Photos by Sung
Along U2’s The Joshua Tree 30th anniversary tour, with twenty-one North American dates, including a headlining of Bonnaroo, it figures that the Rose Bowl shows in particular would promise to be special. Besides newer tackily branded barns like Levi’s or AT&T or Papa John’s (ugh…) Stadiums simply lacking the soul of the near-100-year-old local venue, the Rose Bowl is essentially the home venue to the iconic imagery of the album. The desert soul that permeates the album native to the area; the actual Joshua Tree park and Zabriskie Point of the cover shot are about a two hour drive east (some enterprising fan has mapped the spots, including the actual tree from the album art location here). You might say these two shows are a sort of homecoming for the album.
Only if you’re U2 in 2017 can an over two-hour show how featuring a 200-foot 8K resolution display seem to be a somewhat scaled down production. But following the likes of past massive tour productions such as Zoo TV or the 360° tour, with it’s in-the-round stage, or the arena-length stage and screen of the Songs of Innocence tour, the current set up is about as simple a set up as U2 can deliver–the aforementioned screen, complete with that Joshua tree yucca silhouette peaking out of the top frame, anchoring the end-zone stage and their usual smaller secondary stage out in the people.
Ending their pre-show tape (a fun blend–the expected Bowie and Clash, some less expected more recent indie cuts–“Summertime Sadness,” “Nikes,” “Kids”) with a cranked-up airing of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun,” in tribute to the recent passing of Chris Cornell, set off cellphone torches and reflective moods in the crowd. Cornell also later received a dedication to “Running to Stand Still,” a slight catch in Bono’s voice as he referred to him as a lion.
The band, four international icons, long since the most familiar quartet in rock since Led Zeppelin–though Bono insists on introducing Larry Mullen, Jr., Adam Clayton and The Edge every night–are rounding into live performance shape here on the fourth show of the tour, warming up into fighting live show shape after a few years off the tour circuit. Tonight we get a thoroughly satisfying stadium rock show that still leaves one selfishly wanting more.
The Fonda Theatre | fondatheatre.com
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Sweet Relief Musicians Fund | sweetrelief.org
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The Greek Theatre | lagreektheatre.com