Are you wondering why a concert of the Irish band U2 would elicit so much interest and excitement from a generation of music lovers? And, why do they fill up the biggest stadiums in the world consistently through the last decades of their existence? Why are they so special to their hordes of fans through their 14 studio albums, one live album, three compilation albums, eight EPs, and 40 years of sold-out concerts since they stepped into the rock scene in 1976? Why do kids still roar at their music?
For most of the tens of thousands who will troop to the Philippine Arena on December 11 for their first-ever Philippine concert stop for its current The Joshua Tree tour made possible by Smart Music Live and MMI Live, U2 was the only band that mattered. For an entire generation who had a knack for causes, a passion for big messages, with a sense of idealism, yes, this band composed of schoolmates Paul Hewson, David Evans, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen, Jr. fits the bill.
And of course, creating great, piercing, timeless music, they did.
At the time they first rolled out Boy in 1981, a good five years since they formed in Dublin, Ireland, it began the generation’s passionate, intrinsic love affair with their sound that was truly electrifying and inspiring. Hewson, known to the world as Bono, would have those hypnotic, idyllic vocals and verses on enrapturing melody as we hear Evans, whom we all know as The Edge, unleashing that distinctive delay effect on his guitars, as Clayton’s captivating bass and Mullen’s riveting beats left us shook.
From “I Will Follow” and “A Day Without Me,” people were hooked, and by “New Year’s Day” on the album War, we screamed like hell listening to those vinyls and swayed and gestured like Bono. But that didn’t prepare us for “Sunday Bloody Sunday” that sent everyone to a blistering rebellious tone.
By this time the hype was growing, and Unforgettable Fire and the single “Pride (In The Name of Love)” was on everyone’s lips. However, no one at that time still had any idea of their lasting mark in the rock era, only the in-thing everyone noticed.
Yet, when they stepped on the Live-Aid stage in 1985, a concert beamed throughout the world, U2’s impact became “viral,” in today’s terms, a connection to fans that continues up to this day.
And the rest was history, so they say, and The Joshua Tree brought them to American fame—winning several Grammys for their music and videos. “With or Without You,” “Where The Streets Have No Name” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For You” had since become the cornerstones of rock, while the band begun its societal impact with its messages of equality, particularly against apartheid and political oppression.
Their succeeding album Rattle And Hum brought their impact to a wider scale, with influences and collabs with BB King and Bob Dylan leaving everyone breathless. “Angel of Harlem” was a stark deviation that was mesmerizing. And another milestone project Achtung Baby became legendary with more Grammys under their belt. “One” became a spine-tingling anthem everyone was singing.
After Zooropa, U2 would constantly reinvent with such initiatives as Pop, and yet another classic All That You Can’t Leave Behind that further stamped their iconic status with such hits as “Beautiful Day,” “Stuck in the Moment You Can’t Get Out Of,” “Elevation,” and “Walk On” as they won more Grammys for the effort. Who could also forget How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb and the song “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own” that gave them an additional five Grammys including Album of the Year.
They had tours that grossed billions of dollars throughout their career, and their latest, an iteration of their The Joshua Tree tour in the late 1980s, with their very first tour stop in many Asian countries, including India, Singapore, and the Philippines.
For one fan who just remained fascinated and astonished with their melodies and messages, not to mention that sound that continued to reverberate for four decades, seeing them in the flesh and hearing their music in person will certainly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
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Banner image taken from U2's official Instagram account