Claudia Espinosa (@U2Baja) is a familiar name to many in the U2 fan community, especially on the boards of Zootopia. She filed this review from the band’s opening night in LA.
Rebel songs, joyful songs, protests songs, hopeful songs. This is what U2’s music has been since my introduction to the band during the War album. Their music has filled spaces in my life making them not only memorable, but unforgettable.
For longtime fans going to a U2 show is filled with anticipation, not only of music and spectacle but of getting to a moment that transports you past the now into a space filled with joy. Last night’s show at the Rose Bowl was a sinusoidal wave that carried us through many of the memories that we’ve formed with the band and their music.
During the pre-show music, the crowd sang-a-long to Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun turning the stadium into a star filled night, as people raised lighters and phones in honor of Chris Cornell who passed away three days earlier. As The Pogues’ A Rainy Day in Soho came over the PA Larry Mullen walked down to the drum-kit set up on the Joshua Tree shaped B-stage. It took me back to the War album (and the first U2 song I ever heard), the drums of Sunday Bloody Sunday filling the air as Bono, The Edge and Adam Clayton joined him to open the show.
Reminiscent of their earliest gigs, the band stood on the smaller stage under simple spotlights as the end of Sunday Bloody Sunday introduced the most recognisable bass line in U2’s catalog - New Years Day - before a slower tempo A Sort of Homecoming led us into Pride (in the Name of Love).
With the opening chords of ‘Streets’ the band walked up to the mainstage, now illuminated in red, The Joshua Tree emblem outlined behind and a sense of palpable excitement in the air. As they performed the album in sequence, The Joshua Tree revealed itself as an album of songs that could be seen as about the search for meaning in today’s America. Bullet the Blue Sky reminds us, to quote Bono that “America is not just a place, it is an idea”. Running to Stand Still was dedicated “…to the lion that was Chris Cornell” and his family. Red Hill Mining Town was an ode to the labor movement, while the striking visuals of In God’s Country and Trip Through your Wires were a reminder of the beauty and grandeur a young Irish band saw when first visiting this country.
A hauntingly beautiful One Tree Hill, written in memory of Bono’s friend Greg Carrol, has always felt to me like you are floating in the sea, a moment where you are one with yourself. Mothers of the Disappeared reminded me that no matter what happens, even in the most profound moments of sadness, a mothers love will persevere. And ultimately …el pueblo vencera - the people will triumph.
If The Joshua Tree songs are about the state of our world, those that followed were about making a difference - that love, hope and joy are all around us. Beautiful Day was joyful and uplifting while Ultraviolet (Light My Way) went out to women in the stadium and around the world: those who Insist, Persist and Resist. A giant banner with the image of Omaima, the young Syrian refugee featured on screen, was carried through the crowd during Miss Syria (Sarajevo) before a rocking version of I Will Follow brought the night to a close.
This was a night that broke through the anger and frustration that many feel during these uncertain times. And as I always find with U2, it was a night that filled us with hope that we can make a better future.
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