Walkabout: U2 Bring Experience + Innocence To New Jersey

by Hannah Means Shannon

Photo credits to Russell Shannon

Music is such a massive part of popular culture, whether its youtube sensations or mega-bands that it would be hard to extricate just how much influence music has had on my own pop culture consumption, especially since it goes back as far, if not further than the role of comics, film, and TV in my life. I’m taking a “Walkabout” by bringing this music experience up on Comicon.com.

Last summer, I went to the 25th Anniversary Joshua Tree Tour, the first anniversary tour I’ve been old enough to attend and appreciate properly, since “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” was the first music video I ever saw, aired on MTV. The Anniversary Tour was epic in just about every imaginable way, with huge use of LED screens to project images that made the entire extra-long concert feel like it was set within a music video, but the retrospective aspect really hit home for longtime fans—it did feel like a milestone for the band.

This year, U2 are on the Experience + Innocence Tour, taking its name from two recent albums, Songs of Innocence, and Songs of Experience, and the entire arrangement of the show is very different than last year’s Anniversary event. The set-up and stage design are, in many ways, much smaller scale, the sense of interacting with the band is more pronounced. This may be the most “human” I’ve ever seen the band in the dozen or so concerts I’ve attended over many years. Part of that might have been due to the smaller venue where I saw them perform in New Jersey last weekend, at the Prudential Center, where you were bound to feel closer to the band than somewhere massive like Giants Stadium.

But the stage set-up also meant that the band played at both ends of the floor, as well as along a causeway that encouraged them to go mobile, as well as at two far-flung points in the crowd. The band was constantly in motion. That’s not to say they threw off their traditional obsession with new technology to be used in big concerts. The causeway had mobile screens above it, semi-permeable, so that band members, particularly Bono, could appear between the screens as if moving within a digital landscape, video-game like in quality.

The music, and the message, were still the main focus of the concert, but it was not without spectacle. The biggest surprise for me, however, was that Bono reprised the role of Mephisto, which we fans haven’t seen in quite some time, to denounce the practice of putting children in cages and to suggest, once more, that dark impulses and influences like to hide in plain sight. The band also didn’t flinch from bringing up the tragic mass-shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, which had happened only one day beforehand, and dedicated a performance of “One” to those slain and to their families.

Here’s a walk through the concert via some pretty ace photography courtesy of Russell Shannon:

 

If you’re interested in the set list on June 29th, 2018 it was:

  • “Love is All We Have Left”
  • “The Blackout”
  • “Lights of Home”
  • “I Will Follow”
  • “All Because of You”
  • “Beautiful Day”
  • “The Ocean”
  • “Iris (Hold Me Close)”
  • “Cedarwood Road”
  • “Sunday Bloody Sunday”
  • “Until the End of the World”
  • “Elevation”
  • “Vertigo”
  • “Desire”
  • “Acrobat”
  • “You’re the Best Thing About Me”
  • “Staring at the Sun”
  • “Pride (In the Name of Love)”
  • “Get Out of Your Own Way”
  • “American Soul”
  • “City of Blinding Lights”
  • “One”
  • “Love is Bigger Than Anything in Its Way”
  • “13 (There is a Light)”

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