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Axver's Tour Predictions: Zooropa and Passengers

So far, I have made tour predictions for: Songs of Innocence, Boy, October, War, The Unforgettable Fire, The Joshua Tree, Rattle and Hum, and Achtung Baby. This entry covers that glorious mid-nineties period when U2 went very experimental and pushed themselves to create all kinds of new sounds, sounds that on the whole still sound fresh and forward-thinking today. However, not all of this experimentation was made for the concert stage. Will we get to hear much of it on the next tour?


In terms of live representation, Zooropa has often got lost in the mix. It never really got its own tour – though its material was integrated very effectively into the final leg of Zoo TV. Since then, the strongest theme has been neglect. No Zooropa songs were played on Popmart at all; Elevation only got “Stay”, played at less than half of its shows; and Vertigo only got “The First Time”, played at less than a quarter of its shows. The 360 Tour looked set to repeat this pattern, with “Stay” making infrequent appearances, but then it became the first tour since 1993 to feature two Zooropa songs when the title track returned. Many shows on the final leg featured both “Zooropa” and “Stay”. Is this a harbinger of improved representation in the future or will the prior pattern of neglect reassert itself?

Likelihood: 35%
“Zooropa” was one of the greatest performances of the 360 Tour, yet it was only played in the Americas. You know it would go down well in Europe, and it could be a deeply immersive experience in arenas with a crazy light show. I think U2 will want to share this song a bit more with the world before putting it away, but I acknowledge the likelihood is not necessarily strong.

Likelihood: 25%
The time has come for “Numb” to return to the stage. It is still a bold, fresh song, and it enjoys a reasonable profile as a result of appearing on the Best of 1990-2000. You really can’t rule out anything from U2’s compilations, as they have very good public recognition. “Numb” also lets Edge enjoy a bit of the spotlight and could give Bono a bit of a mid-set rest if he wanted one.

Likelihood: 30%
“Iris” on Songs of Innocence brings together a selection of Bono’s memories of his mother, and “Lemon” sits alongside comfortably as it was inspired by a videotape of Iris Hewson. Furthermore, this song has not disappeared from the band’s radar over the years – a remix was played over the PA before “Discotheque” on Popmart and U2 rehearsed “Lemon” during the third leg of Vertigo but it never made the stage. It seems to me that the next tour is possibly “Lemon’s” best chance for a return to the setlist. The big question is whether Bono will attempt the falsetto, pass it off to Edge, or find another way to tackle the song. Given the confident falsetto of “Sleep Like a Baby Tonight”, Bono might tackle “Lemon’ in its original form.

Likelihood: 90%
Bono has been talking up the chances of acoustic performances, and you know that enhances the likelihood of “Stay” sticking around. Of course, the band’s affection for the song helps too. It is Zooropa’s most reliable and most recognised representative, and it will probably remain in the mix.

The First Time
Likelihood: 40%
This song debuted to considerable surprise in 2005, but after appearing on the Best of 1990-2000, should this really have been such a shock? If U2 tour in venues a bit more intimate than a stadium, especially with the aforementioned acoustic emphasis, “The First Time” is a fair shot at appearing now and then. However, if the next tour is in stadiums, I would revise the likelihood all the way down to 5%.

Slow Dancing
Likelihood: 5%
This song has a funny history. It debuted on radio during Lovetown, was played six times on Zoo TV, all of which came before its release as a b-side for “Stay”, and then appeared twice more on both Popmart and Elevation (and during Popmart it was re-released, again as a b-side, with Willie Nelson). When “Party Girl” missed Popmart, “Slow Dancing” became the only U2 b-side to be performed on every tour since its debut, but then it went and missed the last two tours. Is it any chance to appear again? I suspect it has no chance on a stadiums-only tour, but in arenas it should emerge as a slim chance for a couple more rare performances. If you get to hear it, treasure the moment.

Will not be played: Babyface, Daddy’s Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car, Some Days Are Better Than Others, Dirty Day, The Wanderer.
“Some Days” will never be played live despite its cool bass, since it’s a bit of a throwaway number, and "The Wanderer’s" lone performance is unlikely to be repeated. “Babyface”, once a whipping boy within the fan community, has enjoyed a gradual re-evaluation over recent years but I do not expect this to feed back to the band strongly enough to prompt a live resurrection. “Dirty Day’s” live performances on Zoo TV are the thing of legend, but again I do not see a setlist position for it, and although “Daddy’s Gonna Pay” was rehearsed with “Lemon” in 2005, I think that was its last real shot. Unlike “Lemon”, it was never a single; unless it has some very particular theme or niche to fill, it won’t appear.

Ax’s wishes: Zooropa, Numb, Dirty Day.

I was shattered that “Zooropa” did not come into the set until after my 360 run was over. There are few U2 songs I want to hear more. “Numb” would be something very different, a great spotlight for Edge. The return of “Dirty Day” is well overdue; I wish I were less pessimistic about its chances.


Miss Sarajevo” was performed once in 1995 and a second time in 1997. That appeared to be the end of the road for Passengers live. Then, off the back of its inclusion on the Best of 1990-2000, “Miss Sarajevo” became an entirely unexpected fixture on Vertigo. Fans were even more gobsmacked when “Your Blue Room” debuted on 360. Will this album continue to receive live representation?

Your Blue Room
Likelihood: 30%
I actually think “Your Blue Room” will get another chance the next time U2 play arenas, especially if those are European arenas – and by the sounds of what band members have said in interviews, that could well be this tour. “Your Blue Room” is a band favourite, which surely goes a long way to explaining its astonishing debut on 360. It’s just that stadiums were not the right setting at all. It deserves a second chance in arenas to really stun people and reward hardcore fans.

Miss Sarajevo
Likelihood: 30%
You might be surprised that I’m not predicting “Miss Sarajevo” to be any more likely than “Your Blue Room”. However, after being a centrepoint of Vertigo and enjoying a second long run around the world on 360, I think the time has come for “Miss Sarajevo” to have a bit of a rest. Its main role in the set is for Bono to prove he’s still got it as a singer, and there are plenty of other good options for that. Nonetheless, “Miss Sarajevo’s” status as a hit that appeared on the Best of 1990-2000 means that it probably still remains in consideration to some degree.

Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me
Likelihood: 60%
The U2 song released in 1995 most likely to appear on the next tour is not from the album they put out, but a movie soundtrack single instead. HMTMKMKM was a big success both in the nineties and on 360, and really the most surprising thing is that it was not played at all between 1998 and 2010. You would expect a big hit that appeared on a Best Of to appear live at least every now and then! Of course, the question is, if it does appear, will it finally be played in the main set rather than the encore? It has been a very effective opener to the second encore on two very different tours, but it could also make a powerful early statement or help wrap up a main set in style.

Will not be played: Everything else.
There are lots of great songs on Passengers, but expecting to hear much of it live is a pipe dream. Many of them would struggle to work effectively. There are cool ways to present some, but even then they suffer from a massive degree of obscurity and lack the visceral in-your-face qualities that tend to enable rarities to succeed at grabbing the attention of all concertgoers.

Ax’s wishes: United Colours, Slug, Your Blue Room, Always Forever Now, Beach Sequence, HMTMKMKM.
I wish I was one of the lucky ones to hear “Your Blue Room” on 360 and I think it would be great in arenas. Rotating it nightly with “Slug” would be effective; the two could be presented in similar ways. I have always thought “United Colours” or “Always Forever Now” (in abbreviated form if necessary) would both make a great intro to HMTMKMKM, a beast of a rock song that should stay in the set. And as for “Beach Sequence”, my favourite Passengers song, this understated gem could work as an introduction to “New Year’s Day”. It could do that job even better than “October”, you know.

Seriously folks, imagine if U2 have two rotational sets. First night, they do “Your Blue Room” mid-set, “October” leads into “New Year’s Day” late in the main set, and the first encore begins with a 2.5 minute version of “United Colours” into HMTMKMKM. The next night, “Slug” replaces “Your Blue Room”, “Beach Sequence” comes in for “October”, and “United Colours” is replaced by a similarly shortened "Always Forever Now" as the intro to HMTMKMKM. You’ve managed to get 2-3 Passengers songs into the set – two as cool intros that many casual fans might not even realise are crazy obscurities, but instead act as effective extended intros that build tension before a huge hit begins. But now I’m daydreaming aren’t I?

Up next: will we actually hear something from Pop? No, seriously, I'm going to predict something. I won't just ignore the album like U2 did on 360.

Posted on by Axver

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