Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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My Review of U2’s The Joshua Tree Tour and Album

 Last Friday, U2, my favorite band, marked the 30th anniversary of their 5th studio album, 1987’s The Joshua Tree, with the release of a reissue, available in several formats. I picked up the digital version of the Super Deluxe edition, containing 49 tracks. Incredibly, The Joshua Tree was listed as the top album of 1987 by two publications as diverse as CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) magazine, and Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone ranked it #27 on their 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.
The following evening on Saturday, June 3, we attended The Joshua Tree 30th Anniversary Tour, my 8th U2 concert; a sold-out show in Chicago at Soldier Field along Lake Michigan with 60,000 of our closest friends. The average age of the crowd was about 45.  My nephew saw the Houston show on an earlier tour stop and called it, “a religious experience”. U2 has always been so much more than just a band. After all, it was how U2 brought their faith to their music that attracted me to them in the first place. And of course the band, particularly front man Bono, is very active and outspoken on social and political issues.
My love affair with the band began when as a new believer, I bought their 1983 War album, featuring songs such as “New Year’s Day”, “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “40”, a musical version of Psalm 40. The first time I saw U2 in concert was on their 1992 Zoo TV Tour at the then World Music Theatre in Tinley Park, Illinois. Fast forward 25 years on a beautiful warm June evening in downtown Chicago, the band played The Joshua Tree in its entirety, bookended by some of the most beloved songs, for a total set of 21 songs.

Photo courtesy of the Chicago Tribune

There were many highlights for me, beginning with Larry Mullen Jr. pounding out the first beats to the opening song “Sunday Bloody Sunday” on a small stage at the end of a runway built in the shape of a Joshua tree. Watch them perform the song here.  After the opening set, they moved to the main stage to perform The Joshua Tree album in song sequence order, beginning with “Where The Streets Have No Name”. Watch them perform the song here.  Throughout the concert, video images would be projected on the large screen behind the band, with the band occasionally portrayed on the screen as well. I was surprised that, given the large stadium that the concert was being held in, the band didn’t provide constant video of the band.
After completing The Joshua Tree, the band came back for a six-song encore. Here is the complete setlist. My two favorite songs were “Elevation” and the closing “I Will Follow”.
The band is still going strong more than 37 years since their 1980 album Boy. Incredibly, they have had no band member changes in all that time. Bono is still an incredible performer, on vocals, harmonica and band spokesman, at age 57, and he is backed by perhaps the world’s tightest band, with Edge on guitar and keyboards, Adam Clayton on bass and Larry Mullen on drums.
Throughout the evening Bono, sensing the divide in our country, tried to bring people together, saying it didn’t matter who you voted for, all were welcome at the show. The band took a not so funny shot at President Trump, using what looked like an old western film. After all, it was U2, who after completing their Songs of Experience album, said in January that they were delaying it and reconsidering it in light of Trump’s election.
During the encore, Bono used the song “Miss Sarajevo” to highlight the Syrian refugee crisis and dedicated “Ultraviolet (Light My Way)” to women, with images of many women portrayed on the large screen behind the main stage. Why Angela Davis was among those women I can’t tell you. During this time Bono asked pastors not to be judgmental, perhaps due to his open support of two women he recognized that had just gotten married. It was about that time that I heard someone say, “Just shut up and sing Bono”. But that’s just what you get from Bono. He’s not just a rock star, but an activist. You may not agree with all of his views, and I don’t, but that’s who he is, love him or not.
This wasn’t the best of the eight U2 shows I’ve seen, and it wasn’t the worst. After a very strong start, the show lost some momentum during the performance of “side two” of The Joshua Tree, and in my opinion when Bono “got political”. But it was still an excellent concert. And a nice unexpected addition to the evening was seeing a long fireworks show from nearby Navy Pier near the end of U2’s main set.
I’ve read Greg Kot’s music reviews in the Chicago Tribune for many years. Check out his review of the concert.
The show was opened by the Lumineers, who came on stage more than a half an hour late. I wasn’t familiar with their music, which reminded me a bit of NEEDTOBREATHE, but I enjoyed their set, especially their more upbeat songs. My favorites were “Ho Hey” and “Stubborn Love”. Here is their setlist.
For U2 fans who already have the 2007 remastered Deluxe edition of The Joshua Tree (which I do), purchasing the 2017 Super Deluxe edition will present a decision. Knowing that we would be going to the concert the following day, I decided to purchase it.
The Super Deluxe edition contains the original 11-song 1987 album, outtakes and B-sides, using the same versions from the 2007 Deluxe edition. Of the 49 tracks on the Super Deluxe edition, the only thing that will be “new” for those who have the 2007 Deluxe edition will be an excellent 17-song 1987 concert recorded at Madison Square Garden, six new remixes and two previously unreleased songs – Steve Lillywhite’s alternate version of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and Brian Eno’s 2017 “One Tree Hill Reprise”. The other 24 tracks have been previously available. 
Now, I’m not a huge fan of remixes, or live albums for that matter. To me they are kind of like seeing a movie in 3D; usually not worth the cost. The six songs here are new mixes by producers familiar to U2 fans, such as Daniel Lanois, Steve Lillywhite and Flood. One remix that really stood out for me was Lillywhite’s “Red Hill Mining Town”, which I thought was outstanding in how it effectively brings horns into the mix. The band used that version in their June 3 concert in Chicago.
Picking up The Joshua Tree in one of these available formats and catching them on this tour is a great way to celebrate one of the greatest rock bands and their timeless album.

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Stevie Wonder ConcertConcert Review:  Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life Performance Tour – Banker’s Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis November 7

Stevie Wonder, who rarely tours, appeared last Saturday at the Banker’s Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on his Songs in the Key of Life Performance Tour. This was the second time I had seen him in concert, the first being way back in high school, when Rufus featuring Chaka Kahn opened for him.

I remember the anticipation around the long-delayed Songs in the Key of Life album that was finally released in 1976. It is one of the greatest albums of all time, truly a masterpiece. The 21 song (originally a double album and four-song EP) included radio hits “Sir Duke”, “I Wish” and “Isn’t She Lovely”, and is #57 on Rolling Stone magazine’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list.

stevie wonder

The 65 year-old Wonder began the marathon concert – beginning at about 8:10pm and ending at 11:55pm, including a 15-minute intermission – by addressing the nearly full Banker’s Life Fieldhouse crowd, equally consisting of black and white (Ebony and Ivory!) fans, some of whom were really decked out for the show, accompanied by vocalist Latrelle Simmons. He said he was dedicating the performance to Amos Brown, a local radio personality and journalist who died two days earlier of a suspected heart attack.

Wonder was backed by a large and talented ensemble as he performed his classic album in its entirety. By my count this included:

  • 10-piece string ensemble, plus the animated conductor
  • 5 background singers, including Simmons
  • Four drummers/percussionists
  • 6-piece horn section
  • 2 keyboardists
  • Three guitarists, including musical director Nathan Watts
  • Gospel choir that joined in a few songs

As Wonder played the album pretty much, but not entirely, in order, beginning with “Love’s in Need of Love Today” and finishing with “Another Star”, he showcased his own and his band’s extensive talents, playing extended versions of some songs and giving each of the backing vocalists the opportunity to show off their skills. Highlights included “Sir Duke”, “I Wish”, “Isn’t She Lovely”, and the closing “As” and “Another Star”. He led a great sing-along on “Knocks Me Off My Feet”, having the women in the crowd singing “I don’t want to bore you with it” and the men following with “But I love you, I love you, I love you”.

While playing the harpejji, an electric stringed instrument that aims to bridge the gap in sound and technique between the guitar and the piano, Wonder played his classic “My Cherie Amour” and the Impressions’ 1965 song “People Get Ready”.

During the instrumental “Easy Goin’ Evening (My Mama’s Call)”, Wonder displayed his harmonica skills, leading into “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, often referred to as the African-American national anthem, and finishing with a moving version “The Star-Spangled Banner”.

After Wonder completed “Another Star”, he exclaimed “We did it!” Playing the entire 21 song album in its entirety was quite an accomplishment. He then did another set in which he insisted he be known as DJ Tick Tick Boom, ending the evening with high energy versions of “Do I Do”, Ribbon in the Sky”, “Signed Sealed Delivered (I’m Yours)” and “Superstition”.

Wonder ends this tour with a November 24 show at New York’s Madison Square Garden, and has said he will only perform it again for President Obama (should he ask). We thoroughly enjoyed this unique performance.

Getty's Christmas AlbumMusic Review: Joy: An Irish Christmas LIVE – Keith and Kristyn Getty

I’ve always heard great things about the Getty’s Christmas concerts, but as of yet we haven’t gotten to one. We’ve seen them twice in concert, and at an October, 2014 fall date of their “Hymns for the Christian Life” tour we did get to hear them perform “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” giving us a small taste of what their Christmas concerts are like.

If you are not familiar with the Getty’s, they are writers of modern hymns for the church. Kristyn handles lead vocals, Keith plays piano and acoustic guitar, and they have a very talented band made up of musicians from America and Ireland.

The Getty’s released their first Christmas album Joy – An Irish Christmas in 2011. I have a concern that this new live recording may get lost as it has an almost identical title and even some similar artwork as the 2011 release.

Keith has reflected on why Christmas carols are more than just sentimental songs at the end of the year: “We would do well as worship leaders to remember that non-churchgoers are far more inclined to attend a church service during the Christmas season where songs are easy and enjoyable to sing rather than a church trying to put on the slickest possible show. The music of carols, written by some of the finest hymn writers of all time (such as Wesley, Watts and Rossetti) and arranged by equally outstanding composers (Handel, Holst and Mendelssohn) speaks for itself. We have wonderful songs to use! And Christmas gives us a wide open door to use those songs to impact culture like no other time of the year.”

For this concert, performed in front of an enthusiastic audience, and featured on Public Television, they are joined by Irish dancers and a multi-generational choir. In a live setting, they bring some fresh and extended arrangements to the songs on the studio album, add some additional Christmas songs as well as some other songs such as “A Mother’s Prayer”, “Come Ye Sinners” and one of our best modern hymns that we sing often in our church “In Christ Alone”.

Despite the similar album name, this is not just a live version of the 2011 studio album. In addition to the three songs listed above, the below are songs not included on the studio album:

O Come Redeemer of the Earth
Here We Come A-Wassailing
Sleigh Ride (with Christmas Eve Reel)
Deck the Halls
O Children Come
Irish Christmas Blessing
Go Tell It on the Mountain

Also available on DVD, this live concert recording is aptly named. I felt joy listening to it and worshiping our Savior and his birth. As with all of the Getty’s recordings, these songs feature theologically rich lyrics and top-notch musicianship. Along with Chris Tomlin’s new Adore: Christmas Songs of Worship, this is an excellent new Christmas album to help us worship our Savior this season.


  • Behind the Song with Kevin Davis: Be Kind to Yourself by Andrew Peterson. Find out more about this song from Peterson’s excellent album The Burning Edge of Dawn, one of my favorites of the year. The lyrics and a video of Peterson performing the song are included.
  • Fernando Ortega: A Living Legacy of Faith, Both Ancient and Future. Mia Koehne offers this brief profile of one of my favorite artists.
  • Crowder Releases Neon Porch Extravaganza.  Crowder recently surprised his fans with a new live album recorded at Passion City Church in Atlanta.
  • Snowtime. James Taylor discusses his new single “Snowtime” from his chart-topping album Before This World.
  • Restored Penny Lane Video. The Beatles are set to release 1+, which features 200 minutes of their film footage – you can watch the restored video for “Penny Lane” here. Along with the film for the A-side of the single “Strawberry Fields Forever”, this would become one of the first of what we now know as “music videos”. As a 10-year old Beatles fan, I remember watching the videos for both songs in their American television debut on the program The Hollywood Palace, and being stunned over their new appearance (mustaches and beards).  
  • “A Day in the Life” Video. Speaking of the Beatles new 1+ compilation album – a deluxe reissue of their 2000 No. 1 hits collection 1, that’s set to include some 50 restored and never-commercially-released films and videos – check out this new video of their song “A Day in the Life”.
  •  Songs of Experience. Good news for U2 fans – Bono states that U2’s fourteenth album Songs of Experience, will be released in 2016.

LecraePeople will hurt you. But don’t use that as an excuse for poor choices, use it as motivation to make the right ones.  Lecrae



Song of the Week

He Shall Reign Forevermore by Chris Tomlin

This week’s song of the week is Chris Tomlin’s “He Shall Reign Forevermore” from his new live Christmas album Adore: Christmas Songs of Worship. Watch Chris Tomlin and Matt Maher, the songs co-writers discuss, perform and teach you the song.

Listen to the album version and watch the lyric video here. Watch the song being performed here.

In the bleak mid-winter, all creation groans
For a world in darkness, frozen like a stone
Light is breaking, in a stable
For a throne

And He shall reign forevermore, forevermore
And He shall reign forevermore, forevermore
Unto us a child is born
The King of kings and Lord of lords
And He shall reign forevermore, forevermore

If I were a wise man, I would travel farAdore by Chris Tomlin
And if I were a shepherd, I would do my part
But poor as I am
I will give to Him my heart

And He shall reign forevermore, forevermore
And He shall reign forevermore, forevermore
Unto us a child is born
The King of kings and Lord of lords
And He shall reign forevermore, forevermore

Here within a manger lies
The One who made the starry skies
This baby born for sacrifice
Christ, the Messiah
Into our hopes, into our fears
The Savior of the world appears
The promise of eternal years
Christ, the Messiah

He shall reign forevermore, forevermore
He shall reign forevermore, forevermore
He shall reign forevermore, forevermore

And He shall reign forevermore, forevermore
Unto us a child is born
The King of kings and Lord of lords
And He shall reign forevermore, forevermore

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After All These Years by Andrew PetersonAfter All These Years by Andrew Peterson

Andrew Peterson is not only an excellent singer/songwriter, but also the author of the four-book fantasy series for young readers called the Wingfeather Saga. After completing the latest book he was creatively spent and decided it was a good time to put out a collection of his music spanning his recording career which began in 1996. The result was this 20-song release, comprised of four new songs, eight of his classics re-recorded and eight favorites, specifically chosen by his fans on his Rabbit Room website. I found it similar in nature to Matt Maher’s 2013 All the People Said Amen and Jars of Clay’s 2014 20.

The new songs are:

After All These Years – This song was released as a single and features a light, folk-pop melody. Peterson sings of God’s faithfulness:

‘Cause you never let go. You never let go.
You led me by the hand into a land of green and gold.
You never let go. You never let go.
Your love endures forever wherever I go
after all these years.

Everybody’s Got a Song – This is a loving tribute to Peterson’s hometown of Nashville.

To All the Poets – This song was written with Gloria Gaither. Peterson thanks God for all of the poets he has known for sharing their gifts with him.

Romans 11 (Doxology) – Peterson puts Paul’s words to music. I can hear this being sung in a worship service:

For from Him, through Him,
to Him, is everything
To God be the glory forever and ever.
To God be the glory forever, amen.

Peterson’s lyrics creatively paint pictures over his acoustic backing. All of the songs are excellent here, so it’s really hard to pick favorites. Mine would be “Dancing in the Minefields”, “The Silence of God” (which I actually thought had been written by Peterson’s friend Michael Card, as it was included in his 2006 album The Hidden Face of God), and “The Good Confession”. Peterson was born in Illinois and I enjoyed the multiple references to the state, having lived here my entire life.

If you are an Andrew Peterson fan, this is a nice collection. If you are not familiar with this music, this would be an excellent introduction.

Andrew Peterson Concert Review

Andrew Peterson at Calvary Baptist Church in Normal, Illinois (August 29, 2015)

Andrew Peterson appeared in concert at the Calvary Baptist Church for their “Back to School Weekend” event. He was accompanied on drums by his 15 year-old son Asher. Andrew immediately built a good rapport with the audience with his warm smile and the stories he told about his songs, many of which are about his family.

He opened with “All Things New” and followed that up with his “legalism recovery song” “Rest Easy” from his most recently studio album, 2012’s excellent Light for the Lost Boy:

You don’t have to work so hard
You can rest easy
You don’t have to prove yourself
You’re already mine
You don’t have to hide your heart
I already love you
I hold it in mine
So you can rest easy

Next was “God of My Fathers”, most of which was written by Ben Shive, with Peterson changing just a few words.

Peterson was born in nearby Monticello, Illinois, where his dad was a pastor and he lived his first seven years. He said that returning to the state and seeing corn fields and silos was for him like seeing the Grand Canyon.

He told a story about his Grandma Click who lived in Lakeport, Florida, and then sang “All the Way Home”. One of our favorite songs of the evening was about his uncle Steve (a dairy farmer), who had been diagnosed with cancer and had only a few months to live. He decided to drive with his wife Margie to Alaska to fish for salmon. Peterson said that he sang the song “Alaska or Bust” in front of his uncle’s casket at his funeral:

So get in, I’ll do the drivingIMG_0256
And your bag’s already packed and in the truck
So Margie, get in, put down those dishes
Well, the town will see us go if we’re in luck
So come on, it’s Alaska or bust

He played “Lay Me Down” next, which was the first song that mentioned Illinois:

I suppose you could lay me down to die in Illinois
Bury me beneath the rows of corn
Or in-between the maple trees I climbed on as a boy
Where in the Land of Lincoln I was born

Peterson has been married to Jamie for 20 years and they have three children. After a big fight at year 15 he wrote “Dancing in the Minefields”, which was what he called a “get outta trouble song” and is one of my favorite of his songs:

We went dancing in the minefields
We went sailing in the storm
And it was harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise is for

He then told of a song he wrote on a night when he couldn’t sleep. It had been his birthday and also a day when he released a new album. The only review on iTunes had ripped the album and given it a one-star rating. It bothered him all day and he wrote the song “Fool with a Fancy Guitar”.

Just before the break he played “Be Kind to Yourself”, his only song on the piano (all of the others were on the acoustic guitar) and the only song he played from the forthcoming album The Burning Edge of Dawn, which will be released October 9. The song, produced by Gabe Scott, was written for his daughter who deals with self-condemnation.The Burning Edge of Dawn

Peterson mentioned that he is 41 years old and on Father’s Day broke his leg hopping stones in a river in Asheville, North Carolina. This was his first show since having the boot removed.

The first of two songs about the Resurrection was “Day by Day”. Another “Illinois song” was “The Ballad of Jody Baxter”. This song was about the main character in the book, “The Yearling”. He also mentioned that Frederick Buechner is one of his favorite writers, and one of the things Buechner wrote about was listening to your life. In “The Ballad of Jody Baxter”, he looked at his childhood in Illinois as Eden and Florida as the Fall.

What was good, good, good
Is gone, gone, gone
And there’s a little boy
Who’s lost out in the woods
Always looking for the fawn

He then asked for requests and played a powerful version of “High Noon”, another song about the Resurrection.

He finished a wonderful concert with “Calling Out Your Name”, “The Reckoning” and “After the Last Tear Falls”, written with Normal native Andrew Osenga. It was my first time seeing Peterson in concert and Lord willing, it won’t be the last. I’m very much looking forward to the new album on October 2.


  • The Wonderlands: Darkness. The third of Jon Foreman’s four EPs will be released on September 4. You can pre-order it on iTunes and get “Come Home” and “June & Johnny” instantly downloaded.
  • Highland Hymn. Watch this video of a performance of “Highland Hymn” from the album Glory to the Holy One, performed live during a concert the evening before the start of the 2015 Ligonier Ministries National Conference at Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Florida.
  • Laser Detects Brain Tumour Cells During Surgery. Reuben Hill was diagnosed with epilepsy and a brain tumour after he was found collapsed in his bedroom. During the laser-guided surgery to remove the tumour, he was asked to talk or sing to see if these functions had been negatively affected. Fergus Walsh writes “With the lights dimmed, Mr Hill sang these poignant words from the (Matt Redman) hymn “10,000 Reasons”: “Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, I’ll still be singing when the evening comes.” The operation was a success and he’s now well on the road to recovery.
  • NEEDTOBREATHE – “Brother (feat. Gavin Degraw)” (Live Acoustic Video). NEEDTOBREATHE performs “Brother (feat. Gavin Degraw)” live acoustic from New York City.
  • What a Fool Believes. Michael McDonald and the Doobie Brothers performed their classic song recently on The Tonight Show.
  • Song for Someone. Illustrator and photographer Matt Mahurin directs this video for “Song for Someone” from U2’s latest album Songs of Innocence.

Much of modern worship music has become disconnected, even uninterested in sound theology. We need to work towards a re-connection. Fernando Ortega

Song of the Week

 The Silence of God by Andrew Peterson

This song was included in Michael Card’s 2006 album about lament – The Hidden Face of God, so I naturally thought it was written by Michael. I recently found out that it was actually written by Michael’s friend Andrew Peterson. It is our song of the week. Listen to the song here.

It’s enough to drive a man crazy, it’ll break a man’s faith
It’s enough to make him wonder, if he’s ever been sane
When he’s bleating for comfort from Thy staff and Thy rod
And the Heaven’s only answer is the silence of God

It’ll shake a man’s timbers when he loses his heart
When he has to remember what broke him apart
This yoke may be easy but this burden is not
When the crying fields are frozen by the silence of God

And if a man has got to listen to the voices of the mob
Who are reeling in the throes of all the happiness they’ve got
When they tell you all their troubles
Have been nailed up to that cross
Then what about the times when even followers get lost?
‘Cause we all get lost sometimes

There’s a statue of Jesus on a monastery knoll
In the hills of Kentucky, all quiet and cold
And He’s kneeling in the garden, as silent as a Stone
All His friends are sleeping and He’s weeping all alone

And the man of all sorrows, he never forgot
What sorrow is carried by the hearts that he bought
So when the questions dissolve into the silence of God
The aching may remain but the breaking does not
The aching may remain but the breaking does not
In the holy, lonesome echo of the silence of God

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Music Reviews and News

Concert Review:  U2 iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Tour at the United Center in Chicago – June 25, 2015

U2The first U2 album I bought was 1983’s War. I was a relatively new Christian at the time and had read about this mainstream band in Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine in which some of the members were Christians. (Note: Bono mentioned in 2005’s Bono in Conversation with Michka Assayas that all were now believers, with bassist Adam Clayton being the last to come to faith). Among the songs on War was “40”, which contains the words of Psalm 40, and is a song that the band has closed their shows with often over the years. I’ve been a fan of U2 ever since, especially enjoying the spiritual aspects of their music.

Thursday’s concert at Chicago’s United Center was the second of five at the venue on their iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Tour, featuring seven songs from their latest album Songs of Innocence, which Rolling Stone magazine named as the top album of 2014. The album, their first since 2009’s No Line on the Horizon, was also my top album of 2014, narrowly edging out Lecrae’s excellent Anomaly. This was the seventh time I’ve seen my favorite band in concert and the first in an arena setting since the 2005 Vertigo tour, with outdoor stadium shows at Chicago’s Soldier Field and St. Louis’ Busch Stadium since that time.

U2 often does unique things with their stage. This time, the stage had two large locations at each end of the arena, with a long walkway across the United Center floor connecting them, where just a few nights before the Chicago Blackhawks had won the Stanley Cup Championship. Our seats were supposed to be in the lower section at the end of the main stage. Due to a mix-up (either the wrong floor map was posted when we purchased tickets through the band’s fan club, or the stage was flipped) our seats were actually behind the stage. Those sitting around us were all very disappointed with this, but as it turned out there were some benefits to sitting only about 25 feet from drummer Larry Mullen. It was amazing to watch him working (behind the scenes) throughout the show. The close proximity to the band was a stark contrast to my last U2 concert, when we were more than three hundred feet away from the U2 360 stage placed in center field at Busch Stadium.

The two and a half hour concert started with Bono in his trademark black leather jacket and sunglasses appearing alone on the far end of the arena. As he walked toward the main stage he began singing “Oh, Oh, Oh…” from “The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)” as the rest of the band (Edge, guitar and keyboards; Adam Clayton, bass; and Larry Mullen) took their places on stage. The concert did not include an opening act and had only a short intermission of Johnny Cash singing “The Wanderer” from Zooropa on the video screen; it featured twenty four songs, including three during the encore. Here is the complete setlist, which changes a bit each night as the band plays multiple dates in each city on the tour.

Although the concert featured seven songs from Songs of Innocence – which sounded even better in concert than on the too perfectly produced album – the band did a nice job of playing songs from throughout their thirty-five year career. Here are the albums that the songs originally appeared on:

Boy (1980) – Out of Control, I Will Follow

War (1983) – Sunday Bloody Sunday

Unforgettable Fire (1984) – Pride (In the Name of Love), Bad

The Joshua Tree (1987) – With or Without You, Bullet the Blue Sky, Where the Streets Have No Name

Rattle and Hum (1988) – Angel of Harlem

Achtung Baby (1991) – Even Better Than the Real Thing, One, Until the End of the World, Mysterious Ways

All That You Can’t Leave Behind (2000) – Beautiful Day

How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2004) – Vertigo, City of Blinding Lights

No Line on the Horizon (2009) – Moment of Surrender (portions performed before and after “Bad”).

Invisible 2014 single (not available on an album)

Songs of Innocence (2014) – The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone); Iris (Hold Me Close), Cedarwood Road, Song for Someone, Raised by Wolves, Every Breaking Wave, Volcano

The band’s main stage was directly in front of us at one end of the United Center. A long catwalk/walkway with a huge see-through video screen above it, added much to the experience, but also created some challenges as only those on the sides of the arena could fully see the band when they were inside the screen. That’s right, the band would enter the screen and be part of the video experience. The screen would move up and down throughout the concert. However, when it was down, it made it difficult for people seated at the ends of the arena to see the band.

The band also set up at the far end of the arena for a few songs. By moving around and playing at a number of different places on their stage they added variety and gave everyone unique views of the band.

The show featured a few themes. The first half of the show featured many of the new songs from Songs of Innocence, so growing up was a theme – much as it was with Lecrae on his recent Anomaly tour – as Bono sang about his mother Iris (“Iris (Hold Me Close)” and his neighborhood growing up “Cedarwood Road”. “Sunday Bloody Sunday” with Larry playing a sobering snare drum effectively led into “Raised by Wolves”. Later, Bono would say that after grief comes anger as he led the band into “Volcano”. With songs like “Bullet the Blue Sky” and “Pride (In the Name of Love)” there were references to “I can’t breathe”, Ferguson, MO and Charleston SC. Later, the theme of surrender came up with parts of “Moment of Surrender” sung before and after “Bad”.

A few other thoughts:

  • The couple in front of us were from nearby (to Chicago) Grayslake, Illinois. This was her thirteenth U2 concert. When Bono introduced their second song “Out of Control” as their first single, she was completely overcome emotionally, with tears streaming down her face during the entire song. I’ll never forget how the song impacted her.
  • “Every Breaking Wave” is my favorite song on the new album. I actually prefer the alternate version released on the deluxe edition, so Bono performing it with only Edge on piano at the far end of the stage was a highlight.
  • Bono pulled a young woman from Costa Rica out of the crowd to help him film “Mysterious Ways” and “Angel of Harlem” around the world as Twitter comments from literally around the world were projected up on the large video screens above us.
  • My favorite song was “Pride (In the Name of Love)”, which was followed by “Beautiful Day”. The energy in the building during those two songs was incredible.

Though Bono seemed less energetic than past tours (could be due to his recent bike accident, or what the Chicago Tribune referred to as his bout with “nagging bronchitis”), it would not have been noticeable to those who hadn’t seen him on previous tours when he would sprint around the stage.

Thirty-five years after their first album U2 is still relevant and going strong. Incredibly there have been no band member changes during that time. I hope to see them on the next leg of the tour with songs from the rumored Songs of Experience album.

 Song of the Week

Jubilee by Michael Card

Michael’s Card’s ministry (music, books, teaching) has had a profound impact on my life for thirty years. This is one of my favorite songs of his. I particularly enjoy the line:

To be so completely guilty, given over to despair
To look into your Judge’s face and see a Savior there.

Here are the lyrics to the song:
The word provided for a time for the slaves to be set free
For the debts to all be cancelled so His chosen one could see
His deep desire was for forgiveness
He longed to see their liberty
And His yearning was embodied in the year of Jubilee

Jubilee, Jubilee
Jesus is that Jubilee
Debts forgiven, slaves set free
Jesus is our Jubilee

At the Lord’s appointed time His deep desire to give a man
The heart of all true jubilation and with joy we understand
In His voice we hear a trumpet sound that tells us we are free
He is the incarnation of the year of Jubilee

Jubilee, Jubilee
Jesus is that Jubilee
Debts forgiven, slaves set free
Jesus is our Jubilee

To be so completely guilty, given over to despair
To look into your Judge’s face and see a Savior there.

Watch Michael perform this wonderful song in concert here.

musicnewsMusic News

  • Angels of Fenway. Watch James Taylor perform this song (about his Red Sox defeating my Cardinals in the 2004 World Series) from his excellent new album Before the World on Late Night with Seth Myers.
  • Charleston Shooting Comes From Deeply Rooted Racism & Injustice. Lecrae writes “We don’t need a cliché and a proof-text for every social issue. We need hands and feet in the cities, institutions, and infrastructures. The same gospel that frees the soul, frees us to live selflessly toward others with genuine compassion.”


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Lecrae Concert Review, Music News and Song of the Week

anomaly_tourLecrae, Andy Mineo and DJ Promote at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis April 30, 2015

DJ Promote opened the recent joyful three hour show before a mixed crowd of 3,000 mostly young fans at the Fabulous Fox Theatre, one of the final stops of the Anomaly tour.

We were seated in the second row of the balcony. As the crowd started moving at the beginning of DJ Promote’s set, so did the balcony – a lot! We had never felt anything like that before. Think of going through some turbulence on a flight, except you are sitting in the balcony of a theatre. The person sitting next to Tammy said it always happens. Later, in discussing this with an usher, we were told that the building was built that way to withstand an earthquake. They said we should have been there for the Lady Gaga concert when it was really shaking!

After a short set from DJ Promote, Andy Mineo came on to play an excellent high energy set, featuring songs from his Neverland EP and full-length album Heroes for Sale. Featured were such songs as “Neverland”, “The Saints”, “Bitter”, “Wild Things”, “Uno Uno Seis” (Spanish for 116), “Paisano’s Wylin”, “Rewind”, and “You Can’t Stop Me”.

Lecrae’s set contained mostly songs from his latest and chart-topping Anomaly album, beginning with “Welcome to America”. He effectively used video and song to tell the story of his life, as he was accompanied by a background singer, DJ Promote and a drummer. Other songs performed from the new album included “Outsiders”, “Fear”, “Wish”, “Dirty Water”, “Nuthin”, “All I Need is You”, “Good, Bad, Ugly” and “Give In”. This was more than just a concert, as Lecrae didn’t avoid the hard issues, including driving his girlfriend to an abortion clinic. He also played “I’m Turnt” and “Tell the World”. Andy Mineo joined Lecrae for a rousing “Say I Won’t” closer.

Along the way we had a marriage proposal by Lecrae’s former road manager (she said “yes”)! DJ Promote then led the crowd through some celebratory music.

Throughout the concert Lecrae talked about how much he loved St. Louis and how he felt that the city had adopted him. He thanked those from the St. Louis rap community who had helped him (including Thi’sl, J.R. and Flame), and then called on Thi’sl to join him for a powerful great version of “Fakin” from Gravity.

Lecrae is the real-deal. There is no artist I like or respect more. This was the second time we had seen him in concert, the first being a much shorter set at an outdoor festival. He and his fellow Reach Records artists are making a difference in an otherwise mostly dark genre by consistently producing high quality music.


 Song of the WeekThis week’s song, O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus, is a favorite of my wife’s. Few hymns paint such a vivid picture of God’s love as this one by Samuel Trevor Francis: vast, unmeasured, boundless free; rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me; Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love …It helps us visualize the immensity of Christ’s love, overwhelming us in the depths of His tender, triumphant heart. Ephesians 3:18 ~ And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,  may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.

You can learn the tune and sing along at

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o’er His loved ones, died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o’er them from the throne!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best!
’Tis an ocean full of blessing, ’tis a haven giving rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, ’tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee!