Longtime U2 tour director Craig Evans heard his first U2 song live during the original “Joshua Tree” tour.

Evans was working with a concert promotion company straight out of the University of Western Ontario when a bunch of his friends were super excited about “this new band from Ireland.”

Evans worked one of the Canada stops of U2’s “Joshua Tree” tour in 1987. That night in the arena was his first time hearing the band.

Now, Evans has been U2’s tour manager since March 23, 1997 — the “PopMart” tour. Thursday, he was at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium overseeing the building of the steel structure, which would support all the bells and whistles that the 72 crew members would spend more than six hours constructing that evening.

U2 hasn’t graced our fair city since they were the opening act for the J. Geils band in 1982, according to The Courier-Journal’s music critic Jeffrey Lee Puckett. At the time, C-J critic Michael Quinlan praised frontman Bono’s stamina on stage.

When U2 takes the stage at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium tonight, they will be celebrating the “Joshua Tree” album’s 30th anniversary by playing the album in its entirety.

“The album had so much to say at the time,” Evans said. “And so much of it is still relevant to today’s issues.”

In addition to the “Joshua Tree” songs, the band will be playing “a whole bunch of their other top hits,” according to Evans.

Evans said that the audience can expect an 8,000-square-foot carbon fiber video screen crafted by Formula One engineers in Europe. It is 200 feet by 40 feet — playing at 7.6K resolution — which is almost double that of the high-resolution living room TVs. He said that even in the cheap seats, “it feels like you’re watching a living room TV.”

After several arena tours, U2 has returned to playing in stadiums. “U2 really shines in a stadium,” Evans said.

According to Billboard Magazine, the band grossed $62 million from 10 shows during its first four weeks on the road. The ticket count from the first eight stadiums on the schedule reached 519,648. The band will remain in North American cities through July 1 and then hit eight European markets during a three-week span. A second North American leg in September will bring the band to Indianapolis.

Most dates on this tour have been sold out, but there are still tickets available for tonight’s show.

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