The Saints — of football and rock and roll — are marching in.
It's been more than a year since the New Orleans Saints played a game in the Louisiana Superdome, their home for nearly 30 NFL seasons. After Hurricane Katrina, the team was forced to play all its games on the road, while the stadium served as an impromptu — and controversial — camp for displaced residents. And so on Monday, when the Saints reopen the dome with a game against the Atlanta Falcons, they'll receive a proper (and much deserved) homecoming tribute via two of the biggest rock bands on the planet.
U2 and Green Day will unveil their version of the Skids' "The Saints Are Coming" during a live pre-game concert, to air during ESPN's "Monday Night Football" broadcast. The bands have been recording the song in the U.K., and it will benefit Music Rising, an organization that replaces instruments lost by musicians in the wake of Hurricane Katrina (see "Green Day, U2 Recording Song To Benefit New Orleans Musicians"). The campaign was created by U2 guitarist the Edge, producer Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd, Kiss) and others, with support from MTV and VH1.
It's clearly shaping up to be an emotionally charged night. The game marks the first sporting event held in the Superdome since Katrina, and it will serve as an important step in New Orleans' road to recovery. So just how have two of the biggest acts in the world been preparing for the gig in the Crescent City? By staging impromptu photo shoots on the streets of England, that's how.
Last week, during a break in the recording sessions at the legendary Abbey Road Studios, U2 and Green Day stumbled upon the obvious: Why not re-enact the famed cover of the Beatles' Abbey Road album and, for good measure, call on longtime U2 photographer Anton Corbijn to document it? The bands met in the so-called "zebra crosswalk" outside the studio — U2 on the left, Green Day on the right — and shook hands. Corbijn snapped away as confused passersby gawked and snapped photos of their own with their cell phones. It's not yet known if the photograph will be used for the cover of the "Saints" single, but it's sure to immortalize in picture form the landmark union between the two bands.
But it hasn't all been fun and photo shoots at Abbey Road. According to a lengthy studio update posted on U2.com, Bono and the gang have been rehearsing "Saints" since September 6, when they jammed through the tune with producer Rick Rubin sitting behind the decks. The session began early in the day and carried over into the following morning. Green Day joined them at the beginning of last week to rehearse and record the song.
When the two acts finally take the stage at the Superdome, they'll no doubt have the ears of the world tuning in — their performance will be broadcast live on Westwood One radio stations around the world, and via Rhapsody.com. And immediately following the performance, fans will be able to download it, along with select footage from the event, via Rhapsody, with all proceeds benefiting Music Rising.