U2: The Joshua Tree Tour 2017
New Era Field, Orchard Park, New York, US, September 5, 2017
by Tom Burnett
The clouds cleared just in time at New Era Field in Orchard Park when U2’s Joshua Tree Tour 2017 came to town on Sept 5. The Buffalo date was one of a handful added in the US, Mexico and South America after the huge response to the original tour dates through the spring and summer. In line for General Admission I couldn’t help but notice the generations’ present – from teenagers sneaking a few drinks and seeing U2 for the first time to those who had been at the original Joshua Tree Tour 30 years ago. U2 has received acclaims and ridicule over the years but you can’t deny their staying power and how many have been touched by their music. I remember listening to Side A of the Joshua Tree LP (yes – vinyl) in bed before going to sleep back in high school back in 1987.
Beck was solid as an opening act. The light show and effects were very impressive given he was using a borrowed stage. He opened with “Devil’s Haircut” and “Loser” much to the crowd’s delight. Playing for a solid hour plus, he played “Dreams” and “Dear Life” from his latest album “Colors” being released Sept 18 before finishing with an extended version of “Where It’s At” which featured intros of all band members with each riffing a different tune to showcase their skills.
After about 30 minutes of anticipation, the lights dimmed and “The Whole of the Moon” by the Waterboys began playing – the walkout music used at many concerts on this tour. Larry Mullen Jr. walked out first and took his place behind the drum kit on the front stage. As he began the iconic beat to “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” the crowd went crazy. The Edge (lead guitarist) joined him next followed by Bono and Adam Clayton on Bass. We were off on memorable night moving into “New Year’s Day”, “Bad” and “Pride” before taking a bow at the front stage. The huge Joshua Tree on the back of the expansive screen behind the main stage lit up and the intro to “Where the Streets Have No Name” began to build. The band walked back to the main stage and took their place in a memorable silhouette against the glowing screen. The next 11 songs followed the Joshua Tree album songs in order. It was like going back in time for many of us there – sure the band was older (and so were the fans) but the feelings and memories were powerful. Many of the crowd sang along to every song having memorized the words from decades of listening. This was our album – this was the album that touched us in our formative years and there is nothing that will take its place. As a nod to the longevity of the album, Bono added before starting into “Red Hill Mining Town”, a song not played live until this tour, “for those of you following along, we are now starting side B of the album”.
Bono being Bono interjected commentary on the current US political climate mentioning both the recent divisions and in contrast how impressive it was to see the country pull together during hurricane Harvey. “America is not just a great country, it is a great idea”. He was thankful to all that America had given to Irish immigrants, the original “dreamers” as he called them. He brought focus to the rights of women around the world and his One charity that is up to 8 Million members.
For an encore at the end of the Joshua Tree album the band returned to the stage to “Beautiful Day”, “Elevation” and “Vertigo”. Only Bono came to the front stage which is odd given the entire band has come to the front for the encore at most tours stops. For “Mysterious Ways” a lucky girl was brought up from the crowd to dance with Bono. The band finished with “One” with a tribute to those dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. The Texas and American flags shone brightly on the screen and the Red Cross emblem along with the number to text to donate to the relief efforts. A nice touch given the dire circumstances facing many Americans in Texas.
The concert flew by. For over 2 hours we rocked to our favorite songs and were transported back in time. A special night and yes, a Beautiful Day!