Live, Music, Reviews

U2 Joshua Tree Tour review (Sydney Cricket Ground)

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Are U2 still relevant? Surely, if rock n roll is a serious art form, artists must continue to be innovative to be considered relevant. You need to consider the history of artists when considering this. In the case of U2, a band with a significant track record, consider what they’ve produced recently compared to their earlier canonical work? Does it connect with the youth? After all rock ’n’ roll is supposed to be about rebellion as well. I’d argue very little modern rock is relevant, and I’d argue U2 haven’t been relevant since the Pop album, and arguably even its predecessors Zooroopa and Achtung Baby, which were reactions to the sound which reached its nadir on the album we were at the SCG on Friday night to celebrate, The Joshua Tree.

Celebrating classic album anniversaries is currently fashionable and some of these albums have dubious claims to classic status. Not so with The Joshua Tree, a hugely popular album, now over 30 years old, containing famous anthems of emotional and spiritual depth. There’s nothing mawkish or manipulative about songs like Where the Streets Have No Name, With or Without You and of course I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.

There have been some complaints online about difficulties entering the SCG and a lack of a giant screen to see the band from a distance. As I was in the posh seats I can’t comment on that but it doesn’t surprise me having fought shit fights at stadium gigs in Sydney in the past. 

There may have not been a giant screen to project the band’s image, but the visuals projected on a massive screen behind the band were beyond belief, especially during The Joshua Tree set that included Anton Corbijin’s haunting footage taken in Death Valley, USA.

The show was in three parts; the first a short set of pre-Joshua Tree classics delivered on a bare stage to match the band’s aesthetic at the time. These songs, which included Sunday Bloody Sunday, Pride (in the name of love) and especially New Year’s Day were the highlights of the night, the band powerful and tight as a drum. This just goes to show that in music, the visual element is no more than icing on the cake.

The band played The Joshua Tree songs in the same order as on the 1987 record as expected. It was pretty fantastic, the crowd especially enjoying the opening trio of songs beginning with Where the Streets Have No Name. For mine, though it was the powerful, Bullet the Blue Sky, appropriately dedicated to Midnight Oil, the bluesy Trip Through Your Wires and the melancholy closer Mothers of the Disappeared that were superior.

It wasn’t only Midnight Oil that Bono gave a shout out to; November 22 is the anniversary of Michael Hutchence’s death and Bono paid tribute to him twice. 

The third part of the set was a sort of “best of” U2’s post Joshua Tree career. This material for the most part doesn’t hold a candle to their earlier work. However, U2 ensured that every song played would sound as good as it ever would. The late set began with Angel of Harlem which was great but doesn’t really count as it came hot on the heels of The Joshua Tree. 

Otherwise, it was tunes from the excellent Achtung Baby which stood out, especially Even Better than the Real Thing which came with psychedelic visuals while The Beautiful Day was hard not to like.

As an activist and it was always going to be interesting to hear what Bono had to say about the state of the world and indeed, Australia. His comments were apt. “You have a wonderful country, look after it,” he said.

13 responses to “U2 Joshua Tree Tour review (Sydney Cricket Ground)

  1. I was at Saturday night was awesome as always but would’ve been great to see them on the big screen also..not everybody is in most pit or fantastic seating

  2. Ah well, that’s where we differ as U2 fans! I prefer all other albums to Zooropa and Pop!!
    HTDAAB is my favourite of the post Joshua Tree ones.

  3. Pop and Zooropa need many many listens, they have much more longevity than most of the other albums. Probably U2 being as close to Radiohead since the October album

  4. Saw them on Friday night. Only one major disappointment – the sound was appalling especially considering a band of their stature. Should’ve gone on Saturday. Damn. Saw AC/DC 2015 – as loud as anything humanly possible (thus far) yet sound-wise remarkably clear and discernable.

  5. I am confused by your sentence… ‘…reached its nadir…’ Did you mean to say ‘zenith’? Otherwise I don’t understand your sentence, as presumably you liked Joshua Tree. Also, I would argue, you can’t ‘reach’ nadir…it’s the bottom, so you might fall or drop or descend. Maybe just stick to phrases like ‘reached the peak’, or ‘the heights’, or similar. Sometimes plain writing speaks best because it is easy to understand.

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