The Year in Rock 2017: U2's beautiful year included 30th anniversary Joshua Tree tour, new studio album

Credit: Anton Corbijn

U2 ended 2016 by announcing in a Christmas video that the New Year would see a series of dates commemorating the 30th anniversary of the band’s classic 1987 album, The Joshua Tree, as well as the release of Songs of Experience, the sequel to their 2014 studio effort, Songs of Innocence.

The Joshua Tree Tour 2017, which featured U2 performing the memorable album in its entirety live for the first time ever, got underway with a North American leg that kicked off May 12 in Vancouver, Canada, and ran through a July 1 show in Cleveland. During the outing, the Irish rockers played their first headlining set at the Bonnaroo festival, on June 9 in Manchester, Tennessee.

Coinciding with the trek, the band reissued The Joshua Tree on June 2 in several configurations, including a deluxe box set featuring a remastered version of the album, plus live performances, rarities, B-sides and newly remixed tracks.

The tour continued with a series of European shows scheduled from a July 8 concert in London through an August 1 performance in Brussels, Belgium. U2 returned to the U.S. for a run a September dates, then wrapped up the trek with a Latin American leg in October that wound down with four shows — October 19, 21, 22 and 25 — in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

U2 actually gave fans their first taste of Songs of Experience at the kickoff of The Joshua Tree Tour 2017 in Vancouver, where the new song “The Little Things that Give You Away” enjoyed its live debut. August 30, the band premiered the video for another new tune, “The Blackout,” while the upcoming album’s first official single, “You’re the Best Thing About Me,” premiered September 6.

The official Songs of Experience release announcement arrived November 1, revealing that the album would hit stores December 1, coinciding with World AIDS Day. To support the album, U2 has lined up the 2018 eXPERIENCE + iNNOCENCE Tour, set to kick off May 2 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

November 12 in London, U2 received the Global Icon honor at the MTV European Music Awards. The show also featured a performance by the band recorded the day before at a free concert in London’s Trafalger Square.

Songs of Experience debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200, becoming U2’s eighth album to achieve the milestone.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.