FOXBORO, Massachusetts, U.S.A. – With music from the Irish band The Waterboys still playing over the stadium loudspeaker, U2 drummer Larry Mullen, Jr., emerged on stage and 60,000
fans erupted in excitement.
Mullen pounded out the opening drum beat to “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” setting the stage for an electric night of U2: The Joshua Tree Tour.
Then the rest of the band joined Mullen, stepping onto the large part of the stage shaped like the titular Joshua Tree. The tree’s trunk and branches formed walkways out into the crowd, so general admission ticket holders surrounded the musicians as they played.
The lights of thousands of mobile phones set Gillette Stadium aglow during the U2 show. (Justin Hern / YJI)
I really enjoyed this sequence, as the drums served as a call for everyone in the crowd to pay attention.
After the opener, the band went into songs from albums released before The Joshua Tree. The tour – and a special edition box set – marked the 30th anniversary of the hit album. The June 25 Massachusetts show was one of the last before U2 headed off to Europe for late summer concerts. The band will return to America in September for several shows before heading to Mexico and South America.
U2 band members perform in front of a changing and colorful backdrop during their The Joshua Tree tour. (Justin Hern / YJI)
During the fan-favorite “Bad” from the 1984 album The Unforgettable Fire, lead singer Bono encouraged the crowd to turn on the flashlights on their phones, giving the illusion of stars in the stadium. He told the fans that the band would lift them up, just as they were lifted by their fans, and to set aside troubles, worries or division and let the music take them away. This beautiful moment allowed the crowd to be a part of the show in a special and personal way.
After performing their hit “Pride (In the Name of Love)”, U2 returned to the larger stage, illuminated by a giant red screen. At 200 feet wide – the largest video screen ever used in rock and roll tour – it showed a silhouette of the Joshua Tree.
This gave off a breathtaking effect, as the smaller part of the stage looked like the shadow of the tree on the screen, making it feel like it was three-dimensional.
The band then transitioned into the beautiful opening guitar riff of “Where the Streets Have No Name,” the opening track of The Joshua Tree and proceeded to play the entire rest of the album in order.
U2 frontman Bono. (Justin Hern / YJI)
They performed their well-known hits “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” “With or Without You,” and “Bullet the Blue Sky,” but also rarely seen deep cuts, such as “Running to Stand Still,” “Red Hill Mining Town,” “One Tree Hill,” and “Exit.”
Many of these songs are rarely played live, so for die-hard U2 fans, this show was a gift.
Before this tour, “Exit” and “Trip Through Your Wires” hadn’t been performed for thirty years.
After “Mothers of the Disappeared,” the final song on The Joshua Tree, the band went off stage for a while.They returned with “Miss Sarajevo,” a song written in the 1990s during the Bosnian genocide, adapted slightly to address the political climate of today. The crowd got involved again, and in a poignant moment, some in the audience unfurled a banner with a picture of a Syrian woman.
Bono encouraged the crowd to donate to charities fighting AIDS. (Justin Hern / YJI)
Next, U2 performed highlight from albums after 1987, including 1991’s Achtung Baby, 2000’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind, and 2004’s How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.
The band closed with a new song, “The Little Things that Give You Away,” giving fans an appreciated glimpse of what’s to come on their next album, Songs of Experience.
As a massive fan of U2, I found the show simply fantastic. I was fortunate to have very good seats and it was incredible to see the band so close.
Bassist Adam Clayton came out to my side of the crowd on a catwalk multiple times, as did Bono during the song “Beautiful Day.”
The visual spectacle of the show was unmatched. Fans came from far and wide – people in my section had traveled across the country to attend the Massachusetts show.
The diversity of the crowd, both in age and nationality, gave it a global feel that was really special. The concert was politically charged, with Bono making many quips about President Donald Trump and immigration. He encouraged the crowd to donate money to save people from the AIDS epidemic, one of Bono’s preferred charities.
For me, the highlight of the night was “Exit.” Something about the guitars really managed to pop in the stadium and Bono was very intense throughout the entire song. The band and crowd were united in song and experience. It was a night I’ll never forget.
Justin Hern is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.
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