U2 kick off Bonnaroo in their first ever American festival appearance; all the highlights from night one in Tennessee

For just the second time in their iconic career, U2 played a music festival last night (and their first in the US) and what resulted was a night the crowd of seventy thousand plus will never forget.

The 16th edition of Bonnaroo swung into full gear on Friday with U2 as the main attraction. The festival in Manchester, Tennessee has attracted many iconic names over its tenure such as Elton John, Paul McCartney and Billy Joel but never have they laid claim to such an exclusive headliner like U2.

U2 did not disappoint. They played their entire two hour set they have been touring the United States with in celebration of the 30th anniversary of The Joshua Tree. Their setlist and performance was as historic and breathtaking as the album they were honouring.

Through the years, Bono has become something much more than a lead singer of a rock band, he’s been an advocate, a philanthropist and a cultural icon. On stage he possesses the stage presence of the greatest rock star you have ever seen. With his signature glasses, tight black pants, vest and black boots that are always tapping it is hard to imagine he has lost a single step in the past four decades.

They started with a bang and never let up. Starting with the thunderous drum intro of “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” into “New Years Day” and “Pride (In the Name of Love)”. The crowd was along with every word and the show had hardly begun. Then the giant screen behind them that bled into the side stage screens lit up with a red and black image of The Joshua Tree and the iconic guitar intro of “Where the Streets Have No Name” and what followed was nothing short of amazing. The 30 year old music and lyrics still resonate today and seem just as fresh and current. In the harsh political climate and divided nation we see the United States becoming, it allows for Bono to shine and preach and move the audience.

That is what I took the most from this show, Bono. His passion, voice and how he moves was hypnotic, mesmerizing and inspiring. He’s not just a rock star, but an icon, a figure history will never forget and it only makes the music that much more important.

30 years have passed and it’s obvious The Joshua Tree has stood the test of time and will live on forever and for the lucky audience in the crowd last night, that show will live on forever as well.

Other Friday Highlights

Portugal. The Man

The 1 a.m. timeslot was perfect for this band. Their incredible jamming talents gives this band a sort of Pink Floyd like stage presence and for the lucky audience seeing them for the first time, they now know what music heavyweights this band is.

The xx

This English trio was the perfect lead in to U2. Playing before their biggest audience ever at Bonnaroo, they spanned all three of their solid albums into a beautiful hypnotic light show with plenty thumping bass and groovy guitar riffs to boot.

Kaleo

This band from Iceland is as enjoyable live as their very diverse studio collection. “Way Down We Go” hit right as the sun was falling on the Bonnaroo grounds and it was the perfect anthem to get into the Friday night.

Saturday has another jam packed lineup including headliners Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chance the Rapper, Flume, Cage The Elephant, and much much more.