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Axver's Tour Predictions: Boy and October

What songs will U2 play on their next tour? It is hard to predict when a tour is likely many months away, of course. That has not stopped many fans from speculating, and I have come to the party. Previously I looked at the chances of tracks from Songs of Innocence. That’s pretty hard, for a whole bunch of reasons I described in that article. Will the band’s back catalogue be any easier?

Some preliminary comments: I’m not always going to go through every song on every album. I will run through all the songs I think have even a faint chance, and then group together at the end those that I predict will not be played. I will include with each album songs from its era that were released on other formats if I think they are a chance. Some of these entries will focus on a single album if it has a lot of candidates for selection; others will group together multiple albums. Anyway, on with the show – let’s go right back to the start.


On the Vertigo Tour, U2 played up a return to their roots by performing a number of songs from Boy that had suffered from some live neglect. Now that Songs of Innocence looks back even more explicitly at U2's formative years, could Boy enjoy another resurgence? Sure, Vertigo was only a couple of tours ago, but the next tour may not get under way until after the ten-year anniversary of Vertigo's opening night. That's a lot of time - and there are many different ways to incorporate material from Boy.

I Will Follow
Likelihood: 99%
"I Will Follow" has been performed live more than any other U2 song. It has not missed a tour since U2 had an album to promote, and I doubt it will start now. It may not be a regular in the set, it may appear infrequently, but U2 can play it in their sleep and it will crop up somewhere.

Likelihood: 1%
Wishful thinking! But with the nostalgic themes of Songs of Innocence, could this song with its emphasis on “in the shadows boy meets man” be an outside chance for a comeback? It would sound great but you’ve got to say it’s a very, very, very outside chance.

Out of Control
Likelihood: 90%
After missing both of the big nineties tours, this song has made sporadic appearances since its revival on the Elevation Tour. The band are pretty fond of it, especially for second/third nights in a city or for special occasions. It probably won’t be a regular, but it should show up every now and then.

Another Time, Another Place
Likelihood: 2%
This is my other nutty prediction based on wishful thinking. If U2 want to channel their late seventies selves, this song is a great way for them to look back on their career in another time and another place (pun intended, sorry). Plus, it’s a beast of a song, grossly under-rated, and Edge could really make it special. Of course it won’t happen.

The Electric Co.
Likelihood: 15%
This song was a true stand-out on the Vertigo Tour. It may not be well known outside of hardcore U2 fans, but it proved that any song can keep the attention of entire stadiums if performed sufficiently well. I do not think its live career is over – but will this be the tour it makes a re-appearance? I’m not sure.

11 O’clock Tick Tock
Likelihood: 10%
This song was a staple of U2’s sets for many years, setting crowds around the world alight with scintillating performances. Its glorious revival on the Elevation Tour did not realise its full potential – U2 stuck too faithfully to the studio version instead of recapturing the magic of live versions such as the Red Rocks performance filmed for Under a Blood Red Sky. Like “The Electric Co.”, I do not think “11 O’clock Tick Tock” is dead and the band will hopefully give it another shot one day. I don’t see it finding space on a stadium tour, but if the next tour has a lengthy arena leg it could be a chance.

Will not be played: An Cat Dubh, Into the Heart, Stories For Boys, A Day Without Me, Shadows and Tall Trees, and all other non-album material
The first three got their run on Vertigo and I can’t see them getting resurrected, except maybe the “Stories For Boys” snippet in “Vertigo”. U2 would look awkward performing the teenage angst of “A Day Without Me” nowadays (much as I would be on the front rail shouting the lyrics if they ever did the combo of “A Day Without Me”/”I Threw a Brick Through a Window” again). And as for “Shadows and Tall Trees”, it was a late seventies setlist staple but it holds the unfortunate distinction of being dropped before the start of the very tour promoting the album it is on! Lyrically it could sit with the themes of “Cedarwood Road” but U2 probably don’t remember it exists and wouldn’t want to revive it if they do. It’s dead.

Ax’s wishes: 11 O’clock Tick Tock, Twilight, An Cat Dubh, Into the Heart, Another Time Another Place, and The Electric Co.
I’m a huge fan of the Boy era. Large stadium crowds might react differently to me, but if U2 came out and played Boy in full, the non-album singles and b-sides, a selection of pre-Boy gems, and then left, I would be elated. Can you even imagine U2 busting out “Life on a Distant Planet” or “The Dream Is Over”? Ah, daydreams.


October has become the black sheep of U2 albums. Its representation in setlists has been poor ever since the mid-eighties. U2 seem happier to forget this period of their career, many serious fans are dismissive of it, and most casual fans are unaware it exists. This has not been helped by the failure to include any October songs on compilations (except for hiding the title track at the end of the Best of 1980–1990). Do songs from this neglected album have any chance at all?

Likelihood: 20%
You know, if U2 do an arena tour, I’d be almost inclined to raise the likelihood percentage a little. "Gloria" is a great song that has some wider public recognition, and if the band want to do justice to their entire catalogue then this is a very obvious and popular selection for October. It’s unlikely, but it had a fair run on Vertigo and maybe it will get some more time on stage.

Likelihood: 25%
U2 gave some consideration to performing “October” during the 2009 European leg of 360, and I fancy that one of these days the band will restore it to its former glory as the lead-in to “New Year’s Day”. Maybe this will be the tour. It's an easy way to give this album a nod without taking up much time at all.

Party Girl
Likelihood: 75%
It is astonishing that the most likely song to be performed from the October era is a b-side from a long-forgotten non-album single released the next year. Yet that is the reality. "Party Girl" is, by some considerable distance, the b-side U2 have performed live the most and it has appeared on every tour except Popmart. It usually gets performed to celebrate special occasions such as a band member's birthday or on the last night of a very successful run of concerts in a single city. It won't be a regular, but it will probably make an appearance on the next tour sometime.

Will not be played: Everything else from October
As noted above, few other albums have been abandoned as comprehensively. “Scarlet” got its (long awaited and entirely unexpected) time in the sun on 360, but apart from that, the only October songs to be played since the end of the Unforgettable Fire Tour are “Gloria” and “October”. I do not foresee much of a change to this album's raw deal.

Ax’s wishes: Gloria, Rejoice, Fire, Tomorrow.
Honestly, I would love practically anything from this grossly underappreciated album. Could the band do justice to October’s raw passion and energy? Instead of speculating, I’d rather just find out via some surprise performances.

Stay tuned for my War and Unforgettable Fire predictions!

Posted on by Axver

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