A long awaited dream came true, I finally saw U2 live!
I was 22 years old when I first plugged a cassette tape into my car stereo and heard the sounds of the Edge’s guitar intro to Where the Streets Have No Names. I was hooked! It would turn out that the Joshua Tree album would be one of my favorite of all time. It is one of the few albums that I can sit and do nothing else but listen to it from start to finish, year after year, and it never gets old. So when the band announced that they were doing a 30th anniversary stadium tour of the Joshua Tree and would be performing the album in order, in its entirety, I knew that I couldn’t miss it.
While walking into AT&T Stadium, I couldn’t help but notice a much different kind of fan than that of my early days of attending rock concerts. I saw people from every generation. Yuppie parents with their kids in tow, business professionals dressed in Polos. Tatted up twenty somethings, and middle aged, balding men (or as like to call them – “my brethren”). When the lights went out, the glow of thousands of smart phones replaced the flaming lighters of yesteryear (I actually lit a candle at a Styx concert in the early 80″s! Being nostalgic and all, my concert light of choice now is the virtual lighter app.). On a stage shaped like an actual joshua tree that jetted down from the main stage, drummer Larry Mullen Jr. strolled down a ramp as an Irish pub tune played over the massive sound system. Mullen took his place behind his drum kit and banged out the undeniable intro to Sunday Bloody Sunday. The band’s first four songs were truly classics, including one of my all time favorites, Bad as well as, New Years Day. After the opening set, the band took the main stage and played the Joshua Tree album in its entirety! The highlights included the song Red Hill Mining Town, which had never been performed live on any previous tour, including the original Joshua Tree. The band performed a blistering rendition of Bullet the Blue Sky that featured the Edge’s incredible guitar playing. The band also did a very moving version of the song Miss Sarajevo that featured the hope filled plea of a young Syrian refugee woman hoping to find a home in America. The Joshua Tree set ended with a video scene from an old western looking video that featured a man named Trump seeking to fix the towns problems by building a wall that moved into the night’s hard driving song Exit followed up by the always haunting Mothers of the Dispersed. It was a night of powerful music, expressions of faith, and a plea for justice for the world’s poor and broken. In spite of being 30 years older, the band sounded exactly the same as they did when the recorded their grand masterpiece. Unlike past tours, the band was not overpowered by the stage show though a huge screen backdrop made for some amazing visuals. The show ended with an extended encore that, in the end, left the audience breathless as they scorched the stage with Elevation, Beautiful Day and the classic I Will Follow. I came home hoarse and with my ears ringing and with a huge smile on my face. I had just witnessed the sound track of my generation performed live by one of the greatest bands in rock history.
For those who may not know, the members of U2 are all followers of Jesus. God has given this band an amazing platform to share the message of hope to the world through Christ. Somehow, their faith has not damaged their credibility as a rock band. They write profoundly biblical lyrics set to a distinct U2 sound such as 40 based on Psalm 40, Grace and Magnificent, which could almost be played as a worship chorus. They have advocated for Aids victims through the One campaign, spoken in front of congress on behalf of refugees, conversed with world leaders and American presidents, and were inducted into the Rock -n- Roll Hall of Fame in 2005. If you have yet to do so, you have to check out Bono and Eugene Peterson sitting around the kitchen table in Eugene’s Montana home talking about the Psalms. They have believed that faith without works is dead and so they have used their star power to advocate for the least of these around the world. Who would have thought that the prophets of our day would be a rock band out of Dublin!