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The Vertigo Tour: What Might Have Been

Before writing a final wrap-up of the Vertigo Tour, I felt it would be appropriate to reflect not on what actually happened, but on what might have been. U2 naturally do not perform every song that they rehearse, and this article's purpose is to look at what did not make it into the setlist of any of the tour's concerts. Before commencing, however, I must offer a warning: any article of this nature inherently suffers from a lack of verifiability and completion. Please treat statements made in this article with caution; all information is presented in good faith and the belief it is accurate. If you are able to expand upon this article or offer confirmation of any songs, please feel free to contact us. Now, with that said, let's see what might have been!

In this article, I intend to proceed in chronological order through the tour, and I will look not just at what might have been, but also at what was never going to be in an attempt to help debunk some inaccurate rumours that have circulated online. Months before the tour had even started, rumours began circulating about U2's rehearsals. Many of these claims were blatantly false. Reports that U2 were rehearsing Ultra Violet and Love Is Blindness were misinterpretations of a statement Bono made about how he would like to play those songs again at some stage. A Spanish radio report claimed that they had been told by Paul McGuinness that U2 were working on a segue from With Or Without You to Where The Streets Have No Name, but this was likely false, and even if it was a consideration at some point, it did not even reach rehearsals in the week leading up to the start of the tour. There were also claims that U2 had rehearsed Exit in Dublin, and mentions of Wire even circulated in early 2005, but these appear to have been of questionable accuracy at best. Probably the funniest rumour was one individual's insistent claim that U2 were rehearsing a cover of Wham's Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go - as expected, this turned out to be completely untruthful!

During March 2005, things started to get more exciting and more definite as the first concert approached. U2 spent time rehearsing in Tijuana, Mexico, and while a report exists online purporting to show what U2 played, including songs such as A Celebration and Lemon and A Man And A Woman, we are now fairly certain that it was a forgery. Paul McGuinness and the band members themselves both denied A Celebration was rehearsed when asked, with the band expressing distaste for the song. However, the report's claim of Lemon may have not been so inaccurate - a fan whose word I take very seriously asked Paul McGuinness and he was told that although A Celebration was not done in Tijuana, Lemon was. After Tijuana, the band went to Vancouver for a week of rehearsals. Most of the songs played there did make the set, though some not for a long time: Walk On's debut was not until 20 September 2005, and then Stuck In A Moment a couple of weeks later on 4 October 2005. It should also be emphasised that One Step Closer was NOT rehearsed in Vancouver - a fan mistakenly reported that it was and later corrected this, but by then, the report had spread and some people were not aware of the correction. Claims of Surrender may also have been false, but we believe reports of Adam rehearsing the bass line of Seconds were accurate. This does not necessarily mean the whole band were considering it, though; Adam has previously warmed up by playing songs never considered for a set, such as 4th Of July during the soundcheck on 20 April 2001.

Another song that may have been rehearsed in Vancouver is Even Better Than The Real Thing. The report that it was rehearsed was not confident, but it may have been accurate. In late April 2005, a concert tuning sheet began circulating online. It looked genuine and listed the songs U2 had already played on tour plus Stuck In A Moment, which we knew at the time had been rehearsed, and Even Better Than The Real Thing. For this reason, I believe the band gave it consideration for the tour. Another song I have been told was considered around this time is Please: it may have been a possibility in May 2005, especially around the four night stand in Chicago, and this is bolstered by the fact that Bono began snippeting Please during Bullet The Blue Sky in mid-May - an indication the song was on his mind. Of course, that can in no way be taken as confirmation, but merely an indicator.

At the start of the European leg, there was much speculation about songs that could appear in the setlist. There were reports that U2 rehearsed Electrical Storm in Brussels before the second leg began, but these are very conflicting. Some claimed the song was played in full, with these claims split over whether it was acoustic or electric, while U2.com published a denial that it had been rehearsed at all, and the report I take most seriously is that Edge worked on some of the guitar parts of Electrical Storm but the entire band did not rehearse the complete song. Later on the European leg, Spanish Eyes came up in rehearsals, and an apparently genuine photo of the original 11 August 2005 Madrid setlist showed it in the second encore between All Because Of You and Vertigo in Yahweh's usual spot. However, as it turned out, Yahweh made its usual appearance and Spanish Eyes did not appear on tour.

At the start of the third leg, U2 began varying their setlists considerably. Fast Cars, Discotheque, and In A Little While appeared live, and reports came from Toronto that the band had also been soundchecking Mofo. Further reports stated that Lemon (which, as mentioned, may have been worked on prior to the first leg) and Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car were also being rehearsed. Bono went and upped excitement amongst setlist watchers when he snippeted the latter at the end of The Fly on 20 September 2005, an indicator that the song was on his mind. A fan in New York in October then reported that Bono responded to a query about Mofo with "it's coming, it's coming!", but as it failed to appear, skepticism mounted until a newspaper report confirmed that both Mofo and an unknown bluesy song were soundchecked in Atlanta on 19 November 2005. Also soundchecked during the third leg of the tour, primarily in October, was The Wanderer: it was ultimately performed for TV during the soundcheck for the 2 November 2005 Los Angeles concert, but it did not appear at any Vertigo Tour concert. Claims that The Unforgettable Fire was rehearsed at Los Angeles were completely false.

At this stage, these are all the songs that I am aware were or might have been rehearsed for the Vertigo Tour but were not performed at any concerts. In all likelihood, U2 considered more than just this selection, but without being privvy to the band's conversations or more soundcheck details, it is hard to get more data. Again, I emphasise the above information should be treated with caution even though it is presented in the belief that it is likely accurate. It is very interesting to consider what might have been. Perhaps some of these songs will show up on the next tour!

Posted on by Axver

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