U2 open the American leg of their eXPERIENCE + iNNOCENCE tour at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma tonight and have revealed that they deliberately wanted to open the tour in a politically conservative part of the US.
“I think it’s going to ruffle some feathers for sure,” guitarist The Edge told reporters on the eve of the tour. “We hadn’t played Tulsa in living memory so we said, ‘yeah great let’s do it’. Then it dawned on us that it is quite a conservative part of America. Then we got excited about that aspect of it and the show being seen for the first time in a place that really is not a typical rock ’n’ roll centre. A place where you are bumping in to a different facet of American culture and politics and life and that interests us.”
Fans had been queueing outside the 19,000-capacity venue since last Friday, and were greeted by Bono and the Edge on an impromptu walkabout on the day before their opening show. For some Tulsans, it’s been a 37-year wait to see the band again. In 1981, U2 played the town as part of the Boy tour at the 1800-capacity Cain’s Ballroom.
While the band have already taken something of an anti-Trump stance in recent months, featuring the US president in a damning animation for the video of their single Get Out Of Your Own Way, Edge has noted that the high-octane show is more 'issues based'.
"The eXPERIENCE + iNNOCENCE tour – a sequel tour of sorts to 2015's iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE tour – features stage visuals, some directed by longtime collaborator Anton Corbijn, incorporating footage of the Charlottesville protest and white nationalist rally in 2017.
“For sure some people might not like many aspects of the show, but we don’t mention him and we don’t direct anything (at him),” he says. “We’re not getting into party politics.”
On the eve of the US tour, U2 also posted an image of Maser’s Repeal illustration to their 1.58 million Twitter followers, beseeching Irish fans to vote in the upcoming 8th Amendment referendum.
“It’s huge, there’s this huge divergence of opinion and it’s very emotive and I accept that,” says Edge. “It’s hard to take a stance without acknowledging there’s another side of it but I’m for it. I support Repeal.”
The eXPERIENCE + iNNOCENCE tour comes just a year after U2 took the Joshua Tree 2017 tour on a mammoth 51-date trip around the world. Edge has told reporters that 'for now', no songs from the 1987 album will feature on the current tour.
Said bassist Adam Clayton of revisiting those classic songs in front of a 2017 audience: "It was really weird because it was like it was 1987. At the time (of the album's release 30 years ago), we were so uptight and obsessed with having this hit record, that we didn't really notice what was happening with the record and how deep those songs went with people.
“So then last year, when we went back to them, (there was) just the power and the simplicity of those songs. Noel Gallagher was saying, ‘that was when you could write really simple songs and play them simply and (you) had that sound’.
“I think the unbelievable thing about that record going back is just going ‘wow’ we didn’t realise how lucky we were when it was happening because you’re arrogant and filled with ambition and drive.”
- The eXPERIENCE + iNNOCENCE tour lands into Dublin's 3Arena on November 5th, 6th, 9th and 10th.