Answering Your Questions: Album songs never played live
Today, we are excited to launch a brand new U2gigs.com feature: a Frequently Asked Questions section! This FAQ has three sections at present. The first section is about U2gigs itself and answers questions regarding site usage and the like. The second section deals with questions about our pictures database, such as copyright matters. The centrepiece of the FAQ, however, is its third section. This deals with numerous setlist and concert questions that we have received over the years and that are commonly discussed in U2 fan circles. Accordingly, to usher in this feature, this article will provide a detailed response to one of the most common fan questions: "what album songs have U2 never played live?"
Last updated: 17 May 2017.
Boy: Every song from Boy has been played live. Shadows And Tall Trees has the least known performances and was the first to leave the setlist, being dropped by the band even before the Boy Tour began; its last performance was on 27 July 1980. All the other songs were played until at least the later stages of the October Tour. There are no known shows with all eleven Boy songs in the same setlist; the maximum is ten. On the balance of available evidence we do not believe any show with a missing setlist had all eleven.
October: Two songs from October have not been played live in full. A line of Stranger In A Strange Land was snippeted once, on 28 October 1984, and it never appeared live in any other manner. Is That All? never appeared in its album form, but its musical basis was taken from an earlier creation, The Cry, a mini-song that opened performances of The Electric Co. from late November 1980 to early July 1985, and again for much of 2005. In addition to these two tracks, Scarlet was not played in front of a live audience until 25 November 2010 - its sole previous appearance was in a closed live set for radio on 14 October 1981.
War: Three songs from War have never been played live. Red Light and The Refugee have never appeared in any form, and rumours that The Refugee was played on 3 June 1983 seem unlikely to be true. Drowning Man appeared only as a brief snippet in 11 O'clock Tick Tock at some North American shows on the War Tour; a full version was rehearsed in 2009 for the 360° Tour, but it never graduated from soundchecks into a concert setlist. In addition to these three songs, Like A Song made a solitary live appearance on 26 February 1983.
The Unforgettable Fire: Like War, three Unforgettable Fire tracks have never appeared live. They are Promenade, 4th Of July, and Elvis Presley And America.
The Joshua Tree: This album is just the second U2 album from which every song has been played live (Boy being the first), and the first from which every song was played in the same setlist. This occurred for the first time on 12 May 2017 when Red Hill Mining Town made its live debut. U2 gave serious consideration to playing Red Hill Mining Town back in 1987, and rehearsed it in soundchecks with the intention of playing it in Tempe, Arizona in late December 1987 for Rattle And Hum. The best-known date of RHMT being soundchecked is 28 November 1987. The song was not seriously reconsidered for live performance until the Joshua Tree 30th anniversary tour in 2017.
Rattle And Hum: The only studio song on Rattle And Hum that has not been played in full live is Heartland. Its live appearances are simply a couple of snippets over the intro of Where The Streets Have No Name during October 1989.
Achtung Baby: Acrobat is the only track to never appear live. U2 rehearsed an acoustic version in private rehearsals preceding the 7 August 1992 public rehearsal in Hershey, Pennsylvania, with the intention of using it to open concerts as a segue into Zoo Station. This is where widely distributed bootleg recordings of "live" Acrobat come from; it never made it out of rehearsals. Also notable is So Cruel; it was played live just three times, and each performance was solo by Bono. Two performances were of the full song, while the first featured just half the lyrics. A full band version suffered the same fate as Acrobat and stayed a rehearsal piece.
Zooropa: Prior to 2005, three tracks had not been played live. Now, only Some Days Are Better Than Others has not been played. The Wanderer has been performed precisely once, on 2 November 2005; it was a closed live performance for television. The First Time debuted over twelve years after its release and has now been played almost forty times. It is also worth noting that although Zooropa was played three times in 1993, all three performances were significantly abbreviated from the album version; it was not played in a more complete form until 2011.
Pop: Although maligned now by the band, this album came very close to having every song performed live: 11 songs have been played, and the 12th, Playboy Mansion, was snippeted repeatedly at the end of Streets on Popmart's first and second legs. If God Will Send His Angels also warrants a mention: it was performed in full only once, on 25 April 1997, and all subsequent performances were a stripped-down, abbreviated version just by Bono and Edge.
All That You Can't Leave Behind: The precise count of ATYCLB songs that were played live is bogged down in pedantry and semantics. What can be said definitively is that eight of the album's eleven tracks were played. Peace On Earth may count as a ninth. It was employed as an intro to Walk On on the Elevation Tour's third leg, and while most of these performances were just snippets, extending only to a verse or so, some examples got quite lengthy and three are listed independently in our database. Some fans consider these to be nothing more than "glorified snippets", and we acknowledge this is a grey area. Peace On Earth was never played entirely in full, though such a version was rehearsed. Beyond this point, things get easier again. Two songs were never played: Grace made no live appearance at all, while When I Look At The World mustered a single snippet, on 27 November 2001.
How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb: One Step Closer has never been played live, though it was rehearsed in Vancouver in 2015. A Man And A Woman did not make its live debut until 15 October 2011, and this performance by Bono and Edge remains its only live appearance.
No Line On The Horizon: Seven songs from NLOTH have been performed live. The four yet to be played are Stand Up Comedy, Fez-Being Born, White As Snow, and Cedars Of Lebanon. Willie Williams did try to persuade the band to perform White As Snow at the third Dublin show of the 360° Tour, but was unsuccessful.
Songs of Innocence: Neither Sleep Like A Baby Tonight nor This Is Where You Can Reach Me Now have been performed live.
In total, from October to Songs of Innocence, fifteen songs from U2 albums have neither been performed live nor snippeted. An additional six have only been snippeted, never played independently—this count increases to seven if you do not believe any version of Peace On Earth should count as a separate performance. The least played album live is No Line On The Horizon, with 4 out of 11 of its songs (36% of its content) never making it to the stage. Hot on its heels are The Unforgettable Fire and War, from which 3 out of 10 songs (30% of each's content) have not been played, though from War one of those three was snippeted.
As new songs are debuted, this article will be edited appropriately.