The tour opened in Vancouver tonight, the band playing The Joshua Tree in full for the first time.
Arriving on stage to Sunday Bloody Sunday and closing with a brand new unreleased song - The Little Things That Give You Away - the heart of the show was the eleven songs from The Joshua Tree, thirty years after the band first toured the album.
Here’s the complete set list from the show tonight.
Two years, almost to the day, since the 'Innocence & Experience' tour opened at the Rogers Arena, the stadium next door hosted the premiere of 'The Joshua Tree 2017.' It will play to a jaw-loosening total of 1.7 million people in just 33 shows, between now and August 1.
So it was that first Larry Mullen, then The Edge, Bono and Adam Clayton, walked out to assume their initial work stations on the relatively small second stage that would host five opening selections. “Here we are again,” said Bono, “trying to find some magic in this concrete temple.” Over the following two hours, that's exactly what happened. What we witnessed was something inherently different from the 2015 spectacle, in a show of sometimes more understated tones and textures, but one that was every bit as dynamic and absorbing.
That second stage featured a perfect shadow of the giant silver Joshua Tree that grows out of the main, custom-built screen, which is the largest unobscured and highest-resolution LED screen ever used in a touring production. In creative director Willie Williams' latest vision, the 200ft x 45ft edifice sat waiting to come to life, as the B stage witnessed definitive performances of such U2 staples as 'New Year's Day' and an especially cathartic 'Pride (In The Name Of Love).' In this modest setting, the visceral and unvarnished potency of four symbiotic musicians was tangible.
Then to the main stage, which burst into living colour as if the tree had reached maturity in seconds flat. To a huge cheer, the first of longtime visual collaborator Anton Corbijn's stunningly renewed visual representations of ‘The Joshua Tree' imagery appeared in breathtaking high definition, as accompaniment to 'Where The Streets Have No Name.'
The opening tracks of the album played out, as they do on record, like a snapshot U2 greatest hits set, with 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For' and 'With Or Without You' followed by a furious 'Bullet The Blue Sky.’ A highlight of the evening came in the band's first performance of the new, horn-laden Steve Lillywhite mix of 'Red Hill Mining Town,' soon to be found on the deluxe reissue of the LP.
The Edge, inventive throughout on guitar and keyboards, excelled on 'One Tree Hill,' which was followed by an inspired discovery: an original clip from a 1958 edition of the American western series 'Trackdown,' in which a con artist claims he can save the world by building a wall. By some crazy coincidence his name is Walter Trump.
The final, 'post-Joshua' section of the concert featured a buoyant 'Beautiful Day' and an elegant 'Ultra Violet (Light My Way),' dedicated to pioneering and trailblazing women in all walks of life - ‘Herstory'. A visual roll call paid respect to everyone from Rosa Parks to Pussy Riot, and from Rosetta Tharpe to Grace Jones. The piece appears in further support of the ONE organisation’s ongoing Poverty Is Sexist campaign.
Leading into 'One,' Bono requested the audience's support in a chant all too apposite for our times, “The power of the people, so much stronger than the people in power.” 'Miss Sarajevo' had a different, but also painfully relevant, accompaniment in a specially commissioned film by the French artist J.R., filmed at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, where some 80,000 Syrians have been forced to temporarily settle.
The final coup was the new song 'The Little Things That Give You Away,' a reflective and promising preview of the group's next studio adventure. “Sometimes the end is not coming/The end is here,” sang Bono. Sadly that was true, but this had been an elevating occasion that eloquently merged U2's past and their future.