No JT songs? No problem

When it comes to U2 shows, I consider myself a seasoned veteran—thirty shows since 1987. But every time I think I’ve got the band figured out, they do something that I did not expect.

With barely a year passing since Joshua Tree 2017, it never occurred to me that the band would not play a single song from The Joshua Tree. I knew that the set-list would be heavy with new songs from SOE and probably SOI, but there was no way that they would leave out hits like Where The Streets Have No Name, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For or With or Without You. No way, right? Wrong.

I really didn’t think about it until after the show. It turns out it was a brilliant idea. Leaving out songs from TJT left room for other songs—songs not played in a while. But they didn’t stop there; they also dropped One from Achtung Baby. That perennial favorite was also left out. I don’t think I’ve been to a show since ZOO TV when it was not played. Did I miss it? No. Did I miss any of the songs from TJT? No.

What impressed me the most was they finally played Acrobat. It is a song that they have never played live before. It is a fantastic song. Bono’s soaring vocals blew the roof off of the building. I remember reading in fan forums since the early 2000s that maybe they would play it on their next tour. But it never happened.

I always assumed with a growing catalog of songs and a need to still play the hits they never had a good enough reason to add it to the set. I wasn’t part of the chorus of fans that passionately appealed the band to perform it. It’s a great song and while I wasn’t waiting for it, I loved hearing it live.

Now that I’ve had some time to think about it, I realize how cool this new tour is. An interview with Rolling Stone magazine cites Adam as saying that this tour is about their newer songs and deeper cuts. I only wish I knew about that before seeing the show. It would have put me in a better frame of mind.

They did play Pride and Sunday Bloody Sunday and it would have been even better had they dropped those songs as well. But taking into consideration the video that was played with these songs, there is no way they would keep it off of the set list. With what is going on in the country right now, I’m sure the band wanted to keep significance of these songs timely.

I am not so sure if they will keep those two songs during their European leg. The video might not resonate strongly across the Atlantic. I could be wrong. And if they were to ask me, I’d say drop those two as well and leave more room for back catalog songs. I would also cut I Will Follow (they played it both nights in San Jose).

How awesome would it be to play even more deep cuts? If they were to drop the three songs I mentioned I’d love to see Love Rescue Me, So Cruel and The Wanderer added.

Perhaps during the break between the North American leg and European leg, they can find more ways to revitalize the set list a bit more.

From what I’ve read, the current set list doesn’t vary too much and fans that go to more than one show are hearing the same sets. Understandably with such a carefully choreographed show, making significant changes is difficult. It didn’t used to be that way. I remember certain tours had more variety.

With the video screen being less than a fifth band member, but more that just an instrument, it get harder and harder for our boys change things up. The technology that liberates them in so many ways, confines them in others.

In my next post I will take a longer look at Experience + Innocence 2018 and consider if it is a fitting sequel to Innocence + Experience 2015.

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Two tours, two slightly different “experiences”

When I first saw the floor plan for this tour, I knew that U2 and company kept the stages from their Innocence + Experience Tour 2015. I was very pleased because I really liked the set-up. There literally was not a bad seat in the house.

i+e Tour 2015

e+i Tour 2018

Taking into consideration that Songs of Experience is a companion piece to Songs of Innocence, the accompanying tours should also follow suit. My guess is that this was probably the plan from the very beginning.

Of all of the tour stages that the band has used since Joshua Tree Tour 1987 (my first), this is probably the best in allowing them move through crowd. I chose reserved seating for both nights during i+e 2015 at SAP Center in San Jose. Although I wanted GA tickets—for both nights—it was impractical. It was also presumptuous to submit my party to the all-day affair that is General Admission.

Having reserved seats did have the advantage of enjoying the full visual spectacle of that massive screen. I had reserved seats again for the first night of this tour and was again treated some technological wizardry. I downloaded e+i Tour app and got my first taste of Augmented Reality.

I’m always impressed with how our boys find new ways to incorporate technology into their shows. Once I launched the app from my Jurassic iPhone 5S and it used the camera lens to capture the LED screen

I’m always impressed with how our boys find new ways to incorporate technology into their shows. Once I launched the app from my Jurassic iPhone 5S, it used the camera lens to capture the LED screen and stage in front of me. What I saw was a huge waterfall spilling over the top of the screen and crashing into a pool below. It was a very cool effect. My buddy tried it on his iPhone 8 Plus and I immediately wished I wasn’t so cheap and bought a new phone—the effect on his was much better. Alas, I’m a guy on a budget.

One of the advantages of this tour was that I knew what to expect. I knew the layout of the floor and where the band liked to play. That gave me a good idea of how to set up my shots. I used the same camera as I did for i+e 2015; but adjusted some of the settings to improve—hopefully—from the last time. What I quickly learned from that tour was that I needed to set the camera to shoot faster and in rapidly changing light. In addition, I needed to find a way to steady the camera better. And, I needed an SD card to could write faster.

While I did accomplish all of that, it is still very difficult for a fan to get good shots at a concert. I have tons of respect for concert photographers.

At that point, I was as prepared as I could be. I knew that when the house lights came down and the band took the stage, there was nothing left to do but shoot.

In my next post, I will write about how our boys kicked off the show.