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Live U2 references to Michael Jackson: A Tribute

By now, undoubtedly most of you will have heard that Michael Jackson has passed away after suffering cardiac arrest at the age of 50. As soon as his death was confirmed, online setlist discussion immediately turned to speculation about whether U2 would pay tribute to Jackson at their forthcoming concerts through snippets or other commemoration. Bono has been known to tribute deceased famous musicians through song, such as Never Tear Us Apart snippetry after Michael Hutchence passed away and short performances of I Remember You in honour of Joey Ramone. If he does so, it won't be the first time he has acknowledged Jackson's life and music during U2 concerts. As our tribute to Jackson's contribution, let's have a look at those moments that happened during Jackson's lifetime.

It is known that Bono has snippeted two Michael Jackson songs in concert. The first was Billie Jean. Originally from 1982's Thriller album and released as a single at the start of 1983, it had taken the charts by storm by the time of its first recorded snippet at a U2 concert on 6 March 1983 in Portsmouth.

During this early period of U2's live history, Bono did not snippet nearly as often or as heavily as he does today. The Portsmouth snippet was in Surrender, the first snippet to be sung during that song. It was done fourteen more times on the War Tour - fairly routinely during the European leg, then more sporadically during the North American leg. It made just one appearance at a European festival in 1983, on the 2nd of July in Torhout. This was the last time it was snippeted on the War Tour, and all fifteen of these known snippets were during Surrender.

Billie Jean was snippeted once more a few years later, bringing its total known appearances to sixteen. On the War and Unforgettable Fire Tours, Surrender was often followed by Two Hearts Beat As One, and that is the song in which Billie Jean made its final appearance. On 27 December 1989, U2 played Two Hearts Beat As One for the only time since 29 April 1985, and at the end, Bono made reference to Billie Jean.

The second Jackson song Bono has snippeted is Rock With You, the second single from Jackson's break-through album Off The Wall. Released in 1979, Bono did not snippet it until 2001, and he only snippeted it once. It was included in a performance of Mysterious Ways in Chicago on 16 May 2001, along with a snippet of Marvin Gaye's Sexual Healing.

As far as we presently know, this is the full extent of live U2 snippets of Michael Jackson's work. There are no known Jackson 5 snippets. Perhaps the most famous live reference to Jackson at a U2 concert was not even a snippet. It took place during the 28 August 1993 concert in Dublin, amidst the media furore over pedophilia allegations made against Jackson. At the start of Bad (undoubtedly intentional due to Jackson's popular song and album of the same name), Bono succinctly spoke his mind about the claims and the hype. He stated simply: "Michael Jackson, if you're out there, I don't believe you're bad. Guilty before you've been given a chance."

RIP Michael Jackson, 29 August 1958 - 25 June 2009.


Posted on by Axver


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