Cow Palace, Daly City, California, USA – April 25, 1987
Disc 1 (65:02) Where The Streets Have No Name, I Will Follow, Trip Through Your Wires, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, MLK, The Unforgettable Fire, Bullet The Blue Sky, Running To Stand Still, Exit / Gloria, In God’s Country, Sunday Bloody Sunday, The Electric Co. / Light My Fire, Bad / Candle In The Wind
Disc 2 (59:28) October, Springhill Mining Disaster, New Year’s Day, Pride (In The Name Of Love), Mothers Of The Disappeared, With Or Without You / Shine Like Stars / Love Will Tear Us Apart, 40. Cow Palace, Daly City, California, USA – April 24, 1987: A Sort Of Homecoming, Bad / Ruby Tuesday / Sympathy For The Devil, Gloria
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of what many believe to be their masterpiece, The Joshua Tree, U2 is currently on tour paying a sort of homage to it, but also acknowledging that much of what they wrote about two decades back still holds true today. Like much of really great music is its ability to be relevant in different times, for me much of the music on The Joshua Tree appeals to me more now than when it first came out, perhaps as I listen with older and wiser ears. For this new title from the Peach folks, we travel back in time to the first leg of the mammoth tour to support the iconic record.
The first leg of The Joshua Tree tour consisted of 29 dates from April 4 to May 16, 1987, such was the groups popularity that the leg featured mostly multi night engagements in the cities and several stadium gigs to accommodate the masses. The recording featured here is from the second of two nights at the 16,500 seat Cow Palace in Daly City, a neighboring city of San Francisco, it is a near excellent audience source, it is just slightly distant but has wonderful dynamics, clear while picking up the atmosphere of the performance perfectly. The frequency range is quite nice as it has crisp top end and a nice low end, this concert sounds best at louder volumes, this recording has been released before, long ago as The Joshua Tree On Fire (Flashback World Productions 11.96..0278).
The recording starts just as the band takes the stage to a large ovation with Where The Streets Have No Name, great opener for sure but the performance sounds just a bit pensive, then the band break into I Will Follow and it seems like the place erupts with energy that will not diminish the rest of the performance. After a brilliant Trip Through Your Wires, Bono greets the audience and talks about making rock and roll music and being in a rock and roll band and introduces I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. Midway through Bono exclaims “People dancing to a U2 song, what’s happening?”, something that garners a loud cheer from the crowd, but a dancing audience I’m sure was a norm during this time. I love the contrast between this song and MLK and Bono seems to acknowledge his spirit at its conclusion by saying “Some fires you can’t put out…this is The Unforgetable Fire”. Bullet The Blue Sky is superb at this concert, this song was certainly a visual as well as aural song, with The Edge doing his pseudo Hendrix dive bomb guitars and Bono whipping the crowd into a frenzy.
Love me some Running To Stand Still, its message about drug abuse rings even more true today as many in our country are gripped into addiction, the melancholy harmonica solo is quite moving as the performance builds in emotion. Exit is also superb, its musical structure of quiet then bombast works well as Bono improvises a lyrical version of Them’s Gloria into the driving part. From the heavy to the spiritual ride that is In God’s Country, the two quite different songs flow together effortlessly. The capacity audience goes ape **** when the band break into Sunday Bloody Sunday then quiet down to let the band deliver their message. During the songs middle section to speak of the Irish immigrants in San Francisco that came looking for a new life but did not forget their home, he gets the audience to chant “No More…No More” defiantly, the song is an anthem by now and the band seem to extend the ending by repeating the chorus over and over, as the band transitions into The Electric Co., someone near the taper exclaims “Oh my God” as the band relentlessly plays song after song in a fast succession. Again Bono weaves his musical influences into his music when he sings a snippet of The Doors’ Light My Fire into the song. Bono gives an emotional speech to introduce Bad about how heroin has affected his friends, home town as well as the people of San Francisco, it is during songs like Bad where Bono seems to nail it time after time, he not only sings the lyrics but sounds like he is singing to you personally, when you can do that to 16,000 people in an arena, one of which is taping it and listen to it some 20 years later and still get goose bumps, you have done your job.
The audience is extremely loud during October so the band does a pregnant pause just prior to the vocals, it works as they quiet down awaiting Bono to start singing, the song is like a speed bump. Bono gives an informative introduction to Springhill Mining Disaster, the band performed this once before on a late night TV show, The Late Late Show, but this is its first performance in a concert setting. The song is an old folk song about a series of mining disasters in Canada from 1891 to 1958, Bono sings it with a bit of his Irish accent and is quite a moving song and while it does not sound anything like it, for some reason gives me the same vibe as The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald. Great version of Pride, the audience is totally immersed in the performance, they sing with Bono during could not take your pride part. Some lady from Amnesty International does some political ranting during the song while the audience does the oohh lie on the song. This was certainly a time where Bono was speaking his mind about not only politics in Ireland but also the world. The song brings the main set to a close and a tape fade.
The band returns to the stage for a long 8 minute version of the last song on The Joshua Tree record, Mothers Of The Disappeared, Bono continues to expand on his human massage by speaking of people imprisoned for their political views making the song drag just a bit. With Or Without You is the late in the set high point, like an emotional high point so to say. The crowd sing along with him adding even more ambience to the recording, there is some lyrical improvisation as well first with Shine Like Stars then with a brief nod to Joy Division with Love Will Tear Us Apart, really great version of the song. Bono thanks the audience and they finish with the obligatory 40, being good fans they give their best Under A Blood Red Sky inspired sing along to end the truly inspired performance.
There is 20 minutes of bonus material from the previous nights concert at the Cow Palace, thankfully U2 was already doing slightly different sets each night, April 24, so for the bonus material we get A Sort Of Homecoming with a great introduction by Bono about their shared musical roots. The recording is again near excellent and sounds very similar to the second night, after hearing this material, reading a couple reviews of the concert makes me wish this was a 4CD release with both shows as from all accounts both were excellent. A superb version of Bad finds Bono interjecting two Stones classic into the music, Ruby Tuesday and Sympathy For The Devil, the whoo whoo’s blending perfectly. Gloria, the U2 song, ends the bonus material proper, and gives the impression the audience was just as into this concert as well.
The packaging features graphics made to tie into The Joshua Tree record, stark black cover, black and white photographs adorn not only the mini LP cover, but also the CD sleeves and insert as well. The CD’s have group silhouettes in front of a sunset. A very spirited recording and superb packaging make this title attractive to collectors and a title you cannot go wrong with.