Thirty years ago, U2 made an album that accomplished everything an album could. It sold over 25 million records. It won the Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards. It even launched a tour so massive it spawned a concert film and an album of its own.
The record propelled the band to global superstardom and, perhaps most significantly, it accomplished the rarest of pop feats by becoming a hit while still focusing on heavy themes of American angst in the face of a national crisis of faith.
On June 25th, Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. will visit Gillette Stadium in Foxboro to play "The Joshua Tree" in its entirety as part of the album's year-long 30th anniversary celebration. Here are five reasons why the show will turn out to be the Bay State’s concert of the summer.
1. No filler
For some fans, the toughest part of seeing any beloved band is sitting through the new stuff while waiting to hear the classics. "The Joshua Tree" is all classics, from "Bullet the Blue Sky" to "With or Without You," and this front-to-back experience is the rare chance to enjoy all your favorite hits without any of those pesky songs that ever mysteriously invaded your iTunes.
2. They're the world's most impressive stadium band
Beyond their considerable catalog, U2's live shows are the stuff of legend. Their 2015 "Innocence + Experience" arena tour was a technical and artistic marvel, with the band playing atop a massive, free-hanging screen that projected images of the band and their memories such that everyone in attendance could see. Their last stadium tour, in 2009, was seen by 7.3 million fans worldwide, making it the biggest in history. Perhaps, that is, until now.
3. The Boston connection
As anyone that's ever been to the Paradise Rock Club can tell you, Boston played a major role in breaking U2 to U.S. audiences. The band has shown the Bean a lot of love, and the city has returned the favor. In fact, the love is so real that in 2015 a horde of fans packed into the Burren in Somerville like sardines following reports suggesting that Bono and company might pay a visit to their old haunt for an exclusive event. (They didn't.)
4. They really do care
Once upon a time, Bono was mocked for using his platform as a celebrity to try and enact social change. Now that we've seen what it truly looks like when a callow celebrity leverages their fame for personal gain disguised as altruism, we can trust the intentions of those Irish fellows a little better.
5. The album's modern relevance
For U2, "The Joshua Tree" isn't just an album of its time, but one for today. When the tour was announced, Bono cited that the project contains "a lot of emotions which feel strangely current," including "love, loss, broken dreams, seeking oblivion, [and] polarization."
These days, as then, there's no shortage of issues dividing Americans, never mind citizens of the world. But if there's anything we might be able to enjoy together, it's the chorus to "With or Without You." All these years later, U2 is still building then burning down love, while audiences look to see what might still spring forth from the ashes.
If you go:
June 25, 6:30 p.m., Gillette Stadium, 1 Patriot Place, Foxboro, livenation.com