Author Topic: Q Magazine Summer 2017: Branching Out (JT Tour Review)  (Read 1966 times)

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Offline jick

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Q Magazine Summer 2017: Branching Out (JT Tour Review)
« on: June 06, 2017, 06:12:10 PM »
BRANCHING OUT
Irish Rockers' Classic LP, The Joshua Tree, Comes Alive Again In 2017.
****

You don’t see a close-up
of Bono until 40
minutes into the start
of the current U2 show
that revisits The
Joshua Tree. It’s a conscious act, a
reminder that in the original days of
touring the 1987 album, there were
neither video screens nor digital
fizz-bombs and gewgaws. Indeed,
the history lesson goes back further
as the band members firstly instal
themselves on the little “B” stage out
front. They stand cheek-by-jowl,
a rock’n’roll formation in utility black,
dispatching Sunday Bloody Sunday,
New Year’s Day and those early
political bangers.

“In some ways it’s chronological,”
Edge explains later. “It’s about what
we were doing leading up to that
album. And a lot of it was political.
Music spoke about the times and what
was going on in the culture, in a way
that it sort of isn’t now. Maybe in
hip-hop there’s a bit more. In
rock’n’roll it’s like, ‘Where’s the
comment? Where’s the response?’”

The U2 response is to retool their
breakthrough release and to seek out
the analogues between it and the
anxious landscape of 2017 – cranky
leaders, the dirt-poor and many
civilians damaged in foreign policy
crossfire. So once their early résumé
has been delivered, they assume the
main stage for a sequential
performance of a record that was
nearly called The Two Americas.

The screen flashes crimson for
the pealing introduction to Where
The Streets Have No Name and this
famously front-heavy record
commences. The expansive
dimensions of this backdrop
(200ft x 45ft, over 1000 video tiles)
are enhanced by the removal of the PA
system – raised and cantilevered above
the action. It is suitably vast, like
Anton Corbijn’s panoramic shots for
the album cover, a stadium-wide,
letterbox vista. The Dutch artistphotographer
has created films that
return us to the American deserts, and
so we get spectacularly lost again in
Death Valley, the Mojave and Zabriskie
Point. The expression of With Or
Without You is epic, akin to a John
Ford film such as The Searchers.

The much-delayed Bono close-up
arrives during Bullet The Blue Sky, a
moment that appreciates how Ronald
Reagan’s America has been superseded
by a new villain in the White House.
Edge summons up maximum Hendrix
overload and Larry Mullen Jr’s snare
has a remorseless rattle. Behind them
on the screen, a variety of America’s
ethnic minorities and warrior moms
are putting on army helmets,
preparing for action.

Side Two of the album is bereft of
hits, but Red Hill Mining Town is a
reminder that it was once a contender
for the initial single release. In
Vancouver, they play it live for the first
time. Bono manages an easier way
around the strangulated high notes,
while the brass of The Arklow Silver
Band that was lost in the album mix
has been revived. It calls to mind
memories of colliery bands,
community and the Miners’ Strike,
the lyrical origins of the song.

The singer recreates his huckster
persona for Exit. He has LOVE and
HATE on his knuckles and a preacher
hat borrowed from Robert Mitchum
in The Night Of The Hunter. He’s
suggesting that entire nations, like
rock audiences, can be manipulated
if charisma can carry it off. Bono
turns into a TV evangelist and asks
us to touch the screen. Thousands
of hands shoot up.

Two days later, U2 are
soundchecking at the
CenturyLink Field in
Seattle. They want to
bring a snatch of Simon
& Garfunkel’s America into the early
section of the set, a prelude to Pride.
They labour over the details, causing
Bono to chide his guitarist pal. “He’s
very fussy. It’s the Presbyterian in
him.” The bustle continues around the
sound desk as the auxiliary brains of
the team are tweaking the production:
audio director Joe O’Herlihy, show
designer Willie Williams, plus Gavin
Friday, Bono’s oldest mate and
creative consigliere.

There’s a rehearsal of The Little
Things That Give You Away, the only
new song in the set, premiered in
Vancouver. “It’s already on the
interweb,” Bono mutters. Edge
sketches out the piano chords of this
ballad, while Adam Clayton nods, an
image of ease in a striped frockcoat
and metallic purple bass.

Moments after, Bono and Edge sit
down to talk about the tone of the
opening night. It may not be the most
feverish of U2 tours, more a process of
revved-up reflection. “I thought that
people were listening in an intensive
way that they hadn’t for a few tours,”
Edge figures. “Maybe ever, actually. So
that was certainly noteworthy.”

Seattle is the first U2 gig in America
under the new US administration. An
attractive task? “I really want people to
feel… The American Idea,” Bono says.
“I’m always reminding myself that
America is not just a country, it’s an
idea. And we’ve all got a stake in that
idea succeeding and there will be a lot
of people who voted for Trump
coming to our shows. They are
welcome – he is not. Not that he’s
clamouring to get in.”

Bono talks about his February
meeting with US Vice President Mike
Pence in Munich, where he lobbied for
continued Aids relief abroad. “Friends
fell out with me over meeting Pence.
And I said, ‘It’s kinda my job, y’know?’
Working with people that you don’t
look good in a photograph with. It’s
a small price to pay.” He also looks
forward to touring with Noel Gallagher
(“he’s the songster”) and raves about
the “unbelievable” new album by
Kendrick Lamar, on which he features
as a guest vocalist.

During the soundcheck, it
transpired that Miss Sarajevo has been
renamed Miss Syria. This is surely a
response to the video from French
artist JR that accompanies it. It
highlights the plight of Oimaima, a
15-year-old girl in the Zaatari refugee
camp in Jordan. The singer concurs.

In the early moments of the Seattle
concert, Paul Simon’s winsome tune is
woven into the set, a search for the
mythic America. Bono is charming and
cajoling the citizens, name-checking
Lincoln and Kennedy. Just before Exit,
the screen shows part of a 1958
episode of a TV Western series called
Trackdown. A conman called Walter
Trump tells the townsfolk that they
need to build a wall. Cue Bono and
his snake oil routine.

Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder adds a
haunting vocal to Mothers Of The
Disappeared. There’s another gesture
to the reactionaries when Ultraviolet
(Light My Way) gets a US Mother’s
Day rendition, accompanied by images
of female revolutionaries and groundbreakers,
including the suffragettes,
Rosa Parks, Michelle Obama, p****
Riot and Angela Davis. “They persisted
and resisted,” Bono maintains.

It’s not a tour without provocation
and not a simple nostalgia tour either.
It’s a questing one. In the postsoundcheck
conversation, Bono had
mused about the value of taking a
30-year-old album out again. He
sang a line from In God’s Country
by way of explanation: “We need
new dreams tonight.”

“The songs feel like they were
written for this moment. It’s sort of
the theme of the Joshua Tree tour,”
he says. “We need some new ideas.
I always think of Bob Dylan on
Brownsville Girl – in the middle of the
song he just goes, ‘If there’s an original
idea out there, I could use it right now.’
That’s the way I feel – I think everyone
feels like that right now. So I think, ‘We
need new dreams tonight’ is a theme.”

-STUART BAILIE



Offline Johnny Feathers

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Re: Q Magazine Summer 2017: Branching Out (JT Tour Review)
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2017, 07:02:46 AM »
Nice write-up.  Thanks for posting.

Offline DisgruntledSherpa

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Re: Q Magazine Summer 2017: Branching Out (JT Tour Review)
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2017, 01:34:23 PM »
Wait. Does Bono think America is an idea?

Offline Zoomerang77

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Re: Q Magazine Summer 2017: Branching Out (JT Tour Review)
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2017, 03:05:01 PM »
I am staggered that the article censors "p****" when naming "p**** Riot".  Prudish much? Just pretend they're referring to a cuddly feline and get over it people.

Offline Pouakai

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Re: Q Magazine Summer 2017: Branching Out (JT Tour Review)
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2017, 03:14:02 PM »
Is it definitely the article and not the forum doing it?

Offline ZEROpartII

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Re: Q Magazine Summer 2017: Branching Out (JT Tour Review)
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2017, 03:14:28 PM »
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I am staggered that the article censors "p****" when naming "p**** Riot".  Prudish much? Just pretend they're referring to a cuddly feline and get over it people.

pasting it into the forum does it automatically.  Everything except ass gets that treatment in the forum.  Obscure terms still aren't censored.