The Joshua Tree Tour
I want to tell you a little bit about our amazing trip to Houston — and encourage you to grab concert tickets if you’re a U2 fan. We were traveling with 2 other couples — Chris & Lisa Valentine Clark, and Weston & Emily Spencer. Ben Blair, Chris Clark and Weston Spencer have been best friends for over 30 years. And all 3 married within a few months of each other, so we’re all celebrating our 22nd anniversaries this year. As a couple, these are our oldest, dearest friends, but we don’t live near them and and we don’t get to see them often enough.
When U2’s Joshua Tree album tour was announced, Emily reached out with the idea of getting tickets as a group and attending the concert all together. She knew how meaningful the Joshua Tree album was to our husbands — it was the soundtrack of their youth — and this was the perfect excuse for a long overdue trip together. We originally wanted to go to the San Francisco concert — because then we could host everyone here in Oakland — but it happened to be the same night we had Hamilton tickets (that we had purchased way back in December — a total fluke!), so we decided to pick another location.
We looked at city options, decided on Houston, and bought our concert tickets. We traveled from California, and the 2 other couples traveled from Utah. It ended up being a good thing we were all out of town — it’s so hard to take a break from your responsibilities if you’re in your own town, and I know I would have been distracted if we had hosted for the San Francisco concert.
Anyway. The concert. I LOVED IT SO MUCH. It was a full-on love letter to America. The songs, the imagery, and every word that Bono spoke. I rotated through states of nostalgia, patriotism and pure delight. I couldn’t get enough.
One thing I didn’t expect at all is that the concert would be so emotional for me. But oh my. The tears came over and over throughout the night. There was something about the western landscape imagery — especially when they played Where The Streets Have No Name that just gutted me. It’s the landscape I’ve spent most of my life in, and there was something so powerful about it seeing it projected behind the band.
Another emotional part for me happened about 3 quarters of the way through the concert, when Bono took a few minutes to talk about ONE.org’s Poverty is Sexist campaign. While he talked, massive images of powerful female leaders from around the world were shown on the screen. I loved it so much!!! Bono shared some stats, and talked about the AIDS epidemic and the huge positive medical outcomes that have come thanks to our country, and especially thanks to the support of President George W. Bush when he was in office. The whole thing was so powerful and so empowering. There’s really nothing better than seeing a rockstar who is an unapologetic feminist.
Because of my work with ONE.org, I received wristbands that got us into the (RED)zone, which meant we could get very near the stage. Chris was diagnosed with ALS a year ago and is in a wheelchair now; having closer access meant we had more flexible options for finding spots where he could get a great view. And of course, we all loved getting as close as we possibly could. So our wristbands were a huge bonus.
It was interesting to look around and realize that most concert goers were in the 40+ range. For sure there were exceptions, but it was definitely a different age crowd than when we went to Beyoncé. It was beautiful to share these meaningful songs with my fellow Generation Xers. And I laughed so hard when Bono said, “Welcome to side two” as they played through the album in order.
After the concert, we went out for late night eats at House of Pies, and talked and talked till we couldn’t stay awake any longer. That is basically how I could describe the whole trip. We arrived in Houston on Tuesday evening, went to dinner at Hugo’s and talked and talked, then went back to the hotel lobby and talked and talked. Then woke up and watched movies that the 3 husbands had made together when they were boys, and talked and talked. Then picked up burgers and sat at a waterfall city park and talked and talked.
We didn’t want to do anything but hang out and just be together. We didn’t want it to end. It really was a super special trip, and I’m still feeling over the moon that we all made it happen.
P.S. — Don’t miss Karen Walrond’s writeup on the Joshua Tree Tour. Her images are outstanding.
P.S.S. — Some fun connections: Have you seen the viral Chatbooks commercial with the mom in the tub? The mom is Lisa Valentine Clark. And do you read Nie Nie Dialogues? Chris Clark is Stephanie’s brother.