Down and looking at out, in 1987 they delivered out-and-out rock album Electric and sparked off a revolution.
Moments before U2 took to the stage for the second night of their Joshua Tree 30 tour in the US (May 14, 2017), Bono sat down to talk about his band’s 1987 album.
You should be touring the new album, Songs Of Experience, but instead you’re about to perform songs from The Joshua Tree which are thirty years old. Bono: The world changed! Songs that we wrote in the first half of 2016 suddenly didn’t seem relevant in the light of the political upheaval last year. But these songs from 1987 took on a new relevance. So we’re doing this Joshua Tree 30 tour while we get ready to finish the new album.
What is it about The Joshua Tree songs that make them so relevant today in 2017?
Just look back to what we were singing in 1987 [he begins to sing from In God’s Country]: ‘Desert Sky, dream beneath a desert sky/The rivers run but soon run dry, we need new dreams tonight.’ Those songs now sound like they were written for this very moment. We really do need new dreams tonight! This is the way I feel now; the way I think everyone feels with all that is going on. If there’s an original idea out there we sure could use it. I think both the political left and right are a little stuck for solutions now.
What was the response to the songs on the opening night, in Vancouver?
There’s this new realisation playing these songs again, that after thirty years they don’t belong to us any more. They belong to the people who went through stuff when they heard them first. The audience reaction is very different this time. People are possibly remembering who they were when they first heard them.
Although you play the album track by track during the show, you start off by playing some songs that were released before The Joshua Tree. Why is that? We wanted to show people how we got to The Joshua Tree. So we play a few songs from the War album and also The Unforgettable Fire album – songs such as Sunday Bloody Sunday, New Year’s Day and Pride.
The original songs contained lyrics which were critical of the then US Republican president, Ronald Reagan. Do they work the same way this time with president Donald Trump?
It is my belief that there has been a hostile takeover of the Republican party – the party of Lincoln – by Donald Trump. While the people who voted for Trump are very welcome at the shows, the President himself is not. BB
“These [Joshua Tree] songs now sound like they were written for this very moment.”