Wednesday, December 09, 2009

DVD Review - The Joshua Tree Bonus DVD - 1987 in Paris

Got the remastered The Joshua Tree box set as an early Christmas present to myself. Take that Santa!

It has a second CD of unreleased nuggets and a bonus DVD. The remaster sounds great, and the bonus disc is pretty cool too, but I was not as blown away as I was with the Unforgettable Fire bonus CD. The only two great bonus tracks are Spanish Eyes and The Sweetest Thing, and the latter has been released in other places.

But man, the DVD alone is worth the money.

First up, there is a 30 minute or so featurette about the band in America on the Joshua Tree tour. It’s kind of a precursor to the Rattle and Hum movie, which I am not a huge fan of. But this documentary is a bit more real, with some of what looks like Super 8 footage, and loads of shots of them hanging around in dive bars in Arizona and Texas. There is a great segment where they are onstage in some shithole bar, drunk, just farting around making stuff up. There is some great rehearsal and concert footage as well.

It’s a compelling watch. They are not mega-superstars yet, but damn close. And it feels like they know it. But they are also still Irish kids in their 20s freaking out on how massive America is.

But the real standout on the DVD is the concert from July 4, 1987 in Paris at the Hippodrome, which looks like it’s full of a city’s worth of people. It’s an ocean of hands. Here, I was blown away by how good of a live band U2 was during this era. I always slagged them in high school as not being good musicians but once again I stand corrected. The band is solid and most refreshingly rocking.

Edge totally kicks ass. His guitar tones are biting and he often carries the whole band musically. This was the era where Bono would wear a guitar that he never played. He also is doing his crazy LiveAid stuff like jumping into the filming pit and running around where the roadie has to chase him with his cable so he has a mic the whole time. I guess cordless mics were not reliable yet. And if you want to see how Edge plays Bad, they zoom in on his hands a few times. Nice for the guitar players in the audience!

It’s so great to hear the band do nothing but stuff from the first five albums. To hear them do I Still Haven’t Found What I'm Looking For before they had played it a million times, or stuff like Trip Through Your Wire or Party Girl, which I can’t imagine stayed in the set list past this tour.

The band is in its prime. The songs are great. They are still playing with passion and fire, but they are also about to the top of the top and are therefore very confident and are stretching a bit.

I was actually shocked at how rocking they were. I am so sick of With or Without You but the song was so new at the time, this live version almost makes me want to hear it again. Bono in particular sings it like his life depends on the performance, instead of singing it because they can’t NOT play the song at a concert anymore.

Interesting to see Edge play piano, on for example October, Running to Stand Still, and The Unforgettable Fire. And for the closing song, 40, Edge plays bass and Adam Clayton does a nice Edge impression getting some good echo-drenched chordal work in. Who’d have thunk it?

There are great gorgeous performances of The Unforgettable Fire and Bad. New Years Day and Electric Co have a really fresh energy. New Years Day shows what a tight, rocking band they were back then. I am always impressed when Edge jumps from the main piano riff to his guitar solo without missing a beat.

It’s also cool to see how the band takes some of the heavily overdubbed songs from Unforgettable Fire and Joshua Tree and plays them as a three piece. For the most part it works really well with a couple of exceptions. Pride (In The Name Of Love) does not sound quite as huge as it should.

I’ll tell you what there is very LITTLE of on the DVD – Bono going off on political tangents. Rather, he is smiling a lot, posing like a rock star and kicking major vocal ass. Again, I feel like they are still a bit hungry but also on that total precipice of an insane level of fame. They are not yet jaded or laden with the ‘social responsibility’ that came with being good famous, rich Christians. One notable exception - I can see those fighter planes!

But in general, at this concert U2 is not concerned with saving the world. They are more concerned with rocking the house. And I am really glad someone got it on film.

Here is a clip of Bad from the DVD:


Chris said...

Damn it, here's something else I'm going to hafta have. Damn you!

Isorski said...

Sorry, dude

drewzepmeister said...

I'd LOVE to see the DVD!

Sean Coleman said...

You have made this purchase sound pretty damn rewarding. I liked these guys a lot once upon a time. They still have their moments, but that last release was a snoozefest.

I'll have to check this out.

Isorski said...

Seems like the first five albums were the golden era and then they lost focus. I think it was Bono who said their 1992 album would sound like "four men cutting down the Joshua Tree." Personally I like them best prior to them discovering electronica.