U2’s Adam Clayton Talks Joshua Tree Tour, Says ‘We Think We’re There’ With New ‘Songs of Experience’ LP
Nostalgia might be a big reason for U2 fans to see the band perform its landmark The Joshua Tree LP on the record's 30th anniversary tour this year, but for bassist Adam Clayton, there are far more compelling reasons to revisit those songs.
Speaking with Rolling Stone about the upcoming dates, Clayton acknowledged the political subtext at play — not only in the original material, penned and recorded during an era in which conservative administrations in the U.S. and U.K. created what he recalled seeing as a "bleak world" — but in the aftereffects of recent voting on either side of the Atlantic. Perhaps even more importantly, touring behind the Tree LP gives the band an opportunity to dig back into an album whose breakthrough success they found somewhat difficult to absorb or enjoy the first time around.
"Certainly looking back on playing the tour at that time, it should have been an extraordinarily, freeing, joyful opportunity," mused Clayton regarding the band's 1987 tour. "But it was actually quite a tough time trying to deliver those songs under the pressure of growing from an arena act to a stadium act. I, for one, don't remember enjoying it very much."
They're a far more experienced stadium act these days, but they're admittedly still struggling with how to perform the complete track listing of a record that was front-loaded with hits — and one that, like many LPs, might play better as a home listening experience than it will in concert.
"I think anyone that's coming to that show clearly knows that record well," Clayton pointed out. "What we would need to figure out is whether that's a suite of songs [and] with our new knowledge of 30 years hence we could breathe life into them in a different way, or whether we kind of bundle them together with some other songs that are thematically in keeping with those. ... We haven't quite figured out how it'll happen. But it will happen and we always toy around and experiment until it feels right."
There's also the matter of U2's upcoming Songs of Experience album, which was temporarily tabled for the Joshua Tree tour. Suggesting that they might play "one or two songs" from the track listing, Clayton admitted that Experience doesn't have any set release date, but insisted "we think we're there with it" — even if they do appreciate the luxury of time to tinker with it while they're on the road.
"We can still work on it throughout this year, all the little nips and tucks that we want to do," he added. "It'll be a pleasure to get out there and play these Joshua Tree songs. In some ways, the experience of playing those Joshua Tree shows and those songs this summer, inevitably, couldn't help [but] have some impact on what that record ultimately becomes when we finish work on it."
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