Back in the day U2 did a tour called the Conspiracy of Hope tour. I suppose you might say they’ve actually been doing that tour ever since they formed the band, that idea has been a theme throughout their lives, the idea of people being full of hope, or that hope will bring us through together. But in this case, the Conspiracy of Hope tour was a short tour that was used to raise awareness for Amnesty International. Only a half dozen shows, and only for a month in 1986, but it still resonates to today.
It is interesting that U2 were involved in this, I mean of course they were due to the subject matter, but at the time in 1986 they were in between the Unforgettable Fire tour and the Joshua Tree tour, and I can’t say they were the most famous band around just yet. The Police were the headliners during the Conspiracy of Hope tour, with the rest being really a bunch of b level bands, people who had been moderately famous at one time but perhaps weren’t quite so much any more. Looking through the list of performers U2 kind of stand out a little, most of them had already had their time of fame but U2 had so much of theirs ahead of them. Of course you look back now and recognize many of the names, they’re still famous, but none of them are U2 famous.
One of the songs that came about at the time was Sun City, a protest song against apartheid and South Africa. U2 were fairly big in that song, as they tended to be in protest songs around that time. These days they now and again do random fund-raising songs (Haiti comes to mind), but mostly not. They do still support Amnesty though, and promote them to their audience in various ways. It is interesting looking back at the tour, reading the Wikipedia page where there are people asking whether it would have any impact at all. Clearly it did, clearly Amnesty is much bigger and much better known now than they were then. This is one of those examples of people asking if you can do anything, if you can have any kind of impact on the world. The response these days is pretty clear, Bono quoting Nelson Mandela when he says “it’s always impossible until it is done.” In a lot of ways that has been a theme through U2’s life, not only their own career but also all the different places they have had an impact.
One of the other places where there will be a conspiracy of hope will be this weekend in Paris. U2 return to perform after the terrorist attacks, and I am guessing that it is going to be an extremely tight level of security around the shows. Rumor today is that the Eagles of Death Metal will come on stage with the band at some point during the weekend, I don’t know how much chance there is of that happening, and it would be great if it did happen, but if I was them I’m not sure if it would ever be possible to get on a stage again. I guess you need that conspiracy of hope that Bono and U2 have brought to them (fantastic stories of how U2 supported them in the days after the attacks, so proud to be a U2 fan when I hear things like that).