U2 brings message of equality and non-violence to Mumbai during final Joshua Tree tour performance

Devki Nehra

Dec 16, 2019 15:12:36 IST

At the last leg of their 2019 Joshua Tree tour, Irish rock band U2 performed at Mumbai's DY Patil Stadium on 15 December, a feat that took them almost forty years. The band had previously toured New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and the Philippines.

Concertgoers started trickling in slowly at first but the crowd became denser, all the while maintaining patience, with every passing hour. Never have I seen such a happy bunch of middle-aged people congregated in one place.

 U2 brings message of equality and non-violence to Mumbai during final Joshua Tree tour performance

U2 performs in Mumbai. Image by Ross Stewart

The sun had already set as the band hopped on stage around 7.30 pm against the background displaying a shadow of the Joshua tree, the seminal album's namesake. Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr, opened with 'Sunday Bloody Sunday', referencing the Bloody Sunday massacre of 1972, where British troops fired at protesting civilians. This song surely hit home, owing to the tension in the country related to the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act.

He fell to his knees during 'Pride (In the Name of Love)' and then addressed the audience, "We have fallen head-over-heels in love with this epic, miraculous story that is India. So, our prayer this evening is for an epic night of rock and roll transcendence. We let go of some things, hold on the inside to others. We come to India as pilgrims. Like so many over centuries, we come in search of the great soul Gandhi. We are students and you are our teachers."

Image by Ross Stewart

Image by Ross Stewart

Bono even treated the audience to Plastic Ono Band's 'Give Peace a Chance' before reminding everybody, "Let's make this prayer in the dark: all we are saying is give peace a chance."

Finally, the singer proceeded to tackle tracks from the Joshua Tree album. The stage, a simple set-up devoid of any theatrics and distractions, saw him belt out song after song. From a distance, the band members only seemed like moving specks but the power of their music made for a spiritual experience. It was as if the audience were pilgrims and not the other way round.

Voices from the crowd of over 40,000 fans rang in the arena as they joined Bono for hits like 'With or Without You' and 'I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For'. 

Image by Ross Stewart

Image by Ross Stewart

Known for their staunch human rights activism, U2 even brought up the very Indian issue of women's equality and safety. "It’s a beautiful day when women are safe in their homes and walking the street. When sisters around the world are in schools with their brothers, that’s a beautiful day. When women of the world unite to rewrite history as ‘herstory’, that’s a beautiful day," as Bono, without messing up a note, glided into 'Beautiful Day.'

While there were rumours of AR Rahman being the opening act, he ended up joining them towards the very end. The composer and singer along with his daughters performed 'Ahimsa'. Bono called this philosophy of non-violence preached by Mahatma Gandhi, "India's greatest gift to the world." Accompanying the song were pictures of women like Rana Ayyub, Greta Thurnberg, Gauri Lankesh, Karuna Nundy, who are revolutionaries in their fields.

Watch the performance here

The concert came to an end with 'One,' a song about unity and camaraderie, following which the band walked off stage with the tricolour displayed in the background.

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Updated Date: Dec 16, 2019 15:24:29 IST