U2 doesn’t walk on stage, they just appear. Somehow, even with the floor lights on and with the stages in plain view, Larry Mullen Jr. somehow managed to get to his kit undetected on the B stage just before the crowd of 40,000 heard the signature intro to “Sunday Bloody Sunday” While Mullen pounded away The Edge walked stealthily down a 50 foot ramp while playing the iconic riff. The protest anthems continued with “New Year’s Day” At the 60 minute mark, the crowd had heard four of their chart busting protest anthems including “Pride (In the Name Of Love)” before they got to the reason why they were here: to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their best-selling No. 1 and arguably one of the best albums of all time, “The Joshua Tree” and perform it in its entirety and in order. That meant their perennial showstopper and historical highlight “Where The Streets Have No Name” batted in the lead-off spot. The album topped the charts in 20 countries  It was performed in front of a 160 foot projection screen initially portraying a POV ride through roads and deserts and later used for projecting images of women of influence and immigrants. Still clearly the best number, the remainder of show retained the same energy with a throbbing version of “Bullet The Blue Sky” ” that was laced with a snippet of Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog” and the first ever live performance of “Red Hill Mining Town” which Bono dubbed as “more relevant now than ever, especially in a place like Pennsylvania. The Edge’s signature Strat soared into a perfect rainbow that shrouded the stadium early on.

Paradoxically, the album has been described as getting its message out “through socio-politically conscious lyrics which contrast the group’s antipathy for the “real America” with their fascination with the “mythical America”. Bono reinforced that premise, once saying, “The Irish would like to thank you for giving us sanctuary and safety…until today.  However, he countered with some things he likes in modern Americ that the politically savvy front man is grateful for. He mentioned the country’s support — with vital help from former President George W. Bush — – in alleviating the AIDS crisis in Africa. “Eighteen million people are alive now thanks to U.S. taxpayers,” It is fitting as U2 is somewhat of a paradox as a stadium band. The scale and sound are immense but there is also an intimacy that makes cavernous venues feel like a 3,000 seat theater show. They are Rock and Roll Hall of Famers that were regulars on the pop charts. Their 30-year old album is as relevant today as it was in 1987. They closed out with three encores including “Beautiful Day” and “One.”