Watch U2 Play 'One Tree Hill' at 2019 'Joshua Tree' Tour Launch - Rolling Stone
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Watch U2 Play an Emotional ‘One Tree Hill’ at 2019 ‘Joshua Tree’ Tour Launch

The band honored their deceased friend Greg Carroll

U2 kicked off their Joshua Tree Tour 2019 at Auckland, New Zealand’s Mount Smart Stadium on Friday evening. It was their first concert since the conclusion of their Experience + Innocence Tour exactly one year ago, and their first time playing any songs from The Joshua Tree since the conclusion of the last Joshua Tree tour in October 2017.

The emotional highpoint of the show came midway through The Joshua Tree when Bono spoke to the crowd about Greg Carroll, a young Māori man they met in Auckland when the group first played there in 1984. He joined their crew and became extremely close to the band. He was even onstage with them at Live Aid making sure Bono’s microphone cords didn’t get tangled when he went into the crowd.

Tragically, he died in a motorcycle accident on June 3rd, 1986. The group was just about to begin work on The Joshua Tree and they wrote “One Tree Hill” — inspired by an actual volcano in Auckland — in his honor. Days before the Auckland concert this week, U2 went to One Tree Hill to honor Carroll.

“We sort of adopted him, or perhaps it was the other way around,” Bono told the crowd in Auckland. “But we were very grateful for his companionship over those precious times together. He was taken from us too soon, but in a certain way, he’s still very present. So this is for Greg Carroll.”

Much like with the 2017 Joshua Tree concerts, U2 began the Auckland show with a their Eighties hits “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” “New Year’s Day,” “Bad” and “Pride (In the Name of Love)” before playing The Joshua Tree straight through. The encore featured songs recorded after The Joshua Tree, including “Elevation,” “Vertigo,” “Every Breaking Wave” and “Even Better than the Real Thing.” The show wrapped up with “One.”

U2 head over to Australia after playing one more show in Auckland and then the tour will take them to Singapore, Japan and South Korea before wrapping in Mumbai, India, on December 15th.

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