U2 - THE JOSHUA TREE TOUR

US BANK STADIUM

SPECIAL GUEST: BECK

SEPTEMBER 8, 2017

All content by: Patrick Dunn

AS REVIEWED ON ASSIGNMENT FOR GLIDE MAGAZINE WITH A GALLERY BY BILLY BRIGGS (LINK HERE):

The modern-day music marketplace has shifted people to a mindset of only buying “Greatest Hits”. Those who still appreciate the artistic intent behind a concept album project would agree that cherry-picking only popular songs will ultimately rob you from fully experiencing the band’s intended message and musical flow. That’s why I love the idea of getting to witness an album performed live in its entirety as U2 has been doing this year to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of their Grammy Award winning fifth studio recording “The Joshua Tree”. Having grown up listening to this album in natural succession, I find myself at the end of any song whistling the first few bars of the next tune and in effect, longing to hear that in combination. And let’s face it, some of these songs have never made it to a set-list over the years, so this also presents a rare opportunity to hear those hidden gems performed live as well.

Having said that, I’m sure this album was not written with the idea of entertaining a massive crowd in a giant venue front of mind. The fitting title sets this collection of music in a place that is known for its stark desert landscapes, which couldn’t be more contrary to the interior of US Bank Stadium, the NFL’s newest state of the art Football facility in Minneapolis, MN. Not to say that this music couldn’t be appreciated in this setting, but you should expect audience enthusiasm will mirror the energy level of the material, which in this case is more mid-tempo and Roots driven.

I’m sure this album dynamic was taken into consideration as U2’s performance started out on a smaller stage nearly mid-field, putting them up close and personal with floor access super-fans who started lining up as early as 6:00am for their best chance at this coveted view. From this intimate set-up, the band was able to generate the type of excitement you would expect more during an encore by rattling off 4 huge hits that had the nostalgic crowd feeling like they were in for one heck of a ride.

Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. then made their way up to the super-wide main stage where an amazingly vivid video screen stretching the same width was illuminated in solid red with a simple black outline tracing the shape of a single Joshua Tree. With quick pause for a short-silhouetted group pose, the album tribute began to ramp up with the passion inspiring intro to “Where the Streets Have No Name”. Momentum remained high through “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and “With or Without You”, which have particularly strong appeal for ballads being the bands only number one singles in the US.

This 1 high energy jam followed by 2 mid-tempo song pattern sort of repeats through the complete 11-song tribute and did produce some high points. It also contained special moments specific to the Twin Cities thanks to some brilliantly weaved in Prince lyrics that kept people guessing. A behind the scenes birthday was another happening that made the Minneapolis show unique. “Our set designer Willie Williams always tells me not to talk during this moment and to let the music speak …” Bono playfully announced as he asked the crowd to help him sing the Birthday Song. This break from the tour norm transitioned nicely to the heavy hitting six song hit filled encore that solidly brought the show full circle and had people leaving with the satisfaction of getting to relive this historic album bookended by a significant selection of other well-known favorites.

Set-List with Song Specific Call-Outs / Reflections:
SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY:
Larry Mullen Jr.’s immediately recognizable snare drum intro was great lead-in for crowd reaction Bono’s commanding stage presence had everyone pumping their fists chanting “No More”
NEW YEAR’S DAY:
Adam Clayton’s familiar bass line had people bobbing their heads with approval
Bono ordered crowd to throw their hands in the air and clap along
The Edge delivered haunting keyboard melody line and equally haunting guitar solo
BAD:
Hearing Edge’s signature guitar sound produced chills
Bono commanded lights turned down and said let’s see those stars - triggered people to light up their cell phones for a nice full venue effect
PRIDE (IN THE NAME OF LOVE):
Bono singing “They took your life, but they could not take your pride” produced chills
- JOSHUA TREE -
WHERE THE STREETS HAVE NO NAME:
Great build during intro produced chills
Bono stood against back drop of black and white moving desert road for great effect
Song drew largest applause of evening to that point
STILL HAVEN’T FOUND WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR:
Band sound falls out early in song as crowd sings along in commanding fashion
WITH OR WITHOUT YOU:
Bono’s lower register created nice contrast for higher notes
Larry Mullen Jr.’s signature drum pattern was a standout
Bono requested, “Sing your hearts out” as crowd joined in on “Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh”
BULLET THE BLUE SKY:
Intense emotion throughout
Edge’s guitar really screaming and wailing through solo
Bono reenacted Rattle & Hum effect with portable spotlight
RUNNING TO STAND STILL:
Most dynamic performance of the night
Bono’s voice echoed throughout arena
Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. produced fantastic bottom end for this one
Bono’s harmonica at end was attention grabber
RED HILL MINING TOWN:
Most creatively enhanced song of the show with Salvation Army brass band synched up via video screen Great effect and totally changed tone of the song
IN GOD’S COUNTRY:
Bono’s best remark, “Flipping over to side 2 of the Joshua Tree cassette.”
Also commented, “It took 30 years to understand some of these songs, but this one hasn’t changed.”
TRIP THROUGH YOUR WIRES:
Harmonica attention grabber again and set the tone
Flag of Ireland thrown up on stage at same time US Flag displayed on video screen for nice effect
ONE TREE HILL:
Most minimal sounding song of the set
Soft and pretty with standout harmonies
EXIT:
Adam Clayton’s haunting bass line really drove this one
Bono very passionate and threw on Cowboy Hat for Rattle & Hum
MOTHERS OF THE DISAPPEARED:
Bono back out on smaller stage kneeling and projecting back toward main stage in tribute fashion
- ENCORE -
BEAUTIFUL DAY:
Super upbeat and fun with balloons bouncing out into crowd
** Prince’s “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” lyrics blended in
ELEVATION:
Super upbeat energy extended – view of crowd jumping up and down projected on giant screen
VERTIGO:
Red and Black graphics from “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” projected on screen
** Prince “Let’s Go Crazy” lyrics blended in
MYSTERIOUS WAYS:
Bono with camera follow’s Paris Fashion model around stage in mock photo shoot
ULTRAVIOLET (LIGHT MY WAY):
Dedicated to Women and video backdrop projected significant contributions throughout history
ONE:
Perfect song to conclude with
Bono commented, “This Country has been like a second home for our band and I feel very, very blessed”
** Prince “Purple Rain” lyrics mixed in

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