emerged from Scotland's '77 punk scene to create a couple of memorable tunes: "Into the Valley" (lyrics)and "The Saints Are Coming" (lyrics). U2 and Green Day covered "The Saints Are Coming" in last night's pre-game performance at the Superdome. The two groups have also recorded a studio version of the song to benefit Music Rising, an effort to raise funds to replace the instruments and gear that Gulf Coast musicians lost during Hurricane Katrina last year.
I suspect U2 guitarist The Edge may have lobbied for "The Saints Are Coming." When you listen to the original, you can hear that chiming guitar style that became a staple of early U2 postpunk music. The Edge apparently borrowed heavily from Skids guitarist Stuart Adamson, who went on to form Big Country.
The Edge is quoted in this NME article about the concert, and the two bands' selection of "The Saints Are Coming":
When the idea of playing at the Superdome re-opening first came up to the invitation was for Music Rising to put together a ten-minute musical piece and I immediately thought of "The Saints Are Coming." It could have been written for this occasion. The lyric fits so well it's almost eerie.
The song was appropriate for the occasion. But I also find it amazing that nearly three decades after the Skids blipped onto the musical radar and then quickly faded away, one of their songs, in the hands of two of today's most popular rock groups, becomes an anthem of hope and recovery for an entire city.