Axver (axver) wrote,

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Well, today's cricket match is proving to be remarkably dull. The Australian innings was entertaining as India simply skittled them, but after a good start, the Indians seem to have become scared of being skittled in similar fashion and have seriously put the brakes on. So, to pass the time, I thought I would make a post to complement my "fifty top albums" post from last month. But instead of just something bland like "fifty top songs" (which sounds like a tough ask anyway), I thought - well, what am I known for? I'm the U2 setlist guy. So, what the hell, here's my ten of my favourite U2 setlists over the years.

I think I shall present these in chronological order.

15 May 1981, San Francisco, USA
1. The Ocean
2. 11 O'Clock Tick Tock
3. I Will Follow
4. I Fall Down
5. An Cat Dubh
6. Into The Heart
7. Touch
8. Another Time, Another Place
9. The Cry
10. The Electric Co. / Send In The Clowns (snippet)
11. Things To Make And Do
12. Stories For Boys
13. Boy-Girl / Let's Twist Again (snippet)
14. Out Of Control
15. Twilight
16. I Will Follow
17. A Day Without Me
18. 11 O'Clock Tick Tock
19. The Ocean
(I believe the encores start with Twilight, but I would have to check a bootleg before making that change on U2VT.)

I think this is undoubtedly the best Boy Tour setlist. Just about every song in regular rotation gets included, plus an early version of the then unreleased I Fall Down (sans keyboards and known as When I Fall Down), and by Boy Tour standards, it's a long show. As per usual in those days, some of the encore consists of the band repeating songs; I don't buy the lack of material explanation as they actually had plenty of songs floating about (though this particular setlist only omits two released songs, Another Day and Shadows And Tall Trees, both never played on the Boy Tour). I think the explanation that some European bands simply repeated songs because that was the done thing at the time is closer to the truth.

18 March 1982, New York, USA
1. Gloria
2. Another Time, Another Place
3. I Threw A Brick Through A Window
4. A Day Without Me
5. An Cat Dubh
6. Into The Heart
7. Rejoice
8. The Cry
9. The Electric Co. / Send In The Clowns (snippet)
10. I Fall Down
11. October
12. Tomorrow
13. I Will Follow
14. Twilight
15. Out Of Control

16. Fire
17. 11 O'Clock Tick Tock / Give Peace A Chance (snippet)
18. The Ocean
19. Southern Man
20. A Celebration

On Saint Patrick's Day, U2 played a special concert in New York, including only the second performance ever of Tomorrow. The next night, they went and topped themselves. The setlist is nearly the same, so you get the great main set with Tomorrow as well as all the October goodness of Gloria opening, Rejoice being played, and so forth. But then you get an extended encore, with a ramshackle Southern Man cover and a rare performance of A Celebration.

26 February 1983, Dundee, Scotland
1. Gloria
2. I Threw A Brick Through A Window
3. A Day Without Me
4. New Year's Day
5. Out Of Control
6. Sunday Bloody Sunday
7. The Cry
8. The Electric Co. / Send In The Clowns (snippet)
9. I Fall Down
10. October
11. Tomorrow
12. Two Hearts Beat As One
13. Seconds
14. Fire
15. 11 O'Clock Tick Tock
16. I Will Follow / Christmas Is Coming (snippet)

17. Party Girl
18. Surrender
19. Like A Song
20. 40

The legendary War Tour show - and the first of the lot. The War album had not even been released yet; the New Year's Day single had been released in January, with the album due in March. The setlist is quite unlike any other played on the War Tour. The main set within a couple of weeks became considerably different; this is the final time Fire was ever played live. The encore includes the one and only performance of Like A Song, a song that U2 apparently just could not pull off live at the correct pace. It also has the debut of Party Girl, the b-side of A Celebration - afterwards, Bono proclaimed that it was the "first and probably last" performance of that song, but it of course has gone down in live U2 history as a popular whimsical number and is the most performed b-side in U2 history. Also note that Bono snippeted Christmas Is Coming in February. Way to make sense, Bono.

22 April 1987, Los Angeles, USA
1. Stand By Me
2. MLK
3. Pride (In The Name Of Love)
4. Trip Through Your Wires
5. I Will Follow
6. Bullet The Blue Sky
7. Running To Stand Still
8. The Unforgettable Fire
9. Sunday Bloody Sunday
10. Exit / Van Morrison's Gloria (snippet)
11. In God's Country
12. The Electric Co. / Light My Fire (snippet)
13. October
14. New Year's Day
15. Gloria
16. Bad / Ruby Tuesday (snippet) / Sympathy For The Devil (snippet)

17. Where The Streets Have No Name
18. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
19. With Or Without You / Shine Like Stars (snippet) / Love Will Tear Us Apart (snippet)
20. 40

The first leg of the Joshua Tree Tour saw a fair bit of setlist shuffling as the band played up to five nights in some cities - and also seemed to have some trouble settling on what to play and where in the set. This is one of my favourites simply because I love the trio of Joshua Tree songs in the encore. This is also the first time U2 covered Stand By Me and the one time when it really was a genuine surprise to everybody, with Bono coming out while the house lights were up to sing along with the song being played over the PA. I believe this is also the U2 show where the band received a death threat if they played Pride - so of course, they play the thing right at the start rather than at its usual spot at the end of the set! Tempting fate, but fate didn't respond and we got a great selection of songs, even if placing October after The Electric Co. is just a little odd. I'm rather keen on Running To Stand Still into The Unforgettable Fire, though.

3 August 1987, Birmingham, England
1. Bullet The Blue Sky
2. Running To Stand Still
3. I Will Follow
4. Silver And Gold
5. Gloria
6. Sunday Bloody Sunday
7. Exit / Van Morrison's Gloria (snippet)
8. In God's Country
9. The Electric Co. / Break On Through (snippet)
10. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For / Exodus (snippet)
11. MLK
12. The Unforgettable Fire
13. Bad / Walk On The Wild Side (snippet)
14. October
15. New Year's Day
16. Pride (In The Name Of Love)

17. Party Girl
18. Spanish Eyes
19. With Or Without You
20. 40

One of the truly odd sets of the Joshua Tree Tour. It's nearly the end of the European leg and the band pull out a swag of surprises. Bullet The Blue Sky opens a show for the first time. Silver And Gold makes its live debut. Spanish Eyes makes a rare appearance and this is the only time since the Boy Tour that three b-sides have been played in one night (Silver And Gold, Spanish Eyes, and Party Girl). Many songs are played well out of their usual places, and to the eyes of a 2008 U2 fan, Where The Streets Have No Name is conspicuously absent - it in fact missed 12 of the 30 European gigs, though this was one of the few indoor shows where it was omitted. It should also be noted that this was the last performance of The Electric Co. until 26 March 2005.

12 December 1987, Hampton, USA

1. Where The Streets Have No Name
2. I Will Follow
3. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For / Exodus (snippet)
4. MLK
5. 11 O'Clock Tick Tock
6. Sunday Bloody Sunday
7. Exit / Van Morrison's Gloria (snippet)
8. In God's Country
9. Tequila Sunrise
10. Out Of Control
11. Bad
12. Bullet The Blue Sky / The Battle Hymn Of The Republic (snippet)
13. Running To Stand Still
14. New Year's Day
15. Pride (In The Name Of Love)

16. Mothers Of The Disappeared
17. With Or Without You / Shine Like Stars (snippet)
18. Lucille
19. 40

A third notable Joshua Tree Tour setlist. Tequila Sunrise is indeed the Eagles song, and it is covered by Larry Mullen - the first time he ever takes lead vocal duties. This show was in essence a celebration of the Joshua Tree Tour. It was in some regards the last show; two more were played a week later in Arizona for the purposes of filming the colour portions of Rattle And Hum. Since the band are in a relaxed mood, the set included the aforementioned cover, a rare performance of Out Of Control, an even rarer Lucille, and the only performance of 11 O'clock Tick Tock between 7 July 1985 and 30 December 1989. Mothers Of The Disappeared also turns up for the first time in half a year, obviously as a rehearsal before being played for filming in Arizona (though it ultimately didn't make the film - a bad choice if you ask me, as the performances were fantastic).

21 September 1989, Perth, Australia
1. Hawkmoon 269
2. Desire
3. All Along The Watchtower
4. All I Want Is You
5. Where The Streets Have No Name
6. I Will Follow
7. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
8. One Tree Hill
9. God Part II
10. In God's Country
11. People Get Ready
12. Bad
13. October
14. New Year's Day
15. Pride (In The Name Of Love)
16. Bullet The Blue Sky
17. Running To Stand Still
18. With Or Without You

19. Angel Of Harlem
20. When Love Comes To Town
21. Love Rescue Me
22. 40

The first night of the Lovetown Tour. The incomplete bootleg of this show reveals it was a ragged affair, with passion and intensity making up for a lack of rehearsal. The setlist itself is absolutely exceptional. A number of songs debut here: God Part II, Desire, All I Want Is You, and most notably Hawkmoon 269, which is radically different to its studio version with a fantastic ethereal intro. This also features a rare post-1987 performance of In God's Country.

1 December 1989, Osaka, Japan
1. Stand By Me
2. Pride (In The Name Of Love)
3. New Year's Day
4. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For / Exodus (snippet)
5. People Get Ready
6. MLK
7. One Tree Hill
8. Where The Streets Have No Name
9. Gloria
10. Help
11. Bad
12. Van Diemen's Land
13. Bullet The Blue Sky
14. Running To Stand Still
15. Slow Dancing
16. Angel Of Harlem / Suspicious Minds (snippet)
17. When Love Comes To Town
18. Love Rescue Me / Amazing Grace (snippet)

19. Desire / Not Fade Away (snippet)
20. All Along The Watchtower
21. All I Want Is You / Sexual Healing (snippet)
22. 40

No list of great U2 setlists would be complete without this one, the famous "backwards set". Many songs are played well away from their usual positions - Pride and New Year's Day, staples of the end of the main set, appear right at the top of the order, while the Desire/Watchtower/AIWIY trio makes its only appearance in the encore ever. Also note the concert debut of Slow Dancing, a song that was not officially released for another 3 years and 51 weeks.

26 December 1989, Dublin, Ireland
1. God Part II
2. Desire
3. All Along The Watchtower
4. All I Want Is You / Sexual Healing (snippet)
5. Resolution And Independence (snippet) / Where The Streets Have No Name
6. Gloria
7. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
8. MLK
9. One Tree Hill
10. Van Diemen's Land
11. Bullet The Blue Sky
12. Running To Stand Still
13. New Year's Day
14. Pride (In The Name Of Love)

15. Angel Of Harlem / Suspicious Minds (snippet)
16. When Love Comes To Town
17. Love Rescue Me
18. With Or Without You / Shine Like Stars (snippet)
19. 40

OH GOD YES. I don't care that this is only nineteen songs long and contains no out-of-the-ordinary inclusions by Lovetown standards. This setlist contains almost everything that was right about the Lovetown Tour. The first time God Part II ever opened. The absolutely rockin' Desire/Watchtower duo. The best performance of Streets ever. The best performance of U2's entire career, and possibly anybody's career, in the form of One Tree Hill. Edge taking the spotlight for Van Diemen's Land. The encore opened by the trio of songs with BB King and his band. A soaring With Or Without You. And a moving 40 to close. Yeah, that's made of epic win.

You people have no idea how hard it was to limit myself to just three Lovetown Tour setlists. None at all. That tour may have been just 47 shows, but they produced 47 of U2's best setlists ever. With all the variety on that tour, it is so hard to pick. I hate leaving out 30 December 1989, Dublin as it has the live debut of She's A Mystery To Me and the return of 11 O'clock Tick Tock.

Forget ZooTV.

Forget Popmart.

Forget the third leg of the Elevation Tour. I can point to setlists from the first and second legs that I quite like, but I can't say I feel any of them are of such a high level that they merit inclusion on a list of my favourites.

20 September 2005, Chicago, USA
1. City Of Blinding Lights
2. Vertigo
3. Elevation
4. The Electric Co. / Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting (snippet) / Three Little Birds (snippet) / Break On Through (snippet) / See Me, Feel Me (snippet)
5. The Ocean
6. Walk On
7. Beautiful Day / Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (snippet) / Many Rivers To Cross (snippet)
8. Miracle Drug
9. Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own / The Black Hills of Dakota (snippet)
10. Yahweh
11. Love And Peace Or Else
12. Sunday Bloody Sunday
13. Bullet The Blue Sky / Please (snippet) / The Hands That Built America (snippet) / When Johnny Comes Marching Home (snippet)
14. Miss Sarajevo
15. Pride (In The Name Of Love)
16. Where The Streets Have No Name
17. One / Ol' Man River (snippet)

18. Discothèque
19. The Fly / Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car (snippet)
20. With Or Without You
21. All Because Of You
22. The First Time
23. Bad / 40 (snippet)

I think this gets the title as the best Vertigo Tour setlist. You have the obvious winning choices: COBL as an opener, The Electric Co. as the highlight of the night, Bono singing his guts out on the operatic portion of Miss Sarajevo, The Fly to own everybody, and the best U2 closing song, Bad, used in its rightful place with a snippet of the most famous U2 closing song, 40, just to cap it off. But then you have the tour debut of Walk On (and what a debut it was; one of the few U2 songs to even remotely work acoustically, but Bono completely and hilariously botches the lyrics), an exceptionally and radically altered Discotheque for the second and last time on tour, a snippet of Daddy's Gonna Pay that constitutes its only live foray since 10 December 1993, and then the live debut of The First Time, 12 years after it was recorded. Oh hell yes. Not even the presence of songs like Elevation, One, and the catastrophically watered down With Or Without You can ruin this for me.

And I must give an honourable mention. There are two Boston shows from the first leg that should be on here (and their inclusion is wholly independent of the fact I saw them - I just got really lucky with good sets). The problem is that both have good main sets that nonetheless each lack two songs I want that were done on the other night, while one has a great first encore and shitty second encore while the other has a mixture of songs I do and don't want throughout its encores. So I've decided to mash them together into my ideal combination. This does include cutting some songs that were played both nights because 1. I don't like them and 2. I want to keep this within the usual U2 setlist length.

So here we go: 26 May 2005 and 28 May 2005, combined for Axver approved goodness.

1. Love And Peace Or Else
2. Vertigo
3. Elevation
4. The Cry
5. The Electric Co. / Bullet With Butterfly Wings (snippet) / I Can See For Miles (snippet)
6. Gloria
7. The Ocean
8. An Cat Dubh
9. Into The Heart
10. City Of Blinding Lights
11. Beautiful Day / Here Comes The Sun (snippet)
12. Miracle Drug
13. New Year's Day
14. Sunday Bloody Sunday
15. Bullet The Blue Sky / When Johnny Comes Marching Home (snippet) / The Hands That Built America (snippet)
16. Running To Stand Still
17. Where The Streets Have No Name
18. Pride (In The Name Of Love)

19. The Fly
20. Until The End Of The World
21. Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses
22. Out Of Control
23. Party Girl
24. Bad / 40 (snippet)

For the length of the Vertigo Tour, I maintained that the best possible setlist would have Gloria, The Electric Co., and Bad. It never happened - but at least I get it by combining the two nights. There's so many other great things here: LAPOE as the opener, An Cat Dubh/Into The Heart and The Fly simply present, the first performance of Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses since 24 November 1992, the spontaneous performance of Out Of Control that constituted its Vertigo Tour debut, and a fun rendition of Party Girl. Also note that I cut a bunch of snoozefests (SYCMIOYO, One, WOWY, ABOY, and a choice of Yahweh or OOTS), and I moved Pride from before to after Streets to solve its awkward placement.

And after doing this in fits and starts, it's nearly midnight, the cricket is well and truly over, India quite satisfyingly won even if it took them a painfully long and cautious time, and I should get some sleep. Have a good one, folks.
Tags: music, setlists, u2

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