U2’s Joshua Tree Tour 2017 Reviewed

I saw U2 play the Rose Bowl on May 20. It was the fifth tour of theirs that I’ve seen, and it was the best overall. Here is the setlist.

Highlights: “A Sort of Homecoming,” “Mothers of the Disappeared,” American optimism theme, set design and video.

“Homecoming.” We’re in the middle of a big 80s nostalgia kick in America, and this new arrangement of a 1984 track is loaded with clever throwback synth sounds. Great version.

“Mothers.” Rarely played live at all, the somber, sonorous last song on The Joshua Tree appropriately resonated that night, acoustically and narratively. Would have been great to see Eddie Vedder, though, like Seattle got to!

The Joshua Tree is about America, the country and the hemisphere. Like the original album, this tour focused on the good, the bad, and the absolutely heartbreakingly beautiful. At points in the show, Bono called for unity (“From the party of Lincoln to the party of Kennedy…”), thanked American taxpayers for helping improve the global AIDS crisis, and called himself a “guest” in this country who felt like he was “coming home.”

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Horowitz in Moscow

I first read about this concert over a decade ago, in Charles Kuralt’s memoir A Life on the Road.  Intrigued by Kuralt’s portrayal of the pianist’s passion, I picked up a recording of the performance on CD.

It’s an incredible musical experience. I can’t believe I’ve never written about it here until now. Vladimir Horowitz’s return to his homeland produced a night of sentimentality and triumph.

Reviewed: Desire–A Tribute to U2

I saw this great tribute band play for $10 at the Cannery in North Las Vegas on Friday night. Their set was a decently wide range from the U2 catalog–ranging from two tracks off the 1980 debut Boy album through 2004’s “Vertigo.” Most tracks came from The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby. Basically, it was a roll of greatest hits, well chosen with the longtime fans in mind.

The lead singer does a pretty decent Bono impression–not as obnoxious as Ben Stiller‘s by a long shot, but still in that vein. His performance was faithful and loving, but avoided any arrogance that impersonating Bono might invite.

Still, his friendly, casual approach to the role led him to do some good stuff (like adding bits of classic rock lyrics to the end of songs, Bono-style), and some questionable stuff (like warbling improvised lyrics several times, off time to the point where it clearly confused the rest of the band–tighten this up in rehearsal, guys).

The rest of the band was strong, too. Some tracks had some weak spots–as good as the guitar was, on a song like “In God’s Country,” the searing, soaring sonic harmony of Edge’s work must be impossible to duplicate–but overall the sound was solid, and on some songs, even stellar. Their cover of “Running to Stand Still” was positively inspired–a heart-wrenching elegy worthy of the original.

The tough job this tribute band has is their own fault–they’ve chosen to imitate one of the best groups in history!  :)  As talented as they obviously are, much of their playing only served to illustrate just how amazing the men in U2 are. With that in mind, they were very entertaining. Somewhere out there is a Nickelback tribute band with the easiest job in the world.

The appearance of the guys in Desire was even impressive. Though their bassist doesn’t look anything like Adam, the other guys have enough similarity to pass on stage. (Then again, most any guy with a square jaw can get an earring and a crew cut and look like Larry.)

If you have any interest in U2 and you ever get a chance to see these guys live, I highly recommend it. Ten bucks well spent; I’ll gladly go see them again.

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“Bad”

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“All I Want Is You”

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“With Or Without You”