_93323398_jt_2017_credit_anton_corbijThis is not a lets knock U2 piece – just a genuine curiosity at their announcement of the stadium tour playing the whole of their classic Joshua Tree album throws up so many questions. Many bands have revisited their classic albums – very often successfully and it’s a thrill for the fans to immerse themselves in a classic moment band’s career – recent Adam Ant gigs doing Kings Of The Wild Frontier or the Stooges are examples of this.

But you have to wonder about a band the size of U2 – a brand more than a band that has to actually go out and play a key album in their career. Is this the first time that a band of this sheer size and scale has had to go out and play an album classic tour?


On a business level it’s a brilliant – it will send U2 back into the sold out stadium circuit and maybe once a band gets into it’s late fifties that’s not the worst thing to hang onto – that Rolling Stones world of being the biggest show in town and never having to write new songs. Maybe it’s the natural curve of any creative band – you have your hits and then you become  travelling musical, a theatrical piece, a curator of its own museum presenting it streets moments in a wam bam thank you mam stage show.


We are not knocking U2 for this – as we celebrate other bands who have done the same but we do wonder that a solid gold A-list band that still talked the talk of being in fast forward motion and trying to break new ground whilst still dabbling with the mainstream has had to do this. Can U2 still be of the moment- a future rock band and a heritage band at the same time or have they capitulated to the heritage celebration circuit albeit on a huge scale? is there a a limit to how far any band can go before its history drags it back again? even when a band is as big as U2 is trapped by its past?  or will this just be a great tour celebrating a great album?



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  1. Saw them twice – in 81 and 83, had the chance to see them in 87 but decided against it…regretted it ever since as mates who went said they were superb. I’d go just for the sheer spectacle – just for once to enjoy a mighty fine album (their decline started with Rattle & Hum in my opinion). Forget all the shenanigans that has happened since with iTunes, political chicanery etc – at their peak they were a great band.

  2. There is of course the possibility that they want to have fun and will find this enjoyable. At least it has been 30 years and not the measly 10 that seems to be a celebratory milestone for a generation of bands. Can’t imagine U2 financially needing to do this.

  3. Seen them on every tour since the Joshua Tree 87, while some albums haven’t been ‘great’ the subsequent live shows have always been superb…
    Noel Gallagher calls it the greatest show on earth & who can argue with him..
    With Noel supporting them it will be a great gig….

  4. Feck you get to that length of career and probably just want to do something. Sure they may have finally visited the well too often but they pulled up plenty good stuff in their time.

  5. They’ve delayed a new album to do this tour. Maybe they will road test some of the new songs alongside The Joshua Songs and see how they stand up before releasing the new record?

    Could end up being a forward move whilst looking back.

  6. It’s an interesting proposition and worth LTW asking the question. I always feel a bit uneasy when a band tours a classic album, maybe suggests a loss of creativity? Having said that I think the proof will be in what happens after the JT tour, hopefully back to new material etc and if a good album then the JT tour will be justified. U2 get a unjustified hard time sometimes, to me one of the greatest bands of my generation, but I am biased as I’ve followed them since ’81

    • thanks Frank – this is not an anti U2 piece – it was more wondering why a band of their size is doing the heritage album thing… of course we also love these album revisits – we raved about Adam Ant’s brilliant revisit of King Of the Wild Frontier etc…

      • I agree John, touring of classic albums can be momentous and quite a bit of fun along the way (isn’t that what we want from our gigs as well?) Your piece was well balanced and not anti U2 in my opinion. As for why? Maybe it is about maintaining momentum until the new album is done? Some good posts from some of your other readers, would love U2 to be experimental on the next one, why not? They’ve proven they can be the biggest etc, so why not let creativity win for a while. Time will tell……!

  7. Maybe Bono or is it God lmao will do this for free as he expects everyone else to cough up when he starts his goings on about the haves and have nots
    Let’s see super rich superstar ?????

  8. Don’t agree with the perception that this is them jumping on the bandwagon of just playing shows without any creative output a la Stones. Having read an interview the other day the Edge did with Rolling Stone magazine he said they were putting the new album, Songs of Experience on hold to make sure it was right and relevant to today. Personally, though he didn’t portray it as such, I felt they’re having doubts about the album, especially after the poor reception of Songs of Innocence (which I thought was a decent album). I feel this tour is a stop gap before releasing the new album once it’s right. And why not do a tour to celebrate an absolute classic? U2 have never done something like this before which is obviously promoted this article but first for everything.

  9. It’s a great question from LTW, and personally, I think it is a celebration and an admission of defeat! It is difficult though to believe them doing this if they had released a critically acclaimed album within the last few years.

    Their obsession with catching younger fans have seen them resort to writing flimsy and beige pop music with bland lyrics and bland instrumentation that neither has the profundity or musical invention of their peak years (the dark electronica infused phase of the 90s was their ultimate peak, of which I count the criminally underrated album Pop as part of that golden run). I actually heard a new song of theirs remixed by some crass eurodance DJ called “You’re The Best Thing About Me’.

    It was quite simply the most woeful and cringeworthy song I’d heard U2 make. Their obsession with commerciality has seen a steep decline in creativity, so I’d much rather hear them go back to celebrating and revisiting deep cuts like the fantastically sinister Exit or One Tree Hill than hear the ‘get down with the kids’ music they have been desperately making the last few years. For a massive stadium act with huge anthems, I actually think they are a band who are far better at introspective, dark and weird songs than they are at the saccharine tunes (and my god we’ve got heap loads of that syrupy crap such as the pathetic Song For Someone they played on Graham Norton a few years ago).

    Perhaps if they took their cues from the likes of peers such as David Bowie (christ, Bowie even loved Zooropa) or Radiohead who stopped trying to appease the masses and just shook of all inhibitions, they’d make something worth hearing again. It’s a big question though if the band can retain that sense of curiosity and wonder which made them great in the first place. I haven’t seen much evidence of that the last decade or so.

  10. And just to add to what I’ve said above, perhaps its impossible for U2 to go back and create brilliant music again. Perhaps their lifestyles just don’t adhere to the environment of making great music.

    Perhaps their fascination, wonder and curiosity with ideas and different sounds of previous years has just vanished, and they are now just merely content middle aged men sunning themselves up in the creatively docile environments of LA.

    Sh** happens, and their shallow materialist obsessions (Edge’s property fiasco or controversial tax affairs) and quest for fame and stardom that has taken precedence has dulled their sense of spirituality and introspection. Shame, but the lives and lifestyles they live (along with hanging out with shallow celebs) have sapped them creatively so they’ve got nobody to blame but themselves.

  11. I was a boy when I bought “A Day Without Me”, “I Will Follow” and then the album “Boy”. I went out into the world during the time of “War”, discovered a wider world during the time of “Joshua Tree” and, like them, was involved in trying to change it. I had become scornful of that world by the time they released “Achtung Baby” and by the time of “Pop” had learned to laugh at it all.
    I took my foot off the accelerator and concentrated on paying the bills and raising the kids rather than changing the world. U2 did the same only their income far exceeded any possible bills they could ever possibly have. The albums from the first till then have meant something so much to me that ended with the exceptional and marvellous “Pop”.
    What I am trying to say is I grew up with this band and live they were untouchable, I saw them 40 odd times over nearly that number of years, they were a part of me, a real “Celebration”. Since we both hit late middle age hit though they have ceased to reflect me and my life and instead display something, I don’t know what, but it is not real, it is certainly not “Bullet the Blue Sky”, or “New Year’s Day” or “Mofo”… it is certainly not anything to do with the world I live in, know or see on my TV, at least the things I watch.
    Up to now I have still seen them on the tours and they are still a practised and quite perfect, perhaps too perfect, live act. But it is an act.
    Today I listened to 3 songs from what will will be the latest multi-format with special editions CD/Vinyl to roll off the multiple producers tortuously slow production line . I can honestly say I do not know this band anymore. They left me behind with “All That You Can’t Leave Behind”. So the new songs …. who are these people? Honestly I thought I was listening to a U2 tribute act, sometimes remixed by someone who spent too much time in Ibiza. I still listen though, always with hope but never now satisfied, I still listen for the spark of honesty, integrity… is there any sign of originality, any sign of living in the same world as I do.
    I saw them on the J Tree tour and they were “Magnificent”, polished, rehearsed and scripted. It was like seeing Madonna with whom they now share “artistic management”.
    Time to call it what it was “A Beautiful Day”. Perhaps without the band brand, the individual members, could do something creative again, uncluttered by too many producers, not over killed by too long a gestation and desperate arching for relevance and chart success, produce something simple, pure, that reflects the world now wouldn’t that be something of an “Unforgettable Fire”.


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