Review by Bobby Green
I remember the first time I went to see U2 back in 1987 at Wembley Stadium. I was a teenage boy, son of an Irish immigrant parent who had left Ireland in the 6o’s and moved to London where she met my father whilst selling the catholic herald. They fell in love and are still very much in love to this day.
Growing up in London there was always music playing in the house and my first experiences of being brought out to see music being played live were Foster and Allen, Johnny Cash and The Dubliners. A fine grounding I’m sure you’ll agree, and by the age of 16 (as I was in 1987) I had already started going to gigs. Stump being the first gig of an endless flow of live experiences I would indulge myself with over the years.
Like any normal 16 year old, music was the most important thing in my life, well.. music and football, the musical landscape was so very different back in 1987 and it was just about to go into technicolour. Riding that wave were bands from America that always seemed to be bigger than bands from Europe and it always seemed like there was something magical about them, but cutting through all of this were a band closer to home, a band from Ireland, and they were on the cusp of taking over the world. For all of us children of Irish heritage going to Cardinal Wiseman Catholic High School in East London, U2 were such an important band. Some of us were cool enough to own copies of The Unforgettable Fire / War / October and Boy or have big brothers or cousins who had copies, and they’d let us put them on our TDK C90’s. But when The Joshua Tree came out…. Christ on a bike things changed. No longer were we thinking that U2 could make it big, with The Joshua Tree we now knew that we were part of something special, and for the people who weren’t necessarily U2 fans and were listening to them for the first time, they too were also experiencing something special. The Joshua Tree is undoubtedly a special album, and U2 were bringing the tour to Wembley Stadium, the home of football.
Thirty years have now passed, I’m back home living in Ireland, and U2 have decided to tour The Joshua Tree in all its glory so the hundreds of thousands of people worldwide who have bought tickets can listen to these four lads from Dublin play those songs live again. We could re live our memories of this album, or like so many other fans, they could experience it for the 1st time, they could experience The Joshua Tree album, a piece of music that for many had an A and B side with so many memories of equal measure for either side. To not give respect to this or any part of this experience would do the whole album an injustice. Not only that but for many fans these quieter moments within the glory are where they found themselves on many a night at home alone, watching the spinning of the magical piece of black vinyl rotating at 33rpm bringing hopes and dreams and stories of far away into their lives. This was the magic of the LP record, the art form the shuffle generation are missing out on.
I’m blessed to have had these memories, these experiences with albums, these works of art fuelled my youth and shaped my opinions. These formats of musical delivery gave me memories that have both lifted and scarred my heart.
To then immerse myself once again in those memories at Croke Park with 80 thousand others was a magical experience, and the album was delivered so beautifully and respectfully to the individual memories of everyone I knew who went that night. We all met back at Pat Collins place and discussed how magical certain moments were. Even JK Walsh, who isn’t impressed too easily had to admit that the delivery of the album was spot on. But the overriding theme for me was respect. They respected the album in all its beauty and held it up for a 30 year retrospective look while we all could re live our personal stories once again.
The following week I was listening to the radio where a topical current affairs programme had a journalist on reviewing the show that I was at the previous Saturday. The show that, at times had me close to tears with emotion, the show that for certain moments had me on stage with them because of their magnificent delivery re living parts of my life that were so special, not only for me but for thousands of others. The show that brought back the album that launched U2 into a world of no return.
And all they did was moan.
Their basic argument was that U2 didn’t play the songs in the order they wanted them, in the style they wanted them the way they wanted them… This person who gets paid to review events like this, who probably got a complimentary ticket, had the audacity to go on national radio and say the show wasn’t good enough because they wanted U2 to play The Joshua Tree in a certain way, in a certain order in a certain style and because they didn’t do what they wanted the show wasn’t great.
The host was as stunned as the thousands listening and defended the idea that people wanted to hear the album for the reasons highlighted above, and that the shuffle generation don’t understand this.
Their retort was a flippant, ‘You’re all wrong’
And this angered me, not because I’m a U2 fan, but because I’m music fan. I’m a fan of the LP record, I’m a fan of the 45, I’m a fan of wearing my favourite bands T Shirt as a badge of honour, I’m a fan of reading about what’s going on in the world of music, and I’m a fan of good music journalism, or any good journalism for that matter. And to have someone with such disregard for the historical nature of The Joshua Tree have a platform on national radio to give an opinion like that was akin to Gerry Adams being a pundit on Match of The Day.
No one at musician.ie gets paid for what they do, we do it because we love it, we do it because we believe in what we do. We don’t always get it right but we never slag off anything because we don’t like it, or promote something because we’re getting paid for it, because that’s not music journalism. And we would never have delusions of grandeur thinking we are more important than the art that we comment on.
Also, Stoat have an album coming out soon and it’s going to be fucking amazing.