U2 announced plans this week to roll out four vintage concerts onto YouTube during the next four weeks. They’re calling the series “U2: The Virtual Road” and it will spotlight a 2001 gig at Ireland’s Slane Castle, their legendary 1983 Red Rocks show, the 1997 Mexico City concert on the PopMart tour, and the Paris stop of their 2015 Innocence and Experience tour.
These will be familiar gigs to many longtime U2 fans, but the visuals have been enhanced and the sound has been remastered. Dermot Kennedy, Fontaines D.C., Carla Morrison, and French band Feu! Chatterton have all taped new sets and will serve as their “opening acts.”
“Every show is memorable for us, but these four particularly so,” U2 said in a statement. “It’s exciting to be on the road again…Embracing all the wonder of the virtual road…And especially exciting to be joined by such a brilliant line-up of fellow travelers in Dermot Kennedy, Fontaines D.C., Carla Morrison, and Feu! Chatterton.”
There are no plans as of yet to post any shows beyond these four, but U2 certainly have a lot more in their vault. One item is a feature-length look at the 2017 Joshua Tree tour directed by photographer Anton Corbijn. He shot the original Joshua Tree cover in 1987 and created new films for the 2017 anniversary tour. He reportedly filmed shows in San Diego, Mexico, and South America for a movie that has yet to come out.
It was a very special tour for fans since it saw the band playing the complete Joshua Tree for the first time, and they brought back many songs like “Exit” and “Trip Through Your Wires” that hadn’t been played since the Eighties. Here’s fan-shot video of “Exit” from a Berlin show on July 12th, 2017. It begins with a scene from the Fifties Western TV show Trackdown where a con artist named Trump tries to convince a town to let him build a wall.
U2 brought The Joshua Tree back out in late 2019 for an encore run that took them to Australia and Asia, ending just three months before Covid-19 shut down the industry. They’ve spent the downtime chipping away on a new album, but they’ve also hinted at the possibility of celebrating the 30th anniversary of Achtung Baby and Zoo TV with a special tour. That could be one of many stadium extravaganzas to travel the world once the pandemic clears. But in the meantime, they should finally release the Joshua Tree tour movie. They won’t have a captive, concert-deprived audience that much longer.