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Day 6 rehearsals in Laval, 14 April 2018

U2 did not rehearse on days four or five in Laval—indeed, they had to briefly pack up their gear to make room for other occupants of the arena—but they resumed today and the spoilers are very juicy. U2Songs have done the legwork, and we've got some stats to complement their account. You know the drill: if you keep reading this article you're going to find yourself deep in the Land of Spoilers.

Before getting into today's news, reports have been doing the rounds that U2 rehearsed Staring at the Sun on at least one previous day. The source of this was a tweet by Wide Awake in Mexico that also contains a clip of U2 rehearsing Acrobat. Some fans were sceptical of this report, but today's news suggests it might have been on the money; U2Songs speculate that Staring at the Sun could have been one of the songs they were unable to hear on day two.

Today, U2 rehearsed in essentially two sessions. The first involved working on a few songs with short breaks in between; the band then took a long break before returning to rehearse what appears to be something approximating a full setlist.

The first session was:

  • Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me
  • Elevation
  • The Showman (Little More Better)
  • Desire
  • Vertigo
    short break
  • Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me
  • Elevation
  • Elevation, again
  • The Showman (Little More Better)
  • Desire
  • Vertigo
    short break
  • Acrobat
  • Until the End of the World, incomplete
  • Until the End of the World, complete
    short break
  • The Blackout

Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me; Elevation; and The Blackout all had not been rehearsed yet. Just the other day, I (Ax) predicted on Twitter that HMTMKMKM could be in line for this tour, so I'm feeling vindicated. It was last performed on 30 July 2011 at the end of the 360 Tour, and for a popular and successful single that appears on a Best Of compilation it is very surprising that so far it has only been performed on two tours (Popmart in 1997–98 and 360 in 2010–11). For those of you wondering if I'm going to do my tour predictions series, I've pretty much missed the opportunity, but I did a short Twitter thread starting here.

Elevation, by the way, was initially done in the same live form as on recent tours, but all the subsequent run-throughs began in the style of the Influx Mix.

The second session was:

  • An unidentified non-U2 song, likely taped, as intro music
  • Love Is All We Have Left, possibly taped
  • The Blackout
  • Lights of Home
  • Beautiful Day
  • I Will Follow
  • The Ocean
  • Cedarwood Road
  • Song for Someone
  • Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses
  • Acrobat
  • Until the End of the World / Sympathy for the Devil (snippet)
  • Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me
  • Elevation
  • Desire
  • Vertigo
  • The Showman (Little More Better)
  • You're the Best Thing About Me
  • Staring at the Sun, acoustic
  • Pride
  • Get Out of Your Own Way
  • American Soul
  • City of Blinding Lights
  • One
  • Love Is Bigger Than Anything in Its Way
  • 13 (There Is a Light)
  • Song for Someone

There are a bunch of surprises in that setlist, so let's work through them in order.

It opens with a salvo of songs from Songs of Experience, leading into a big hit (Beautiful Day) that had not been rehearsed yet, and then three old songs, all from Boy, an album that had not yet been represented in rehearsals. One of those tunes is not surprising—I Will Follow has been performed on every U2 tour since they've had albums to promote—but the other two are big curveballs: An Cat Dubh and The Ocean. An Cat Dubh was performed 17 times in 2005, 16 of which were on the Vertigo Tour and one at the pre-tour public rehearsal, but otherwise it has not been performed since September 1984. Surprisingly, it appears to have been rehearsed without Into the Heart; all previous known performances have paired the two songs, though an early version might have been played without Into the Heart on 18 March 1978. The Ocean likewise was revived on the Vertigo Tour, managing 28 performances; when it was resurrected on 6 April 2005, after an absence of more than 22 years from the setlist, it attained the record (since beaten) for longest gap between performances of a U2 song. Its only appearance since December 2005 was at a one-off club gig on 28 May 2015. Update: The Ocean was mistaken for An Cat Dubh, which was not rehearsed.

Cedarwood Road and Song for Someone maintain similar setlist positions to that which they held on the Innocence + Experience Tour, but this time they are followed by a run of Achtung Baby songs—including, for many fans, the biggest thrill of rehearsals so far, Acrobat. The sequence of songs after it, featuring the likes of HMTMKMKM and Vertigo, appears to serve a similar purpose to that of Invisible/Even Better Than the Real Thing/Mysterious Ways did at the start of the second set in 2015. Desire, for the record, has been electric.

It is perhaps no surprise to find The Best Thing finally appearing rehearsals, given it was the official lead single of Songs of Experience and held down a regular spot on the final leg of the JT30 tour last year. It comes with The Showman and an acoustic version of Staring at the Sun. SATS is the most recent Pop song to be performed live, though that was at a charity event on 15 October 2011; its last performance at a regular U2 concert was on 24 October 2001. The only Pop song to be performed at a regular U2 concert since the end of the Elevation Tour is Discotheque, performed on 17 and 20 September 2005.

Pride/Get Out of Your Own Way/American Soul/City of Blinding Lights appears to be a tightly constructed segment with political overtones. It makes sense to play GOOYOW and American Soul together, given they are linked by Kendrick Lamar's guest appearance on Songs of Experience. One is also probably part of this sequence—it's a bit unclear at this stage where U2 plan to slot in an encore break, or indeed if the reports of longer sets are going to be true for once and today's spoilers don't reveal an encore. Love Is Bigger Than Anything in Its Way is a big, rousing number for late in the show, and then to end the night U2 rehearsed 13 and a second take of Song for Someone back-to-back. It would perhaps be a little surprising if these two very similar songs appeared in full in the same setlist, especially consecutively. It also makes a mockery of my prediction that 13 would be the only song from Songs of Experience not performed, so U2 giveth with one hand (HMTMKMKM showing up) and taketh with the other (by defying my 13 pessimism).

Any Pop song is welcome after such a long absence, so it's nice to see Staring at the Sun in the mix. I would, however, like to abuse what small platform I have here to encourage U2 to consider Please, a song whose message suits the current global climate better than practically anything in the band's catalogue. It could be a powerful and defining moment of the setlist.

Songs rehearsed in Canada so far (songs underlined were rehearsed for the first time today):

Boy (2): I Will Follow, The Ocean
The Unforgettable Fire (1): Pride (In the Name of Love)
Rattle & Hum (1): Desire
Achtung Baby (5): One, Until the End of the World, Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses, The Fly, Acrobat
Non-album single (1): Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me
Pop (1): Staring at the Sun
All That You Can't Leave Behind (2): Beautiful Day, Elevation
How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2): Vertigo, City of Blinding Lights
Songs of Innocence (2): Song for Someone, Cedarwood Road
Songs of Experience (9): Love Is All We Have Left (possibly taped), Lights of Home, You're the Best Thing About Me, Get Out of Your Own Way, American Soul, The Showman (Little More Better), The Blackout, Love Is Bigger Than Anything in Its Way, 13 (There Is a Light)

Note: This article was updated a few hours after publication to add The Ocean, which was not initially in U2Songs' report.

Posted on by Axver

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