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Setlist Of The Week #4 - 31 August 1984, Wellington

(Before I begin this article, I would just like to offer my apologies for the somewhat delayed nature of Setlists Of The Week recently. Believe it or not, setlistorians actually have lives too! Your understanding of any delays with SOTW articles is appreciated. There will be another setlist this coming Friday, and then the feature will take a break during the fourth leg before returning regularly once the tour is over. Unless additional shows are announced, two setlists will be featured in early March as a large gap in the touring schedule exists.)

The fourth leg of the Vertigo Tour commences in less than a week, and the schedule includes two concerts in New Zealand, the first time U2 have performed in the country since December 1993 at the end of the ZOO TV Tour. For this reason, as well as the fact New Zealand celebrated its national holiday of Waitangi Day on the 6th of February, this week's Setlist Of The Week comes from New Zealand. And not just any New Zealand concert either, but the first show U2 ever played in Wellington, the home city of the author. This show took place on 31 August 1984 as the second show of the Under Australasian Skies leg, the first leg of The Unforgettable Fire Tour. U2 have only returned once to Wellington, on 8 November 1989 to play a concert at the now-demolished Athletic Park on the Lovetown Tour. Unfortunately, the author himself did not attend either concert, though for good reason: he had yet to be born in 1984 and was rather young in 1989!

The setlist for the 1984 concert in Wellington - which is very similar (in fact, sometimes identical) to the setlists played at the other New Zealand and Australian shows - is remarkable because it is almost a War Tour setlist despite the fact U2 were kicking off The Unforgettable Fire Tour. Part of this may be because U2 intended to bring the War Tour to the Southern Hemisphere but this instead proved to be the band's first trek to "Middle Earth". The dominating reasons for this setlist, however, are musical, not to mention somewhat contradictory.

Two stories circulate about the nature of the setlists and live performances in Australasia: the first appears to be true, while the second is debatable. The first story is that after devoting much studio time to recording The Unforgettable Fire album, U2 simply struggled to convert the material to a live setting due to its more atmospheric and textured feel in comparison to U2's earlier, more raw post-punk and rock efforts. With rehearsal time slim, U2 chose instead to perform the War Tour set as they knew it worked, with the intention of introducing Unforgettable Fire songs as they figured them out. This would appear to be true, as the start of the second leg in Europe was postponed from the beginning of October to mid-October to permit the band more time to rehearse.Another story circulates, and it tells a much different tale. U2 had been so busy recording new material that they - Edge especially - forgot everything they had previously recorded. This was supposedly so serious that a member of U2's road crew had to visit a New Zealand music shop to purchase U2's back catalogue so the band could listen to it and refresh their memory. If this story is true, it somewhat contradicts the first story - one wonders "was it really easier to re-learn a lot of old material rather than appropriately adjusting new material for the live arena?" However, U2 would have had to relearn a significant amount of old material anyway to create a full setlist, so either way, they had to refresh their memory of old material. It would appear this story does have some truth, as Bono states in Wellington after A Day Without Me that "a few days ago, we weren't too sure if we remembered how to play. I think this is a great place to get your memory back." Whether the memory loss is as severe as the story claims, however, is up for debate.

The War Tour essentially had two setlists - one that opened with Gloria and one that opened with Out Of Control, though their included songs were almost identical despite the altered order. The setlist in Wellington was essentially a combined version of these sets: the opening with Gloria is utilised, while the Out Of Control set's Surrender --> Two Hearts Beat As One --> Seconds flow is employed. One notable omission from the set is Twilight, making way for the concert's only song from The Unforgettable Fire. At the time of the Wellington show, only one Unforgettable Fire song had actually been released to the public in the form of the album's lead single, Pride. This song originated during a War Tour soundcheck, and while War Tour sets that opened with Gloria had Twilight --> Out Of Control at the end of the main set, this show instead closed its main set with Pride followed by Out Of Control.

At the start of the concert, Bono apologises to the crowd for being late before Larry starts thumping the intro of Gloria, and during the show, he reaches out to the crowd with a great amount of energy and passion. Surrender features a snippet of In The Midnight Hour, a snippet that would later be sung together by BB King and Bono regularly during When Love Comes To Town on the Lovetown Tour. Two Hearts Beat As One includes what appears to be an improvised verse where Bono sings "give me the moonlight on Christchurch hill" (though if this is actually a snippet of another song, feel free to submit the details!). One wonders if he remembers what city he's in: two nights earlier, U2 had commenced their world tour in Christchurch!

Before Pride, a technical malfunction occurs with Bono's microphone and a crew member comes on stage to provide assistance: at this point, Bono makes a joke that this technician is "the only good thing to come out of Liverpool". Bono later makes it clear he was "only joking", stating that the Liverpool Football Club is another good thing, much to the agreement of the author of this article. Listening in 2006 to the 1984 crowd's reception of Pride is interesting as it's a much more subdued response than in recent years, due to the new nature of the song, but hits such as Sunday Bloody Sunday and New Year's Day receive loud, emphatic responses. The crowd also enthusiastically cheers along to songs such as 11 O'clock Tick Tock, Party Girl, and Surrender.

The full setlist for the 31 August 1984 concert in Wellington, New Zealand was:

  1. Gloria
  2. I Threw a Brick Through a Window
  3. A Day Without Me
  4. An Cat Dubh / Into the Heart
  5. Surrender / In the Midnight Hour (snippet)
  6. Two Hearts Beat as One / Give Me the Moonlight (snippet)
  7. Seconds
  8. Sunday Bloody Sunday
  9. The Cry / The Electric Co. / America (snippet) / Send in the Clowns (snippet)
  10. I Fall Down
  11. October
  12. New Year's Day
  13. Pride (In the Name of Love)
  14. Out of Control

  15. encore(s):
  16. Party Girl
  17. 11 O'Clock Tick Tock
  18. I Will Follow
  19. 40
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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