Hear us adding Hear Us Coming to the U2gigs database
Do you hear us setlisting? Do you hear us snippeting? Do you hear us adding, adding Hear Us Coming to our database?
For the last few years we - and by we, I mainly mean myself, Axver - have promised that one day our database will contain Hear Us Coming, the live verse typically performed in One, just like we have With or Without You's popular live verse Shine Like Stars. That day has finally arrived.
Some of you have noticed over the last couple of days that it has shown up in our database, and we have now finished adding all instances of it, complete with decisions on borderline and unusual cases. I had started compiling examples quite some time ago, but this was all possible thanks to site follower Duane Doogan, who earns our everlasting gratitude for going through every performance of One from its debut on 27 February 1992 through to the Bonnaroo performance on 9 June 2017. We could not have added Hear Us Coming without his contribution.
To my surprise, Hear Us Coming has been done a whopping 444 times to date, miles ahead of Shine Like Stars on 217. Shine Like Stars, however, has been done at least once every tour since it was first sung on 4 April 1987. Hear Us Coming was never done on the Innocence + Experience Tour in 2015.
Shine Like Stars debuted live fully formed—that 4 April 1987 appearance was also the debut of With or Without You, and I wonder if it existed during the Joshua Tree studio sessions. Hear Us Coming is different. It clearly developed live. During March 1992, Bono experimented with additional lyrics at the end of One, and Hear Us Coming slowly emerged.
We credit Hear Us Coming's first appearance as 3 March 1992 in Charlotte, North Carolina; it is sung in a different vocal style, but there are enough common lyrics to count. At the previous gig and a few subsequent ones, Bono plays around with another alternative verse. Some of these are closer to Hear Us Coming than others in execution, but never get close enough to resemble it properly—if you read through our show notes for ZooTV's first leg, you will see I've left brief comments about the alternative verse. On 9 March 1992 in Uniondale there might have been some lyrical crossover into Hear Us Coming territory but it is difficult to be sure as the recording of the show has poor audio quality. An early Hear Us Coming emerges again on 13 and 15 March 1992 in Worcester and Providence, but at the next few shows Bono slips back to a verse closer to the nameless alternative one than Hear Us Coming.
The first performance close in style to the familiar version is in Montreal on 23 March 1992. In April 1992 it becomes a fixture within One—only in San Diego on 15 April 1992 did Bono lapse back into the alternative verse. He also improvises other lyrics in Paris on 7 May 1992 during the opening night of the European leg, but from then on almost every show on the tour has Hear Us Coming.
Hear Us Coming started life as "hear me coming". This more personal version is the standard form on ZooTV and Popmart, though the "us" formulation emerges on the latter tour. By the Elevation Tour, Bono was alternating between the two, and "us" has remained more common since. As well as the variation between "me" and "us", Bono has sometimes sung forms such as "hear them coming" or "hear him coming". For example, "him" occurs on 15 April 2001 after the death of Joey Ramone. We have chosen the name Hear Us Coming because that formulation appears to be in most common use among fans at present.
Let me give you a fun factlet, one that will surely crop up as a trivia question on our Twitter account some day. Of the 444 instances of Hear Us Coming, 443 appear in One. Yes, there's one credited to another song. When Bono was busking on 24 December 2009, he and his fellow buskers finished One, and only then did Bono start singing Hear Us Coming, using it as an intro to Knockin' on Heaven's Door, finishing with a suitably modified lyric. Hence, we credit Hear Us Coming to the latter song.
And to conclude, here's a little comparison between U2's two long-standing bonus verses. As of today, Shine Like Stars has appeared in 217 out of 790 performances of With or Without You, or 27% of performances. Hear Us Coming has appeared in 443 out of 699 performances of One, or 63% of performances. So if you're hanging out for these verses, you have a better chance of getting Hear Us Coming than Shine Like Stars—especially on the current tour, where Hear Us Coming has been a routine part of the show while the solitary mention of Shine Like Stars on 21 May 2017 is one of the more tenuous on our books.