So U2 are touring The Joshua Tree again, 30 years after its release. There we were, expecting the new Songs Of Experience album and tour to dominate 2017, and The Ballymun Beatles pull THIS out of the bag.
In an era when every two-bit band are playing their “seminal” (read: half-popular) albums live in full to tens of adoring fans down at The Dog And Duck, it’s surprising that U2 have taken this route. Unlike many of their contemporaries, U2 don’t have to tour a classic album to encourage bum-on-seat action. It’s safe to say that a global jaunt in support of an album of new material would’ve grossed millions upon millions, as has every U2 tour since, well, the original Joshua Tree one. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine earlier this month, The Edge reasoned their decision as follows:
Well, when we came off the last tour, we headed straight into finishing the second album of that set, Songs of Experience….And then the election [happened] and suddenly the world changed. We just went, “Hold on a second – we’ve got to give ourselves a moment to think about this record and about how it relates to what’s going on in the world.” That’s because it was written mostly, I mean, 80 percent of it was started before 2016, but most of it was written in the early part of 2016, and now, the world is a different place. [With the Trump election] It’s like a pendulum has suddenly just taken a huge swing in the other direction…..[The Joshua Tree] was written in the mid-Eighties, during the Reagan-Thatcher 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….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.” And so it was kind of serendipitous, really, just the realisation that we needed to put the [new] album on ice for a minute just to really think about it one more time before putting it out, just to make sure that it really was what we wanted to say. So we said look, “Look, let’s do both. We can really celebrate this album, which is really born again in this context, and we can also really get a chance to think about these [new] songs and make sure they’re really what we want to put out.” So the two sort of coincided and we decided we were gonna do some shows.
Fair enough. In the same interview, Edge hasn’t ruled out a tour to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of U2’s other masterpiece, Achtung Baby. Which brings me to the point of this piece – post-Achtung Baby, is there another album that would have the same appeal were U2 to undertake an Anniversary tour?
I don’t think so. 1993’s Zooropa was a continuation of the style and themes of Achtung, and 1997’s Pop, while you have to admire the band’s continued experimentation, seemed half-cooked. Beginning with 2000’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind, right up to 2009’s No Line On The Horizon, U2 appeared to be content with “sounding like U2”, and from a sonic and songwriting point of view, the albums were mediocre.
BUT – every U2 album from 2000 to 2009 houses 3 or 4 absolute keepers. There is a classic U2 album screaming to free itself from the band’s “noughties” output. And I’ve put it together for you. It’s called How To Leave Behind The Horizon, and it sounds like this:
If U2 released a Best Of 2000 – 2009 with this track listing, I’d be first in the queue for tickets to the tour. In the meantime, see you up the front at Croker on July 22nd.