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Last Updated: Saturday, 31 December 2005, 11:39 GMT
U2 'tension' over Bono campaigns
Bono is famed for his on-stage "rants" about poverty

U2 frontman Bono has revealed that his campaigning against global poverty has caused tensions within the group.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that at one stage he was worried his commitment to the cause might force him to leave the hugely successful band.

The singer was a figurehead for the Make Poverty History campaign and Live 8 concert alongside Bob Geldof.

He said his campaigning activities had "raised eyebrows" among his fellow band-members.

When I do my rant [on stage] on making poverty history, I have got Larry Mullen, our drummer, behind me looking at his watch, timing me

Bono, Mullen, guitarist The Edge and bassist Adam Clayton have been in the group since they first formed as Dublin schoolboys in 1977.

Their front man is famed for making on-stage statements about global poverty during U2 concerts.

However he said his fellow Irish rockers were "hugely supportive spiritually and financially of the work I do, but they are in a rock'n'roll band and the first job of a rock'n'roll band is not to be dull".

"So we have to be very careful about just letting me go too far," he said, adding that the band's drummer, Larry Mullen, times his on-stage "rant" on poverty.

"There was one point when I thought 'I'm going to be thrown out of the band for this stuff'," he said.

Bill Gates, Bono and Melinda Gates in Time magazine
Time magazine honoured Bono alongside Bill and Melinda Gates

"People just openly jeered and I felt like I was a weight around my band's neck for doing this kind of work." The singer said he had been concerned that his stance would "wear out our audience", but he did not think this had happened.

"People are smart out there. They know what you are doing, they know the compromises you are making, they get it.

"Our audience feels like they have a stronger voice through me, and the band can see that."

The other band-members now recognise that U2's audience appreciate what he is doing, he said.

He added the agreements on aid and debt cancellation at the G8 summit in Gleneagles in July were "a very big step" towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal of halving extreme poverty by 2015.

But he was less positive about this month's World Trade Organisation talks in Hong Kong.

He said he was "completely gutted" by the lack of a breakthrough on fairer trade for developing countries.

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