U2 launched the second leg of their 2017 Joshua Tree Tour at the newly remodeled Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan on September 3, 2017.
With their earlier summer date postponed due to the ongoing renovations at Ford Field, U2 and their fans were primed to launch the second leg of their 2017 Joshua Tree Tour on Sunday night. You knew this night was going to be special, when Bono himself, was spotted outside the arena interacting with the crowd, even stopping to place a kiss on the odd adoring fan. Entering the arena, patrons were greeted by a 200 ft. by 40 ft. stage backdropped by the largest, un-obscured and highest resolution LED video screen ever used in a touring show. A massive sight that seemed fitting for such a massive venue as Ford Field.
Opening the night was Beck, who played for about ¾ of an hour. Any concern that the enormity of Ford Field would eat up an act like Beck disappeared as he pulled it off in grand fashion. He stopped to pay tribute to Detroit native Jack White, as he broke into “Go it Alone”, a song they co-wrote together.
As the lights dimmed and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. walked out, the roar of the crowd echoed and the tingling in the air told you this was going to be the highlight show of the summer. Standing on the Joshua Tree stage located mid-floor, the show started very intimate, with moody lighting and a delicate feel. Opening with pre-Joshua Tree hits “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, “New Year’s Day”, and “Bad”, the latter featuring a snippet of Simon and Garfunkel’s “America”. Bono urged the crowd to light it up, turning Ford Field into a massive sea of waving white light. Between songs, he often spoke of the “extraordinary feeling in Detroit”, “the city of invention, the city of reinvention”, “the city of history, fast becoming the city of the future”.
Located just a few blocks off Woodward Ave., Ford Field was near the epicenter of the race riots that decimated Detroit in the summer of 1967. Riots that were epitomized in this summer’s movie release Detroit and were preceded by the Great March on Detroit. Bono spoke of this saying, “a dream started in Detroit, on a march for freedom,” as the words to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s famous speech “I have a Dream” filled the video screens. All of this taking place as the band played their 1984 hit “Pride ( In the Name of Love )”, a song written about the assassination of Rev. King.
Moving to the larger stage, the show jumped to life as the opening notes of “Where the Streets Have No Name” rang out and the video screen became a panorama of sensory overload. As the band ran through the entire Joshua Tree album, each song was augmented with stunning images of Death Valley, Zabriskie Point, refugee camps, all captured in mighty and powerful detail by photographer Anton Corbijn.
Flashbacks to 1987 occurred, as Bono held the spotlight on The Edge as he ripped through his solo on “Bullet the Blue Sky”. The Detroit references continued as images of Madonna, Aretha Franklin, Rosa Parks, and Patti Smith flashed across the video screens during “Ultraviolet ( Light My Way)” from 1991’s Achtung Baby.
The album spoke to many of the American issues of the day when it was released 30 years ago, many of which still exist today. Songs like “Running to Stand Still” about drug addiction, “Red Hill Mining Town” which references the loss of mining jobs, both of which featured The Edge on the keys.
Local native and Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, Patti Smith joined the band on stage for “Mothers of the Disappeared”, a song written about political prisoners. The song took on an even grittier edge as The Edge played the opening riffs of the song as Patti stood center stage and recited the lyrics to her smash hit “People Have the Power”. A snippet that they would repeat during the first encore song “Beautiful Day”. “Patti Smith!” Bono raved. “There is no one to compare with Patti Smith, our muse. We would not have written The Joshua Tree without her. What an honor to have her on stage.” More local references would appear during “Vertigo” as portions of David Bowie’s “Panic in Detroit” was added to the mix.
In typical U2 fashion and reminiscent of Live Aid and the Conspiracy of Hope Tour, the band closed with “ONE” as the video screen showed the Texas flag, the Red Cross logo, along with a request for the crowd to send $10.00 donations to the organization by texting HARVEY to 90999. In closing the show, Bono had a message for the American audience: “I would like to thank any of you here tonight who are making the world around you a bit better. Whatever organization you sign up to … whatever you’re doing, privately, whatever it is, I want to thank you tonight. That’s what this country is. That’s what this country is about, and I guess that’s what we’ve learned from the last week,” he said, referring to the rescue and relief efforts around flood-ravaged Houston, Texas. “For all the hate and all the bile and all the spleen and all the summoning of dark spirits in this country, with Hurricane Harvey we discover who America is. Who you are, what America is and if I might say, America means everything to this band,” he continued. “Second home—second home to us. Not just a country. An idea. A great idea. So we’ve so much at stake in seeing this idea of yours succeed. And we want to see you prosper here in Detroit, Michigan—extraordinary feeling in this city. So it’s clear this country can do anything when it works together. You can put a man on the moon or rescue some people out of the flood water—it’s America. Anything is possible when you work together as one.”
This show was so powerful and moving, that I am already researching ways to catch a second glance and encourage everyone to both donate as well as make sure you don’t miss it as it travels through your local venue.
Event Date: 03-SEP-2017