U2 Headlines Its First U.S. Festival Ever At Bonaroo

The Iconic Band Played Their Classics As They Honored Lost Friends And Important Female Figures

After 41 years into their career, U2 finally got to headline a U.S. festival. The Irish band rocked the stage on Friday (June 9) night at Tennessee’s Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.

This year has turned out to be really especial for U2. Earlier this month, the band released a 30th-anniversary reissue of their seminal 1987 album, ‘The Joshua Tree.’ To extend the celebration, they also announced a concert tour in North America, Europe, and Latin America, with dates still expanding. As part of their tour, the band stopped by at the Bonnaroo festival – their first time ever performing at a U.S. festival, and just their second festival ever.

Image Credit: Dana Distortion

For two hours, U2 performed all 11 song of the remarkable album, plus other hits of their four-decade career. Making true the dream of dads among the crowd – come on, it’s a festival, most of the audience are twenty-somethings. They weren’t even born when the album was released; I’m not saying that the album wasn’t transcendental enough, I’m just putting some facts straight.

The band got on stage at 11 p.m. in a rather simple way: no introduction and just a few lights. Without any warning. The drumbeat and guitar chimes of “Where The Streets Have No Name” began to play, followed, of course, by “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” and “With Or Without You.” Next was “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and other hits from their youth days.

A time to honor female fans

Bono, the leader of the band, is also known for being an activist. This time he and his band took the chance to pay homage to an important part of their audience: female fans.

Throughout the show, the giant LED screens behind them displayed some scenes of the American desert and poems from many different American writers. But during the penultimate song “Ultraviolet (Light My Way),” the images turned into portraits of famous women through history. Rosa Parks, Patti Smith, Angela Merkel, and Michelle Obama are among the spotted.

Image Credit: YouTube

This was an important and powerful moment. Recognizing women in an industry as gender-unbalanced as the music industry is.

A shout out to Chris Cornell

Previously, the band performed some of ‘The Joshua Tree’s B-sides, such as “Red Hill Mining Town” and “Trip Through Your Wires.” When it was the time to play “One Tree Hill,” the crowd was suddenly filled with cellphone lights as Bono dedicated the song to Lily Cornell, daughter of Chris Cornell, who died last month. “This next song is a friend of ours that was stolen away from us far too soon, way back then,” the singer said, adding, “Tonight, we want to sing it for Lily Cornell. Her dad had an epic heart.”

For the last tune, Bono brought out another big name, saying “Some people may think Martin Luther King’s dream is dead,” – an obvious wink at the whole situation of Donald Trump being president. “But not at Bonnaroo tonight… Maybe the dream is just telling us to wake up,” he added. Then “One” began to play.

Before leaving the stage, Bono asked if they had made a mistake in not coming to the festival sooner, and later added a dad-worthy pun, saying:  “What an extraordinary thing Bonoroo is. Thank you for naming it after me.”

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