U2 are currently embarked on one of the biggest retrospective tours in the world right now — a 30 year look back at their iconic 1987 album The Joshua Tree. I saw the tour when it came through Los Angeles, and as someone who grew up listening to this album, it really resonated with me in a deep way. Of course, most U2 fans absolutely love this album — it’s one of the band’s most beloved records — but according to the group’s frontman, Bono, he wasn’t totally sure the concept would work.
In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, he admitted that until the first night the band pulled the show off, he wasn’t totally sure the live rendition would translate. Here are his thoughts on it:
“I would say that we didn’t know until Vancouver that the concept, or the script, would connect. That was a relief. Personally, I had some technical difficulties with my in-ear monitors. I was finding it hard to pitch. I’ve listened back and I did a pretty good job in pitch terms, but it was hard for me to enjoy the show since I had to concentrate so hard. So I was really relieved when I walked out and the rest of the band and everyone else was like, “Wow, that was great.”
So I really enjoyed Seattle. I knew it wasn’t just a concept. There was some connection with the audience, that’s the difference. I just felt I had to give myself to this. It’s all very well going back to where you started in terms of not using IMAG [screens]. That’s the way we became the band that wrote The Joshua Tree. It’s great to play like that, but it’s hard for some people since they’re used to IMAG. I just felt, ‘Can’t we just concentrate on the music?’ People weren’t taking out their phones, which was amazing. I was just listening, so I really have to make the singing be the connective tissue, from my point of view. There’s no images available, so it’s like Shea Stadium; you’re just these four dots at the start of the show. Then, presto, just add water and you become giants. It’s nice being ants for a few songs since you’ve just got to focus on the music since there’s nowhere else to look. So I’m really enjoying that and also getting the crowd to be this choral response. That happened in Seattle. I was very grateful for that.”