U2 Salutes Chris Cornell, Plays ‘The Joshua Tree’ Retrospective at Pasadena’s Rose Bowl

When U2 released “The Joshua Tree” in 1987, it’s doubtful that Bono would have envisioned the monumental impact that the album would have on an entire generation of musicians and fans. The album was the 5th release from the band at the time and a piece of work that presented a reflection of what they had viewed as America’s true self. Its messages that criticized the social climate during that period have become timeless, especially in the current sociopolitical climate that has enveloped the country today. With the album reaching such a historical milestone, U2 decided that the only way to commemorate such an occasion would be to provide fans, new and old, with an experience that celebrates the importance of “The Joshua Tree” and leave a lasting impression that would ultimately continue through several more decades. The result is “The Joshua Tree Tour,” which allows for fans to experience the album in its entirety and relive one of the band’s most beloved albums. Los Angeles received its first of two shows on May 20 at Pasadena’s famed Rose Bowl.

While fans were expecting to simply hear “The Joshua Tree” from front to back, they were treated to a show that took chances and went in a slightly unconventional route. Before delving into the main performance itself, Bono and the rest of the band made up of The Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen Jr. took the chance to provide fans with some cuts off of albums pre-and-post “The Joshua Tree.”

On a smaller stage which was surrounded by screaming fans, U2 took to performing several songs such as “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” “New Year’s Day,” and “Pride (In the Name of Love)” to  give fans a slight warm-up to the main course.

Once the band had performed their fill, Bono and the boys took to the main stage which spanned over 200 feet and featured a backdrop of a LED screen of the same length and towered over U2 as they took their places on stage. As they began to play the beginning of the intro track “Where the Streets Have No Name,” there was truly a wave of emotion that began to swell over the crowd. The fans’ roars grew louder as the group continued through “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and “With or Without You.”

During the performance, the enormous LED backdrop depicted images of Joshua Tree itself and flashed through images of the band throughout the years, most notably showing those that accompanied the release of the album those many years ago. It a sense, fans were given the illusion that they were truly at Joshua Tree experiencing the landscape that had inspired the name of the album.

With the recent passing of Soundgarden vocalist, Chris Cornell, Bono took the chance to pay homage to his late friend by performing “Running to Stand Still” which left fans in awe and many with tears in their eyes. As they continued and reached the end of their journey through “The Joshua Tree,” it was evident that U2 was still on top of their game despite the many years that the band has endured together. From Bono’s energetic trips up and down the large stage and banter with the crowd to The Edge’s masterful manipulation of his guitar, there were no signs that U2 had lost its touch.

Once “The Joshua Tree” reached its conclusion, the ensemble brought an encore to the crowd that explored some of the band’s hits post-“The Joshua Tree.” U2 touched on hits such as “Beautiful Day” and “City of Stars.” During their performance of “Ultraviolet (Light My Way),” Bono stated that its performance would be a dedication to all women around the world, past and present, and featured the likes of Michelle Obama and Hilary Clinton on the backdrop behind them. U2 closed the night with a performance of “Miss Sarajevo” “One,” and lastly “The Little Things That Give You Away.”

At the show’s conclusion, the sentiments left on the Rose Bowl stage were those of heavy nostalgia and awe. In many ways, there was nothing left for fans to ask for, as U2 had given everyone what they had wanted and more.

U2 took fans to the sands of “The Joshua Tree” at L.A.’s Rose Bowl Stadium on May 20.