A Sentimental Journey

U2 is currently in New Zealand preparing for the Asian Leg of the Joshua Tree Anniversary Tour. This brief analysis will look at the overall sentiment of the songs that the band might play. In other words…is it a ‘feel good’ concert experience.

There are 3 different sentiment databases available in tidytext, NRC, BING and AFINN. NRC provides several categories of sentiments such as ‘trust’, ‘fear’, ‘sadness’, while BING simply assigns a “positive” or “negative” value to words. AFINN uses a scale from -5 to 5 to assign sentiment. It is the AFINN database that I will use to first summarize the overall sentiment of a song, then plot the songs as they were performed in concert to get a sense of the ’emotional’ journey of a U2 concert.

Here is an example of the values assigned to the words in “Where The Streets Have No Name”.

The sum of all the AFINN values available for the lyrics of “Where The Streets Have No Name” is 14.

Below is the song summary for The Joshua Tree:

Overall, The Joshua Tree is a positive album. Thus, one would expect that the concert experience would be an overall happy experience.

Using the first concert from the North American Joshua Tree Tour in 2017, we have the following set list for the May 12, 2017 opening show in Vancouver, BC :

Sunday Bloody Sunday
New Year's Day
A Sort Of Homecoming
MLK
Pride (In The Name Of Love)
Where The Streets Have No Name
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
With Or Without You
Bullet The Blue Sky
Running To Stand Still
Red Hill Mining Town
In God's Country
Trip Through Your Wires
One Tree Hill
Exit
Mothers Of The Disappeared
Beautiful Day
Ultraviolet (Light My Way)
One
Miss Sarajevo
The Little Things That Give You Away

Plotting the set list, gives us the following:

After 5 months, U2 end the North American and European legs in San Diego, CA. (America’s Finest City) With the addition of “Your The Best Thing About Me”, the concert ends on a very upbeat sentiment.

Sunday Bloody Sunday
New Year's Day
Bad
Pride (In The Name Of Love)
Where The Streets Have No Name
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
With Or Without You
Bullet The Blue Sky
Running To Stand Still
Red Hill Mining Town
In God's Country
Trip Through Your Wires
One Tree Hill
Exit
Mothers of The Disappeared
Miss Sarajevo
Beautiful Day
Elevation
Vertigo
You're The Best Thing About Me
Ultraviolet (Light My Way)
One

Finally, the rumors are that perhaps U2 will incorporate some of the songs from Rattle and Hum since it is the 30th anniversary of the Love Town Tour.
Here are the songs from Rattle and Hum and their sentiment scores. Rattle and Hum is a very uplifting album.

Finally, with just a few days before opening night, let’s look at the emotional journey of the potentially new set list to be performed in New Zealand. From U2 Songs, the band performed the following on November 4th:

Sunday Bloody Sunday
New Year’s Day
Bad
Pride (In the Name of Love)

Where the Streets Have No Name
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
With or Without You
Bullet the Blue Sky
Running to Stand Still
Red Hill Mining Town
In God’s Country
Trip Through Your Wires
One Tree Hill
Exit
Mothers of the Disappeared
Angel of Harlem
Elevation
Vertigo
Even Better Than The Real Thing
Every Breaking Wave
Beautiful Day
Ultra Violet (Light My Way)
Love is Bigger Than Anything in its Way

Again it is a positive concert, however, not as uplifting as the set list from San Diego.

In the end, a U2 concert is so much more than the songs, it is about the community and the fans that you recognize and soon become your friends.

Here’s to all the fans in New Zealand! Have a wonderful concert!

U2 Love and Logic

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