The Dreamfest concert has been a stalwart feature of Salesforce's Dreamforce conference over the years, with bands like The Killers and the Foo Fighters entertaining giant crowds of Salesforce customers in San Francisco since the event launched in 2003.
This year Salesforce booked the Irish rockers U2 for the headline Wednesday night concert at the Cow Palace on the outskirts of San Francisco. I guess you know what you get when you book Bono these days, he will play the hits as well as evangelise his politics and philanthropic causes.
Where it was expected that Bono would promote his (Red) cause, where businesses like Salesforce can contribute towards the fight against the AIDS virus, he also took the chance to go on an anti-Trump tirade.
The U2 frontman has already stated his position on the Republican candidate, saying Donald Trump is “potentially the worst idea that ever happened to America.”
Midway through their set in front of tens of thousands of tech conference attendees, Bono sang over the opening bars of Bullet the Blue Sky into a stars and stripes megaphone. He then started live-interrogating video clips of Trump up on the big screen, asking the candidate rhetorically: “You want to build a wall? Like the Berlin Wall? Like the Great Wall of China?”
Over the sound of a thrashing Edge guitar solo Bono sang: “You wanna’ make America great again, or you wanna’ make America hate again?” as images of Trump, the statue of liberty and a barking dog quickly intercut against each other in what quickly resembled the sort of propaganda video he was doubtless parodying.
The band then segued into their hit In The Name of Love, with Bono singing: “This is for the peacemakers in Charlotte, in Tulsa […] because we have never needed the spirit of Dr King more.”
The whole ‘song’ culminated with a clip of Dr King’s final 'I Have Been To The Mountaintop' speech playing out on the big screen.
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Later in the set Bono got back on message, promoting (Red), the charitable organisation he founded with the aim of delivering an AIDS-free generation.
He said: “I just want to say that this city led the fight against HIV/AIDS. A tiny little virus that caused so much trouble.” This was the message many of us would have expected from a Bono set, especially considering Salesforce is a major partner of (Red), alongside fellow “Red warriors” and Dreamforce attendees Marc and Lynne Benioff, Nancy Pelosi, Melinda Gates and Jony Ive.
It’s safe to assume that all of this was signed off by Salesforce before the concert, but its also possible that, similar to how Beyonce used the platform of the Super Bowl halftime show earlier this year to support #BlackLivesMatter, Bono took a captive audience and made a political statement, railing against Trump and his anti-immigration policies, referencing his Irish roots whilst also saying “I’m an American.”
Benioff’s personal politics are muddy at best. He is on the record as pro-LGBT rights and pro-Obama, but he has supported Republican Paul Ryan too. He took the chance during his keynote earlier in the day to mock Donald Trump’s tax contributions and has declared his support for Hillary Clinton.
Regardless, as the leader of Salesforce he seems unafraid to evangelise his views to his loyal followers on the biggest stage available to him, the Dreamforce conference and its 170,000 registered attendees.