U2 HAS done it again.
Whether it’s the four members under a handful of white spotlights, or the globe’s greatest band standing in front of a giant high definition screen, they continue to prove they are the best live act in existence.
I’m unable to afford a trip anywhere to see this tour, so my take on the show comes to you courtesy of what I’ve been able to watch and hear on the web.
Their first U2 The Joshua Tree Tour 2017 show in Vancouver on May 12 started much like the lauded gigs of the iNNOCENCE & eXPERIENCE tour.
Four blokes walk out on stage, one at a time, take their instruments and pump out a blistering five-song set on the B-stage.
Just four blokes, their instruments and their songs – Sunday Bloody Sunday, New Year’s Day, A Sort of Homecoming, MLK, Pride (In The Name of Love).
Music we’ve all grown up with.
Lyrics that have nursed wounds here, made us feel unadulterated joy there.
Melodies that have always been in the background of our complicated and busy lives.
And boy, did they rock the house down.
It took just minutes to prove U2 doesn’t actually need the bells and whistles of a full production in a stadium to make a connection with its audience.
But what the heck, if you’ve got it, flaunt it.
Next up? Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr stand under a virtual Joshua Tree projected on a screen that has to be all of 60m wide and 20m tall.
The pixels have turned a bright red, and that can only mean one thing.
To watch Where the Streets Have No Name live is a must for any music fan to tick off their bucket list. And on this tour, it is again the joyous pinnacle of the night, the high-tech backdrop turning a blinding white as the song takes off, giving way to an epic camera pan from clouds down to a long desert road. S P E C T A C U L A R ! ! !
Notice how the screen is lit at the top and bottom to make it look like a roll of film. Cinematic music meets cinematography in a stadium. This is art of the highest order.
If the crowd wasn’t already immersed in the occasion, it has now gone absolutely ape shit. That’s why I love this band.
I’m not sure why it is so, but whenever I hear I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For at certain times in recent years, I actually choke up and have to stop myself from crying.
It’s produces a level of complete elation that evokes a deep melancholy inside me. The Irish do melancholy well. So do the Argentines. My mother was born in Buenos Aires. You do the math.
So there I am, streaming the show live through Mixlr in my car, driving my two young sons to a soccer match. The volume is at Spinal Tap 11, the boys are singing, and I’m holding back tears, unable to even mouth the words.
I mean, I’m 13,000 fucking kilometres from Vancouver. I can’t even see them on stage and my soul is pulsating.
You can’t explain this to someone who doesn’t understand U2. So don’t waste your time.
The next block of songs (With Or Without You, Bullet The Blue Sky, Running To Stand Still, Red Hill Mining Town, In God’s Country, Trip Through Your Wires, One Tree Hill,
Exit and Mothers Of The Disappeared) conjures a mix of stunning mountainous, anti-war, 3D, and Americana footage braced by a tight, voracious four-piece unit.
Whatever it is the speakers are spitting out, it sucks you in, gives your heart a big hug, and gently drops you back where you were. Feeling good about yourself. Feeling better about the person next to you. Ready to make your world a better place.
No one does “emotional arc” quite like these lads (and their crew, I might add).
By the time we get to Miss Sarajevo, 15-year-old Syrian girl Omaima stands amid the rubble of her war-ravaged home and urges the audience to “achieve their aspirations and to turn their convictions into reality”.
She tells us she dreams to become a lawyer so she can defend the rights of every person.
The girl who’s hopes should be crushed by the hideousness of war is telling me to have hope. She is encouraging ME!
Incredibly moving and compelling. Thought provoking and inspiring.
But before the heartache drags you into a pit of dark despair, we’re hauled away by the final song of the night, a newbie called The Little Things That Give You Away.
Just a little taste of what we can expect on the next album Songs of Experience.
I like what I hear.
I love this band.
Do you? How much?