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The real U2, or an incredible simulation? Courtesy photo
There's a strange psychology behind tribute bands. If you're halfway competent, people will love you and you will be well compensated. But they don't really love you: They love your willingness to subjugate any hint of individuality, to replicate every note and mannerism of someone much more famous than you will ever be.

Slither around in black leather pants and call yourself the Lizard King long enough, and you are bound to start believing you actually wrote "L.A. Woman" and bedded Nico. At the very least, you're likely to develop a competitive relationship with the subject of your tribute. Consider the New Zealand U2 tribute band Even Better Than The Real Thing - a pretty cheeky name, even if it is based on a U2 song title.

Friday, August 29
Sin 13
1902 McCullough
Even Better is only one of dozens of bands devoted to imitating U2. They range from NU2 (Scottish blokes gone faux-Irish) to Zoo-2 (Australian) to the intriguing Exit, probably the only all-female group in the business of impersonating Bono and his mates.

Under a Blood Red Sky, a tribute band scheduled to play at Sin 13 on August 29, is not prominent along the U2-tribute circuit. In fact, they're so devoid of even a replicated identity that Sin 13 has found it necessary to use an actual photo of U2 (see above) to promote the show. But even if they are near the lowest depths of the U2-tribute food chain, they're still loaded with a close facsimile of passion - and if they walk away, walk away, we will follow. The truth is, where tribute bands are concerned, we can't live with or without them. •

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