The Joshua Tree: Music Before, During and After

Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2017-10-27)

Before you start reading, we have a Spotify Playlist of the main mix of songs, and some of the other important songs from The Joshua Tree 2017 Tour for your listening pleasure. Feel free to get that started before you read. One of our favourite things to do for each U2 tour is to track the soundtrack of the day, and we have been doing this, right back to the PopMart Tour. If you are interested, we maintain Spotify playlists and lists of these songs for past tours in one location. On past tours such as Vertigo and U2360, the music heard in the stadiums was compiled by Gavin Friday and is usually the same for each show but may not start / end in the same place each time.

The tour music shifts and changes as a tour progresses. On this tour, however, most of the changes occurred on the first leg of the tour, and there were only minor changes made on later legs of the tour. We will look at the music related to the tour in different portions of the show, including music played prior to the opening act, music played between the opening act and U2, as well as a look at the songs U2 used to take the stage and music played on the PA after the shows were over.

Prior to the Opening Act

Prior to the opening act performing, the music played on The Joshua Tree 2017 tour is typically full albums by single artists. Sometimes the albums have played through in order, other times they will be more randomly mixed with other songs. During the tour we were able to identify the following albums in use:

  • Marquee Moon by Television
  • I See You by The XX
  • Damn. by Kendrick Lamar
  • New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84) by Simple Minds
  • Humanz – Gorillaz
  • American DreamLCD Soundsystem

The Gorillaz album was first identified in Europe, but it may have been added into the mix earlier than that time. The LCD Soundsystem album was identified on the third leg of the tour, and as it was not released prior to September 1, 2017, it is expected it was only added during the third leg. (Individual songs were heard from it during the second leg that had been released as singles).

As well as these songs where full albums pop up, a single song is often also in the mix during this portion of the show. In Toronto for instance it popped up between songs from Simple Minds in the mix. That song, but Alabama Shakes, sometimes popped up two or three times in the music prior to the opening act taking the stage.

  • “Don’t Wanna Fight” – Alabama Shakes

The songs identified from those albums include a number of tracks from each album. From Television’s Marquee Moon album we identified “Marquee Moon,” “Elevation,” “Guiding Light,” “Prove It,” and “Torn Curtain.” From The XX’s I See You album we identified “Say Something Loving,” “Lips,” “A Violent Noise,” “Performance,” “Replica,” “Brave For You,” “On Hold,” “I Dare You,” and “Dangerous.” On Kendrick Lamar’s album Damn we identified “DNA,” “Element,” “XXX,” (the song Bono appears on), “Humble,” “Pride,” “Feel,” and “Loyalty.” From the Simple Minds’ album New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84) we identified “Promised You a Miracle,” “Big Sleep,” “New Gold Dream (81/82/83/84)”, “Someone Somewhere (In Summertime),” and “Glittering Prize”. And from the LCD Soundsystem album we identified “Tonite,” “Call the Police,” and “American Dream.”

Opening Band Entrances

Neither Mumford and Sons, nor One Republic took the stage with a specific song to introduce themselves. For instance in Vancouver, Mumford took the stage while “Loyalty” by Kendrick Lamar was playing, and in Seattle they took the stage while “Humble” from Kendrick Lamar was playing. Opening act, The Lumineers however, had an entrance song that was played every night before they had taken the stage. Just before The Lumineers took the stage, “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac was played over the PA.

Likewise, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds also had a song they used each night (on both 2nd and 4th legs) before they took the stage. The song is one of their own, titled “Shoot a Hole Into the Sun” which is played over the PA instead of live, as the band takes the stage. In Berlin, in the heavy rain, the song “Singin’ in the Rain” by Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds was used ahead of “Shoot a Hole into the Sun” being played.

The Mix between Acts

After the opening act finishes, instead of full albums, a mix of songs is heard over the PA system. In Belgium however, once Noel Gallagher left the stage, the music returned to the full album mix usually heard only prior to the opening act. On past tours this mix of songs was compiled by Gavin Friday, and while we have not confirmed he has done the mix for The Joshua Tree, he is listed as Executive Producer for the current tour so we suspect he would have continued to contribute.

While we believe we have a relatively complete list, we were unable to check every show so we will list the information below, and if you have information about additional tracks please contact us.

The songs identified on the first leg were as follows:

  • “Drone Bomb Me” – Anonhi
  • “The Stars are Out Tonight” – David Bowie
  • “Loud Places” – Jamie XX ft. Romy
  • “More News from Nowhere (Radio Version)” – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
  • “The Guns of Brixton” – The Clash
  • “1979” – The Smashing Pumpkins
  • “Transmission” – Joy Division
  • “Nikes” by Frank Ocean
  • “Summertime Sadness” – Lana Del Ray
  • “Love is Lost (Hello Steve Reich Mix) – David Bowie
  • “Seasons Waiting On You” – Future Islands
  • “Under Your Spell” – Desire
  • “Combat Boots and Star Wars” – Ashley Deyj
  • “Burn the Witch” – Radiohead
  • XXX” – Kendrick Lamar ft U2
  • “Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby” – Cigarettes After Sex
  • “Where’s the Revolution” – Depeche Mode
  • “XX Album Intro” – The XX
  • “How Soon is Now” – The Smiths
  • “All the Young Dudes” – Mott the Hoople
  • “Ran” – Future Islands
  • “Sign ‘O’ The Times” – Prince
  • “And it Stoned Me” – Van Morrison
  • “Someone New” – Hozier
  • “The Man Who Sold The World” – Nirvana
  • “Cars” – Gary Numan
  • “Testify” – Hifi Sean featuring Crystal Waters
  • “Electric Feel” – MGMT

After the death of Chris Cornell, U2 added one additional song to this opening mix, and it was played prior to the track which U2 uses to take the stage. The song was not being heard in the pre-show mix, but appears to have been tied to the main performance instead. That song was “Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden, Cornell’s band. The song was only used on the one night.

  • “Black Hole Sun” – Soundgarden

In Europe some additional songs were identified in this mix:

  • “Fools Errand” – Fleet Foxes
  • “Call the Police” – LCD Soundsystem
  • “American Dream” – LCD Soundsystem
  • “Dirty Old Town” – The Pogues
  • “The Boys are Back in Town” – Thin Lizzy
  • “Promised You a Miracle” – Simple Minds

“The Boys Are Back in Town” was first heard in Dublin, and was the last song played in the mix prior to the song U2 uses to walk onto the stage. After Dublin, the song was heard in theregular mix at songs after that. “Dirty Old Town” by the Pogues first appeared in Paris, and continued through to the end of the tour. The LCD Soundsystem songs started out in the mix when they were the only songs available from the album. As the album was released, the songs moved to the pre-show portion of the show. With Simple Minds, the opposite occurred, on the first leg the Simple Minds songs were a heard regularly as part of the full albums, but were used less in this manner as the tour progressed, and “Promised You a Miracle” was moved into the mixed songs portion.

Some songs did not make it past the first leg. Songs such as “Someone New” by Hozier, “And it Stoned Me” by Van Morrison, “Sign ‘O’ The Times” by Prince, “All of the Young Dudes” by Mott the Hoople, and “How Soon is Now” by the Smiths were not identified outside of the first leg.

In the third and fourth legs of the tour (United States, Mexico and South America) we were unable to identify any additional songs beyond the ones identified in the first two legs. “Seasons (Waiting for You)”, “Where’s the Revolution”, “Under Your Spell”, “Dirty Old Town,” “Love is Lost”, “The Man Who Sold the World”, “1979” and “Dirty Old Town”, among many others listed above were identified during these legs, and the playlist stayed consistent with what was heard on the second leg..

There is a misconception that “Seasons (Waiting for You)” was used for the final song before the song U2 used to take the stage. And while this was the case on a number of nights, it wasn’t every night. Some shows in Europe started with “Nikes,” “Love is Lost,” “Where’s the Revolution,” and “They Boys Are Back in Town” as the last track before U2’s entrance. These songs are on some sort of loop, and at some of the later starting shows, a few of the songs were heard twice in the mix.

U2 Taking the Stage

After the pre-show mix, the PA increases in volume and the next song is the final one before U2 starts to perform. During rehearsals for the tour, and for the early shows on the tour, the song was “A Rainy Night in Soho” by The Pogues from 1986. This song was used for all of the performances prior to their appearance at the Bonnaroo festival. Starting with the Bonnaroo festival and at each show since that time except for one, the band used “The Whole of the Moon” by The Waterboys (1985) instead. The exception? During their concert on October 10, 2017 in Buenos Aires, U2 allowed their performance to be delayed so fans could watch Argentina’s qualifying game for the World Cup. Instead of delaying the show further, the band took the stage immediately after the match ended, and there was no opening music by The Waterboys at that show. The Pogues had opened for U2 on a number of shows for the original The Joshua Tree tour in 1987. The Waterboys opened for U2 on The Unforgettable Fire tour in 1984.

  • “A Rainy Night in Soho” – The Pogues
  • “The Whole of the Moon” – The Waterboys

Post-Show, End of the Show

There is music played after the show as well. We believe on the first night that the closing song may have been missed, and the opening mix was used again, as two songs from that mix were used: “And it Stoned Me” by Van Morrison and “Sign ‘O’ the Times” by Prince, both of which had been heard in the same order during the opening show in Vancouver.

In Seattle a unique exit song appeared, “A Pair of Brown Eyes” by The Pogues. The song was used at subsequent tour stops for the shows remaining on the first leg, as well as the shows on the second leg, and many of the shows on the third leg in the United States. It continued until the third leg of the tour, where on September 12 in Kansas City, MO, it was replaced by John Lennon’s version of “Stand By Me”. That song had been used on the first two legs of the original 1987 Joshua Tree Tour. During that tour, the song was used to open shows on the first two legs, and was used occasionally on the third leg. More information on the 1987 tour music is available here.

  • “A Pair of Brown Eyes” – The Pogues
  • “Stand By Me” – John Lennon

That covers the songs that have been played throughout the tour. We would like to thank those that helped out along the way with identification of songs. We’ve been identifying tour songs such as these for a long time now, and you can find most of our past summaries in one location, which includes Spotify playlists for tours back to PopMart. This article summarizes information from a couple of earlier articles including #U2TheJoshuaTreeTour2017 Pre-Show Songs (May 26); TheJoshuaTree2017 Pre-Show and Post-Show Music (Update) and Leg Two: Joshua Tree Tour Songs (August 2). All of our coverage for the 30th Anniversary of The Joshua Tree, and The Joshua Tree Tour 2017 can be found in one location.

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