“I like get­ting lost in B.C.”

Why U2 is launch­ing its 30th an­niver­sary Joshua Tree tour in Van­cou­ver

The Hamilton Spectator - - A & E - DAVID FRIEND

TORONTO — Le­gendary rock­ers U2 have clearly found what they’re look­ing for in Van­cou­ver.

The famed Ir­ish band is draw­ing plenty of lo­cal at­ten­tion with a re­turn to the city for the launch of the 30th an­niver­sary “Joshua Tree” tour on Friday.

It’s the sec­ond time they’ve picked Vancity as the start­ing mark for a tour — it was al­most ex­actly two years ago that they kicked off sup­port for the al­bum “Songs of In­no­cence” in the B.C. city. They also chose Van­cou­ver as a base for re­hearsals in 2005 be­fore em­bark­ing on the “Ver­tigo” tour.

Un­like past shows, the band is per­form­ing its 1987 al­bum “The Joshua Tree” in its en­tirety each night. That in­cludes run­ning through favourites like “With or With­out You” and “Where the Streets Have No Name,” as well as per­form­ing “Red Hill Min­ing Town” for the first time live.

So­cial me­dia has been flooded with Van­cou­verites rev­el­ling in the band’s ar­rival to the city where they’ve been re­hears­ing since ear­lier this month. Some fans have posted clips from out­side the BC Place sta­dium where echoes of the songs could be heard through the walls.

Af­ter play­ing Van­cou­ver, the band heads south for a batch of U.S. tour dates be­fore hit­ting Toronto on June 23.

Here’s five things about the tour and the band’s Cana­dian con­nec­tions:

1. Huge de­mand: While U2 packs sta­di­ums on ev­ery tour, it’s shock­ing to con­sider they orig­i­nally planned to mark the highly an­tic­i­pated “Joshua Tree” an­niver­sary with a very short run of dates. Bono re­cently told BBC Ra­dio 2 that he in­tended to per­form “three, four or five” shows to hon­our the oc­ca­sion. In­stead, the tour bal­looned to 33 shows cov­er­ing North Amer­ica and Europe.

2. Timely com­men­tary: Rarely has U2 shied away from a po­lit­i­cal state­ment and this tour will be no ex­cep­tion. The band has li­censed two po­ems by Cana­dian par­lia­men­tary poet lau­re­ate Ge­orge El­liott Clarke to ap­pear as pro­jec­tions be­fore ev­ery show. “Kad­dish for Leonard Co­hen” was writ­ten as a trib­ute to the late Mon­treal song­writer, while “Ain’t You Scared of the Sa­cred” ad­dresses the Que­bec City mosque shoot­ing in Jan­uary that left six peo­ple dead.

3. Love for Canada: The band’s re­turn to Van­cou­ver co­in­cides with Canada’s year­long sesqui­cen­ten­nial cel­e­bra­tion. Bono fa­mously hon­oured the coun­try dur­ing a 2003 Lib­eral con­ven­tion for in­com­ing prime min­is­ter Paul Martin by say­ing, “I be­lieve the world needs more Canada.” Since then, vari­a­tions of the rocker’s trib­ute have been re­peated by other fa­mous ad­mir­ers, in­clud­ing for­mer U.S. pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

4. Why Van­cou­ver?: Find­ing rea­sons to ex­tend their vis­its to the city are easy for Bono and his crew. In 2015, the singer told Van­cou­ver ra­dio sta­tion Rock 101 that Van­cou­ver of­fered a wel­com­ing vibe that helped the band over­come its pre-tour in­se­cu­ri­ties.

“We al­ways had a thing with Canada in gen­eral, but Van­cou­ver has been very, very wel­com­ing of us at a time when we we’re very frag­ile,” he said. “Be­cause you get quite vul­ner­a­ble when you are pre­par­ing to launch a tour. And I know that sounds odd, but there is a level of nau­sea, and sort of, you feel ill in the pit in your stom­ach. It’s a re­ally anx­ious time ... Here in this city we feel very free. And I like to get out of the city and I go wan­der­ing, I go cy­cling, I get lost around here, and I like get­ting lost in B.C.”

5. Pub­lic sight­ings: Sev­eral fans spot­ted Bono on his nu­mer­ous out­ings through­out the city. He was seen tak­ing a ferry ride on False Creek and wind­ing down at comfy Gas­town cock­tail bar the Di­a­mond.

JONATHAN HAYWARD, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Le­gendary rock­ers U2 have clearly found what they’re look­ing for in Van­cou­ver. The band has re­turned to the city for the launch of the 30th an­niver­sary "Joshua Tree" tour on Friday.

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