U2 with special guest Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds performing their Joshua Tree Tour at Twickenham Stadium London on Saturday 8th July 2017.

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

It is the thirtieth anniversary of U2’s landmark album, The Joshua Tree; an album which sent Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jnr, through the stratosphere and allowed them to earn and hold their status as the biggest band in the world for more than a decade. And it was a celebration of that album that saw U2 come to London’s Twickenham Stadium last night to show just why they hold that accolade.

With last night’s special guest coming from an equally famous band, expectations were high. Oasis were also one of the must see bands before that acrimonious split in Paris in 2009, and it may have been almost a year since Noel Gallagher last took to the stage with his High Flying Birds, last night he was there supporting the anniversary tour of U2’s Joshua Tree.

It goes without saying that it must take a confident artist to support such a massive show, but then Noel Gallagher has never been short on confidence. With Gem Archer, the former Oasis guitarist joining Gallagher on stage; it was the first time that he had officially joined the High Flying Birds since leaving Noel’s estranged brother Liam’s band, Beady Eye in 2014.

Having been openly criticised by his sibling Liam for not joining him at Manchester’s One Love Concert, Noel may have felt that he had to get the crowd onside. But he was so wrong as this packed Twickenham Stadium rose to their feet to acknowledge what must be one of the UK’s greatest song writers since Lennon and McCartney.

Noel Gallagher is still a man of few words; having previously deferred to his brother Liam to do all the talking. So he looked a little uncomfortable as he came onto the stage to rapturous applause and he thanked the crowd as he reminisced about the last time that he supported U2.

With the sound getting a little lost in this vast auditorium, they opened with Everybody’s On The Run before they carried on with Lock All The Doors, and as he showcased his vocals with In The Heat Of The Moment, he quickly looked at home on the vast stage. The whole of Twickenham erupted for the Oasis cover, Champagne Supernova; the first of the nights Oasis tracks before the set continued with Half The World Away, followed by the groups new track, The Mexican.

Wonderwall got everyone singing, hands in the air and swaying along as did Little By Little but it was High Flying Birds finisher, AKA…What A Life that brought the crowd to their feet in appreciation.

And then it was the perfect time for U2 to do something special. This Joshua Tree Tour is so stripped back it is hardly recognisable. There was not the enormity of The 360 Tour and nor does it feature an LED screen that Bono could literally walk through like The Innocence + Experience Tour. What it did have is the biggest video screen ever used in a touring show, and a really low key presentation from U2.

From the moment that Larry Mullen Jnr. impacted onto the smaller stage and launched into opener Sunday Bloody Sunday; one of four songs before they launched into The Joshua Tree, the crowd were captivated. Holding their attention with the likes of New Year’s Day, Bad and Pride (In The Name of Love), U2 had well and truly arrived.

With the band standing in front of a solid red screen with an illuminated Joshua Tree, this crowd knew that they were about to experience something special. When the opening chords to Where The Streets Have No Name echoed around the Stadium, the crowd were simply euphoric. Performed in front of a desert highway, the video crispness was almost hypnotic.

Following the iTunes fiasco where U2’s album, Songs Of Innocence was forced upon half a million unsuspecting Apple music customers, U2 really needed to get their kudos back, and last night they did exactly that.

Using their phenomenal backdrop, there was the sunrise baked rolling hills that introduced With Or Without You; a song that U2 must have performed a thousand times but which sounded as strong last night as it always has. There was the gorgeous Red Hill Mining Town, which has not been played live before this tour. And whilst The Joshua Tree has aged really well, it is essentially devoid of filler material and remains an elegant record in spite of the ferocity of tracks such as Exit and Bullet The Blue Sky.

When the album was brought to a close it was U2’s encore that was as long as the main concert. There was Beautiful Day, Vertigo and Ultraviolet (Light My Way) which was dedicated to the late Jo Cox, before Bono brought to the stage Noel Gallagher who joined him for an emotional rendition of Oasis’ Don’t Look Back In Anger, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the whole of the stadium.

With the crowd slowly exiting this massive stadium, this band had showed that they are nowhere near the point of calling it a day. You either love or hate U2, but with them selling out stadiums around the world which are as big as Twickenham, they must be doing something right.