U2 Rocks MetLife With Epic Performance

After 30 years The Joshua Tree sounds as fresh as ever

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While I have listened to U2 for more than 30 years and heard more than once how terrific their live performances are, I had not been to one of their shows. The Joshua Tree is my favorite U2 album, so when I read about the band’s summer tour to celebrate the record’s 30th anniversary, I knew the time had come to finally see them. So I did Thursday night at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. And what an amazing show it was!

Things kicked off with The Lumineers. I know next to nothing about this folk rock band hailing from Denver, but I definitely liked what I heard. I only recognized one song, Ho Hey, which became a hit for the band in 2012 and was the lead single from their eponymous album released the same year. Their set included 11 other songs – some additional tunes from their debut album and some tracks from the 2016 follow-up, Cleopatra.

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Lead vocalist and guitarist Wesley Schultz, who together with Jeremiah Fraites (drums, percussion) writes most of the band’s songs, has a great voice. Cellist and vocalist Neyla Pekarek rounds out The Lumineers, adding an interesting flavor to the band’s sound. I am planning to check them out more closely.

U2 Joshua Tree Tour 2017

After about an hour and a half into the evening, U2 finally took the stage. With Sunday Bloody Sunday and New Year’s DayBono, The Edge, Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton made it clear from the get-go they mean business. Both tunes are from War, their third studio album from 1983, and are among my favorite early U2 songs. Next came two tracks from the 1984 follow-up The Unforgettable Fire: Bad and the epic Pride (In the Name of Love). 

And then it was time for The Joshua Tree album, U2’s fifth studio album from 1987. They played all of its tracks and in the same order. This is a truly great record. In addition to its three big hits Where the Streets Have No Name, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For and With or Without You, the album has numerous other gems. These include Bullet the Blue the Sky, Running to Stand Still, In God’s Country, Trip Through Your Wires, One Tree Hill and especially Red Mill Mining Town. By the time you’ve listened to the aforementioned songs, you’ve listened to almost the entire album!

After performing all 15 tracks for The Joshua Tree, U2 came back for a nice encore, playing seven more songs. Highlights included Beautiful Day (All That You Can’t Leave Behind; 2000), Vertigo (How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb; 2004), Mysterious Way and One (both Achtung Baby; 1991).

In early June, a 30th anniversary edition of The Joshua Tree album was released in several formats. In addition to the original studio record, the deluxe editions include a live recording of a 1987 concert at Madison Square Garden in New York. I listened to it earlier today and have to say U2 on Thursday night sounded pretty darn close to that recording from 30 years ago.

Sources: Wikipedia, Setlist.fm, YouTube

5 thoughts on “U2 Rocks MetLife With Epic Performance”

  1. Good stuff. I saw them a couple years ago on their Innocence+Experience tour where they had this terrific catwalk. They brought a kid up on stage to play with them and then gave him a guitar. I really enjoyed the show and I really dig U2. That said, I realize there’s a generational difference. Younger crowd than me and there were a fair number of songs that everybody knew that I didn’t recognize. The only disappointment for me was that “Sunday Bloody Sunday” was almost a throwaway. I think it’s one of the best, most powerful songs I’ve ever heard in my life by this or any other band. I’d hoped it would be the encore. I think that “Streets” and “Pride” pale in comparison.

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    1. Thanks, Jim. I have to say while “Songs of Innocence” is not bad music, I’m much more into the “old U2” stuff – pretty much everything until the “Rattle and Hum” (1988) album. Knowing their current tour mostly focuses on their old material is what primarily attracted me to see them at this time.

      I agree “Sunday Bloody Sunday” is one of their most powerful songs – can’t compare it to, say, “Vertigo”. I also love “New Year’s Day,” which is from the same album (War). Both of these tunes are also on “Under a Blood Red Sky,” which I think is U2’s best live album – unleashed raw power!

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      1. Thanks. BTW, thank goodness to Setlist – I never could have written the post without a little help from my friends – already lost too many brain cells from to many loud rock & roll shows! 🙂

        Looking at the lineup, I would have been in the same position – tunes I know well mixed with a good deal of music I don’t know, at least based on the song titles.

        It’s great to see that in addition to “lesser known” songs, they played some of the real goodies like “Gloria”, “I Will Follow” and of course “Sunday Bloody Sunday;” though I realize the latter was an acoustic and shortened version, which is why I assume you felt it was a throw-away. I could see the tune lose some of its dynamic without the Edge’s great electric guitar line.

        I believe the current tour is the first time U2 is playing a specific album in its entirety and in order of the tracks. Again, knowing that definitely was a big part of my motivation to invest the money and see them now.

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