U2 came out to Los Angeles and rocked the Rose Bowl, playing their 1987 album Joshua Tree in full. From the moment you walked into the venue you knew you were going to be in for something spectacular, You were greeted by a huge 8K resolution, 200 ft x 45 ft cinematic screen made up of 1,040 led light panels. The thing was insanely massive and displayed some of the most clear images of Dutch photographer Anton Corbijn, the original photographer of the Joshua Tree album, with imagery of the Joshua Tree valley.
Everyone in general admission crowded around together and in the middle was a second stage. The lights dimmed and Larry Mullen walked out on his own and to a small drum set that was set up on the secondary stage. He sat down and started to pound the drums to a familiar beat, “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” Soon bassist, Adam Clayton and guitarist The Edge joined Mullen. And finally, Bono walked down the catwalk to the stage started with “I Can’t believe the news today.” The crowd looked as though they were in awe, their hands waved high and the band started the show off with high intensity. U2 played two more songs on the secondary stage with “New Years Day” and “Pride (In The Name of Love).”
Next, U2 walked back to the main stage. The backdrop turned a beautiful vivid red, silhouetted with a giant Joshua Tree, while U2 stood together at the base of the tree and waved to the crowd. They walked to their instruments and The Edge started his iconic guitar riff and started Joshua Tree’s, “Where the Streets Have no Name.” They played each song on Joshua Tree in order and when they got to “One Tree Hill” they made a dedication to the late Chris Cornell. It was a sweet and heartfelt moment, Bono said that it’s hard to see Chris come so close to having such a beautiful life but then to fall. It was an emotional tribute to say the least.
After Joshua Tree concluded, U2 were not done. Instead, itt was time for the band to get a little political. They played a snippet of an old show about a man named Trump trying to sell a wall to the people, then they played a clip from Miss Sarajevo by French Artist, J.R. that was shot at the Zaatari refugee camp which housed 80,000 displaced Syrians. During the song “Passengers,” U2 had a banner showing an image of a Syrian woman that floated across the crowd. They then did a tribute to women during “Ultra Violet (Light My way).” They wanted to pay tribute to their wives, daughters, the women in the stadium. U2 then displayed portraits of heroic women throughout history including: Sojourner Truth, Angela Davis, Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Pussy Riot, Patti Smith and Malala Yousafzai. And that’s just naming a few.
U2 ended the night with a new song “The Little Things that Give You Away.” It was a fantastic performances, and I’m glad that for my first U2 show I was fortunate enough to hear my favorite album of theirs in all its entirety.
Words & Photography: Wes Marsala
Written for Grimy Goods, May 23, 2017