Author Topic: U2's Joshua Tree tour: stuck in the past, or a new sense of purpose?  (Read 3788 times)

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Offline Vox

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Re: U2's Joshua Tree tour: stuck in the past, or a new sense of purpose?
« Reply #15 on: May 15, 2017, 03:19:46 PM »
Throughout most of their career, U2 has been a band that looked forward, not backward.  In fact, that was part of their expressed modus operandi for most of their career.   Perhaps that's why some people think a tour in 2017 to celebrate the Joshua Tree is a bit at odds with how they personally perceive the band.

If their music from 1987 truly speaks more to 2017 than their music of 2017 does, so be it.  That's what they're saying is their rationale for touring The Joshua Tree right now, anyway.  U2 has earned the right to do whatever they darn well please, so whatever the reason for this tour, more power to them.     

That being said, would I trade a 2017 Joshua Tree tour for a 2017 album of new music?  For me personally, the answer would be a definite yes.

Offline jrodr079

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Re: U2's Joshua Tree tour: stuck in the past, or a new sense of purpose?
« Reply #16 on: May 15, 2017, 03:26:11 PM »
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As a band that never once in 30 years looked back at their own music, I find it kind of insulting that the minute U2 decides to reflect on their past for a bit, the world leaps on them and says "you can't do that."

Revisionist history much?

Look, I was at last night's show and loved it for what it was, quibbles aside (and there are plenty). But to suggest that U2 has "never once in 30 years looked back at their own music" demonstrates not a moment of critical reflection on the band's own propaganda.

U2 started looking backwards before the PopMart stage was disassembled in Johannesburg:

- They re-recorded The Sweetest Thing, a B-side from a single from 11 years prior, and used for its cover old pics of the kid from War, and had as its B-sides old live recordings from the Boy album.

- They have put out 2 Best Of collections, as well as the U218 set.

- They released U2 by U2, a book that's a look back at their career up to that point.

- ATYCLB was explicitly touted as an attempt by the band to recover their prior greatness and "reapply" for that job.

- The Elevation Tour was characterized by Bono actually pretending that it was 1980 again, introducing the band and introducing their early songs by saying things like, "We're a band called U2, this is our first single."

- HTDAAB was hailed as a throwback to Boy, and its supporting tour reinforced that by showing the Boy album cover on the screen as they played songs from that album.

- They released an entire documentary about Achtung Baby and even went back to the studio where it was recorded and drove around Berlin in old Trabants (and what was funny was that, despite everything I've listed above, Bono insisted that FTSD was this utterly uncharacteristic look back!).

- The 360 Tour devolved from supporting their new album to dropping almost all those songs and playing loads of stuff from Achtung Baby.

- Their most recent album, SOI, is explicitly backward-looking. Almost every song is about Bono's past (the street he grew up on, the bombing that happened in that road he used to walk to school down, his mother, that one time they saw The Ramones, how influential The Clash were, etc.).

- The i+e Tour was replete with harkenings back to the past (Bono as a teen playing guitar in his room, etc.).

- And now we are asked to believe that this Joshua Tree 2.0 Tour is NOT exactly what anyone with any critical faculties sees it to blatantly be, namely, a nostalgic look back at their former glories?

Again, I have loved U2 since 1983, I listen to my SOI playlist almost weekly, and I had a great time at the show last night. And I am not saying that these things I have listed are necessarily bad. But for anyone to insist that U2 "has never looked back even once" is to drink the Kool-Aid and bury one's head in the sand.

I'm sure all these historical facts will be dismissed as "negativity" by the more sycophantic types here (you know, those who post shirtless pics of Larry in the Band section and know what Edge's kid had for breakfast yesterday). And that's fine, to each their own and all that.

But others of us will still be around, pointing out that just because the masses are insisting that the emperor's clothes are beautiful doesn't prove he's actually wearing any.

So many good points made!

Offline Vox

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Re: U2's Joshua Tree tour: stuck in the past, or a new sense of purpose?
« Reply #17 on: May 15, 2017, 03:30:22 PM »
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Throughout most of their career, U2 has been a band that looked forward, not backward.  In fact, that was part of their expressed modus operandi for most of their career.   Perhaps that's why some people think a tour in 2017 to celebrate the Joshua Tree is a bit at odds with how they personally perceive the band.

If their music from 1987 truly speaks more to 2017 than their music of 2017 does, so be it.  That's what they're saying is their rationale for touring The Joshua Tree right now, anyway.  U2 has earned the right to do whatever they darn well please, so whatever the reason for this tour, more power to them.     

That being said, would I trade a 2017 Joshua Tree tour for a 2017 album of new music?  For me personally, the answer would be a definite yes.

I'd also like to point out that U2 has released two albums in the past 12.5 years.  They apparently don't have the new music to wield a tour behind at this point in their career.  Although I'd love to listen to new U2 music at a higher frequency, they've given me so much, they can do what they want.   

Offline lucas.homem

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Re: U2's Joshua Tree tour: stuck in the past, or a new sense of purpose?
« Reply #18 on: May 15, 2017, 03:30:38 PM »
Exile,

Your points are valid, and I do believe U2 has been a nostalgic band for a while, but there is something different now, because touring an old album is socially conceived as a "bad" thing (like giving up). Most people will say that there are different ways to look back at the past: one thing is to write songs about your youth, like SOI, or to come back to a specific "style" (like ATYCLB and HTDAAB), other is to sell again things that you've already sold (The Joshua Tree).

And this difference is important because, at some point, dialoguing with your past is inevitable. That is called 'memory'. What matters is how you approach that.

However, I disagree with whoever thinks looking at the past in the way they are doing now is a lame thing to do. As long as they keep releasing new music, they should do a lot of homage to the past.

Offline RunningtoStandstill (The League of Extraordinary BonoPeople)

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Re: U2's Joshua Tree tour: stuck in the past, or a new sense of purpose?
« Reply #19 on: May 15, 2017, 03:31:17 PM »
I suppose I should clarify.

U2 has never toured or released an album prior to SOI that is a DIRECT revisiting of their previous music. Putting out Best Ofs, releasing books/documentaries, none of that is taking their music backwards. HTDAAB and ATYCLB did not look back musically, though they were inspired by the band trying to get back to the "four men in a room" thing they'd gotten away from during the Zoo/Pop era. There's certainly been some moments of homage throughout tours...playing Boy songs on Vertigo is one example. But, heck, JT songs were played on Pop...I wouldn't call that being a nostalgia act, that's just playing previous songs. What people are referring to is the fact that U2 has never once done a "greatest hits" tour (360 was intended to support NLOTH, but got dragged out because of Bono's injury and lost its original intent...though I would not call it a greatest hits tour), and some seem to think the JT tour is the equivalent of it.

The point is, the tour is both nostalgic and not. It looks backwards and forwards at the same time. The songs are being given a new backdrop, not rehashing what they were about originally. It really wasn't until I&E that U2 really started seriously looking back at their music, both in its sound and its lyrical content. TJT tour seems to be the natural extension of what they were grappling with on SOI; coming to terms with your past and your age. U2 never did this. Sure, they re-released some albums and played old songs on tour, but heck, the band has said for years that "the best bits of the past we take with us...but what we're excited about is the future." To me TJTT unites past present and future in a way no old act has ever done, and that is why I don't see it as a nostalgia cash grab.

But of course I digress. The real thing here is the hypocrisy of people lamenting over the band finally taking a real look back at their history. If they had done it as often as you claim, I doubt there'd be much of an uproar. The fact is, they really haven't, and certainly not to this extent, and blaming them for doing it now is pretty stupid if you ask me.  ;D

Offline The Exile

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Re: U2's Joshua Tree tour: stuck in the past, or a new sense of purpose?
« Reply #20 on: May 15, 2017, 03:31:42 PM »
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Certainly they deserve to look back a bit, though.  They have earned it.  Every act has a career arc, and it's worth noting that U2 has remained relevant for so long that they have far beaten expectations (TJT2017 tour is the hottest summer tour according to Stubhub).  They can't be all innovative all the time; every act coasts on past glories a bit, and that's okay.  Also, while they are reminiscing, they have given us a new song, and hints at a new album!

So let's enjoy it while they are still playing, folks.

I agree. I'm just saying that enjoyment of this tour doesn't require turning a blind eye and insisting that U2 have always and ever been forward-looking and innovative.

Offline Kurukira

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Re: U2's Joshua Tree tour: stuck in the past, or a new sense of purpose?
« Reply #21 on: May 15, 2017, 05:33:55 PM »
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Not exactly sure what some of you want....

Do you want Bono trotting around in the leather outfit, cigar hanging outta his mouth, dancing in front of a TV to an industrial drum pattern?


Point well made, and just for the record, me wanting to see 60 year old Bono doing that?  Yeah...NO.  30 year old Bono, all the YES.

Offline aviastar

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U2's Joshua Tree tour: stuck in the past, or a new sense of purpose?
« Reply #22 on: May 15, 2017, 05:37:41 PM »
They are almost as old as my dad....I am impressed they get out of the house, dress up and hang out after 10pm.  At this stage in their career everything they do I appreciate.


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Offline fishcci

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Re: U2's Joshua Tree tour: stuck in the past, or a new sense of purpose?
« Reply #23 on: May 15, 2017, 06:25:09 PM »
Stuck in a moment they won't get out of....

Offline ZEROpartII

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Re: U2's Joshua Tree tour: stuck in the past, or a new sense of purpose?
« Reply #24 on: May 15, 2017, 06:43:58 PM »
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They are almost as old as my dad....I am impressed they get out of the house, dress up and hang out after 10pm.  At this stage in their career everything they do I appreciate.


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Offline shineinthesummernight

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Re: U2's Joshua Tree tour: stuck in the past, or a new sense of purpose?
« Reply #25 on: May 15, 2017, 08:21:08 PM »
Let's face it...many U2 fans are getting old, and we don't like it in ourselves any better than we do in them.  Are you as robust and innovative as you were at 20?  I'm not.  But hopefully with age comes a sense of wisdom, purpose, and a time for reflection.  If U2 want to step back and reflect a bit, I say that they've earned the right to do so.

Offline codeguy

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Re: U2's Joshua Tree tour: stuck in the past, or a new sense of purpose?
« Reply #26 on: May 15, 2017, 09:34:38 PM »
Why do younger generations think there is something wrong with looking back? As a young person in the 80's, I viewed older artists with reverence. If Queen played Bohemian Rhapsody in 1990, no-one went "Oh there they go again, playing up their past"

That's a relatively new thing....

I, for one, look forward to the McPhisto tour in 5 years, re-examining their greatest critical period from the perspective of the tired old pop star in platform shoes.

If Trump is in his second term, I hope he calls the white house every night. I don't care if people slander it as "Achtung, old man", it'll be brilliant.

Offline miryclay

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Re: U2's Joshua Tree tour: stuck in the past, or a new sense of purpose?
« Reply #27 on: May 15, 2017, 10:11:27 PM »
I hope they don't play AB on a tour. The creative turnaround for U2 is very high and I guess we have gotten used to these standards. After this, on with the next show.

Offline This Dave

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Re: U2's Joshua Tree tour: stuck in the past, or a new sense of purpose?
« Reply #28 on: May 16, 2017, 01:30:23 AM »
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I don't know if people are saying they can't do it or that fans won't enjoy it for what it is.  But it does mean they're stuck in the past.

I can't imagine that a U2 who was truly "burning up with new ideas" or "on fire" or whatever combustion-related metaphor Bono is throwing out this week would embark on this sort of tour. They'd be dying to play their new stuff. I think they're trying to buy time because it's not happening for them in the studio.

Offline This Dave

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Re: U2's Joshua Tree tour: stuck in the past, or a new sense of purpose?
« Reply #29 on: May 16, 2017, 01:33:59 AM »
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As a band that never once in 30 years looked back at their own music, I find it kind of insulting that the minute U2 decides to reflect on their past for a bit, the world leaps on them and says "you can't do that."

Revisionist history much?

Look, I was at last night's show and loved it for what it was, quibbles aside (and there are plenty). But to suggest that U2 has "never once in 30 years looked back at their own music" demonstrates not a moment of critical reflection on the band's own propaganda.

U2 started looking backwards before the PopMart stage was disassembled in Johannesburg:

- They re-recorded The Sweetest Thing, a B-side from a single from 11 years prior, and used for its cover old pics of the kid from War, and had as its B-sides old live recordings from the Boy album.

- They have put out 2 Best Of collections, as well as the U218 set.

- They released U2 by U2, a book that's a look back at their career up to that point.

- ATYCLB was explicitly touted as an attempt by the band to recover their prior greatness and "reapply" for that job.

- The Elevation Tour was characterized by Bono actually pretending that it was 1980 again, introducing the band and introducing their early songs by saying things like, "We're a band called U2, this is our first single."

- HTDAAB was hailed as a throwback to Boy, and its supporting tour reinforced that by showing the Boy album cover on the screen as they played songs from that album.

- They released an entire documentary about Achtung Baby and even went back to the studio where it was recorded and drove around Berlin in old Trabants (and what was funny was that, despite everything I've listed above, Bono insisted that FTSD was this utterly uncharacteristic look back!).

- The 360 Tour devolved from supporting their new album to dropping almost all those songs and playing loads of stuff from Achtung Baby.

- Their most recent album, SOI, is explicitly backward-looking. Almost every song is about Bono's past (the street he grew up on, the bombing that happened in that road he used to walk to school down, his mother, that one time they saw The Ramones, how influential The Clash were, etc.).

- The i+e Tour was replete with harkenings back to the past (Bono as a teen playing guitar in his room, etc.).

- And now we are asked to believe that this Joshua Tree 2.0 Tour is NOT exactly what anyone with any critical faculties sees it to blatantly be, namely, a nostalgic look back at their former glories?

Again, I have loved U2 since 1983, I listen to my SOI playlist almost weekly, and I had a great time at the show last night. And I am not saying that these things I have listed are necessarily bad. But for anyone to insist that U2 "has never looked back even once" is to drink the Kool-Aid and bury one's head in the sand.

I'm sure all these historical facts will be dismissed as "negativity" by the more sycophantic types here (you know, those who post shirtless pics of Larry in the Band section and know what Edge's kid had for breakfast yesterday). And that's fine, to each their own and all that.

But others of us will still be around, pointing out that just because the masses are insisting that the emperor's clothes are beautiful doesn't prove he's actually wearing any.

Yeah, but besides that.