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

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

City: East Rutherford, NJ
Venue: Metlife Stadium
Date: 2017-06-28

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."


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)


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


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

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.