Music Monday – U2/360 Tour Edition
So U2 is finally back in North America after having to cancel their tour last summer due to Bono needing emergency back surgery, with the first show being last night in Denver. I wasn’t that angry the tour was cancelled, as I knew how serious his back injury was, so I’m glad he’s up to fighting form again. What this means, though, is that the 360 Tour has changed dramatically since it was begun in 2009 in support of U2’s most recent album, No Line on the Horizon (NLOTH). Now, I consider NLOTH to be their best album since 1997’s Pop, but just like Pop, it didn’t sell nearly that well, but unlike Pop and it’s subsequent Popmart tour, the band has been steadily moving away from NLOTH songs. What the tour has evolved into now is more of a greatest hits setlist with a few deep cuts and maybe one or two unreleased songs.
My problem is that I want the original setlist from the 360 Tour, and I know I’m not going to get it. And the argument that Minneapolis didn’t get a visit during the 2009 North America leg so we should get a 2009 setlist doesn’t hold much weight, since lots of shows didn’t get a 2009 setlist in 2010 or earlier this year in 2011. I really love the NLOTH material and was hoping to hear more of it (with a few exceptions), and while I’m excited about many of the changes the show has undergone, my enjoyment of U2/360 Minneapolis will be a lot more like getting to choose between a Chicken Burrito at Chipotle and a Steak Burrito at Chipotle: they are both great, I love them both, but somedays I want one or the other (or “a steak burrito with extra rice, fajita vegetables, and extra meat, but could you make that extra meat chicken? Yeah, both. Thanks”).
Let’s compare setlists. Here’s what I consider the best U2/360 show so far, at least as recordings go…Sheffield 2009, 1st leg of the tour (Europe):
Main Set: Breathe, No Line On The Horizon, Get On Your Boots, Magnificent, Beautiful Day – Blackbird, Elevation, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – Movin’ On Up, Happy Birthday, Stuck In a Moment, Unknown Caller, The Unforgettable Fire, City of Blinding Lights, Vertigo, I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight (remix), Sunday Bloody Sunday, Pride, MLK, Walk On – You’ll Never Walk Alone, Where the Streets Have No Name, One, Mysterious Ways
Encore(s): Ultraviolet, With or Without You, Moment of Surrender
Now, for the U2/360 Tour Live from the Rose Bowl dvd, the band made several changes. The show was filmed in Pasadena, California (Leg 2). Additional songs in bold.
Main Set: Breathe, Get On Your Boots, Magnificent, Mysterious Ways, Beautiful Day, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – Stand By Me, Stuck In A Moment, No Line On The Horizon, Elevation, In A Little While, Unknown Caller, Until the End of the World, The Unforgettable Fire, City of Blinding Lights, Vertigo – It’s Only Rock and Roll, I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight (remix), Sunday Bloody Sunday, MLK, Walk On – You’ll Never Walk Alone
Encore(s): One, Amazing Grace, Where the Streets Have No Name, Ultraviolet, With or Without You, Moment of Surrender
Now, I like the two changes U2 made to the setlist. Until the End of the World is still my favorite U2 song, so I’m really excited to see them perform it in a stadium. In a Little While is part of what many online U2 fans are calling U2’s love affair with All That You Can’t Leave Behind, an album that is merely ok in my book, but I like In a Little While, so I’m not to upset with its inclusion. You’ll also notice that U2 dropped Pride from the Rose Bowl setlist, a move I wholeheartedly encourage, as Pride is a young man’s song, and Bono just can’t sing it with the passion and range it requires. Let is rest for a few years before bringing it back.
Now, here’s a typical Leg 3 setlist, this one from the Rome show (again, changes in bold):
Main Set: Return of the Stingray Guitar, Beautiful Day, I Will Follow, Get On Your Boots, Magnificent, Mysterious Ways, Elevation, Until the End of the World – Anthem, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Bad – All I Want Is You, Mercy, In A Little While, Miss Sarajevo, City of Blinding Lights, Vertigo – Teenage Kicks, Relax – I’ll Go Crazy (remix) – Two Tribes, Sunday Bloody Sunday – Get Up Stand Up, MLK, Walk On – You’ll Never Walk Alone
Encore(s): One, Amazing Grace – Where the Streets Have No Name, Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me, With or Without You, Happy Birthday, Moment of Surrender
Leg 3 was also when U2 was really mixing the setlist up some more. Not included in this Rome setlist was two unreleased songs U2 played a handful of times, North Star and Every Breaking Wave. Every Breaking Wave in particular is a great song that I wanted to hear Bono and Edge perform, as it has more emotion and power, and more spiritual lyrics, than In a Little While or Stuck in a Moment, the other two typical “B&E” songs. It’s sorta unfair to use the Rome show as an example, though, because Bad and All I Want Is You was a special circumstance for that show, so they don’t typically count. However, U2 began replacing Ultraviolet, one of my all time favorite U2 songs and favorite song on Achtung Baby and the single one song I was most looking forward to hearing in 2009/2010, with Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me, another great song that totally rocks, but just doesn’t have that emotional connection for me. Right now, chance are U2 will stick with HMTMKMKM (aka “Batman”) because in their mind they played UV at all the other America shows in 2009, regardless of which city they are playing in. Sucks.
Mercy has also dropped from the setlist despite getting a handful of great receptions, but the biggest drop off was songs from NLOTH, including the title song, No Line on the Horizon, and Breathe, the best song from the album. Both will be sorely, sorely missed.
Here’s what U2 just played in Denver last night (technically Leg 7 of the U2/360 Tour, but some legs have like 2 shows in them, such as South Africa):
Main Set: Even Better Than The Real Thing, I Will Follow, Get On Your Boots, Magnificent, Mysterious Ways, Elevation, Until the End of the World, All I Want Is You, Stay, Beautiful Day – Here Comes the Sun, Pride, Miss Sarajevo, Zooropa, City of Blinding Lights, Vertigo, I’ll Go Crazy (remix) – Discotheque – Please, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Scarlet, Walk On – You’ll Never Walk Alone
Encore(s): One, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow – Where the Streets Have No Name, Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me, With or Without You, Moment of Surrender
U2 has dropped the unreleased rocker Return of the Stingray Guitar in favor of a new version of Even Better Than the Real Thing. This change I can only wholeheartedly support, as the new version of EBTTRL thing totally rocks and gets the place bumping (but I’m still missing the emotional and spiritual joy found in Breathe as an opener). All I Want Is You is high on my list of must see U2 songs, same with Stay, and I’m very very glad they dropped the craptastic Stuck In a Moment. But…here comes Pride again. I doubt this will remain in the setlist, but we will see. Miss Sarajevo is a hit or miss song for me; many will enjoy it, but, similar to Sunday Bloody Sunday, I wouldn’t miss it if it was gone. Zooropa has replaced Ultraviolet as my MUST SEE song of the tour, as I absolutely adore that song and hear it just blows peoples minds. The rest of the show is pretty vanilla, but Scarlet has replaced MLK.
So here’s what I hope U2 plays at U2/360 Minneapolis. I know this setlist is a long shot, but it’s my dream setlist at this point of the tour. And ideally, they’d drop Walk On and With or Without You, but I see little chance of that happening. Oh well…
Main Set: Even Better Than The Real Thing, Out of Control, Get On Your Boots, Magnificent, Mysterious Ways, Elevation, Until the End of the World, All I Want Is You, Stay, Beautiful Day – Here Comes the Sun, North Star, The Unforgettable Fire, Zooropa, City of Blinding Lights, Vertigo, I’ll Go Crazy (remix), Discotheque (full band), Scarlet, Walk On
Encore(s): One, Amazing Grace – Where the Streets Have No Name, Ultraviolet (Light My Way), With or Without You, Moment of Surrender
And…if I can dream out loud…I want the ending to be: Moment of Surrender, 40, Breathe. I think those three songs would be a fitting coda to the show, and instead of leaving you in an emotionally satisfied but hanging kind of way, would instead bring the show (and the tour) full circle, first with the traditional U2 show ender, 40, which typically ends with Larry Mullen Jr sitting alone at his drum kit as the rest of the band leaves the stage, before Larry begins playing some random drum solo before finishing and walking off stage. But in this case…after the guitar and bass fade away on 40, I would love to see Larry sit there in silence for a moment or two, listening to the crowd chant…before playing the intro drum solo on Breathe, and abruptly Edge and Adam come walking back on stage playing guitar and bass, followed by Bono to kick off the song and end the show on a high energy note.
That’s my dream, at least. And then I’d have the U2/360 concert experience I’d always wanted, a perfect combination of 2009, 2010, and 2011 tour material.