U2's Sydney #1 setlist, 22/11/19
Today, U2 performed their first of two shows in Sydney. This is the first time they have performed at the Sydney Cricket Ground. It is smaller than stadiums they have played in Sydney before, but scheduling this show was made difficult by stadium demolitions/refurbishments currently under way. The size of the SCG, however, worked in Sydney's favour, as this helps explain its status as the only Australian city to get two gigs on the current tour.
The SCG is next door to the Sydney Football Stadium, which is currently being demolished to make way for a new stadium, and at which two major U2 events occurred. On 26 November 1993, U2 performed their only show without one of the band members, when Adam's tech Stuart Morgan stood in for him on 26 November 1993, and then the next night they filmed the ZooTV live video. Bono alluded to Adam's missed gig in his band introductions before Even Better Than the Real Thing, describing Adam as having begun "the second act of his life in this city all those years ago".
Bad returned to the set after an absence of one show. It featured an extended snippet of INXS's Never Tear Us Apart, which Bono sang to honour the memory of Michael Hutchence. Bono explained that "22 years ago today, one of your country's brightest lights went dark... tonight some of his loved ones are with us. I was wondering, could we have a moment in the dark to shine our light for Michael Hutchence?" It is unsurprising that Bono reached for Never Tear Us Apart on this occasion, not only for its lyrical qualities but also because he has done so previously: the night after Hutchence died, he snippeted it during both Last Night on Earth and All I Want Is You in San Antonio on 23 November 1997.
Another tribute to Michael Hutchence came late in the set. U2 performed the tour debut of Stuck in a Moment, which Bono sang for Michael Hutchence. He described it as a song to Michael, and possibly an argument with himself. The most recent performance of this song was a full-band acoustic version on 11 September 2018 as part of a surprise acoustic set in Paris. It has been performed at a bunch of other off-tour dates in the last few years, but its most recent performance at a regular tour gig was 19 July 2015.
Stuck in a Moment replaced Love Is Bigger Than Anything in Its Way. This show, therefore, is the first completed gig that Love Is Bigger has missed since its debut. The qualifier "completed" is important because it missed one show last year: 1 September 2018, the Berlin gig that ended when Bono's voice failed five songs in, before Love Is Bigger's spot on the setlist. It had otherwise appeared at every Experience+Innocence Tour and Joshua Tree Tour 2019 show before today.
Bono gave a shout-out to another Australian band at the start of Bullet the Blue Sky, fortunately one whose lead singer is still with us: Midnight Oil. He acknowledged the passion for justice that animates their music.
Larry has joined Bono in inserting snippets to the setlist. In Adelaide, he ended Angel of Harlem with a drumroll from Sunday Bloody Sunday, and did so again tonight.
Larry also had a confession to make. During Bono's chat with the band members before Trip Through Your Wires, Larry admitted that the rhythm he had been playing as a sample of what he learned as a teenager in the country band The Drifting Cowboys was not a foxtrot. It is a waltz. Larry conceded this error is deeply embarrassing as a musician, but he played the foxtrot-that's-actually-a-waltz anyway and promised the crowd they could all play it in their sleep.
The full setlist was:
- Sunday Bloody Sunday
- I Will Follow
- New Year's Day
- Bad / Never Tear Us Apart (snippet)
- Pride (In the Name of Love)
- Where the Streets Have No Name / California (There Is No End To Love) (snippet) / Singin' In The Rain (snippet) / Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head (snippet)
- I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
- With or Without You
- Bullet the Blue Sky / The Star-Spangled Banner (snippet) / America (snippet)
- Running To Stand Still
- Red Hill Mining Town
- In God's Country
- Trip Through Your Wires
- One Tree Hill
- Exit / Wise Blood (snippet) / Eeny Meeny Miny Moe (snippet)
- Mothers Of The Disappeared
- Angel of Harlem / Sunday Bloody Sunday (snippet)
- Vertigo / Devil Inside (snippet)
- Even Better Than The Real Thing
- Every Breaking Wave
- Beautiful Day
- Ultraviolet (Light My Way)
- Stuck In A Moment
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