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Bono back on stage but bike crash injuries still prevent him playing guitar

U2 frontman speaks about after-effects of crash in Central Park last November

U2 frontman Bono is set to go on tour with the band – but he is still unable to play guitar as a result of the injuries he sustained when he crashed his bike in New York City’s Central Park last November.

The Irish musician, whose real name is Paul Hewson, shattered his elbow as he came off his bike while trying to avoid colliding with another cyclist. The joint is now held together by three titanium plates and 18 screws.

The New York Times reports that he is now rehearsing with the other members of the band – The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr and Adam Clayton – at Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum ahead of U2’s Innocence and Experience tour, which starts in the Canadian city on 14 May.

In a blog post uploaded to U2.com on New Year’s Day, Bono reflected on his difficult end to 2014 and said: “The recovery has been more difficult than I thought. As I write this it is not clear that I will ever play guitar again.”

Almost six months on from the incident in which he also suffered a fractured eye socket, shoulder and left hand, he told the New York Times: “I really used to think that my head was harder than any surface it came in contact with, and I don’t anymore.

“I didn’t come off a Harley-Davidson. I came off a push bike and smashed myself to bits. There is no glory here.”

While the newspaper says that Bono the singer seems little changed, putting in a typically energetic performance in rehearsal, Bono the guitarist is a different matter.

“It feels like I have somebody else’s hand,” he revealed. Referring to his fourth finger and little finger, he said, “I can’t bend these,” and indicating another part of his hand, he added, “and this is like rigor mortis.

“But they say that nerves heal about a millimetre a week, so in about 13 months I should know if it’s coming back.”

Pointing respectively at his forearm and elbow, he went on: “It’s all numb here, and this is titanium. The shoulder’s better, the face is better.”

Returning to his hand, he said: “But this is the hard bit because I can’t play guitar,” adding, with a nod to the other members of the band, “They don’t seem to mind.”

The band celebrates its 35th anniversary this year, and despite a backlash last year when users of Apple’s iTunes were given its latest album, Songs of Innocence, free of charge whether they wanted it or not, the forthcoming tour is a guaranteed success.

According to the New York Times, 98 per cent of the 1.2 million tickets for the 68-date tour have already been sold.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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