U2's 'The Joshua Tree' Tour Reminds the Audience of their Politics

by Sachyn Mital

18 August 2017

The Joshua Tree tour highlights U2's classic album with an epic and unforgettable new experience.
 
cover art

U2

28 Jun 2017: Metlife Stadium — East Rutherford, NJ

The ‘80s were perhaps U2‘s greatest era, or at least, in mind, it had been. So seeing the band, Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen, Jr., perform the three-decade old epic Joshua Tree album in its entirety, with a few more of their so-called hits tossed in, was an incredible experience.
  
This band possesses immense grandeur. Honestly. Seeing U2 perform is simply an opportunity to witness an incredible show, even without considering their music. The group has managed to make their presence even bigger (and more extravagant) through the addition of huge video monitors that enrobed the main stage. The technology behind these screens is a first for a live concert—the clarity and picture quality of the images is superbly presented in 8k, and the viewing angles didn’t matter. New video was taken on site at Joshua Tree (and elsewhere) by longtime U2 collaborator Anton Corbijn featuring desert scapes, setting suns and individuals donning helmets in front of a USA flag.

The images were directly resonant to the album’s themes and the political climate. They were especially emphasized during tributes, like one to Martin Luther King, Jr. before “Pride” and another to “luminous icons”, like Iman, Hillary Clinton, and Patti Smith, during “Ultra Violet”. One of the most powerful segments was during the “Mothers of the Disappeared” which featured women holding candles that were slowly blown out. A separate clip was a segment from the ‘50s show Trackdown which “begins with what looks like an old movie clip of some guy named Trump telling the people of some unknown western town that they have to build a wall to save themselves.” (research credit to @U2). The band’s lighting was also brilliant, most notably during “Beautiful Day”, which featured rainbow colors (perhaps due to it being pride month?).

But that’s enough chewing the scenery. When it comes to the music, U2 still rock. However, Bono joked he hasn’t learned to play harmonica properly after all this time. He said the instrument was “invented by Germany, perfected in the United States [and] murdered by an Irishman.” They opened with the moving “Sunday Bloody Sunday” right of the gates and hammered the audience with a few more hit songs before diving into “Where the Streets…” and the entirety of Joshua Tree.

There were some lulls in the set as expected, enough time so that the audience could step away to relieve themselves or pick up a snack. It’s hard to top the energy of the first three songs on the album. So, during songs like “Red Mining Hill Town”, people made their short escapes. It was a bit sad though to see people leave outright as the band wrapped up their set with an entirely new song “The Little Things That Give You Away”. Stick around fans, it is worth it; the show is unforgettable.

U2 are set to return to North America next month. It will be worth revisiting them to see if and how they address the current political climate in the U.S. (after this weekend’s events in Charlottesville, specifically). The band’s musical output hasn’t diminished, and neither has their politics and hopefully, they have a statement to make. As Hilary Hughes noted at Esquire, “The escapist quality of a rock show is frequently discussed in our current climate, as fans can lose themselves in the music when they buy a ticket and head to the venue. But in this instance, the expectation to head to the venue to confront that which ails us and work through it in the name of rock ‘n’ roll catharsis is one U2 set themselves 30 years back.”

SET LIST
Sunday Bloody Sunday
New Year’s Day
Bad / America (snippet)
Pride (In the Name of Love)
Where the Streets Have No Name
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
With Or Without You
Bullet the Blue Sky / America (snippet)
Running to Stand Still
Red Hill Mining Town
In God’s Country
Trip Through Your Wires
One Tree Hill
Exit / Wise Blood (snippet) / Eeny Meeny Miny Moe (snippet)
Mothers of the Disappeared
Miss Sarajevo / The New Colossus
Beautiful Day / Starman (snippet)
Elevation
Vertigo / It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It) (snippet) / Rebel Rebel (snippet)
Ultra Violet (Light My Way)
One / Hear Us Coming
The Little Things That Give You Away

TOUR DATES
9/03/17 – Detroit, MI – Ford Field*
9/05/17 – Buffalo, NY – New Era Field*
9/08/17 – Minneapolis, MN – US Bank Stadium*
9/10/17 – Indianapolis, IN – Lucas Oil Stadium*
9/12/17 – Kansas City, MO – Arrowhead Stadium*
9/14/17 – New Orleans, LA – Mercedes Superdome*
9/16/17 – St. Louis, MO – The Dome At America’s Center*
9/19/17 – Phoenix, AZ – University of Phoenix Stadium*
9/22/17 – San Diego, CA – Qualcomm Stadium*
10/03/17 –  Mexico City, Mexico – Foro Sol~
10/04/17 –  Mexico City, Mexico – Foro Sol~
10/07/17 – Bogota, Columbia – Estadio El Campin~
10/10/17 – Buenos Aires, Argentina -Estadio Ciudad de la Plata~
10/11/17 – Buenos Aires, Argentina -Estadio Ciudad de la Plata~
10/14/17 –  Santiago, Chile – Estadio Nacional~
10/19/17 – Sao Paulo, Brazil – Morumbi Stadium~
10/21/17 – Sao Paulo, Brazil – Morumbi Stadium~
10/22/17 – Sao Paulo, Brazil – Morumbi Stadium~
10/25/17 – Sao Paulo, Brazil – Morumbi Stadium~
~ with Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
* with Beck

//related
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work. We are a wholly independent, women-owned, small company. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing, challenging times where costs have risen and advertising has dropped precipitously. PopMatters needs your help to keep publishing. Thank you.


//comments
//Mixed media

//Blogs

"No Dollars in Duende": On Making Uncompromising, Spirited Music

// Sound Affects

"On the elusive yet clearly existential sadness that adds layers and textures to music.

READ the article