The Joshua Tree Tour 2017

Jul 12 2017
Berlin, DE / Olympic Stadium
with Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds

'The very heart of Europe.'

Beth Nabi (@bethandbono) is traveling Europe documenting U2 fan tattoos at all The Joshua Tree 2017 European shows for the U2 Tattoo Project ( ). Here Beth reviews this week's show in Berlin.

An American chasing an Irish band through the United States, the UK, and Europe on The Joshua Tree 2017 tour, I found myself in Berlin yesterday a stranger in a strange land. Everything that comes so easily back home is now a challenge abroad: counting change, navigating the subway, finding your ticket entrance. The differences make you feel like an outsider. But when Larry's militant drumbeats kick in on "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and Bono's voice calls out from the catwalk—"oh oh oh"—and the crowd echoes back, you realize you're all sharing the same language tonight. The crowd sang louder and jumped higher than most audiences I've been in in America, and I sang and jumped with them. And the Germans know how to organize a stadium wave.

There was a sense of awe for being in the Olympiastadion—such an historic venue—and even more for being in Berlin, as Bono called it, "the very heart of Europe."

Last night, as I stood in the rain on the floor of the stadium, I wondered how U2 would resurrect The Joshua Tree in Berlin after coming to the city 27 years ago to chop it down. And how they would pull off playing an album rooted in 1980s America in 2017 Europe. But, there's nothing Bono loves more than paradox.

U2 ran into the arms of Berlin to "dream it all up again" after the huge commercial and critical success of The Joshua Tree. Experiencing division, dislocation, angst and self-doubt, the band turned to their heroes to help find the next expression of themselves. David Bowie and Iggy Pop both recorded seminal albums at Hansa Studios in Berlin, so U2 set out for the city, as the perpetual pilgrims they are, to find their new musical purpose - what would become Achtung Baby. As the Berlin wall was being torn down and the city underwent the struggles of reunification to find a new identity, so too would U2.

Bono's recurring theme of unification and solidarity and tearing down walls was never more pronounced than in the home of the infamous Berlin Wall - the symbol of the Cold War and divide between communism and democracy, the symbol of lack of freedom. That the wall is now asunder was highlighted in "Miss Sarajevo,"  (renamed "Miss Syria" on this tour) when clauses from Article 1 of the Grundgesetz (Germany's Constitution) regarding inviolable human dignity and personal freedom scrolled in German on wide-screen photographs of Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.

And the show took its usual jab at those who would build walls: As a prelude to "Exit," the screen featured a snippet from a 1950s episode of the American western TV series "Trackdown," in which a snake oil salesman named "Trump" claims he will build a wall in order to protect the town from the end of the world. In America, the video is met with mostly cheers but some jeers, depending on who you're standing next to - typifying the polarized political climate and continuing great divide in my country. Last night on the floor, I heard laughter as the overwhelming response. Perhaps rightfully so, as Berliners know a thing or two about walls meant to separate "us" from "them."

That vignette certainly brings back the origins of The Joshua Tree, as an ode to two opposing Americas. Not necessarily left and right, but imagined and realized. Thirty years later, the struggle still wages on between what America is and what it can be.

Chancellor Angela Merkel was featured, as she's been in the States, in the "Herstory" video as the band played "Ultra Violet," a fitting homage to her efforts—against some opposition—not to close Germany's borders. Ironically, on this day the U.S. refugee program surpassed the Trump administration's 50,000-person cap as imposed by his revised "travel ban," denying refugees from not just Syria but all over the world entry into the country. When "Miss Sarajevo" was played in the U.S., the words enshrined in the Statue of Liberty were displayed: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…."

As Bono thanked the Germans for their Nachbarschaft, or "neighborliness," he proclaimed, "You've got to stand up for who you are - we can work together." He added, "If the one thing we can agree on is important enough, we can work together - one Europe." Much of Bono's speechifying last night also thanked Germany for its commitment to human rights, and was followed by an impassioned appeal during "Mothers of the Disappeared" to Turkey's President Erdoğan to stop human rights abuses.

While the setlist of the concert wasn't significantly different from shows in the United States, the context was. The show is still anchored by the main set of The Joshua Tree album, performed in order and entirety, but Bono's snippets and speechifying created accents that celebrated Berlin and the city's importance to the band.

During "Bad" in the first set, Bono referenced their journey: "Berlin, so many memories for us. Berlin, some ghosts. We came as pilgrims. We still do." He sang extended snippets of Bowie's "Heroes," recorded at Hansa, and the German language version of the song, "Helden." He would later snippet Bowie's "Young Americans" and "This Is Not America" in "Mysterious Ways," and Iggy Pop's "The Passenger," from Lust for Life, which was also recorded at Hansa.

The other theme for snippets was the night's constant rain: Gene Kelley's "Singin' In The Rain" showed up before "Bad" while the show ended with The Beatles' "Rain" after "One." But the rain didn't faze the crowd of 70,000. In fact, as if on cue, it picked up during "One Tree Hill" as Bono sang, "and when it's raining, raining hard, that's when the rain will break my heart." The canopy covering Larry's drum kit added an ethereal quality to the production of Anton Corbijn's landscapes that spread out behind the band - familiar in that we've grown to know them from the album artwork, alien in how different they are from where most of us come from, even in America.

I have made my pilgrimage to Death Valley and the iconic Joshua Tree, the one featured in Anton Corbijn's spectacular photograph on the 1987 album art. There, I experienced a fallen, dying, decaying tree. Last night, I experienced the rebirth, rejuvenation, resurgence, and relevance of The Joshua Tree. The show is a vibrant, immersive production that celebrates the ideals of togetherness, unification, and democracy, in moving song and imagery. U2 fittingly concluded the night with "One," an ode to unification, as Bono sang in the steady rain from under a cowboy hat reminiscent of the tour's first go-round. A migrant in my own way last night, Bono, U2 and my German neighbors welcomed me in. Danke.

If you were at the show in Berlin, tell us all about it. Add your own review and photos below

Beth Nabi (@bethandbono) is Associate Professor of Graphic Design and Digital Media at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida. She is currently traveling Europe documenting U2 fan tattoos at all The Joshua Tree 2017 European shows for the U2 Tattoo Project ( ), an ongoing curation and study of U2 fan tattoos. The Project exhibited last year at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, during the U240 fan celebration of U2's 40th anniversary.


    Sao Paulo - last show of The Joshua Tree Tour 2017. Video by
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    carlos duarte
    My was a the dream come true after 30 years to hear the all set TJT cassette :) all the invroiment, Berlin, ZOO STATION, Olimpya Stadium, the Wall, Hansaton Studios and of curse the Trabant´s all together, in the Very Heart of Europe
    rain rain rain
    Best Show Since Popmart
    I was there.
    I was in Berlin with my wife, daughter and sister. Greate show.
    Amazing day under the rain
    Incredible show. Wow, what a day!!!! Moments like this "singing in the rain" makes this show unique #u2thejoshuatree2017 #u2berlin #u2
    Sommer rainy night...Berlin
    The concert took place twenty days ago and I cannot get it out of my mind. Having already read fan comments it is noticeable that we all agree on the same magic moments: Bad with all the lights off, tribute to Bowie, a German speaking Bono saying that Germany is a country with wide eyes open, giving thanks to all the people for staying unconditionally under the rain for hours. “In the time of conflict and terror, give us faith, commitment, joy...Berlin, the very heart of Europe.” America in an astonishing huge display, Miss Syria,Trump, Erdogan and at least ONE. And of course, my favourite song, Where the streets have no name in red. When I remember the nostalgic and powerful voice of Bono, the joy and peace sense assails me. Thank you. By the way U2 plays WITHOUT raincoat and takes the rain with humour, not saying “fuckin’ rain” like somebody else did...;)
    Dream come true
    Thanx for a wonderful night in Berlin. I'm a U2 fan since 1982 ... the first show I saw was the Rockpalast Open Air concert at Loreley in 1983. And now 30 years after Joshua Tree, THE (!) landmark album of the 80s ... a dream come true!
    The whole album after 30 years...THANK Y
    Hopefully you enjoyed playing the old stuff. Please do it again on the forthcomming tours :-) Now we´re waiting for 30th anniversary of "achtung baby"??? ;-)
    Thanks U2
    Thanks for a wonderful day !!
    A rainy day in July in Berlin...
    We were sitting in the third row - a wonderful place to get every raindrop from the sky. But when we think about it, what would the concert have been without "singing in the rain"?! Great job, U2. See you again....
    U2 Berlin
    We want to see more U2 ( on screen ) next time !!
    Where we celebrated a beautiful U2 night
    Having attended U2 shows in Berlin in 2009 and 2015 I enjoyed my return to this city for another memorable concert. Despite the rain the atmosphere among the crowd was enthusiastic. When Larry came out first and began his distinctive drum intro for Sunday Bloody Sunday all fans, including myself, started to cheer. The first songs gave me the great chance to concentrate on the raw power of the band´s early material. Delivering a part of Singin´ In The Rain before Bad Bono did a nice gesture by reacting to the dreary weather. In Berlin-a city that was important for both David Bowie and U2 due to their work in the Hansa Studios-it was moving to listen to the way Bono paid tribute to Bowie as he sang a snippet of Heroes in German. From the early tracks to rock songs like Vertigo the concert allowed me to follow U2´s remarkable musical journey once again. With its huge red screen and Edge´s wonderful guitar intro Where The Streets Have No Name was a true highlight, giving me goose bumps and moments of pure emotion. The visuals containing impressive American landscapes were stunning and reminded me of the different sides of a place some pieces are referring to. From one of my favourite guitar solos (In God´s Country) to the dark intensity of Exit I loved every minute of this special U2 night. Greetings from Austria
    Yeah, you keep me holding on...
    We could barely contain our emotions and our hearts still kept spilling over after the concert when we stopped at a filling station... Here's our late night rendition of RHMT:
    ronald van de wetering
    The Joshua Tree is pushing U2 back on th
    I've witness one of U2 best concert this week in Berlin.The Joshua Tree songs are putting U2 back to what make them unique.Not only musical wise but also visual and spiritual.They were energetic and powerful.I know they don't want going around the world with their "greatest hits" tour but I believe this tour will remind them what makes them great and unique, Hopefully that feeling will reflect the new future materials.Don't try to hard to be contemporary (let Coldplay figure that part out) . Back in the eighties the Joshua Tree songs were so different from anything other releases in those U2 again.
    Family tour to U2 concert
    Another great trip to fantastic U2 concert
    with u2 to u2
    the perfect way to reach the stadion
    His Bonoship
    The Unforgettable Four
    My 7th U2 concert since 1987 and it was just brilliant
    One of many moments in Red zone
    I miss the rain
    1987 in Munich and now 2017 in Berlin, R
    My first U2 concert was the Joshua Tree Tour in Munich 1987. And now after 30 years later I enjoyed the concert in Berlin 2017 with my old scarf. Your are the best. Hope to see you soon in Germany
    2 tickets & in between 30 years
    The first contact with the music of U2 & their overwhelming live power was the WDR TV broadcast of the "Rockpalast" concert at the Lorely in 1983, me at age 17 & knowing not much about rock music. The energetic music & the shouting out loud voice of Bono went right through my ears into my deepest inner core. Cologne 1987 was my first U2 Show & it is still in memory. The music of these 4 Irish is like a good friend who stays now for almost 35 years. Of course I was in Berlin - #8 - because They were there with all their never ending live power. WOW! Thank You 4 "Singing in the Rain" & staying in the rain, 4 "Heroes, 4 Happy BD 2 Malala, 4 the fantastic sound, 4 the unbelievable perfect high resolution on the screen, 4 more than 2 hours live on stage, 4 the syrian refugee girl, 4 a great version of "Mothers Of The Disappeared" (The Edge!!!), 4 the live harmonica played by Bono, 4 Larry just being Larry,4 the man himself The 4 strings sexy Adam & & &..... I know 2 things exactly: 1. When U2 is on stage, you can be sure there is always something nice & unforgettable happening. 2. If They do something They do it right or none. Thank You 4 making this world a better place, 4 all the inspiration and human spirits filled with love. I hope ONE day I will experience this band live in Dublin, and I hope that ONE day we will have a small beer together just talking about this & that. WALK ON! & Still FREE TIBET Love & Piece Thorsten
    Thanks for the great show and that you stood the rain last night.
    To me, the 2017 Berlin show was a pure blast of energy! All classics played stripped down, nearly no playbacks, just pure Rock'n'Roll! The riffs rughly erupted out of Edge, Larry was in best conditions, Adam the gentle man for what we all love him and Bono's performance was pure passion. Thank u boys, you can still do it! Now heading for Amsterdam :D
    Gogme United
    Red Rocks Berlin style
    Wow, what an amazing night this was. I've seen U2 since 1981 and had some great nights already, but this was something else. Managed to avoid all spoilers since the tour started in the US so was totally unprepared. They knocked me off my feet! I was really surprised to hear Sunday Bloody Sunday as opening and all other pre-JT hits in a row. the JT songs were performed really well and the encore was really amazing. The girl brought on stage should be a permanent show element, as she even made Bono smaller than he really is... The rain and freezing wind did the rest, we all felt sorry for the poor people on the pitch and the band on stage, but everyone survived and made the best out of it. Only thing what was bad was the fact that there were no special Berlin t-shirt sold. Maybe the U2 management can still create these? Something like 'I was rained in Berlin'
    Edge on the edge
    Right up close in twickenham
    Bono singing in the rain
    The BIG DAY brought rain pouring down on everyone. This could NEVER stop U2 to play their "Joshua Tree" 30th anniversary concert! So Bono was "Singing In The Rain" and 70,000 chanted with him! Larry was out first to take his place starting one of the most unforgettable drum intros of all times "Sunday Bloody Sunday". The thrilling sounds of the following songs brought everybody on the feet to dance! Bono carried us along 30 years of "Joshua Tree" songs - rousing and passionate! What an unforgettable night! Well, I must admit that I will always treasure the memories of ALL U2 concerts I was lucky to enjoy and always felt like being a part of a big community staying together as "One". Thank you guys for enriching my life and encouraging me to "Walk On"! Good luck and see you hopefully soon back at Berlin Olympic Stadium on stage!
    U2 (the band) vs. U2 (the subway)
    To make sure we travel safely to and from the Olympiastadion the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe public transport had released this travel notification to avoid any confusion ;-) So we made it and could experience an amazing concert! Danke to U2 (the band). ... and may you like to practice your German a bit for this BVG post.
    Dennis Ahmt
    Terrible sound quality
    I sat in the T3 section and enjoyed the show but not the Music. The Sound quality was unbelievebly bad. At one point I tried to put paper in my ears to filter the sound. When I read the opinions of others, they don't mention poor sound quality at all. How could it be isolated to section T3 alone? Or have others also experienced the horrible sound of an otherwise exelent show. What really bother me about it, is that I had my two daughters with me. It was their first U2 concert and it kind of dissapointed them.
    andreaskluver@mirianfonseca U2 Berlin
    with or without you
    Mafalda & Carlos from Portugal
    We came to Berlin just to see you!
    Berlin - the Beautiful City
    It's finally here. Long trip and great anticipation. We will sing, we will dance and it will be magic! What time is it in the Word??? SHOW TIME!!! Sand Man and Audrey
    Berlin Concert!!!
    Totally looking forward to going to this gig..travelling over from London. was at the original Croke Park 28 June 1987... I have designed my own t-shirt!!! :)
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