Rattle & Trump: U2 weigh in on American presidential election
U2 have broken their silence with a scorching headline performance as part of the two-day iHeartRadio Music Festival at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena. Bono’s boys joining on a genre-spinning bill with Drake, Sia, Twenty Øne Pilots and punk legend Billy Idol with Miley Cyrus.
The iHeartRadio Music Festival appearance marks U2’s first public show since they wrapped up their sold-out iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE tour in Paris in December 2015.
Achtung Donald, here’s Bono!
Tonight is more than just show time for the band. U2 are celebrating their 40th birthday this very weekend – a near biblical age for a rock band and especially for one that suffers Peter Pan syndrome.
All the more reason to expect something different.
The four band members take the stage shortly after 11.40pm with a rousing trio of high-octane rockers: Desire, Vertigo and Elevation before a selection of some of their biggest anthems.
Desire, their rarely played 1988 Bo Didley-influenced single, is performed as the “Hollywood Remix” version.
Always one to make grand statements, the band doesn’t miss the opportunity to weigh in on the current American presidential elections with a loud and clear stab at polarising Republican candidate, Donald Trump.
We remember that peace is not just the absence of violence. Peace is love organised. So get out and vote, whoever you’re voting for. – Bono to the crowd during the iHeartRadio Music Festival 23 September 2016
Images of Donald Trump flicker on the video backdrop during the final chorus. Bono is giving the song’s lyrics new meaning, “He’s a preacher stealing hearts at a traveling show – for the love or money?”.
“Trump Dollars” rain on the audience, recalling memories of U2’s legendary 1992 Zoo TV Outside Broadcast tour when U2 gave George Bush Snr’s campaign team a tough time (watch the video further down).
Back in Las Vegas, the band shifts up a notch.
“The American Dream is dead,” bellows an edited Donald Trump from the video screen with Bono asking the audience, “Are you ready to gamble the American Dream?“
Back to Trump: “What do you have to lose?“.
Bono counters, “What do you have to lose? Everything!”
An instant approval from the audience by way of a massive roar and applause. Like it or loathe it: Message sent. Connection made. Classic U2 – they still got it.
They still haven’t found what they’re looking for
The show continues less politically charged. Instead the band let the music do the talking.
U2 pulls out their anthems during the second part of the set. The entire arena has gotten off their seats to sing along; Beautiful Day, Pride (In The Name Of Love), One, Every Breaking Wave and a rousing and poignant finale with the performance of I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.
Poignant in that a band in their 40th year of existence is still hungry and determined to be relevant.
Poignant in that a band in their 40th year of existence is still together with the same line-up.
Bono introduces tonight’s final song. He explains how the band met for the first time in Larry Mullen’s parent’s kitchen this very weekend, 40 years ago.
With the likely exception of Bono himself, it’s fair to assume the wide-eyed teenagers in that Dublin kitchen could have never imagined U2’s longevity and success.
One of the boys that gathered in the kitchen on that fateful Saturday on 25 September 1976 was Ivan McCormick. He would capture rock history by making a short entry of the occasion in his diary:
Watched TV. Joined a pop group with friends. Had a great day. – Ivan McCormick
Ivan McCormick never made a second rehearsal. He left the group who would call themselves The Hype and Feedback before settling on U2 to pursue a band with his brother Neil. The two parallel band stories of insane success and glorious failure are told in the 2011 comedy blockbuster Killing Bono.
Ivan McCormick recalls those early days and ambitions: “It was absurd teenage dreams to think about conquering the world. (…) But let’s face it – teenagers are absurd, they are dreamers and their dreams are rock ‘n’ roll dreams.“
40 years on and tonight’s setlist was solid, but it didn’t break new ground for the band. And it probably wasn’t the right occasion for something new.
Fans hoping for a glimpse of a new song or a setlist a little more, um, “on the edge” [oh, the pun!] may have left slightly disappointed.
The last echoed guitar notes ring out of The Edge’s amp, but band and fans have already set their minds on what’s next to be written into U2’s unrivalled history.
It was absurd teenage dreams to think about conquering the world. (…) But let’s face it – teenagers are absurd, they are dreamers and their dreams are rock ‘n’ roll dreams.– Ivan McCormick (Attended U2’s first band rehearsal)
Happy 40th anniversary to U2 from U2
Date: 23 September 2016
Venue: T-Mobile Arena
City: Las Vegas, USA
Desire (The Hollywood Remix)
Beautiful Day (incl. a verse of Coldplay’s Yellow)
Pride (In the name of Love)
Every Breaking Wave
I still haven’t found what I’m looking for
New album, new tour. Yes, but …
When U2 delivered Songs of Innocence to every working iPhone after a five-year album gap in 2014, the band promised a quicker follow-up. The project had already been given a title: Songs of Experience.
Bono, The Edge Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. have been working hard on Songs of Experience since coming off the road from last December.
Songs of Experience: Coming in 2017
During an interview with iHeartRadio, Bono admitted that an early 2017 release is more likely than the previously rumoured release date for “end of 2016”. The band has apparently 15-20 new songs which they aim to edit down to around 10 for the album.
Described by Bono as being stronger than anything on their 1983 breakthrough album War, this statement was nullified by his best mate and band advisor, Gavin Friday. According to Friday, the new songs are great but an entirely different beast than War.
Back on the road in 2017 and 2018
U2 fan Joe Ahorro got the chance to speak with U2’s life-long sound engineer, Joe O’Herlihy who confirmed the new tour.
It appears that U2 will kick-off with North American dates in spring 2017 and head down-under for an Australia leg in “early 2018”. It will be the first time in eight years that U2 play Australia.
This matches previous rumours that suggested a U2 tickets pre-sale to go live later this year, 2016. While this hasn’t been confirmed, it would work for North American dates in 2017.
Spoke to Joe O’herly. New rumour alert. Says they’ll return here next year. North America in the Spring. Australia early 2018.
— Joe Ahorro (@joe_ahorro) September 24, 2016
Fans quickly started speculating about possible European dates for summer 2017 and South America during winter 2017. We have our fingers crossed but none of these are confirmed and are purely speculations.
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Watch highlights from U2’s infamous 1992 – 1993 Zoo TV and Zooropa tour when the band took on US President George Bush Snr.