U2 kick off its anniversary Joshua Tree Australian tour in Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium.
U2 kick off its anniversary Joshua Tree Australian tour in Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium. Mark Furler

Australian fires: Bono's searing climate change message

As Australia burned, U2 superstar Bono delivered a searing message to climate change sceptics in Brisbane last night, saying everyone had to act to combat a global crisis.

"From our little Ireland to the people of your gigantic island, from Africa to Australia we are all connected,'' the Irish supergroup lead singer and political activist told a huge Suncorp Stadium crowd.

"The way we live in one place, affects life in every other place. None of us is really an island."

"From rising sea levels in one country to catastrophic fires in yours.

"Big crisis, global crisis but we can put out these fires if we act together as one."

Earlier in the night he paid tribute to Australia's firefighters and spoke of the band's special love for Australians.

"Thank you Brisbane for letting us back into your lives.

"Thank you Australia for letting us back into your country.

"You've always been so good to us, in good times and in hard times."

 

 


During the show, the band weaved in distinctly Australian references,  at one point singing the signature line from Midnight Oil's Beds Are Burning while a massive Australian flag featured on the giant screen towards the end of the show.

"Firefighters we sing to you in this moment,'' Bono said, before launching into Pride (In the Name of Love).

Under a huge moon, the two hour visual The Joshua Tree anniversary spectacular kicked off with Sunday Bloody Sunday then continued with New Year's Day and hits like Where the Streets Have No Name, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking for, With or Without You, Bullet the Blue Sky, In God's Country, One Tree Hill and Angel of Harlem.

After the encore, as the temperature dropped, the show escalated with Elevation, Vertigo, Even Better Than the Real Thing, Every Breaking Wave, Beautiful Day, Ultraviolet (Light My Way), Love is Bigger Than Anything in Its Way, before finishing with One.

U2 kick off its anniversary Joshua Tree Australian tour in Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium.
U2 kick off its anniversary Joshua Tree Australian tour in Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium. Mark Furler



We were seated in a stand just above the ground level sea of people where the volume level felt excessive and the sound mix muddy at times making it hard to understand what Bono was saying or singing.

But there were plenty of fans who knew every word so it probably didn't matter.

As well as dishing out strong messages on human rights, and the fight for equality for women, Bono was in good spirits and Irish humour.

"I'll tell you something about Irish people: We sort of think we invented everything - like boats and county music."

He asked drummer Larry Mullen Jr for some additional Irish contributions to which he replied that the Irish were responsible for the ejector seat and the potato chip.

Guitarist The Edge kicked in with the submarine being invented by John Philip Holland in 1881 before Bono promised to 'bury' the country music the US invented.

U2's 'salute' to country music as part of its Joshua Tree tour in Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium.
U2's 'salute' to country music as part of its Joshua Tree tour in Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium. Mark Furler



One of the more poignant moments of the night came during One Tree Hill, the band's tribute to their New Zealand friend and roadie Greg Carroll.

"He stayed on board long after we lost him in 1986. It's a long time ago, but some wounds you don't want to heal over."

Every Breaking Wave, in which Bono was accompanied by The Edge on keyboards provided a welcome respite from the chest-pounding noise of the night.

For Running to Stand Still, Bono delighted the crowd with his harmonica playing.

U2's tribute to women who had paved the way for others was particularly power during (Ultraviolet) Light My Way.

"When women of the world unite to rewrite history that's a beautiful day,'' Bono said before thanking the 'women in our lives including our daughters and wives'.

"We salute you. None of us are equal until all of us are equal."

U2's show featured a tribute to the great women of history, including climate change activist Greta Thunberg.
U2's show featured a tribute to the great women of history, including climate change activist Greta Thunberg. Mark Furler



Australians among the honour list featured on the massive 1040 panel video screen included Cathy Freeman, Nova Peris, Merle Thornton, Hannah Gadsby and Magda Szubanksi.

As someone who has followed U2's music for decades, it was great to see the genuine affection they still have for their fans.

"Well here we still are, here you still are what a blessing,'' Bono said. He introduced the band as the world's greatest rock and roll band 'north of Dublin'.

But as the stadium superstars showed last night, the appeal of U2 - and the message - is truly global.


U2 The Joshua Tree Tour

By the end of this season, U2 will have played this 30th anniversary celebration of the 1987 Joshua Tree album to three million fans.

The show reflect's much of the band's fascination with the American landscape, literature and myths - as well as a few jibes at Donald Trump and the wall.

A 61 metre by 15 metre cinematic screen, made up of new fewer than 1040 video panels is the largest and highest resolution LED screen used in a touring show. It's almost 8K in resolution.

U2 kick off its anniversary Joshua Tree Australian tour in Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium.
U2 kick off its anniversary Joshua Tree Australian tour in Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium. Mark Furler



Photographer and film-maker, and long term collaborator, Anton Corbijn, whose iconic photography accompanied the original recording has again visited Death Valley and Zabriskie Point - and other locations - to produce a new series of evocative films which feature.

The tour features the complete Joshua Tree album played in sequence as well as some of U2's latest song. Bono actually quipped during the night that for those who first had it on cassette it was time to turn over to 'side 2'.

The screen is painted to look like a golden piece of cardboard and  features a silver Joshua Tree.

To ensure the screen is not obscured, custom-designed structural beams were built to facilitate the suspension of the PA and lighting above the video screen, emoving the PA rig from the usual position in front of and side of stage.

The B stage that extends into the audience from the main stage is a perfect shadow of the tree which features in the screen.

The Joshua Tree Tour 2019 is the first for Australia since its record-shattering U2 360° Tour in 2010.