When you’re an artist with a 100-plus song catalog, it’s inevitable that lots of tracks fall through the cracks. That problem is doubled when playing to a stadium crowd every night. U2 has been on their 360 tour for more than two years now, pushing through an increasing number of setbacks and distractions. Bono‘s back injury canceled the band’s Glastonbury appearance and delayed their North American dates for a year. Promises of four new albums have stalled for the moment. Spiderman…just Spiderman.
But despite all that, U2 has returned stateside this month for the final trek of what’s now officially the highest-grossing tour of all time. They’ll play all throughout North America (with a stop over at Glastonbury) before finally ending in Moncton, Canada on July 30th. But just because this tour’s been an overwhelming success, doesn’t mean there aren’t some songs we’d like to hear that haven’t made the cut. While rarities like “Miss Sarajevo” and “Zooropa” have found a place alongside “Beautiful Day” and “One”, there’s always time to shake up the set some more.
10. “Love is Blindness”
At first listen, the Achtung Baby cut may seem too slow and dark for a stadium setting. But as the former closer of U2’s ZooTV Tour, it’s an approaching storm. The instrumentation swells, along with Bono’s desperate vocals, before thundering into one of the most intense solos the Edge has ever played. Put this one after “Moment of Surrender” and let it close a concert again.
Ah, the much-criticized Pop album. Often deemed a failure, U2 has excluded this record from their live sets as much as possible this past decade. That’s a mistake. “Mofo” is one of the most energetic, funky songs they’ve ever done. From the speeding bass to the screaming guitar, this number is made for a visual spectacle. With a giant spaceship stage, this song is the ingredient they need to fry the audience’s minds in a good way.
Another high intensity track that’s been gone way too long (since 1986!), “Wire” is nothing short of frantic. All the instruments drive along in speeding melodies that won’t let you sit still. Bono’s vocals hit some of the highest notes in his career, even shouting his way into a falsetto tone two or three times. Put this Unforgettable Fire song towards the front of the setlist, play it loud, and play it aggressively. Then watch the crowd go nuts.
07. “When I Look at the World”
From 2000’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind, this is the most recent song on the list for a simple reason. It’s never been played live. The reason why? Rumor has it that everything was recorded so quickly that the Edge couldn’t recall how to play it. If that’s true, they should still find a way. It’s one of the highlights from the album; featuring that optimism in the face of darkness that U2 does best. It’s every bit as uplifting as “Walk On” and should be featured alongside it.
Another number from Pop, “Gone” is a straightforward rocker and a missed opportunity to be a hit single. It’s got all the qualities needed. Crunchy, catchy guitar riffs? Check. An easy-to-remember, shout-along chorus? Check. An explosive ending with some much needed shredding? Another check. Yet somehow, it’s been gathering dust for a decade. U2 should fix this post-haste.
05. “A Sort of Homecoming”
While U2’s first three albums all featured moments of brilliance from everyone’s favorite Irish frontman, The Unforgettable Fire is where Bono really began to evolve as a lyricist and as a singer. The proof is in the opener, “A Sort of Homecoming”. The words are more of a story than a statement and his vocals build throughout each verse, ending in a elated scream. Attempts to play the number in 2001 ended badly due to lack of rehearsal. With more effort though, this track can be just as rousing as it was when it was first released.
04. “Drowning Man”
Like “When I Look at the World”, this track has never been played live. Unlike the former, U2 heavily rehearsed this one for the 360 tour. U2.com even showed a pro-shot video of them practicing. So it’s absence has left many fans scratching their heads. Despite its slight melancholy feel, it’s a beautiful, ethereal song that provides a breather in between the War album’s heavier pieces. It’s a shame that the band seems to have abandoned it.
03. “Dirty Day”
In the field of eclectic songs that make up Zooropa, “Dirty Day” stands out as a scorching rocker. As it’s often the case with U2, this one’s all about building up atmosphere. Unlike many other U2 tracks, the band smashes this atmosphere with a hammer of blistering guitar work during the track’s raging chorus. Then it goes through the whole process again! The quiet/loud dynamic may seem difficult to do in a stadium, but the above video shows otherwise.
There’s not even an argument to make here. “Please” has been missing from U2’s setlist for far too long. It’s arguably one of the best songs of the group’s career and definitely the most underrated. The live performance is nothing short of astounding. Bono throws everything he’s got into this performance, screaming and pleading for the violence in his country to come to an end. It’s on equal footing to “With or Without You” and “One” as one of the most emotional songs they’ve ever done. That’s enough reason to bring this back.
This is essentially the Holy Grail of U2 rarities. The only song from Achtung Baby to never be played live, it’s been the most wanted live song by both semi-casual and hardcore fans. Distorted guitar swirls around Bono’s passionate vocals that take aim at his own flaws and hypocrisy. If there ever was a year to debut this, it’s now. The settings are perfect. It’s Achtung Baby’s 20th anniversary. It’s U2’s first appearance at Glastonbury on the heels of the biggest tour of their career. It’d be a brilliant way to say thanks to all the fans who stuck with them over the years.