U2 Reclaims Icon Status By (Mostly) Avoiding Politics

Thirty years ago, U2 released the album that would define the ’80s.

The Joshua Tree [Remastered]” became a classic. Most of its songs went on to become stadium anthems.

After a lackluster album (given away to everyone with an iDevice) and subsequent lackluster tour (Innocence + Experience) U2 is back to its roots. The Irish rockers’ current tour should catapult them to the forefront again.

That’s if the band’s May 26 concert at AT&T Stadium in Dallas was any indication.

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The stage was set in a nasty brown color, reminiscent of their original tour 30 years ago. In fact, Dallas was the setting 30 years ago where they debuted on stage “When Love Comes to Town” with B.B. King.

The show opened with the classic song, “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” firing up the crowd. The lights went down and Bono and the band were on the B stage. It’s a tradition they’ve had since the first Joshua Tree tour.

The concert’s pre-“Joshua Tree” set contained hits released before that landmark album. During “Sunday Bloody Sunday” Bono shouted, “No more terror attacks,” leading the crowd in chanting “No More.” It’s a sentiment we can all agree on.

Thankfully that was the extent of political banter … until the encore.

U2 - Pride (In The Name Of Love) (Official Music Video)

Early songs included “New Years Day,” “Bad” and “Pride.” During the latter the stage transitioned from the nasty ’80s set and featured Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech on the screen. When the final notes faded the band had made it to the main stage, now bathed in red light. The rockers then broke into the opening riff of “Where the Streets Have No Names.”

The screen flashed Americana imagery – cars driving through the desert, Joshua Trees. It was a love letter to the “mythical America” they thought existed.

For conservatives this is the America that still does.

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This imagery continued with a beautiful woman in a red, white, and blue bikini doing lasso tricks. “Bullet the Blue Sky” had no political undertones … for a change. The track normally comes with a lecture.

“The Joshua Tree” set was definitely a spiritual experience, much like the album. It wasn’t until after “Exit” and “Mothers of the Disappeared” did the night get political.

The encore is where Bono went the full Rachel Maddow.

First came images of Muslim refugee children. After making the claim during “Sunday Bloody Sunday” that they wanted no more terrorist attacks on shows they took a song about Bosnia (literally a real refugee situation) and made it about “the children.”

I saw literally almost no adults in the video accompanying “Miss Sarajevo.” Oh, and they passed along a girl in a American Flag burqa on a tarp the size of a section.

U2 - Ultra Violet (Light My Way)

During “Ultra Violet (Light My Way),” the screen flashed the hashtag #womanpower along with “influential women.” Most of the women deserved to be on there. The three that didn’t? Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama and Angela Merkel. Missing? Any modern Republican woman or even First Lady Melania Trump.

Margaret Thatcher had a slide, though.

U2 also shared a plea to spend more money fighting AIDS. I can live with that…. (the speech, not AIDS)

It’s hard to mess up encore songs like “Beautiful Day,” “Elevation” and “I Will Follow. So at least the show ended on that note.

If you ever wanted to see U2, this would be the tour for you. Less politics and most of the hits.

Andrew Anderson is a comic writer, movie and music enthusiast and fantasy rock star. You can follow him on Twitter at @andrewpanderson and on Instagram at @Proofoffire_89

Photo credit: U2start via / CC BY

One Comment

  1. Ummm, no. More like U2 alienates long-time fan(s) by being partisan.

    Paraphrasing a Rattle and Hum favorite, nostalgia-fy the past when your anticipated future dries up.

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