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U2 start US tour with tilts at Trump

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With evocative montages of the American west scrolling on screens behind them, Irish rockers U2 have kicked off the US leg of their Joshua Tree tour with a few jabs at the new political landscape.

The tour was billed as a look back at the band's 1987 breakthrough album The Joshua Tree with its globe-spanning hits With Or Without You" and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For.

U2 started with one of their even earlier songs, Sunday Bloody Sunday and its opening lines "I can't believe the news today", before roaring through New Year's Day, Pride, and the whole Joshua Tree LP played in the order of its tracklist.

Bono largely steered clear of the overt references to US President Donald Trump that had peppered his performances during the election campaign. But more guarded references to modern-day events kept breaking through.

"Some of you think that the dream is dead. Maybe that dream is just telling you to wake up," Bono said during Pride, as the words of Martin Luther King were projected behind him.

The screen switched to images of models in front of a faded American flag and vast desert landscapes.

Other scenes showed the destruction in Syria and a girl there appealing for help.

Speaking about the band's charitable organisation One, which fights poverty, Bono urged the crowd to "organise" for change.

"Nothing scares ... politicians like people getting organised. That's how it should be, the government scared of the people, not the other way around," he said.

Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder, joined the band on stage for Mothers of the Disappeared, the last track on The Joshua Tree.

U2 will play 33 shows to 1.7 million people during the Joshua Tree tour. The tour is also the top-selling concert in the US this summer, according to ticket seller StubHub, with most shows already sold out.

© RAW 2017

Image: Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP