by Albert Rodriguez -
SGN A&E Writer
U2 W/MUMFORD & SONS
CENTURY LINK FIELD
There are really only a handful of music acts that can sell out an entire soccer stadium anywhere in the world. We're talking anywhere, from Monte Carlo to Shanghai to Reykjavik to Buenos Aires to Perth. Anywhere and anytime. Having dominated the rock scene for over four decades, supergroup U2 is inarguably among this finite cluster of artists.
Thank goodness our family had cable service in the '80s, or else I wouldn't have discovered them until college. Growing up in a small city, not even our local radio stations were playing any of U2's songs; I didn't listen to 'New Year's Day' and 'Pride (In the Name of Love)' until I saw the music videos on MTV. Only a couple of shoebox-sized record stores where I lived carried the band's albums, and I remember having to special order a copy of War. I even got weird looks from friends at school who asked what I was listening to on my Sony Walkman; little did they know.
It wasn't until 1987 that U2 broke into the mainstream with back-to-back mega hits, 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For' and 'Where the Streets Have No Name,' both from the album The Joshua Tree that would go on to sell more than 25 million copies worldwide. Not only was it commercially successful, it was praised universally as an artistic masterpiece, earning two Grammy Awards, including the coveted Album of the Year prize, and it was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the US Library of Congress for being 'culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.'
They suddenly went from indie rock group to powerhouse act, becoming a household name and amassing a huge audience. And although they'd reached the peak of their success, they just found new mountains to climb, getting bigger and better as the years went on. Rattle and Hum, Achtung Baby and Zooropa were consecutively released after The Joshua Tree and produced a consistent streak of top singles, including 'Desire,' 'Angel of Harlem,' 'Mysterious Ways,' 'Even Better Than the Real Thing' and 'Stay (Faraway, So Close).'
At the heart of many of U2's songs is a powerful and emotional reflection of global events that have troubled, saddened or inspired us, such as 'Sunday Bloody Sunday,' which documented the killings of civil rights protesters in Northern Ireland, 'Miss Sarajevo,' written about the then-warzone stricken former Yugoslavia, and the rock ballad 'One,' penned shortly after the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Many people think 'One' centers on the AIDS crisis, perhaps because the group donated proceeds from sales of the single to awareness and research for the disease.
A new generation of music fans was introduced to U2 when they released the album All That You Can't Leave Behind in 2000, led by two top hits, 'Beautiful Day' and 'Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of.' 2004's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, which contained another big single, 'Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own,' continued the outfit's rock dominance, despite the fact that the genre was now infused with nu-metal and indie/emo acts. 2009's No Line on the Horizon was met with mixed reviews and less than stellar sales, but U2 made up for it with the impressive '360° Tour' that eventually became the highest-grossing concert tour in history; it included a stop at then-Qwest Field in June 2011. Sadly, the 2014 record Songs of Innocence proved to be a disaster when it was made available as a download to anyone owning an Apple device, which millions of people complained about, because it did so without their permission, not to mention it took up valuable space on their iPhones and you had to manually remove it from your library. Still, it did include a couple of good tracks, 'Iris' and 'Volcano.'
Having seen U2 four times, at three different venues - Tacoma Dome (twice), Key Arena, Qwest Field - I can tell you that they are one of the very best performers you will ever see live. They play a long show with state-of-the-art visual effects and memorable stage sets, like 'The Claw' from the '360° Tour.' At CenturyLink Field on Sunday, the rock icons will perform The Joshua Tree in its entirety to commemorate its 30th year anniversary and perhaps, but don't quote me on this, other songs from other albums. I can't believe they would only feature music from just one album, though the set list is a mystery. Opening for U2 is the Grammy-winning ensemble Mumford & Sons, so get there early if you have tickets to enjoy both artists.
For tickets, go to LiveNation.com, or visit any Ticketmaster outlet, or charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000. Tickets on the day of show will only be available at the CenturyLink box office.
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