"Maybe that is the step forward on this record, to be able to have the freedom to have humour sitting alongside songs that are deadly earnest, and the two actually balance out each other."
-- Edge, on All That You Can't Leave Behind
Column: off the record ..., vol. 17-760
May 02, 2017
We are less than two weeks from the launch of The Joshua Tree Tour 2017, and the @U2 staff are packing our bags to provide coverage of opening night in Vancouver. Several of us will be at the show to cover the festivities, as well as to provide some post-show thoughts via Periscope. We are planning to use Twitter once again throughout the tour for live-tweeting the shows and sharing the streams as they pop. So many are not able to take part in this tour, and we hope to bring it to you the best we can.
If you are able to travel, there are still face-value tickets still available for the North American leg of the tour. As of May 2 at 12:30 p.m. EDT, you could find tickets for almost every city on the North American leg. They may be nose-bleeds, but there are still seats. Here’s the recap:
May 12: Vancouver, BC – sold out
I am amazed that GA tickets are still easily accessible on Ticketmaster for Pittsburgh and Louisville. For the other cities, only a handful of GA tickets have dropped at random times of the day. Unlike the U2 360 tour, about one-quarter of the stadium is taken up by the production, so the ticket availability is down considerably. The sections behind the stage are not available because of the stage’s backdrop and screen. The stage footprint takes up more space on the pitch, limiting the numbers for general admission. For those seeking GA tickets, keep checking Ticketmaster because those drops do happen all the way up to show time. On the day of the show, it’s best to keep trying the box office onsite. Production holds get released at the last minute, so persistence pays off if you’re set on seeing the show from the stadium pitch.
Billboard reported that U2 has joined a very elite group of musical artists who have scored a new Top 40 hit on the Hot 100 chart every decade since the 1980s. U2 joins Madonna, “Weird Al” Yankovic and Michael Jackson as the only artists to have done so.
Kendrick Lamar’s “XXX” debuted at No. 33 on the Hot 100 chart, which qualified U2 for this distinction because it featured the band. (As an aside, it’s the same reason Nicki Minaj overtook Aretha Franklin as having the most Billboard Hot 100 songs of all time. Minaj has been a featured artist on so many tracks that it qualified her for this distinction.) Lamar’s album Damn debuted at No. 1 on the Top 200 Albums chart. Some have gone so far as to say that Lamar has relaunched U2’s career as a chart-topping act. I wouldn’t go that far; however, it does show their continued relevance. Since Damn’s release, some music critics and pundits have debated that Lamar is perhaps the most relevant current artist in the industry, and I agree with those who believe he is. Many might have been surprised at U2’s involvement, but some of the themes of “XXX” are echoed in an unreleased U2 track called “Native Son.” If it sounds familiar, that’s because the track became the far more commercially appealing “Vertigo.” The lyrics to “Native Son” focus on gun control and the struggle to feel safe in your own neighborhood.
Many who follow U2 are keenly interested in what the band’s message to the masses will be during The Joshua Tree Tour 2017. If “XXX” is any indication, I don’t believe they are going to shy away from saying what they feel needs to be said in a way that we need to hear it. This is the convergence of innocence meeting experience: They have the fire in their belly to say it like they did in 1987, but more maturity in how it gets messaged. I have seen more fans share this year they feel the rant in “Bullet The Blue Sky” is the part of the production they are most looking forward to; more so than on any other tour. I see that rant as a catharsis. Not to put any pressure on Bono and the production team, but this is the part of the show that we’ll be focused on. Will the rant be as powerful as it was during the Dreamforce show last year? Will it go further, or will it be toned down? The “Bullet The Blue Sky” rant will also likely be the most reported and talked about, so it needs to be pitch perfect. I can’t wait to experience it.
It was great fun to share my love of The Dalton Brothers on our latest podcast. I recognize that loving The Dalton Brothers is about as fanatical as a U2 fan can get, so I’m guilty as charged. I appreciate the way the band trolled their audience as The Daltons, and how these personae allowed them to have fun in the process. It’s a small piece of the U2 legend that brings nothing but smiles to diehards, so I am thankful to the podcast production crew for humoring me with a full episode honoring Luke, Duke, Alton and Betty. I do believe Betty Dalton is what rock stars smell like.
The latest book to hit shelves about our favorite band is U2: Rock And Roll To Change The World by one of our resident professors, Tim Neufeld. In addition, the book is edited by our very own Scott Calhoun. I have yet to get my copy because the publishers ran out of stock within the first week of the book’s publication. I think it’s great that so many have been so supportive of this book, so I’m not bummed that my copy hasn’t arrived yet. It’ll be fantastic summer reading for sure.
And finally … I am a huge fan of the deeper U2 catalog. As we all get ready to delve into The Joshua Tree’s anniversary reissue next month, here is one track that didn’t make the cut: “Womanfish.” When do you remember a band going on TV with a song that is still in development?
‘Til next time …
Any opinions expressed in this column are those of the individual author and do not necessarily represent the views of @U2 as a whole.