You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

U2 used to take risks with opening acts — but not on this tour


U2’s upcoming stadium tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of “The Joshua Tree” will stop in Houston (May 24) and Dallas (May 26), but not Austin — though it remains to be seen if the Austin City Limits Music Festival might end up in the mix.

Wednesday’s announcement that the iconic Irish group will headline the Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee in June suggests that ACL Fest might be a possibility. And beyond the fest grounds in Zilker Park, there’s always a possibility that U2 might tape an episode of the “Austin City Limits” television show.

It’s no surprise that the band is doing stadiums on this tour, but their choices of opening acts have raised some eyebrows on social media, even among longtime fans of the band. The Lumineers open the two Texas concerts and eight more; other U.S. dates feature Mumford & Sons and OneRepublic. (Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, featuring the former co-leader of Oasis, will open the European shows.)

There was a time when U2 took more risks with its support acts. Though they’ve played it similarly safe on some previous occasions, bringing along the likes of No Doubt, Smash Mouth and Third Eye Blind, their touring history also includes some inspired choices: PJ Harvey, the Pixies, the Waterboys, B.B. King.

But whatever one thinks about the anthemic Americana of Mumford and the Lumineers or the emotional pop of OneRepublic — all of which clearly are big draws — these aren’t bands renowned for sociopolitical statements. In the era of Brexit and Trump, why didn’t U2, a band largely founded upon speaking out and taking stands, respond by sharing their massive stage with fellow activists?

They’ve done it before. Among those who have opened for U2 in the past are the politically charged rap group Public Enemy, relentlessly outspoken rockers Rage Against the Machine and the socially conscious outfit Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy.

Why, then, didn’t they bring along an artist such as hip-hop superstar Kendrick Lamar, who lit the music world afire with the deeply affecting commentary on his 2015 album “To Pimp a Butterfly”? Or perhaps the blazing Southern rockers Drive-By Truckers, whose latest album, “American Band,” continued a long tradition of tying together the personal and the political.

Perhaps Neil Young would be too predictable or not as appealing to younger audiences, but it’s easy to imagine him delivering a message that could resonate in this moment. An even better choice would be English singer-songwriter Billy Bragg, whose three decades of folk-rock-punk bona fides are exceeded only by his eloquence in speaking to audiences about important global issues.

The point being that this wasn’t the time for U2 to play it safe. “I can’t believe the news today/I can’t close my eyes and make it go away,” Bono sang out loudly and unforgettably as the band began its early-’80s rise into the pop stratosphere. So why, of all occasions, would they choose middle-of-the-road opening acts at a time when the world finds itself in such a dramatic state of sociopolitical upheaval?



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Music

BET Awards 2017: What time, what channel, who is nominated, performing
BET Awards 2017: What time, what channel, who is nominated, performing

Some of the biggest artists in rap, hip hop, pop, R&B, movies and TV will be at the BET Awards on Sunday. Remy Ma, DJ Khaled, New Edition and more  are scheduled to be at the show at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.  Here’s what you need to know before the show: What time: 8 p.m. ET What channel: BET, with live streams on BET.com...
13 things to keep in mind when thinking about the Han Solo movie controversy
13 things to keep in mind when thinking about the Han Solo movie controversy

The Disney-firing-the-directors-of-the-Han-Solo-movie story just keeps chugging along. In sum: Several outlets reported on Tuesday that Disney had fired (yes, fired) directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (“The Lego Movie”) off of the upcoming Han Solo Star Wars spin-off movie.  On Thursday, the Hollywood Reporter reported...
‘You’re my butter half’ mural in East Austin vandalized
‘You’re my butter half’ mural in East Austin vandalized

The “You’re my butter half” mural in East Austin is the latest iconic local mural to be hit by vandals. <div></div><br><blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/statesman">@statesman</a> The "...
WATCH: Man drags 6-foot shark back into water on Padre Island
WATCH: Man drags 6-foot shark back into water on Padre Island

Three men who caught a massive bull shark were caught on video dragging it back to its home in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this week, according to the San Antonio Express-News. Karen Wall, a Corpus Christi woman who posted a Facebook video of the men dragging the shark back into the water, said the men were fishing off Bob Hall Pier on North Padre Island...
San Antonio radio station hosts ‘men-only’ movie screening in response to ‘Wonder Woman’ screenings
San Antonio radio station hosts ‘men-only’ movie screening in response to ‘Wonder Woman’ screenings

After Alamo Drafthouse announced “women-only” screenings of the recently released “Wonder Woman” movie, the theater chain gained national attention. Some praised the theater for its decision to send a message of female empowerment, while others — including a New York attorney who filed a complaint with the...
More Stories