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Setlist Of The Week #3 - 25 April 1997, Las Vegas

The start of the fourth leg of the Vertigo Tour is now less than three weeks away, and U2 and their fans will likely be looking forward to some memorable concerts. For this Setlist Of The Week, we will look at a concert that is much the opposite, a show that U2 probably want to completely forget: the first night of the Popmart Tour on 25 April 1997 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

U2 can be notoriously rusty on the opening night of a tour, and on Popmart's first night, it was as if anything that could go wrong did. A lot of the flaws can be blamed on a lack of rehearsal, and that in turn can be blamed on one very bad decision. This decision was to book the Popmart Tour before the Pop album had even been completed, thus setting a deadline to finish the album that ultimately worked against the band. The recording process took longer than expected, and not only did the band have to rush the final stages of creating the album, but they also were deprived of precious pre-tour rehearsal time.

Two songs in particular suffered from being insufficiently rehearsed. The first was If God Will Send His Angels; the band's struggles with keeping in time with each other were only made worse by the fact Bono and The Edge were on the b-stage while Adam and Larry remained on the main stage at the stage. In the end, the entire performance completely fell to pieces, with Adam and Larry making their way to the b-stage as the other two struggled to complete the song. Bono, all too aware of how bad the performance was, changed the last line into "if God will send his angels, I'll do better next time". However, there never was a next time: all future performances of If God Will Send His Angels were performed solely by Bono and The Edge in an abbreviated form.

The second song that most obviously suffered from being under-rehearsed fell apart in an even bigger way than If God Will Send His Angels. The whole band launched into a full electric performance of Staring At The Sun, but it was quickly apparent that they were struggling to keep in time with each other. The problem just kept getting worse, and in the middle of the song, the performance came to a grinding halt. After a quick discussion - a "little family row" in Bono's words - the band performed the whole song again. The second time around, they struggled through it and completed the song. Unfortunately, the same problem occurred at other concerts until the band settled on a new strategy: to play Staring At The Sun acoustically. They found this new method to be successful and continued to perform the song in its acoustic form for the rest of the tour.

Two other songs obviously flawed were old classics, I Will Follow and Pride, the two songs that at the time of this article are the most played U2 songs ever (715 recorded performances of I Will Follow, and 723 of Pride). I Will Follow was played a mere handful of times on the ZooTV Tour and prior to Popmart, hadn't been a concert regular since 1989, while reportedly before Popmart, Bono decided he did not wish to play Pride but the rest of the band talked him into it. Maybe it was for those reasons that the opening night performances were not particularly good, or maybe it wasn't, but whatever the case, I Will Follow's performance was particularly short and Bono struggled to remember the lyrics, while at the start of Pride, Bono launched straight into the chorus rather than the first verse. Pride followed what would become a rare performance of Do You Feel Loved. Although lacking any glaring errors, the band clearly considered Do You Feel Loved to be "flat" live and removed it from the setlist after only six shows. It has not been played live since.

The concert was not wholly a disaster, despite the newspaper reviews that dubbed it "Poopmart". A number of Pop songs made exciting debuts, and the concert is notable for a longer than usual live performance of If You Wear That Velvet Dress, including Edge playing the complete solo, something he never did again. Songs such as Last Night On Earth and Gone were excellent, Larry subtly slipped the drum beat of Sunday Bloody Sunday into Please, and 1995's non-album single Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me made a rocking live debut. Almost every Pop song was performed - ten appeared in full and The Playboy Mansion was snippeted, leaving only Wake Up Dead Man unplayed. It didn't debut live until 18 August 1997 in Nuremberg, Germany.

Some older songs also made exciting returns. A seamless segue from Miami led into a re-invented Bullet The Blue Sky that had a funky feel. Another segue to debut was Please into Where The Streets Have No Name, with the latter's performance altered to include some techno effects and a Playboy Mansion snippet at the end. Many fans who were at the concert disagree with the commonly held negative opinions of the concert, and some argue that the errors not only made the band appear "human", but added a positive element of spontaneity and unpredictability to the concert.

Sadly, poor reviews of the Las Vegas concert and other early Popmart concerts left a lasting negative impression of the Popmart Tour and even the Pop album in the minds of many. The tour had its failings, but it also had some incredible high points and used some advanced technology. No doubt the first people to see Popmart's spectacular stage in Las Vegas were awestruck, especially by what was at the time the biggest television screen ever made.

The full setlist for the 25 April 1997, Las Vegas show was:

  1. Mofo
  2. I Will Follow
  3. Even Better Than The Real Thing
  4. Into The Groove (snippet) / Do You Feel Loved? / I Feel Love (snippet)
  5. Pride (In the Name of Love)
  6. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
  7. Last Night On Earth
  8. Gone
  9. Until the End of the World
  10. If God Will Send His Angels
  11. Staring at the Sun
  12. Staring at the Sun
  13. Daydream Believer Edge karaoke
  14. Miami / My Mammy (snippet) / Cuba (snippet)
  15. Bullet the Blue Sky / Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) (snippet) / America (snippet)
  16. Please / Sunday Bloody Sunday (snippet)
  17. Where the Streets Have No Name / The Playboy Mansion (snippet)

  18. encore(s):
    Lemon (Perfecto Mix)
  19. Discothèque / Discothèque Howie B Hairy B Mix (snippet)
  20. If You Wear That Velvet Dress
  21. With or Without You
  22. Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me
  23. Mysterious Ways
  24. One
All details for this show including reviews, videos and photos can be found here.

If you attended the show we ask you to share your concert review or photos with other site visitors. You can post your review of the show here and upload your pictures here.

Posted on by Axver

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