U2 Concert Review – Tampa, FL 2017 “Joshua Tree”

A double rainbow!   On a wild rainy Wednesday in Tampa, Florida, 60000+ U2 fans converged at Raymond James Stadium for a historic 2017 concert.   Heavy traffic and a drenched crowd couldn’t hold back the enthusiasm for the Irish rockers making their first trip back to Florida in almost a decade (2009).   As opening act, OneRepublic concluded their rain-soaked set, it was as if Bono lifted his hands to heaven and made the rain disappear.  As a double rainbow cascaded over the stadium for almost 30 minutes, the roadies prepared U2’s dynamic stage complete with a giant movie screen backdrop.   Anticipation grew as the sun set on a beautiful Florida evening.

If you’re a longtime fan of U2, what would be your ultimate set list?   As Larry Mullen Jr. kicked off the tribal beat to the powerful opener “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, you knew it was about to come to reality.   These were the opening seven songs:   “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, “New Years Day”, “Bad (plus a snippet of America)”, “Pride (In The Name Of Love)”, “Where The Streets Have No Name”, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”, and “With Or Without You”.    It simply doesn’t get any better than that.   The first four songs got the crowd enthused and singing along even though the stark stage wasn’t yet making use of the giant monitors behind the band.   When it came time for the unveiling of “The Joshua Tree” in its entirety, the panoramic billboard added such a beautiful cinematic element to the timeless 80s songs.

Vivid images of the American flag, Indigo skies, the Yucca plants in Joshua Tree National Park, hard working Americans, and long stretches of lonesome highway roads set against the mountains created a mood that brought to life the album’s deeper cuts.    Lead guitarist, The Edge never sounded more menacing as he ripped into the solos on “Bullet The Blue Sky”.   There is still no better rhythm section than Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr.   “One Tree Hill” was dedicated to the 49 lives lost in nearby Orlando’s Pulse Night Club shooting last year.  “There is no end to grief, and that’s how we know there is no end to love. We will honor them with action.”    Bono’s voice has SLIGHTLY lost an little over the years, but his timing and master showman skills were still impeccable.

Some worried that Bono would use the concert stage to preach his political agenda.   It didn’t take long for that to develop.   “Miss Sarajavo” was reworked as the backdrop featured a tour of a Syrian refugee camp and a large blanket cast the image of a young Syrian girl was passed through the crowd as the song’s dramatic chorus played.   Bono warned against “Personalites” in leadership roles and proclaimed “It’s the power of the people that’s always stronger than the people in power, right?”    Female political activists were displayed on the screen during “Ultra Violet” and their long running HIV-AIDS anthem, “One” united the crowd for action.

As you can see U2 was performing their songs in chronological order with their earliest songs opening the show and they concluded with high energy versions of “Beautiful Day”, “Elevation” and “Vertigo”.   Bono even snuck in a few verses of “Singing In The Rain” to remind everyone of the soggy start to the glorious night.