A legendary band, touring on an anniversary of a landmark record, could raise either undeniable excitement or the sense of mercenary greed. U2, of any band now active on the planet, comes the closest to justifying the hype for a 30th anniversary tour of The Joshua Tree — a generation-defining record with songs that will be hummed and recognized for decades to come, and surely known long after the band is no longer active or perhaps even remembered.
With Joshua Tree comprising the meat of the show’s sandwich, the opening and closing sets were neatly divided — before Joshua Tree, and post-Joshua Tree. With the opening set, Larry Mullen, Jr. walked out unhurriedly onto a bare stage in the midst of the audience to take his place at the drum kit, where the quartet played four songs without video disruptions. With Mullen’s drumbeats sounding out righteous outrage, “New Year’s Day” and “Sunday Bloody Sunday” came unmoored from their initial time and place in strife-ridden Ireland, to become cries against the carnage of 21st century violence, both at home and abroad.