More than 40 years into their career, this little band from Dublin, Ireland still rule supreme when they take the stage. Ten years into their career, U2 took the stage on a smoldering hot day in East Rutherford, NJ at Giants Stadium to play as a headliner on the final night of the Amnesty International A Conspiracy of Hope tour. The Police reunited for the tour and played a blistering set that included Bono joining them for “Invisible Sun”. But when they show was over, everyone in attendance agreed that the torch had been passed from Sting to Bono. And now U2 were the biggest band in the world. Less than a year later, The Joshua Tree was released and all in attendance that day had their beliefs confirmed.
Last year the band took that landmark album about the band and their complicated love relationship with America on the road again. And now they are back with another tour promoting their 14th studio album, Songs of Experience. And with some of the most dazzling visuals on par with last year’s Roger Waters tour, they are playing a set that features music from the early days and now. But oddly it skips all of The Joshua Tree. That didn’t mean it was a show without hits. This band has plenty of those of their career.
Combined with visuals that included white supremacists and Martin Luther King, Bono used the stage to preach against our current President and his supporters in much the same way he has since his early days talking about the unrest in Northern Ireland, the heroin epidemic that was killing his countries young and the unjust imprisonment of people around the world. The sensory overload of his powerhouse vocals and the music made by his three bandmates allowed songs like Sunday Bloody Sunday, Pride (In The Name of Love) and I will Follow to bring you right back to concerts at places like The Palladium, Pier 84, Madison Square Garden and Giants Stadium in the 80s.
When they hit the Elevation stage for the start of the second set, It was the power of The Edge‘s chiming guitar and the locked-in rhythms of Larry Mullen Jr. and Adam Clayton that made songs like “Vertigo” and “Desire” shake the arena to it’s rafters.
It’s been 27 years since Achtung Baby was released. Many consider this to be the band’s last great album, and so it stands to reason that they should be surpassed by a number of bands in that constant battle for the throne. But as the arena lit up with cell phone lights and everyone began the giant sing-along that is the hit sing from that album, there was no doubt that the four men from Dublin are still in control when they hit the stage.
The Stones will always be “The World’s Greatest Rock & Roll Band,” Coldplay will continue to try and dazzle the masses with their technicolored shows, and Foo Fighters will continue to rock hard. But U2 may be the last great band in rock to be around for more than four decades and still have it’s original members and still be able to make a big arena feel like a smaller theater. And that is no small feat.