U2 Live in Texas

U2-The Lumineers
May 26, 2017
AT&T Stadium
Arlington, Texas
By A. Lee Graham
Set List:
Sunday Bloody Sunday | New Year’s Day | Bad | Pride (In The Name of Love) | Where The Streets Have No Name | I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For | With Or Without You | Bullet The Blue Sky | Running To Stand Still | Red Hill Mining Town | In God’s Country | Trip Through Your Wires | One Tree Hill | Exit | Mothers Of The Disappeared | Miss Sarajevo | Ultraviolet | One | Beautiful Day | Elevation | I Will Follow
When U2 announced The Joshua Tree as the focus of its next major tour, naysayers cried foul. They accused Bono and his bandmates of selling out, of placing nostalgia over artistic expression.
Of course, those critics missed the point: since bursting onto the scene with Boy almost 40 years ago, U2 has evolved through studio experimentation, political activism and spiritual soul-searching. That such yearnings have reaped billions of dollars is beside the point; as Bono and the boys returned to AT&T Stadium for the first time since 2009, they backed up the politics with pop sense, not shying away from cultural controversy while using such discord as a platform for peace.
“We can find common ground by reaching for higher ground,” Bono told a rapt audience, savoring every note of The Joshua Tree, and band’s fifth studio outing and among its most highly regarded achievements. The 1987 release explored America the idea and American the reality, a quest deepened, for better or worse, on Rattle and Hum
But The Joshua Tree was the focus of this sweltering night in Arlington. Before tearing into its first song, house lights dimmed and the band strolled onto a smaller stage extending over the floor. Fashioned to resemble the album’s titular tree, the mini-stage was modest — perhaps too modest since without video screens, only a few fans could see the band in the giant football stadium.
The musicians may have appeared tiny, but what filled the air proved gigantic. “Sunday Bloody Sunday” drew immediate applause as Bono brought the 1983 classic into contemporary relevance, singing, “For the streets of Manchester with heartache, we say no more!”
The terrorist attack outside Ariana Grande’s recent concert was just one of many cultural, political and spiritual references made throughout the evening. What’s a U2 concert without politics, after all? But instead of rattling a liberal saber at nasty conservatives — or a conservative saber at nasty liberals — Bono sought unity. 
A man equally comfortable with Barack Obama and George W. Bush (having spent the afternoon at the latter president’s Crawford, Texas ranch hours before the show) applauded Bush and his wife Laura for their fight against AIDS.
Following “Sunday Bloody Sunday” proved no problem, with a mini-set also including “New Year’s Day,” “Bad” and “Pride (In The Name of Love).” “Bad” was a personal highlight, an emotionally yearning catharsis that had this humble scribe and countless others both elated and tearful: exorbitant ticket price justified in three transcendent minutes.
Then came the main course. Guitarist Dave “The Edge” Evans, bass player Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. followed Bono onto a much larger stage, casting black silhouettes against a fiery red desert backdrop. With Edge’s arpeggiated guitar refrain echoing through the stadium, the crowd erupted in applause as the band delivered an epic performance of an epic album.
Tracks seldom, or never, performed included “Mothers of the Disappeared,” “Red Hill Mining Town” and “One Tree Hill.”
“For anyone’s who has been robbed of a beautiful soul, I sing this for you,” said Bono, who dedicated the latter tune to the late Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell on previous stops of this tour. The song came after asking the audience where U2 first played Dallas. Cardi’s popped into my head, but the Bijou was actually the venue where the boys performed in 1980.
AT&T Stadium is worlds away from that room, a steely symbol of capitalism and what many consider Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ outsized ego. What some call the Death Star or the silver cockroach may not deliver superior acoustics, though echo problems that plagued folk-rock opener The Lumineers were resolved in time for the Irish headliner.
Bono was in fine form, both vocally and visually. He owned the stage, encouraging audience participation in “One,” in which fans almost drowned out the front man. But his vocals claimed their own space and stood surprisingly strong after all these years. Edge managing to rise above a tinny mix that finally resolved with “With Or Without You.” 
Meanwhile, Clayton and Mullen held down the bottom end, delivering workmanlike performances and having no desire to grab the limelight from their better-known band mates (though they were spotted at Whataburger after their Houston show, upping their Lone Star cred).
“I Will Follow” closed the set, a surprise since new song “The Little Things That Give You Away” was the evening’s rumored closer. Whatever tunes close the set, rock fans of all stripes are encouraged to experience U2’s latest tour. High ticket prices notwithstanding, the experience is worth it.