I’d never seen U2 before, but always wanted to. This year, in particular, was special, because the band is touring to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their Joshua Tree album—in my opinion their best album and one of the top three albums ever recorded by any group. The record sounds just as good today as it did in 1987, and oh boy, have I been listening to it a lot the last few weeks.
And the concert didn’t disappoint. I know they’re in the middle of the tour, so I’ll try to avoid spoilers here, although fans will certainly know what to expect. (And if you WANT spoilers, a setlist from the show we saw and much more can be found at this link on U2’s website.)
After an excellent opening set by The Lumineers, U2 opened with a handful of older, pre-Joshua Tree, songs, performed on the small remote stage 50 yards or so in front of the main stage. And then, as the buildup to Where The Streets Have No Name began, they made their way back to the main stage, and proceeded to play The Joshua Tree in its entirety, in order.
Highlights? Just about every damn song was a highlight. Personally, my favorite song on the album is One Tree Hill, but they were all great on stage.
Then, after a short break, the band came out and played a few more songs, mostly rockers, and even one new, unreleased song.
One aspect of the show that was particularly interesting to me was their use of the giant screen behind the main stage. Whereas most acts performing in stadium shows will use a screen like that to show closeups of the band performing for the benefit of those sitting in the faraway seats, this concert instead mostly featured panoramic videos of Americana to accent the songs—much of it, beautiful imagery of the American Southwest. When the band members were shown on the screen, it was often in extreme close-up, usually in black and white. The screen was also used to help get certain messages across: see this link, also from U2’s website (and also a bit of a spoiler). U2 have always been known for making their concerts into multimedia experiences; I thought their use of the big screen really added to the show.
So yes, it was a fantastic concert, one more reason I’m glad we decided to finally make that trip to New Jersey. And now, while you look at some of my iPhone pictures from the nosebleed seats of the concert, I’ll go listen to The Joshua Tree again.