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U2's Vancouver setlist, 12/05

Today, U2 are kicking off the Joshua Tree 30th anniversary tour in Vancouver. They have rehearsed extensively in the city—check our news archive for May for information on what happened each day.

The band soundchecked today. They did not do complete songs, but portions of the following: Pride, One Tree Hill, Beautiful Day, Miss Sarajevo, Pride again, Where the Streets Have No Name, Exit, Beautiful Day again, Elevation, Ultra Violet, One, Red Hill Mining Town, and In God's Country. After the soundcheck ended, the gates were opened, but admission for General Admission ticketholders has been tremendously slow. Many fans were stuck outside the venue while support act Mumford & Sons played, with little to no communication from BC Place staff. There are even reports that the scanners crashed.

Today's setlist features many notable songs. Let's run through some facts about The Joshua Tree first. U2 have never before played an entire album live in sequence before. They have never even played all songs from one album at the same show - although every song from Boy was played live, no individual show had more than ten out of its eleven songs in the setlist (an example with ten is 15 May 1981). Although we are missing many Boy-era setlists, Shadows and Tall Trees vanished from U2's live repertoire before other songs entered it, so we are confident there are no missing setlists with all eleven Boy songs.

Red Hill Mining Town debuted live today. The Joshua Tree is now just the second album after Boy from which every song has been played live. This is the longest gap in U2 history from a song's release to its live debut: it is 30 years, 2 months, and 3 days since Red Hill Mining Town was released on The Joshua Tree on 9 March 1987. The previous record was a comparatively modest 12 years, 3 months, and 28 days for The Wanderer, just edging out its Zooropa album-mate The First Time on 12 years, 2 months, and 15 days. If you only count performances in front of a paying concert crowd, then The First Time is beaten by Scarlet, which was played once for a radio session in 1981 but never in front of a paying audience until 29 years, 1 month, and 13 days after the October album was released.

Speaking of Scarlet, it just lost the record for longest gap between performances. Trip Through Your Wires was performed for the first time since 20 December 1987, some 29 years, 4 months, and 22 days ago, beating Scarlet's record by exactly 2 months. Exit was performed for the first time since 14 October 1989 (its only performance since 1987); this gap of 27 years, 6 months, and 28 days, the third-longest gap between performances.

Other Joshua Tree songs returned after lengthy absences. Running to Stand Still has not been performed since 15 July 2005, 11 years, 9 months, and 27 days ago; One Tree Hill since 5 July 2011, 5 years, 10 months, and 7 days ago; and Mothers of the Disappeared since 15 September 2010, 6 years, 7 months, and 27 days ago. This is the first full band performance of Mothers since 20 December 1987, as subsequent performances have always been either just Bono and Edge, or all four members playing a stripped-down version with no bass (Adam on synths) and minimal drums. In God's Country was played once on the IE Tour with a fan on the b-stage, 22 May 2015, and three times acoustically in 2001, but this is its first pre-planned full band electric performance since 9 October 1989.

What about the non-Joshua Tree songs? A Sort of Homecoming is the biggest comeback, played for the first time since 16 October 2001, some 15 years, 5 months, and 26 days ago. It was only played twice in 2001, making this just the third performance since it fell out of the original Joshua Tree Tour's setlist after the 27 June 1987 gig. MLK was last played on 8 October 2010, 6 years, 7 months, and 4 days ago; Ultra Violet on 9 July 2011, 5 years, 10 months, and 3 days ago; and Miss Sarajevo on 30 July 2011, 5 years, 9 months, and 12 days ago - although Bono and Edge performed it on 15 October 2011.

And yes, there's something pretty big at the end of tonight's setlist: the debut of what Bono called "a song of experience", The Little Things That Give You Away. This is the first time U2 have performed an unreleased song live since North Star on 29 June 2011. It is the first time U2 have closed a concert with an unreleased song since Father Is an Elephant way back on 28 November 1980! This stat does not count the closing performance of Sunday Bloody Sunday on 4 December 1982, as its release on the War album had already been announced, or the glorified snippet of She's a Mystery to Me after One on 6 August 1997 as Roy Orbison had previously released his version of the song.

We have a few more interesting statistics, but we're going to hold onto them for reports of the next few shows rather than beating you over the head with any more right now. The full set for today was:

  1. Sunday Bloody Sunday
  2. New Year's Day
  3. A Sort Of Homecoming
  4. MLK
  5. Pride (In the Name of Love)
  6. Where the Streets Have No Name
  7. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
  8. With or Without You
  9. Bullet the Blue Sky
  10. Running To Stand Still
  11. Red Hill Mining Town
  12. In God's Country
  13. Trip Through Your Wires
  14. One Tree Hill
  15. Exit / Wise Blood (snippet) / Eeny Meeny Miny Moe (snippet)
  16. Mothers Of The Disappeared / El Pueblo Vencera (snippet)

  17. encore(s):
  18. Beautiful Day
  19. Elevation
  20. Ultraviolet (Light My Way)
  21. One
  22. Miss Sarajevo
  23. The Little Things That Give You Away
All details for this show including reviews, videos and photos can be found here.

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Posted on by Axver

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