By Keith Spera, The New Orleans Advocate
Twenty years after U2's last full-length concert in New Orleans, the band will bring the elaborate stadium tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of its album "The Joshua Tree" to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome this fall.
Beck will open the show slated for Sept. 14.
New Orleans was not on the initial 33-date itinerary for the "Joshua Tree" trek, nor on the list of additional cities released last week. Live Nation Entertainment, the tour's promoter, announced the New Orleans show on Monday morning.
Following a pre-sale for U2.com subscribers, tickets will go on sale to the general public on Friday at 10 a.m. Standing-room-only, general admission floor tickets are $70 plus taxes and fees. Reserved-seat balcony tickets start at $35 plus fees.
U2 has not staged a full concert in New Orleans since a poorly attended Nov. 21, 1997, performance at the Superdome during its PopMart Tour. But the band has returned for special occasions.
Bono and his bandmates provided the halftime entertainment for Super Bowl XXXVI at the Superdome in early 2002. They hadn't forgotten about all those empty seats in the Dome for the earlier concert. When asked how the halftime show would differ from U2's previous appearance at the Superdome, guitarist The Edge joked that, this time, the Dome would be full.
But he didn't hold a grudge against the city. After Hurricane Katrina, the guitarist, producer Bob Ezrin and Gibson Guitar Corp. Chairman Henry Juszkiewicz co-founded Music Rising, a charitable organization whose goal was to replace lost instruments for musicians, churches and schools across the Gulf Coast.
The Edge also attended the 2006 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the first after Katrina. He sat in with several acts at the Fair Grounds and at Preservation Hall.
On Sept. 25, 2006, U2 teamed up with Green Day and local brass band musicians for the reopening of the Superdome on "Monday Night Football." Their pre-game performance of "The Saints Are Coming" and a customized "Beautiful Day" set the tone for the Saints' thrashing of the Atlanta Falcons, a victory sparked in part by Steve Gleason's block of a Falcons punt early in the game.
Eleven years later, they'll return to the Dome to mark the 30th anniversary of "The Joshua Tree."
Released in 1987, "The Joshua Tree" firmly established U2 as one of the world's most popular bands. "Where the Streets Have No Name," "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" and "With or Without You" were omnipresent on MTV and rock radio.
On June 2, Interscope Records released various 30th-anniversary editions of "The Joshua Tree."
Throughout the anniversary tour, including a May 24 show in front of 50,000-plus fans at Houston's NRG Stadium, the band has opened with a trio of early hits, followed by the entire "Joshua Tree" album in sequence. The two-hour performance, played out in front of a massive, high-definition video wall, concluded with another batch of U2 favorites and a new song destined for the band's next album.
U2 performed at the Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee on Friday. The current North American leg of their tour winds down July 1. After a string of European shows in July, the band returns to the United States on Sept. 3, then moves on to Mexico and South America in October.
The Sept. 14 New Orleans date falls between a Sept. 12 concert in Kansas City and a Sept. 16 stop in St. Louis. The Superdome staff will have two days following the dismantling of U2's stage to replace the turf and prepare for the Saints' home opener against the New England Patriots on Sept. 17.
In a career spanning nearly 40 years and more than 1,200 concerts, the only New Orleans appearances listed on U2's official web site are the PopMart stop in 1987 and a Feb. 11, 1982, gig aboard the SS President riverboat during the tour for the "October" album.
The original "Joshua Tree" tour, in 1987, visited the LSU Assembly Center in Baton Rouge but not New Orleans. The epic Zoo TV Tour skipped Louisiana entirely.
After the poor PopMart showing, the band's subsequent Elevation, Vertigo, U2360 and Innocence + Experience tours bypassed the state as well.
But the "Joshua Tree" victory lap will stop at the Superdome.
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