Come Together: U2’s The Joshua Tree – Civic Theatre: May 11, 2024

Another season of the Come Together series gets underway in stellar fashion with New Zealand’s finest taking on U2’s 1987 classic album, The Joshua Tree.

Come TogetherHaving already recreated albums by the likes of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young and The Eagles, Come Together moves to 1987 and arguable, U2’s most important, most enduring album of their long career.

Whether you are pro-Bono or not, the Irish band’s legacy cannot be denied and this group of Kiwi musicians and vocalists proves to be “One” in their respect for the songs and the musicianship.

Filling Bono’s shoes (or lungs) are: Jon Toogood (Shihad), Julia Deans (Fur Patrol), Milan Borich (Pluto), Dianne Swann (The Bads) and newcomer Jazmine Mary.

The Come Together band is back and sounding better than ever. They are: Jol Mulholland (MD/guitars), Brett Adams (guitars), Mike Hall (bass), Alistair Deverick (drums) and Matthias Jordan (keys & harmonica)

Come TogetherAs is generally the case, the show is divided into two sets…the first features the advertised album played through from beginning to end, the second serves as a “greatest hits” overview, keeping fans happy who want to hear more than just the one album.

Interestingly, The Joshua Tree is somewhat top-heavy…its three biggest hits starting off the record…Where The Streets Have No Name, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For and With Or Without You…are all hard to follow. Kudos then to music director Jol Mulholland for respecting the integrity of the album even it may mean a slightly off-balance set list.

No matter what you think about U2, you must admit they have a distinctive sound and the band members are all unique players (or singers). So, with that in mind, the question tonight is, “can these ace Kiwi musicians recreate the sound and the spirit of a live U2 concert?”. Having seen U2 several times…dating back to 1983…I can say, after hearing just the first few bars of Where The Streets Have No Name…that these folks have nailed it.

This comes down to more than just whoever is singing sounding like Bono. Even though the “Come Together Players” all come for other bands, tonight they really sound like a unit. Their sound is seamless…as is the sound quality in the Civic Theatre.

Come TogetherMilan Borich is up first to sing When The Streets…, and he is completely convincing as he sings, “I want to run, I want to hide.”

Jazmine Mary is next and takes on I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, and while Jazmine’s voice doesn’t have the power or range of a Bono, or a Milan, they do have their own sound, one that fits right in with the songs and makes for a point of difference from the likes of Milan, Jon, Julia and Dianne.

Speaking of Dianne Swann, for me, she was the runaway favourite of the night due to her passion, energy and spirit. Her version of Trip Through Your Wires rocked the house, and she also almost brought the house down with her touching remembrance of Greg Carroll, the Kiwi U2 crewmember who died way too young…Dianne recalled working with him back in the 80s when she and her first band were playing  “Buck-A-Head” nights Wednesdays at Mainstreet…this after Jon Toogood sang One Tree Hill, the song dedicated to Greg.

Dianne followed that with her version of Exit…tapping into Patti Smith and Gloria…making this the top rock performance of the night.

The second set was the unknown quantity and I must say Jol and Co did a splendid job of mixing the hits with the deep cuts.

Come TogetherOf course we would want to hear I Will Follow, New Year’s Day and Sunday Bloody Sunday, but also hearing songs like Bad, The Fly and Zoo Station life was an unexpected treat. And Jon Toogood’s tribute to his wife, who was in attendance, singing All I Want Is You, was another emotional highlight, as was keyboard player Matthias Jordan’s solo take on Every Breaking Wave.

Over two hours and 27 songs later, I had a new respect for U2, the band, along with the people who comprise this Come Together group.

U2 just finished their residency at the Sphere in Las Vegas. I’m sure it was awesome, but after seeing this Come Together presentation of The Joshua Tree I don’t feel that I missed out.

Marty Duda

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Azrie:

Set 1:

  1. Where The Streets Have No Name (Milan)
  2. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (Jazmine)
  3. With Or Without You (Jon)
  4. Bullet The Blue Sky (Milan)
  5. Running To Stand Still (Jon)
  6. Red Hill Mining Town (Julia)
  7. In God’s Country (Jazmine)
  8. Trip Through Your Wires (Dianne)
  9. One Tree Hill (Jon)
  10. Exit (Dianne)
  11. Mothers Of The Disappeared (Julia)
  12. One (Jon)

Set 2:

  1. I Will Follow (Dianne)
  2. Desire (Jazmine)
  3. The Unforgettable Fire (Julia)
  4. Every Breaking Wave (Matthias)
  5. New Year’s Day (Dianne)
  6. Zoo Station (Dianne)
  7. Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kill Me (Milan)
  8. Bad (Julia)
  9. All I Want Is You (Jon)
  10. Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses (Milan)
  11. The Fly (Milan)
  12. Vertigo (Jon)
  13. Sunday Bloody Sunday (Jazmine)
  14. Beautiful Day (Julia)
  15. Pride (In The Name Of Love) (Jazmine)