U2gigs.com: FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Category: Main -> Setlists
|· What album songs have never been played live?
For full details, see this article: Album songs never played live.[ Back to Top ]
Boy: All songs have been played live.
October: Is That All? and Stranger In A Strange Land. The former shared its musical basis with The Cry, a mini-song often played before The Electric Co. A line from the latter was snippeted once.
War: Drowning Man, The Refugee, and Red Light. Drowning Man was briefly snippeted in 11 O'clock Tick Tock a number of times; it was rehearsed extensively in mid-2009 and bootlegs exist of it being soundchecked, but it was never included in a concert setlist.
The Unforgettable Fire: Promenade, 4th Of July, and with one snippet to its name, Elvis Presley And America.
The Joshua Tree: All songs have been played live. Red Hill Mining Town did not debut until 12 May 2017, thirty years after its original release.
Rattle And Hum: Heartland; a few lines from it were snippeted at two concerts.
Achtung Baby: Acrobat did not debut live until 2 May 2018. So-called "live" recordings of Acrobat from ZooTV are sourced from private rehearsals during August 1992; it did not even make the public rehearsal on 7 August 1992. So Cruel only appeared as a stripped-down song played by Bono solo.
Zooropa: Some Days Are Better Than Others.
Pop: Playboy Mansion, from which a couple of lines were snippeted often on Popmart at the end of Where The Streets Have No Name.
All That You Can't Leave Behind: Grace and When I Look At The World; the latter was snippeted once. It is debatable if any of the snippets of Peace On Earth before Walk On should be considered significant enough to constitute independent performances. We list three occasions as separate performances when Bono sung the majority of the song, though many may interpret those performances as glorified snippets. We acknowledge this is a grey area.
How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb: One Step Closer.
No Line On The Horizon: Stand Up Comedy, Fez-Being Born, White As Snow, and Cedars Of Lebanon.
Songs Of Innocence: Sleep Like A Baby Tonight, This Is Where You Can Reach Me Now.
Songs Of Experience:The Showman (Little More Better) (snippeted a few times on E+I tour).
|· What b-sides have been played live?
U2 have performed a number of their original b-sides live. In this discussion, we are not considering covers. For full details through to HTDAAB, see this article: B-Sides Live[ Back to Top ]
Pre-Boy and Boy eras: Boy/Girl, Touch, Things To Make And Do.
October era: No b-sides played.
War era: Party Girl. It was released between October and War as the b-side to the non-album single A Celebration and did not debut live until the War era.
The Unforgettable Fire era: No b-sides played.
The Joshua Tree era: Spanish Eyes and Silver And Gold. Sweetest Thing was played live only after being re-released as a single in its own right.
Rattle And Hum era: None played.
Achtung Baby: None played.
Zooropa: Slow Dancing.
Pop: Holy Joe, North And South Of The River, Two Shots Of Happy.
All That You Can't Leave Behind: None played.
How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb: None played. However, a live performance of She's A Mystery To Me, previously unreleased by U2, appears as a HTDAAB b-side.
No Line On The Horizon: None played.
Songs Of Innocence: Lucifer's Hands and The Crystal Ballroom.
|· What non-album songs have been played live?
U2 have released a number of non-album songs, e.g. for soundtracks, as stand-alone singles, and as new tracks on compilations. This section does not include b-sides, which are covered by a separate question. This section also only includes tracks wholly by U2, not side projects by individual members.[ Back to Top ]
1980-89: Another Day, 11 O'clock Tick Tock, and A Celebration were all played live. 11 O'clock Tick Tock was a signature live track in U2's early years and remains one of U2's 15 most performed tracks.
1990-99: Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me was played at every Popmart show and returned to the live stage in 2010-11 on the 360° Tour. Sweetest Thing made its live debut after it was re-recorded in 1998 for the Best Of 1980-1990 and released as a single.
2000-09: The Ground Beneath Her Feet and Fast Cars, bonus tracks on some editions of All That You Can't Leave Behind and How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb respectively, both have made live appearances. The Hands That Built America, used on the Best Of 1990-2000 and in the movie Gangs Of New York, was played live a few times and snippeted throughout the Vertigo Tour. Window In The Skies, a new song on U2:18 Singles, was played at the final four Vertigo Tour shows and on Japanese TV.
2010-present: Invisible and Ordinary Love.
|· Have any U2 singles never been played live?
No. All U2 singles have been played live. However, Electrical Storm was not played until seven years after it was first released, missing the Vertigo Tour, the first tour on which it could have been played. It debuted at the second 360° Tour show on 2 July 2009. It was rehearsed before the second leg of the Vertigo Tour; see soundcheck details here.[ Back to Top ]
As an additional point of interest, one single was released only after it had been dropped from the live setlist. If God Will Send His Angels was played in full just the once, on 25 April 1997, and was then played in a stripped-down, abbreviated form by Bono and Edge until late June 1997. Only later that year was it released as a single. It has yet to reappear live. Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses suffered a similar fate; it was released as a single in August 1992, the month it was dropped from the ZOO TV setlist as a full electric song. An acoustic version was performed a few times later in 1992 but failed to gain a regular setlist position. It was not until 28 May 2005 that WGRYWH returned to the live stage.
|· Have U2 ever played unreleased songs live?
Yes they have, though most examples date from before the release of the Boy album. "Unreleased song" in this sense refers specifically to songs that U2 have either never released, or have only included as bonus tracks on re-releases issued many years after the song was recorded. In the Pre-Boy era, numerous songs that never made it onto an official release appeared on stage, some as little more than basic song skeletons, others as reasonably developed tracks. The two best known are Street Mission and The Fool, as they were released in 2004 on iTunes' The Complete U2 package. Other tracks performed are: Alone In The Light, Cartoon World, Concentration Cramp, False Prophet, In Your Hand, Inside Out, Jack In A Box, Life On A Distant Planet, Pete The Chop, Silver Lining, The Dream Is Over, The King's New Clothes, The Speed Of Life, The TV Song, Tonight, Trevor, and What's Going On.[ Back to Top ]
On the Boy Tour, U2 debuted four new songs live. Two of these went on to be tracks on the October album, namely I Fall Down and Fire. Two did not and remain unreleased: Father Is An Elephant made a number of appearances in November 1980, while Carry Me Home was played live twice in June 1981. Also on the Boy Tour, The Cry made its debut as a mini-song preceding The Electric Co.; it appears on live releases and its music was lifted for Is That All?, but it has never been released as a studio track in and of itself.
The next unreleased song to appear live was Womanfish, during a rough, drunken performance on Irish TV in 1986. The next year, Lucille appeared live, a song inspired by BB King's guitar and sometimes played in questionable sobriety. It was played seven times in 1987 and once more in 1989 at BB King's birthday party.
On the Lovetown Tour, U2 premiered two unreleased songs. She's A Mystery To Me remains unreleased, although a live version has been used as a b-side and Roy Orbison recorded a studio version of it with Bono on backing vocals. A U2 studio version is known to have been recorded in 1987. Slow Dancing was not released until almost four years after its live debut.
For the twenty years after Lovetown, it was exceedingly rare for U2 to perform unreleased songs live. She's A Mystery To Me and Slow Dancing were performed occasionally before their aforementioned releases, but only one new unreleased song was debuted. On 6 August 2001, We Love You was played in honour of Edge's 40th birthday.
During 2010, however, U2 broke with their established tradition and debuted six unreleased songs live on the 360° Tour. These six are Boy Falls From The Sky, Every Breaking Wave, Glastonbury, Mercy, North Star, and Return Of The Stingray Guitar.
On the Joshua Tree 30th anniversary tour in 2017, U2 included an unreleased song in the setlist: The Little Things That Give You Away. When it closed the 12 May 2017 show, it was the first time an unreleased song had closed a show since Father Is An Elephant on 28 November 1980 (this statistic does not count songs played at promotional appearances ahead of their formal release, nor does it count She's A Mystery To Me on 6 August 1997 as Roy Orbison had previously released his version). Little Things was confirmed later in 2017 as one of the tracks on Songs Of Experience.
|· Have any songs from Passengers been played live?
Yes. Miss Sarajevo was played live once in 1995, once more in 1997, and then became a Vertigo Tour regular in 2005-06; it missed the first two legs of the 360° Tour but then returned to the setlist in 2010-11 and has also been played on the Joshua Tree 30th anniversary tour in 2017. Your Blue Room was played at seven North American concerts on the 360° Tour in September and October 2009, after being soundchecked before some European concerts in August 2009.[ Back to Top ]
No other Passengers songs have been played live, although Always Forever Now has been snippeted once. The studio version of Theme From The Swan was used in concert as the backing music to one of the videos used as an intro to Ultra Violet at some 360° Tour concerts in 2009.
|· I just looked up a concert and it has no setlist/an incomplete setlist - why?
Unfortunately, details of setlists from U2's early years can be a bit scarce. Very few setlists are known from before the release of Boy. Setlist availability improves on the Boy and October Tours, but there are still some large gaps. The majority of the War Tour is known, and only a few Unforgettable Fire Tour setlists are missing. From the start of the Joshua Tree Tour, the setlist for every full tour concert and almost every other U2 appearance is known. A few various dates have missing sets, mainly due to U2 - or whichever band members appeared - playing in private.[ Back to Top ]
If you happen to know any details for sets that are either partly or fully unknown, each concert's page includes a link to submit information.
|· What is the earliest known U2 setlist?
Depends how you define it![ Back to Top ]
The setlist from the very first appearance in October 1976 by the band that would later become U2 is known. At the time, U2 played as Feedback. They then changed their name to The Hype. The last show played as The Hype was on 20 March 1978, and the band returned to play another set as U2, from which one song is known. However, three days earlier, the band appeared as "U2 Malahide" at the Harp Lager Talent Contest in Cork. The setlist for this appearance is known.
The earliest known complete setlist from a full U2 gig is 5 October 1979.
|· What song have U2 played live the most?
I Will Follow is the song U2 have performed live the most. Pride has sometimes appeared marginally higher than I Will Follow in our list of song names by times played, but at such times, it was never actually the song U2 have performed live the most. The absence of some older setlists means that the play count for almost every song that debuted before 1985 is lower than it should be. Both Pride and I Will Follow are victim to this, but only a few concerts at which Pride may have been (and almost certainly was) played lack setlists, while a considerable amount of setlists are missing for shows at which I Will Follow may have been (and almost certainly was) played. Pride's actual play count is probably only six higher than currently given. In contrast, I Will Follow's play count understates reality by at least 130 performances, and because of U2's tendency to play it at least twice at many Boy Tour gigs, the actual amount of performances may be in excess of 160 above the currently known amount. Consequently, as of the end of 2015, I Will Follow's probable performance total should be considered 1,034 or greater, while Pride's should only be considered to be approximately 898.[ Back to Top ]
|· Just what are these "snippets" anyway?
A snippet is when a reference to a song is included in the performance of another. These may also be known as "teasers". In the case of U2, snippets are typically lyrical quotes by Bono and can range from just a couple of words to two or more verses. Sometimes they are obvious to any listener; sometimes they are only noticeable if you are paying very close attention - as the cliche goes, "blink and you miss it". In particular, Bad is famous amongst U2 fans for the quantity and regularity of snippets that Bono uses; it is extremely uncommon to find a performance of Bad without even one snippet. However, during the 360° Tour, Beautiful Day actually overtook Bad in terms of having the most different songs used as snippets.[ Back to Top ]
Much less frequently, the other band members will include a musical snippet of another song, such as Larry including distinctive drumming from Sunday Bloody Sunday in some Popmart performances of Please.
On U2gigs, we also include as snippets cases where one band member accidentally plays one song while the rest of the band plays another. For instance, at the start of U2's concert on 15 September 1984, Larry accidentally began playing Gloria, the band's most common opener of the time, as the rest of the band launched into Out Of Control. He corrected himself immediately, and this brief reference to Gloria is included as a snippet in the database. An even earlier example dates from the days of The Hype, when Edge's brother Dik Evans was in the band and got Rolling Stones songs muddled when the band played a cover in December 1977.
|· What is the longest concert U2 have played?
Our tour statistics page has a section for longest setlists that includes all instances where U2 have played more than 25 songs. As of the end of 2015, this amounts to three setlists of 27 songs and fifteen more of 26 songs. Most of these long setlists come from 2015 on the Innocence + Experience Tour. The three previous instances of U2 playing more than 25 songs at a show are 20 July 2011 in East Rutherford, 30 July 2011 in Moncton, and 27 June 2005 in Dublin. That last one, however, features An Cat Dubh and Into The Heart, which are basically two parts of an essentially inseparable whole, so some people may only count that set as having 25 songs.[ Back to Top ]
|· Has Streets ever missed a concert since its debut?
Yes. It is yet to be performed on 2018's Experience + Innocence Tour.[ Back to Top ]
It might come as a surprise to some fans that it had missed 13 concerts before 2018. Today, Where The Streets Have No Name is considered by many fans to be the live U2 song and a high point of any concert. Things were much different on the Joshua Tree Tour, when it was a new song yet to create a reputation. On the European leg, it missed twelve of thirty concerts. It also missed one concert on Lovetown, with Gloria appearing where Streets would normally have been anticipated in the set on 18 November 1989.
Subsequently, Streets was played at every full tour concert until the end of 2017.
|· So have any songs never missed a concert since their debut?
Yes, there is one song that has been played at every full tour concert since their debut: Beautiful Day. It has been played at every Elevation, Vertigo, 360°, Innocence + Experience, and Joshua Tree 2017 concert.[ Back to Top ]
Vertigo appeared at every Vertigo Tour, 360°, and Innocence + Experience gig. Its streak was broken at the start of the Joshua Tree 2017 tour.
Until the start of the Innocence + Experience Tour, One had enjoyed an unbroken run of 603 live shows. It debuted on 29 February 1992, the first night of ZOO TV, and was played at every single ZOO TV, Popmart, Elevation, Vertigo, and 360° concert. It did not appear on 14 May 2015, however, thus ending its streak.
It is commonly believed that Pride has been played at every gig since its debut, but this is not the case. It was played at every show on the Joshua Tree, Lovetown, ZOO TV, Popmart, and Vertigo tours, and at every Unforgettable Fire Tour show for which a complete setlist is available (i.e. the vast majority of them). However, it was not a permanent setlist fixture on the Elevation Tour. It missed ten of the first leg's fifty shows, including the first eight, then in Europe, it was played at just 17 of the second leg's 33 concerts - it rotated with The Fly as the main set closer. On the third leg, it was restored to its usual permanence, appearing at all thirty shows. It missed even more concerts on the 360° Tour; after starting the tour as a permanent fixture in the setlist, it went on to miss a record 25 concerts in a row across the second and third legs.
Prior to the 360° Tour, another song often thought to have appeared at every show since its live debut was Bullet The Blue Sky. It was not played at all on 360°, but from its live debut to the end of the Vertigo Tour, it missed just six shows: five on Lovetown and one on Elevation. The five missed Lovetown concerts were (all in 1989): 3 October, Brisbane; 27 October, Adelaide, 11 November, Auckland, 23 November, Yokohama, and 18 December, Amsterdam. The Elevation concert missed was 10 October 2001, South Bend.
|· Where have U2 played live the most?
Full statistics on which countries, cities, and venues have been played live the most can be found on our Tour Statistics page.[ Back to Top ]
It is worth noting that although Dublin is the city U2 have played live the most, many of these concerts are from before the release of Boy. Since this time, U2 have played more concerts in other cities. In the 2000s, New York has been the city U2 have played the most, especially if you include shows in nearby East Rutherford.
|· I've heard of a "backwards setlist" played on the Lovetown Tour - did it happen?
Yes, but it wasn't really that backwards. On 1 December 1989, Pride and New Year's Day, songs normally played to close the main set, were instead performed at the start of the show; Desire, All Along The Watchtower, and All I Want Is You were played in the encore instead of in the early or middle stages of the main set; and the usual encore with BB King closed the main set.[ Back to Top ]
|· Do U2 follow a printed setlist, or do they allow for spontaneity?
Both, although U2 largely follow a printed setlist, which they have for every show. They will deviate from the printed set if they desire. This tends to happen more at arena gigs, but it is not totally unheard-of at stadium shows. Sometimes Bono will call for a song not on the setlist, such as when Out Of Control was spontaneously played on 26 May 2005, or the band will briefly consult between songs onstage about an upcoming change. Other times, Bono will bring a fan onstage who has indicated that they can play a particular song, usually on guitar but sometimes on piano, and the band will play the song with the fan, such as the case of Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses on 9 December 2006.[ Back to Top ]
|· Will U2 play a location-specific song in the location?
The chances are good in some locations. Since the release of One Tree Hill, U2 have played ten concerts in New Zealand: it was performed at all four Lovetown gigs, both Vertigo gigs, and both 360° Tour gigs, and snippeted after One at both ZOO TV shows. Meanwhile, New Year's Day, written for the Polish Solidarity movement, has been played at all three of U2's concerts in Poland - it was a setlist fixture the first two times U2 visited the country (on Popmart and Vertigo), while on the 360° Tour, the band did not initially include it in the setlist but resurrected it in time for their show in Chorzow. U2 also added it to the set in Berlin on 28 September 2015 for fans who had travelled from Poland, as there were no shows in Poland that year.[ Back to Top ]
Mothers Of The Disappeared has a good record in Chile and Argentina, although not as good as that of One Tree Hill or New Year's Day. Since its release, U2 have played eleven concerts in Argentina and Chile, and it has been played or snippeted at nine of them. On the Popmart and Vertigo Tours, it was played at six out of the seven concerts; the show it missed was the first show of two on the Vertigo Tour in Buenos Aires. On the 360° Tour, it was not performed in full, but an extended snippet was sung at three out of the four Chilean and Argentinian concerts; it did not appear at all at the second La Plata show.
Other location songs have much patchier records. After Miami was dropped from the setlist at the start of Popmart's third leg, it was resurrected for the 14 November 1997 gig in Miami, but since then, it has been snippeted at just two shows (1 and 2) of six that U2 have played in the greater Miami area. New York was played at all New York gigs on Elevation, but it was a tour staple and missed just three of 113 gigs; subsequently, U2 have not played the song once, let alone anywhere near New York. Speaking of New York, although Angel Of Harlem has appeared at a number of New York concerts, this too has been down to chance. For example, although it was in rotation on Elevation's first leg, it wasn't played at any New York concerts, while on Vertigo, none of its performances were anywhere near New York.
Moving beyond the USA, Spanish Eyes has been played in Spain on five of the seven tours that have visited the country since the song's release. It made its live debut at U2's first ever Spanish concert on 15 July 1987, and was also played at one of five Spanish ZOO TV gigs and at the only Spanish Elevation gig. However, it was skipped at both Popmart concerts and all three Vertigo concerts, although it was in fact soundchecked before the 9 August 2005 Vertigo gig, but was not actually played that night. On the 360° Tour, it was not played on the band's 2009 visit to Spain that began the tour, but it did appear at one of the two Spanish shows of the 2010 leg, in San Sebastian. U2 played four concerts in Barcelona on the Innocence + Experience Tour, adding Spanish Eyes to the set for the fourth and final night.
Zoo Station has been played at three of U2's eight concerts in Berlin since ZOO TV. When it was played there in 1993 and 2005, it was a fixture of those tours' nightly sets. On 24 September 2015, however, it was resurrected for the occasion.
A couple of location songs have never been played in their location. Heartland has never been played anywhere, let alone in the region of the US known as the heartland, and the two snippets of it took place on the other side of the world, in Melbourne, Australia. Staying in Melbourne, it is the closest Van Diemen's Land has come to being played in Van Diemen's Land, now known as Tasmania. U2 have never ventured across Bass Strait to play a concert in Tasmania, but it may not be entirely co-incidental that Van Diemen's Land debuted in Melbourne on 9 October 1989.
|· What's that song played before U2 take the stage?
On the Experience + Innocence Tour in 2018, U2 are starting their shows with It's a Beautiful World by Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, including a sample of "what do you want?" from Zooropa. The first five shows opened with a different (and much better) song: Winter Beats by I Break Horses.[ Back to Top ]
The intro music for the Joshua Tree Tour 2017 was A Rainy Night In Soho by The Pogues.
On the Innocence + Experience Tour, the intro music was Patti Smith's People Have The Power. At the first four shows of the tour, a different song was used: Beat On The Brat by Ramones, remixed to contain samples of Discotheque and Even Better Than The Real Thing.
On the 360° Tour, the intro music was Space Oddity by David Bowie. At 2009 shows, it segued into an unreleased song by U2 called Soon; at 2010 shows, it segued into a live performance by U2 of another unreleased song, Return Of The Stingray Guitar; at 2011 shows, it preceded the standard opener, Even Better Than The Real Thing (at three shows, it led into Beautiful Day, and at one, the Stingray Guitar intro was used). At the 2011 South African shows, it was not used; a remix of Get On Your Boots with the Soweto Gospel Choir was the intro music instead.
Before Vertigo Tour concerts, U2 used Wake Up by Arcade Fire as their concert intro music. Other intro music over the course of U2's career has included U2's own 4th Of July before Unforgettable Fire Tour gigs, Stand By Me before some Joshua Tree Tour shows, Television: The Drug Of The Nation by the Disposable Heroes Of Hiphopcrisy before some Zoo TV shows, Pop Muzik before Popmart concerts, and a remix of Elevation before Elevation Tour shows.
|· What's this stuff about "live setlists"/"running setlists"?
A live setlist or running setlist is when the set is posted as it happens - i.e. as the band are playing the songs. We have done these often in the past, and - although we naturally can make no guarantees - we intend to do them as much as possible in the future.[ Back to Top ]
If you are interested in snippets, it tends to be a good idea to check back a few hours or a day after the gig, as sometimes snippets are initially missed during the live setlist and are added after the show's conclusion.
These live setlists are unfortunately not conducted through any arrangement with U2 or their crew - if only it were that easy and convenient. Live setlists are made possible by fan contacts at the concert, and without them, the live setlists would simply not be possible. We extend sincere thanks to every fan who sacrifices some of their concert time to share the set live with the global U2 fanbase.