U2 at Bonnaroo by Randy Cremean

words & photos by Randy Cremean

U2 have always done things big. I first became aware of the band when I saw their video for "Sunday Bloody Sunday" on MTV. It featured a live performance at Red Rocks. An epic setting for an epic song. My mind was blown and I begged my mom to take me to the record store so I could buy their album War on cassette (Yes, I'm old). The lads from Ireland went on to become the biggest band in the world. They won a couple dozen Grammys, had the biggest touring production in human history, and set the standard for sociopolitical activism among musicians. It was with no small fanfare, then, they took the stage at Bonnaroo for their first festival headlining gig in the United States in 41 years.

Taking the stage with little fanfare, U2 immediately launched into the holy triumvirate of songs from their early years with "Sunday Bloody Sunday", "New Year’s Day" and "Pride (In The Name of Love)". They then played the entirety of their classic Joshua Tree album, backed by enormous high definition video screens. Throughout the performance, lead singer Bono engaged with the massive crowd. Despite the enormity of the production, a warm camraderie pervaded the field; as if we were all friends sharing a pint in a Dublin pub while singing along to our favorite band.