Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
World's biggest band bring Joshua Tree tour to Australia for first time, but the music shines brighter without added spectacle
by Ben Smee, The Guardian
It is hard to imagine a time when U2 was not a rock and roll monolith; even harder to recall the last time the band performed their music without the giant screens and props that have for decades turned its concerts into extroverted performance pieces.
The 2019 Joshua Tree tour - the third time U2 has toured the American-inspired 1987 album but the first in Australia - seems to present a romanticised version of the band's various reinventions. The first four songs at the Brisbane opening night of the Australian leg are early-career standards, performed on a small secondary stage with room for just four musicians and a smoke machine.
This is U2 stripped of the sort of pomp that has, in their most overblown moments, managed to relegate the music to the role of circus soundtrack. There is nowhere to look but the stage. Bono even has to resort to analogue stagecraft, looking and pointing to the front row more often than the twinkling lights at the back, engaging directly with punters in a way they likely haven't since the band's first decade.
Without the distraction of a spectacle, the music shines. Who knew stadium rock didn't need constant reinvention? The key ingredients seem to be a bass drum set to the level of a Napoleonic cannon and familiar galloping tunes the crowd can screech into the Suncorp Stadium void.