U2 perform new song in Amsterdam for video shoot
U2 are about to play two concerts at the Amsterdam Arena, but it turns out that is not their only business in town. At the Westerunie nightclub of the Westergasfabriek, the band filmed a video clip in front of a small audience on Friday night including Gavin Friday and some lucky fans who responded to U2.com's call for attendees earlier this week. Some estimates state there were no more than 150 people in the crowd; others place the number at around 200–300. Attendees gathered first in another building at the same complex, the Gashouder, where they were informed about the evening's purpose; they were then moved to the smaller Westerunie.
The video clip is for U2's next single. Multiple anonymous attendees have confirmed to us that the song is titled The Blackout—possibly formatted as "The Black Out". U2 performed it live for the assembled audience five times, though with some pre-recorded vocals as well. The audience picked up the catchy chorus quickly, and on the fourth take Bono asked jokingly if it had leaked on the "Interwebs". He let the audience sing it on the fifth take. Bono also crowdsurfed during one take of the song.
Edge had to tune his guitar for the third take of The Blackout, so Bono told some jokes to fill the time. They were quintessential "dad joke" material, including "four Irishmen walk out of a bar... wait, that's not possible" and "a dyslexic walks into a bra".
After the performances of The Blackout, a second new song was played over the PA, entitled either The Lights of Home or Lights to Home. We can confirm that U2 did not play The Best Thing (or, if they insist on another long title that will be abbreviated by all and sundry, You're the Best Thing About Me), a song that leaked online last year.
Both songs are described as groovy and nineties-sounding, with heavy bass and guitar. The general vibe of The Blackout is Vertigo meets Achtung Baby, with the deep bass possessing a vibe that somewhat recalls Love and Peace or Else. It has a prominent lyric about "when the lights go out" that got the audience jumping, reportedly to Edge's visible delight, and our sources all believe it will be a popular live track.
The Blackout begins with Edge playing a very distorted guitar; this intro has been compared to Zoo Station or Magnificent. There is also a slow interlude that then erupts back into the chorus, somewhat like the "love, lift me up out of these blues" part of Elevation.
The Lights of Home is described as slower and more atmospheric, perhaps a "grower". It has an acoustic slide guitar riff with a memorable chorus that includes the line "hey now, what's your name?", and there is a little bit of chanting at the end. One source describes the drumming in this song as "amazing".
The hot rumour is that U2 will release The Blackout in early September, in time for the third leg of the Joshua Tree Tour 2017.
Our database entry for this performance is here. For the present we are listing The Blackout—and Little Things—as unreleased songs. We will do so until the release of Songs of Experience is confirmed and their presence on the album is noted, e.g. in a tracklist. This is U2, after all, and we've seen enough last-minute changes before!