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