Irish rock band U2 performed for the first time in the country for their Joshua Tree Tour at the Philippine Arena on December 11. The massive night received different reactions and criticisms after U2’s frontman Bono delivered his “soft message” to President Rodrigo Duterte regarding human rights. During their show, the band also acknowledged the activists, volunteers, journalists, and iconic female personalities in our country. Some fans who are against his opinion are now having a hard time listening to their classic hits. With or without them, it’s still U2 anyway.
Just to let you know, boomers and newbies, y’all shouldn’t be shocked and enraged because this is not something new or unjust. Bono has been a rock star activist and human rights advocate for more than four decades, and U2 is known for speaking up on social and political issues—on and off stage. Remember when English pop rock band Tears for Fears also discussed relevant issues around the world and gave aid to the victims of flooding in Manila? Yes, they’ve done that before and it’s U2’s turn in the spotlight.
In a press conference on December 10 for Human Rights Day, the media asked Bono about his stand on human rights. “You can’t compromise on human rights,” he said. With the continuous attack on press freedom and thousands of killings due to drug war, he didn’t disappoint with his answers. Bono was not the first musician who voiced out his disagreement on Duterte’s drug war.
U2 played their cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes” and dedicated it to the volunteers of the Philippine Red Cross and to journalists. Bono gave his heartfelt salute, calling them “truth-tellers” and “everyday heroes.” He also mentioned that they include them and those activists who keep the country safe in their prayers. It is really touching to see the biggest rock band show that they care for people and they fight with them. Towards the end of the concert, the band recognized the inspiring and game-changing Filipinas who rewrite history and that includes Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, Melchora Aquino, Corazon Aquino, and more. Bono has a deep conviction about journalism, which made him stress the importance and safety of the press during the tribute.
Musicians—including artists and celebrities—who use their platform and music to tackle social and political issues are the kind of public figures we need to stan. Getting involved with politics does not equate to spreading toxicity, asking for attention, or bashing. It is a good way to influence and educate the public about societal issues. So, why hate Bono for doing the right thing and being firm on the things he fights for?
Everyone who attended the concert was lucky enough to get educated and hear everything live. U2 visited the Philippines for the very first time with a goal to make a difference, not headlines. It is more than just guitar riffs and drum beats—they have a mission and advocacy to fulfill.
Header photo credit: ABS CBN News