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Looking towards the 360° Tour setlist openers and closers, Part I of II

It's now just a fortnight until the 360° Tour begins. The band are obviously in rehearsals, and two important elements of any setlist are good opening and closing songs. U2 have always tried to immediately grab the audience's attention and involve them in the show, be the song 11 O'clock Tick Tock or Mofo, and they have aimed to leave a lasting impression with closers from the communal sing-along 40 to the haunting Love Is Blindness. Naturally, it will continue to be a significant element on the 360° Tour.

This two part article series will use historical setlist factors to answer some common questions fans ask when considering what the new tour's setlist will look like. Today, the subject is openers. Tomorrow, the companion article will focus on closers.


A common question fans wonder - especially those fans attending multiple shows - is "will there be more than one opener?" It's not too unlikely in this post-Vertigo Tour world, but don't hold your breath either. City Of Blinding Lights, Love And Peace Or Else, and Vertigo all opened Vertigo Tour concerts, but only the first leg had internal opener diversity: COBL opened 19 shows, LAPOE opened 9, and Vertigo opened one, and most cities with multiple shows got both COBL and LAPOE. The second leg was an all Vertigo affair; the third leg's first two shows were opened by Vertigo, and then with the exception of the first fourth leg show, all following concerts on the third, fourth, and fifth legs were opened by COBL.

The three previous tours each had just one opener. Only two concerts broke this pattern, and one of them was merely a public rehearsal. The 7 August 1992 concert in Hershey opened with Sunday Bloody Sunday along with a couple of other classics before the band entered their usual set. The second show to break the trend was a regular tour gig; at the 10 October 2001 show in South Bend, Beautiful Day took opening duties off Elevation. You have to go back to Lovetown in 1989 to find a tour with true opener diversity - six songs were used over the course of the tour. Earlier in the eighties, U2 sometimes stuck with one opener for the vast majority of a tour's shows, such as 11 O'clock Tick Tock on The Unforgettable Fire Tour, or rotated them from time to time, such as Gloria and Out Of Control sharing duties over the course of the War Tour.

Perhaps an even more frequent question is "will the opener be a new song?" Recent history indicates it will be. For the last couple of decades, U2 have tried to express confidence in their latest album by opening concerts with a new song. Zoo TV in 1992-93 opened with Zoo Station from Achtung Baby (apart from the aforementioned Hershey exception), and after Zooropa's release, the band did toy with the idea of opening some shows with the title track but stuck with Zoo Station until the end. Popmart in 1997-98 opened exclusively with Mofo from Pop. The Elevation Tour opened with Elevation and Beautiful Day from All That You Can't Leave Behind, and the three Vertigo Tour openers were all How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb tracks.

You have to go back to everybody's favourite exception to almost any U2 setlist rule, the Lovetown Tour, to find old songs opening concerts. On a tour promoting Rattle And Hum, songs from The Joshua Tree opened 35 out of 47 concerts: Streets at 24, Bullet The Blue Sky at 10, and a surprise for many people, In God's Country at one. RAH songs only opened ten of the 47 gigs; Hawkmoon 269 eight times and God Part II twice. Those of you reading closely will have noticed that does not account for all 47 shows; a cover of Stand By Me opened two gigs. It also opened 18 shows on the Joshua Tree Tour, a tour otherwise opened by new songs (Streets 87 times and Bullet four times).

The last time - and, as a matter of fact, the only time no new song opened a tour was the War Tour, when Gloria and Out Of Control hogged opening duties. No War song has ever opened a regular concert; Sunday Bloody Sunday has opened Live Aid and the Hershey rehearsal. The Unforgettable Fire Tour nearly replicated this statistic; 11 O'clock Tick Tock opened most shows, with Gloria and Out Of Control sharing duties on the first leg and Gloria opening a few other shows later on. However, Wire debuted on 17 September 1984 in Melbourne and took the opening spot for that night only; MLK did a similar thing on 18 October 1984 in Lyon.

Return tomorrow for the second half on closers - and maybe a prediction or two. (Update 17/06: Part II can now be found here.)

Posted on by Axver

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