U2 concert at Twickenham: 9th July 2017   1 comment

Even before their famous Live Aid performance 32 years ago I have enjoyed listening to Irish rockers U2. As well as appreciating their stirring music I like their crusading style and their attempts to tackle, both musically and practically, issues such as racism, poverty, human rights and the refugee crisis. I know this irritates some people who consider rich rock stars campaigning for the disadvantaged to be hypocritical, but I feel that the airing of these matters with a wider audience can only be of value.

Thirty years on from the release of the iconic ‘The Joshua Tree’ the band are touring to commemorate their most successful album. Originally the only date for the Twickenham Stadium (the home of English Rugby) was 8th July. I spent a morning trying and failing to get tickets but when they announced there would be a second date on the 9th I was able to get four tickets.

Originally we planned to stay with Margaret’s daughter Anita and her husband John in Essex and travel to Twickenham with them and return to Essex that night before travelling on to see other people. Unfortunately for a variety of reasons Margaret was unable to go, so my brother Simon came down from Derby to take her ticket and we met John and Anita there.

We arrived in good time at the stadium. We had good seats allowing a clear view of the stage. The huge video wall, 200 long and 45 ft high dominated the arena and dwarfed the performers.


Noel Gallagher and The High Flying Birds opened. I saw them at the Isle of Wight Festival in 2012, then they played new material, the only acknowledgement of the Oasis days was playing ‘Wonderwall’ for the encore.


On this occasion they included four or five Oasis numbers, including ‘Champagne Supernova’ and ‘Wonderwall’ and concluded with ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ which in view of recent events, Gallagher dedicated to his hometown of Manchester. This song that had everyone in the auditorium on their feet and singing the lyrics.


It wasn’t long until U2 started their set. To Larry Mullen’s rousing drum intro to ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ The Edge walked down the catwalk, getting a rapturous reception ….


…. followed by bassist Adam Clayton and finally by Bono. The band launched into their famous 1983 hit ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’. The band have always been at pains to state that this is not a IRA sympathiser’s song and reject the call to the republican cause with ‘But I won’t heed the battle call, it puts my back up, puts my back up against the wall’. The effect on the audience was electric, everyone was on their feet, waving arms and singing along.


The band continues on the small stage with older songs like ‘Under a Blood Red Sky’ before moving to the main stage.


Some pictures of the band before the daylight faded: Bono and Adam Clayton ….


…. The Edge ….


…. and drummer Larry Mullen Jr.


One of their most celebrated of songs, the 1984 hit ‘Pride in the Name of Love’, a testimony to the life and death of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, was played whilst an extract from his famous ‘I have a dream’ speech rolled by on the video screen behind them.


As the light started to fade the whole video screen was fired up. Simon, who knows about these things, explained that this was possibly the largest and highest resolution screen in the world at a cost of about £1,000,000.


The theme of the Joshua Tree album is their experiences of the USA. Opening numbers such as ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’, ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ and ‘With Or Without You’ were played against stunning moving images of the American west ….


…. or close up images of a Joshua Tree.


Of course many images of Joshua Trees, those stark and beautiful icons of the Mojave Desert, appeared on the screen ….


…. in a variety of colours!


Other images included this huge red moon, but one of my favourite numbers, the celebrated ‘Bullet The Blue Sky’, a tirade against USA military infiltration of El Salvador and Nicaragua in the 80s, was played against images of American citizens of all ages, races, and classes simply putting on and taking off a tin helmet.


Bono was at pains to thank the producer of ‘The Joshua Tree’, ex Roxy Music star Brian Eno, without whom he declared there would be no album. Brian Eno is a great unsung hero of modern music and his album ‘Here Comes The Warm Jets’ along with ‘The Joshua Tree’ would be in my top 50 albums of all time. As the show progressed they played the less well know songs from the album, such as ‘Exit’, Bono’s attempt to get inside the mind of a serial killer. The harsh, distorted sound of Edge’s guitar set against black and white, blurred and jumbled imagery was particularly effective.


With ‘The Joshua Tree’ played from beginning to end the band took a short break and returned for 45 minutes of encores. They also returned to their campaigning style and to the tune of ‘Beautiful Day’ showed the story of a girl from Syria who dreams of being a lawyer but is instead imprisoned inside a refugee camp in Jordan.


In a great piece of showmanship a giant portrait of the girl was unfolded and passed across the heads of the crowd ….


…. whilst the band played on under her enormously magnified gaze.


The encores continued with such classics as ‘Elevation and ‘Ultraviolet’ but by now it was clear that Bono was losing his voice, and was singing out of tune, the only downside to an otherwise perfect concert.


The video screen continued to amaze whether it showed a riot of colour ….


…. or separate images merged together of the band playing.


Of course there was the inevitable ‘carefully vetted yet randomly selected’ member of the audience invited up to dance ….


…. whilst Bono filmed her and video grabs were posted on the screen.


Now fully dark the concert venue just glowed with the light of the screen.


During the latter songs such as the moving and poignant ‘One’ U2 promoted the rights of women ….


…. and the effects of poverty on women’s lives.


The age of people holding up lighters during quiet songs is over, ‘One’ was played out to a backdrop of thousands of mobile phones being waved in the air.


U2 chose to end the show with an unreleased song ‘The Little Things That Give You Away’. It had been a great show, one of the best, marred only by Bono losing his voice towards the end, the volume being little bit too high for comfort and the acoustics of the stadium preventing me from hearing announcements clearly.

Getting back wasn’t too difficult in spite of a section of the M3 being closed and I was home by 0045.

When I retired I said that seeing Bruce Springsteen, Muse, Bob Dylan and U2 were on my ‘bucket list’. Now I have seen all four. The Dylan concert I think was the worst, as it had no emotional impact. It’s hard to judge which of the remaining three I enjoyed the most, but this U2 concert was, as this extended post shows, the most spectacular.

Posted July 11, 2017 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,

One response to “U2 concert at Twickenham: 9th July 2017

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Great blog, Ian. You need to add to your bucket list….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: