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U2 Joshua Tree Tour Continues, New Album Out in December

U2 in San Diego, on the final night of the USA leg of the Joshua Tree 2017 Tour. Image courtesy of U2 / Facebook

U2 are one of the biggest and most successful bands in the world, regardless of what some people might think of Bono. Now in their fourth decade as a band, they’ve released 29 number one singles and had nine studio albums go straight to number one in the album charts. Plus, they’re still pulling in sellout crowds at stadiums and arenas across the globe.

In fact they’re on the road at the moment with their Joshua Tree 2017 Tour, which commemorates 30 years since they released their classic album, The Joshua Tree. The idea is that the band play the album in full on each date of the tour, along with some other tracks. It means track “Red Hill Mining Town” about the 1984 miners strike, which has pertinence today in the form of the disenfranchised of Trump’s America, is played for the first time in a live show.

Bono from U2 performing live on their Joshua Tree Tour in Rotterdam, Holland in July 1987. © Lex Van Rossen

Speaking with Rolling Stone about why they wanted to do the tour, Bono (real name, Paul Hewson) said, “At first, it was just to honour this album that meant so much to us. It wasn't any grand concept....Then we came up with some of the idea and the thing just ran away with itself and the more relevant we realised it was.”

U2 on the top of a hotel roof in Cork, Ireland on a cold February morning in 1980. © David Corio

That relevance is tied with Donald Trump and the new nationalism and hard right conservatism that has come with it. The Edge has noted in interviews that the record, being written in the mid-1980s, was influenced by the politics of Reagan and Thatcher, the Conservative British and U.S. leaders of the time.

He also explained that the current global climate echoes a lot of the uneasiness that was going on at that time: the unrest of the period due to economic reforms—privatisation of various industries, deregulation of the stock markets—the resulting strikes, along with the Drug Wars and conflicts the US waged with groups in Central and South America.

“It feels like we're right back there in a way.” said The Edge. “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.’”

Bono & The Edge from U2 live onstage in Boston, Massachusetts in June 2001. © Otto Kitsinger

The music on the tour is accompanied with visuals by Dutch photographer and longtime U2 collaborator Anton Corbijn, who shot the iconic cover for The Joshua Tree. The visuals are displayed on a huge 200ft by 40ft curved 8K resolution LED screen (the largest ever used for a concert tour), with new footage shot by Corbijn from around California, Death Valley and Zabriskie Point. The screen was designed by the band’s live show creative director, Willie Williams, who has been working with the band since 1983.

Bono from U2 performing live at Anaheim, California in April 2001. © Otto Kitsinger

Along with the tour, the band have also been gearing up to release a new album this year, their fourteenth, called Songs Of Experience. It follows on from 2014’s Songs of Innocence and was delayed in its release after Trump’s election win. But now, after some tinkering and getting the tracks down to a satisfactory list, it’s ready.

And the delay, according to Bono anyway, has helped. “The band will tell you not to listen to me on those kind of matters since I thought it was done last year.” he said. “But I think the pause has made it better.” They have already released a single off it called “You’re The Best Thing About Me” and they also released a live performance of another song off the album, “Blackout”.

U2 (Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton & Larry Mullen Jnr) on a beach in Cork, Ireland in February 1980. © Sheila Rock

Speaking about what the album will be about Bono has said, “a lot of the songs are kind of letters, letters to Ali [Bono’s wife], letters to my sons and daughters, actually our sons and daughters. There's a song called ‘The Showman’ which is a letter to our audience, it's kind of about performers and how you shouldn't trust them too much. It's about me, haha. There's a funny line, well, I think it's funny anyway, ‘I lie for a living, I love to let on but you make it true when you sing along.’ It's like a Fifties Beatles-in-Hamburg type tune. There's a letter to America called "American Soul," Kendrick Lamar used a bit of this for "XXX" on his new album.”

According to Bono the album will be released on 1st December 2017. Check out the single “You’re The Best Thing About Me”, below.

Rockarchive is delighted to be able to offer these iconic U2 images as limited edition photographic prints which you can buy here.