The Joshua Tree Tour 2017

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The Joshua Tree Tour 2017
World tour by U2
The Joshua Tree Tour 2017 logo.jpg
Location North America, Europe, Latin America
Associated album The Joshua Tree (30th anniversary)
Start date 12 May 2017 (2017-05-12)
End date 25 October 2017 (2017-10-25)
Legs 4
No. of shows 51 total
  • 29 in North America
  • 12 in Europe
  • 10 in Latin America
Box office $228.6 million (first 35 shows)
U2 concert chronology

The Joshua Tree Tour 2017 is an ongoing worldwide concert tour by rock band U2 commemorating the 30th anniversary of their 1987 album, The Joshua Tree. The tour is visiting stadiums in 2017 across four legs: North America from May to July and in September, Europe from July to August, and Latin America in October, it began on 12 May 2017 in Vancouver, Canada. The band intends to play The Joshua Tree in its entirety on each date of the tour, marking the first live performances of the song "Red Hill Mining Town",[1] it is the first time the group is touring in promotion of an album from their back catalogue, rather than a new release. As part of the tour, U2 headlined the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee, in June.

U2 originally wanted to play a set of one-off shows in the US and Europe to commemorate the 30th anniversary of The Joshua Tree, but ultimately decided to stage a full concert tour instead, the band cited world events, such as the 2016 US presidential election, for what they perceived to be renewed resonance of the album's subject matter and a reason to revisit it. The stage features a 7.6K resolution video screen measuring 200 ft × 45 ft (61 m × 14 m), making it the largest and highest resolution video screen of any concert tour, according to The Guardian. A silhouette of the Joshua tree from the album sleeve is painted on the screen, while a Joshua tree–shaped B-stage represents the plant's shadow. Photographer Anton Corbijn, who photographed the album sleeve, provided films that accompany performances of the album's songs.

In its first 20 shows, the Joshua Tree Tour 2017 grossed $123.7 million from 1.04 million tickets sold. To date, it has sold 2.4 million tickets.

Conception[edit]

The inspiration for the tour came in August 2016, during show production rehearsals for U2's headlining appearances at the iHeartRadio Music Festival and Salesforce.com's Dreamforce conference.[2][3] Initially, the band were interested in marking the 30th anniversary of their 1987 album, The Joshua Tree, with one show in the United States and Europe each, but they eventually decided to expand it into a full tour,[2] the band members gave various reasons for the tour. Lead vocalist Bono said, "it was just to honor this album that meant so much to us" and that at first there was no "grand concept". However, once they realised the record was still relevant thematically, "the thing just ran away with itself".[4] Guitarist the Edge cited the 2016 US presidential election and other world events for what he judged to be renewed resonance of The Joshua Tree's subject matter.[1] He said, "things have kind of come full circle, if you want, that record was written in the mid-Eighties, during the ReaganThatcher era of British and U.S. politics. It was a period when there was a lot of unrest. Thatcher was in the throes of trying to put down the miners' strike; there was all kinds of shenanigans going on in Central America. It feels like we're right back there in a way. I don't think any of our work has ever come full circle to that extent, it just felt like, 'Wow, these songs have a new meaning and a new resonance today that they didn't have three years ago, four years ago.'"[1]

The stage from the band's original Joshua Tree Tour was used as a reference point in designing the stage for the 30th anniversary tour (pictured).

Longtime U2 set designer Willie Williams said that the idea for the tour "was accompanied by a myth that, because of the nature of the show, the staging could be very simple, which meant it would be achievable with a reduced lead time", he rejected the notion that the stage would be simple but did realise that much of the lead time required for U2 tours is spent defining the ideas behind them. With The Joshua Tree's anniversary as the idea, the development process was simplified, as the band and their creative were able to begin with several assumptions: that half of the concerts' set list would consist of The Joshua Tree songs; that they could use the original Joshua Tree Tour stage as a reference point; and that photographer Anton Corbijn, who shot the photographs from the album sleeve, would create video content.[3] In October 2016, the band began initial conversations with Stufish Entertainment Architects, the firm behind the set design.[5]

Williams said, "After talking over many possible approaches, we looked at the original Joshua Tree stadium stage and then allowed its bold, simple aesthetic to guide the design."[6] On the original Joshua Tree Tour, the stadium stage was built on one end of the venue as a large proscenium, flanked on the sides by fabric sheets depicting branches of a Joshua tree.[2][7] Only at the largest North American stadiums was video reinforcement used, but it was located behind the sound mixing station and visible to only half the audience. Williams called it "maximal minimalism", and after the growing production values of concerts in the time since then, he was initially drawn to returning to the simplicity of a "traditional festival stage". However, he ultimately decided against that design for the anniversary tour, as it offers limited sightlines of 150–160 degrees within stadium seating. Instead, he said, "We took the spirit of that kind of minimal CinemaScope idea where the look was a huge stretched image of the Joshua Tree... and ran with it."[2] Williams said using the original tour's stage for inspiration was a "get out of jail free card" for him, as he was not sure how he could follow up the extravagance of the stage he designed for the band's previous stadium tour, the U2 360° Tour. Williams called the creative process "pedal to the metal for six months",[3] the first designs for the stage were presented in December before the concept was finalized in February 2017.[5]

U2 preparing to play "Where the Streets Have No Name", commencing a sequential performance of The Joshua Tree in Dublin on 22 July 2017. The band felt challenged in structuring the set list for the tour.

Despite knowing they would be performing songs from The Joshua Tree, U2 felt challenged in structuring the set list. Bassist Adam Clayton said, "People react a little differently when they know what's coming next, and they also react a little differently when they're having an internal relationship with that particular running order".[8] Early in the creative process, Williams presented eight set list options to the band, these included: playing The Joshua Tree songs first; playing them last; playing them in the middle; playing songs in chronological order of their release; and grouping songs thematically. According to Williams, there were never internal discussions of breaking up the album into sections,[3] the group considered starting shows with the album, but this would have meant leading with the song "Where the Streets Have No Name", which is usually the climax of a U2 concert. Williams also noted that it would still be daylight at the beginning of shows in Europe. Another challenge in structuring the set list was that the second half of The Joshua Tree is "relatively downbeat". Ultimately, the band chose a three-act format, with the album in the middle.[8]

Despite honouring a 30-year-old album with the tour, U2 and their creative team rejected characterisations of the venture as "nostalgic", as they wanted it to feel forward looking and the band wanted to perform at least one new song.[3][4] To aid in this, the team decided against showing archival footage of the band from their younger days in the visuals, they also decided that due to the older age of the band members and the size of the video screen, close-up shots of them would be limited.[7]

Planning, itinerary, and ticketing[edit]

The tour's itinerary included a performance at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in June.

The tour was announced on 9 January 2017,[9] initially consisting of a North American leg from May to July and a European leg from July to August, it is the first time the group is touring in promotion of an album from their back catalogue, rather than a new release.[10] Kyle McGovern of Pitchfork interpreted the tour announcement to be an admission by U2 that they were entering the "nostalgia act" phase of their career, he said, "this tour announcement feels like it's coming from a U2 that's ready to put their work behind glass, as so many of their peers did far earlier... And there's no shame in that..."[11] Pre-sale tickets were first offered to U2.com subscribers starting on 11 January before going on sale to the general public on 16 January (for European shows) and 17 January (for North American shows).[12][13] Approximately 1.1 million tickets were sold in the first 24 hours of being on sale. After tickets for the tour sold out quickly, second shows were added in London, Rome, Paris, Amsterdam, East Rutherford, Pasadena, and Chicago,[14] as part of the tour's itinerary, U2 headlined the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee, in June.[15]

Additional dates for the tour were announced on 6 June 2017, halfway through the opening leg; a second North American leg was added to the itinerary for September 2017, initially consisting of seven dates, while a Latin American leg initially consisting of five dates was added for October. Tickets for these legs were offered to U2.com subscribers in a pre-sale starting June 8, while public sales began on 12 June for North America and 14 June for Latin America.[16] A show in New Orleans scheduled for 14 September,[17] a show in Glendale scheduled for 19 September,[18] and extra shows in Mexico City, La Plata, and São Paulo were added in the weeks after the tour's extension was announced.[19][20][21][22][23] Tour production director Jake Berry said the second North American leg was not originally planned and that the group were scheduled to have a two-month break between the first North American leg and the Latin American leg. However, since the tour was a "success... beyond everybody's wildest dreams", the group added North American dates in September and shortened their break to four weeks.[24]

The tour uses a "paperless ticket" system requiring concert attendees to present the credit card they used to purchase tickets as well as a photo ID upon entry at the venue, the measures are meant to combat ticket resellers. However, on the tour's opening night in Vancouver on 12 May 2017, attendees faced long queues to enter BC Place; some fans missed the performance of opening act Mumford & Sons.[25][26] Live Nation officials blamed the delays on a mix-up regarding which gates at the stadium would accept paperless tickets.[25] To recompense affected concertgoers, Ticketmaster is offering $50 gift cards for use against future events, while BC Place is offering free attendance to a Vancouver Whitecaps FC or BC Lions sporting event with a $20 food/beverage voucher.[27]

According to Music Generation, an Irish music education programme for children, some of U2's earnings from the tour will benefit the programme, allowing it to expand to nine new areas in the country within five years.[28]

In the wake of terrorist attacks across Europe, Ireland's Gardai police force deployed its Regional Support Units to act as "terrorist spotters" at U2's show in Dublin.[29][30]

Due to safety concerns caused by the 2017 St. Louis protests, the tour's 16 September show in St. Louis was canceled earlier that day;[31] in a joint statement, U2 and Live Nation said, "We have been informed by the St. Louis Police Department that they are not in a position to provide the standard protection for our audience as would be expected for an event of this size."[32]

Stage design and show production[edit]

Set design of Joshua Tree Tour 2017 seen at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida prior to a show.
The stage prior to a show at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida on 11 June 2017

The set was designed by Stufish Entertainment Architects and built by Tait Towers. Willie Williams provided creative direction for the firms and is serving as the tour's lighting director,[33] the set features a stage measuring 192 feet (59 m) wide.[34] It utilises a touring frame design called "SPACEFRAME" that was created by Production Resource Group (PRG), which has been involved in each U2 tour since 1992, the SPACEFRAME system is made of carbon fibre and is designed to be lightweight, collapsible, and fully wind braced. U2 were PRG's first client for the product, which was delivered from prototype to final product in 17 weeks, as a result of the system's smaller profile, the band have been able to reduce the number of trucks required to transport the framing system from seven to three.[35]

The video screen, seen during the band's 16 July 2017 performance in Rome, measures 200 feet wide by 45 feet high and has a 7.6K resolution, making it the largest and highest resolution video screen of any concert tour.

The framing system was used to build an LED video screen measuring 200 feet (61 m) wide by 45 feet (14 m) high, comprising 1,040 individual video panels.[35][36] U2 tour director Craig Evans said the screen's resolution is approximately 7.6K.[37] According to The Guardian, it is the largest and highest resolution video screen used on a concert tour.[38] Williams said it is similar in size to the one used on the band's 1997–1998 PopMart Tour but 400 times the resolution.[3] A "delicate curve" in the screen gives what he described as the illusion of the visuals appearing 3D,[7] the screen is painted gold with a silver silhouette of a Joshua tree, matching the colour scheme of The Joshua Tree album sleeve.[33][35] A 30-foot-high (9.1 m) scenic header extends from the top of the video screen, completing the plant's silhouette. Lipson says that the screen "looks like a piece of golden cardboard with a sprayed on silver tree" early in the concert, but during the portion of the set list when U2 performs The Joshua Tree in sequence, the screen turns on and displays high-resolution imagery.[33] A 75-foot-long (23 m) walkway connects the main stage to a B-stage, which is shaped like a Joshua tree and represents a projection of the plant's shadow onto the ground.[2][34] The B-stage features lifts that can lower a piano and drum kit below the stage for better sightlines of the band when they perform on the main stage.[34]

PRG provided the tour's 4K (UHD) Broadcast Camera System, the first time it has been used on a concert tour. A combination of several products, it connects cameras and LED wall processors via optical fibre cable, a necessity due to the large amount of data being transferred and the long distance over which it must travel. Designed to operate at the highest broadcast standards, the system provides video at 60 frames per second at a resolution of 3,840 × 2,160 pixels, the broadcast system can be assembled in an hour and be operated by a single video engineer.[35]

The lighting and sound systems are cantilevered over the video screen from behind on custom-built Stageco towers, removing any obstructions in front of the screen. The design was suggested by production manager Jake Berry and sound engineer Joe O'Herlihy.[3][33] Ric Lipson of Stufish said, "We wanted to create a vast background behind the band that would be completely unobscured and pure."[33] One of the innovations implemented on the tour is a new type of spotlight that Williams developed with PRG. By outfitting the spotlights with cameras, an operator using the control unit at ground level can see the fixtures' point-of-view on a video monitor, allowing operators to control more than one spotlight. Without the need for lighting riggers, the spotlights can be placed in locations where a human would not fit, thus "negating the need to hoist burly men in yellow T-shirts high into the air".[3]

The tour requires 64 semi-trailer trucks to transport equipment, along with nine buses to accommodate more than 100 crew members.[37]

Show overview[edit]

U2 opens shows on the tour by performing on the Joshua tree-shaped B-stage.

During the pre-show, poems scroll on the video screen, including: "The Border: A Double Sonnet" by Alberto Ríos;[39] "Kaddish for Leonard Cohen" and "Ain't You Scared of the Sacred" by George Elliott Clarke;[40] "I Hear America Singing" by Walt Whitman; "Ghazal for White Hen Pantry" by Jamila Woods;[41] and works by Pedro Pietri, Lucille Clifton,[42] and Langston Hughes.[43]

U2 begins shows on the B-stage by playing some of their earliest hits, including "Sunday Bloody Sunday", "New Year's Day", and "Pride (In the Name of Love)".[44] Bono said this act of the show is "songs that got [the band] to The Joshua Tree", and they are played in the sequence in which they were released, these songs are performed with no video reinforcement, as the group wanted their fans to concentrate on the music. Bono said he is forced to "make the singing be the connective tissue", adding, "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."[4] Williams described this portion of the show as "U2 opening for U2", much like how they performed at music festivals with a lower billing earlier in their career.[3]

The video screen displays UHD visuals, beginning with a performance of "Where the Streets Have No Name", which is accompanied by a film of a desert highway.

For The Joshua Tree portion of the show, the band performs on the main stage against a backdrop of visuals on the video screen.[44] Many of the songs are accompanied by short films depicting desert landscapes that were created by Corbijn,[6] the photographer said his objective was "putting The Joshua Tree into America now".[8] The album's opening song "Where the Streets Have No Name" is accompanied by a slow tracking shot of a desert highway featuring migrants walking,[8][38] for "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", a forest of trees is depicted;[45] many of the trees are burnt, which to Corbijn represents a "burnt American dream".[8] During "With or Without You", images of Zabriskie Point are displayed,[3] for "Bullet the Blue Sky", the visuals show men and women of various ages putting on army helmets while standing in front of an American flag.[46] During the song's performance, Bono shines a handheld spotlight on the Edge, evoking the cover image of the band's 1988 album, Rattle and Hum,[47] for "Trip Through Your Wires", the visuals show the Edge's wife, choreographer Morleigh Steinberg, dressed as a cowgirl while an American flag is painted on a wooden shack.[3][38]

Bono portraying a character called the "Shadow Man" during a performance of "Exit"

Prior to "Exit", a clip from the 1950s Western TV series Trackdown is shown; in the clip, a con man named Trump visits a town and promises he can build a wall around them to protect them from a supposed apocalypse.[8] The band were pleased when Bono discovered it, as they wanted to make a reference to US President Donald Trump during the show without belabouring their point,[3] the clip is followed by an image of hands tattooed "LOVE" and "HATE", inspired by the fanatic preacher/killer character in the film The Night of the Hunter.[44] During the performance of "Exit", Bono wears a black suit and preacher hat and adopts the persona of the "Shadow Man".[44][4] Taking influence from author Flannery O'Connor, whose works originally inspired the writing of the song, Bono uses the Shadow Man to recite lines from O'Connor's novel Wise Blood and the "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe" rhyme.[4]

The encore was described by Bono as a "denouement" intended as an ode to women. Speaking about the inspiration behind the idea, Williams said, "The thought was that we are currently living in a time when we could really use a more feminine spirit in our leadership and a way to illustrate this might be to celebrate some of the great female pioneers of the past."[48] Bono wanted to find "the sort of women that aren't welcome, that President Trump doesn't want in America" and commissioned French artist JR to find such a person,[4] after traveling to the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, he found a 15-year-old Syrian refugee named Omaima.[44][4] Performances of "Miss Sarajevo" are preceded by a clip of her speaking of America as a dreamland,[44] which Bono said "gives you a kick in the balls, but in the most velvet way",[4] the song is accompanied by footage of the camp's bleak conditions,[49] while audience members pass a large sheet of fabric printed with Omaima's passport photo around the venue.[45] For "Ultraviolet (Light My Way)", the video screen displays images of historical female figures and achievers. Prior to "One", Bono promotes the ONE Campaign by discussing the fight against HIV/AIDS.[44] Many concerts have concluded with a performance of the new song "The Little Things That Give You Away", intended to be on the band's yet-to-be released album Songs of Experience.[4] Another song from the album, the lead single "You're the Best Thing About Me", has been performed.[50]

Reception[edit]

U2 performing at Twickenham Stadium in London in July 2017

Critical response[edit]

The tour received critical acclaim from critics, many of whom praised the band's performances, the production, and setlist. Alexis Petridis of The Guardian complimented the group for keeping older material contemporaneous through lyrical changes and thematic reinterpretations. He said, "But more striking still is how commanding and confident their performance seems, particularly given that it's not without risks." He concluded his review by describing them as "totally in their element".[51] The Evening Standard and The Independent also gave five star reviews,[52] with the latter calling it "a triumphant experience".[53]

Commercial performance[edit]

In its first month, the Joshua Tree Tour 2017 grossed $62 million from ten shows, with 519,648 tickets sold for the first eight shows. The band's two concerts at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena drew 123,164 attendees, grossing $15.7 million. In Chicago, the two shows at Soldier Field sold 105,078 tickets and grossed $13.4 million.[54] The first North American leg of the tour, comprising 20 concerts excluding Bonnaroo, grossed $123.7 million from 1,043,414 tickets sold,[55] ranking the band first among all 2017 global touring artists with an average gross of $7,276,551 per city.[56] In total, the tour's four legs have sold more than 2.4 million tickets.[57]

Set list[edit]

This setlist was obtained from the concert of 29 June 2017 held at MetLife Stadium, it does not represent all shows throughout the tour.[58]

Tour dates[edit]

Date City Country Venue Opening acts Attendance Revenue
Leg 1: North America[59]
12 May 2017 Vancouver Canada BC Place Mumford & Sons 45,436 / 45,436 $4,321,731
14 May 2017 Seattle United States CenturyLink Field 57,009 / 57,009 $6,249,670
17 May 2017 Santa Clara Levi's Stadium 50,072 / 50,072 $6,268,805
20 May 2017 Pasadena Rose Bowl The Lumineers 123,164 / 123,164 $15,784,565
21 May 2017
24 May 2017 Houston NRG Stadium 47,669 / 47,669 $5,889,005
26 May 2017 Arlington AT&T Stadium 49,807 / 49,807 $6,044,330
3 June 2017 Chicago Soldier Field 105,078 / 105,078 $13,435,925
4 June 2017
7 June 2017 Pittsburgh Heinz Field 41,413 / 41,413 $4,273,920
9 June 2017[a] Manchester Great Stage Park N/A N/A N/A
11 June 2017 Miami Gardens Hard Rock Stadium OneRepublic 48,494 / 48,494 $5,923,665
14 June 2017 Tampa Raymond James Stadium 52,958 / 52,958 $6,125,415
16 June 2017 Louisville Papa John's Cardinal Stadium 45,491 / 45,491 $4,810,535
18 June 2017 Philadelphia Lincoln Financial Field The Lumineers 56,570 / 56,570 $6,259,880
20 June 2017 Landover FedExField 49,827 / 49,827 $6,286,385
23 June 2017 Toronto Canada Rogers Centre 52,704 / 52,704 $5,059,568
25 June 2017 Foxborough United States Gillette Stadium 55,231 / 55,231 $6,881,340
28 June 2017 East Rutherford MetLife Stadium 110,642 / 110,642 $14,568,805
29 June 2017
1 July 2017 Cleveland FirstEnergy Stadium OneRepublic 51,849 / 51,849 $5,582,965
Leg 2: Europe[60]
8 July 2017 London England Twickenham Stadium Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds 108,894 / 108,894 $14,750,646
9 July 2017
12 July 2017 Berlin Germany Olympiastadion 71,039 / 71,039 $7,215,052
15 July 2017 Rome Italy Stadio Olimpico 117,924 / 117,924 $12,266,299
16 July 2017
18 July 2017 Barcelona Spain Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys 54,551 / 54,551 $5,930,076
22 July 2017 Dublin Ireland Croke Park 80,901 / 80,901 $9,963,957
25 July 2017 Saint-Denis France Stade de France 154,486 / 154,486 $17,277,631
26 July 2017
29 July 2017 Amsterdam Netherlands Amsterdam Arena 104,708 / 104,708 $11,544,870
30 July 2017
1 August 2017 Brussels Belgium King Baudouin Stadium 51,951 / 51,951 $6,000,537
Leg 3: North America[61]
3 September 2017 Detroit United States Ford Field Beck 42,905 / 42,905 $4,936,605
5 September 2017 Orchard Park New Era Field 41,106 / 41,106 $4,269,245
8 September 2017 Minneapolis U.S. Bank Stadium 43,386 / 43,386 $4,698,100
10 September 2017 Indianapolis Lucas Oil Stadium 51,731 / 51,731 $5,970,055
12 September 2017 Kansas City Arrowhead Stadium
14 September 2017 New Orleans Mercedes-Benz Superdome
19 September 2017 Glendale University of Phoenix Stadium
22 September 2017 San Diego SDCCU Stadium
Leg 4: Latin America
3 October 2017 Mexico City Mexico Foro Sol Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds
4 October 2017
7 October 2017 Bogotá Colombia Estadio El Campín
10 October 2017 La Plata Argentina Estadio Ciudad de La Plata
11 October 2017
14 October 2017 Santiago Chile Estadio Nacional de Chile
19 October 2017 São Paulo Brazil Estádio do Morumbi
21 October 2017
22 October 2017
25 October 2017
Total 1,966,996 / 1,966,996 (100%) $228,589,582


Cancelled shows[edit]

List of cancelled concerts, showing date, city, country, venue and reason for cancellation
Date City Country Venue Reason
16 September 2017 St. Louis United States The Dome at America's Center Safety concerns[31][32]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The show on 9 June 2017 in Manchester was part of the Bonnaroo Music Festival.

References[edit]

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  59. ^ First North American leg boxscore:
  60. ^ European leg boxscore:
  61. ^ Second North American leg boxscore:

External links[edit]