The FAQs

U2faqs.com

Live / Concert FAQ

  1. U2 tours by the numbers
  2. Has anyone in U2 ever missed a show?
  3. Has U2 ever performed ________ live?
  4. Is it true that Larry almost had to quit the band because of a hand injury?
  5. Is it true U2 was unhappy with their performance at Live Aid?
  6. How did U2 get involved in Amnesty International's "Conspiracy of Hope" tour in 1986?
  7. How did Bono get that scar on his chin during The Joshua Tree Tour?
  8. How did Bono break his arm during The Joshua Tree Tour?
  9. What's the big deal with the "Dream It All Up Again" speech?
  10. I've seen a picture of Bono wearing a red leather Fly suit. When did he do that?
  11. Who are those big-headed U2 caricature-like people that emerged from the b-stage during some Zooropa Tour shows?
  12. Who were those characters Bono used in the live shows during the Zoo TV Tour?
  13. Who's in the picture on MacPhisto's dressing table in the Sydney video?
  14. Is that supposed to be the McDonalds arch on-stage during the PopMart Tour?
  15. What happened to the giant lemon used during PopMart?
  16. Who's that girl (guy?) dancing on the video screen during the "Lemon" remix?
  17. In the Mexico City PopMart video, Bono tells the crowd at one point, "We almost lost a brother last night." What's the story behind that?
  18. What was Bono saying before "Where the Streets Have No Name" during the Elevation Tour?
  19. Why did Edge wear numbered red shirts during the Elevation Tour? Did they mean anything?
  20. What was Bono saying before "Where the Streets Have No Name" at the Super Bowl?
  21. What are those lists of numbers and letters in the Elevation Tour Programme?
  22. What was that music used before "Bullet the Blue Sky" on the first leg of the Elevation tour?
  23. Why is the Edge slamming his guitar to the ground at the end of "Gone" during the June 2001, Elevation Boston DVD?
  24. Who is on the pin that Bono wore on his green guitar he uses during "Walk On"?
  25. During the October 10, 2001 concert which was webcast from Notre Dame, Bono says "If you were born 10 months after this came out, this is for you", at the start of "With or Without You". Was he dedicating the song to someone specific?
  26. Who designed Bono's black leather jacket with the red star from the Elevation Tour? Can I buy a similar jacket?
  27. What are those extra lyrics Bono sings at the end of "With or Without You" in concert? Are they his own lyrics?
  28. What was the largest attendance at a U2 live show?
  29. Will U2 ever do an "Unplugged" show on MTV?
  30. What is a bootleg?
  31. How does U2 feel about bootlegs?
  32. Where can I find bootlegs?
  33. Will U2 be playing any concerts in _______ year?

1. U2 tours by the numbers

  • 1985: The Unforgettable Fire tour was the 18th highest grossing tour of the year, covering 30 cities.
  • 1987: The Joshua Tree tour was the top grossing tour with 79 shows in 50 cities.
  • 1992: Zoo TV was the top grossing tour with 73 shows in 61 cities.
  • 1997: PopMart was the second highest grossing tour in the U.S. at $79.9 million with 46 shows in 37 cities. A total of 1.7 million tickets were sold in the U.S.
  • 2001: The Elevation Tour was reported as a sell out at all 113 shows throughout three legs in North America and Europe. The tour grossed $109.7 million USD in North America, making it the highest-grossing tour of 2001 and the second highest of all time, behind only the Rolling Stones' Voodoo Lounge Tour of 1994.
  • 2005: The Vertigo Tour was reported as a sellout through all 60 shows of the first two legs in North America and Europe. The tour grossed more than $204 million over those two legs.

Note: International tour figures are unknown.

2. Has anyone in U2 ever missed a show?

Adam was absent from a Zoo TV show in Sydney, Australia on November 26, 1993. The show could not be cancelled as the director and cameramen needed the show to prepare for the live pay per view broadcast the following night, which also became the Zoo TV Live from Sydney video. Adam's bass technician, Stuart Morgan filled in the first night, and did an admirable job, although his nervousness was evident during the first couple of songs. Bono explained that Adam was ill to the fans that night. Later accounts of that evening in both books and media interviews, confirm Adam was "ill" with an awful hangover. Adam told Hot press in the mid-90s that he had been on an alcoholic binge. [M2, AC, AS]

3. Has U2 ever performed ________ live?

U2 has played most of their officially released album tracks in concert at one point or another in their career. The following is a list of songs, organized by album, that have never been played during a live performance.

  • Boy: all have been played
  • October: Stranger In a Strange Land, Is That All?
  • War: Drowning Man, The Refugee, Red Light
  • The Unforgettable Fire: Promenade, 4th of July, Elvis Presley & America
  • Wide Awake in America: The Three Sunrises, Love Comes Tumbling
  • The Joshua Tree: Red Hill Mining Town
  • Rattle and Hum: Heartland
  • Achtung Baby: Acrobat (was performed only in soundchecks and rehearsals for Zoo TV, but never in an actual concert)
  • Zooropa: Some Days Are Better Than Others
  • Pop: The Playboy Mansion (snippets were sung after "Streets" at some PopMart shows, but never the full song)
  • Best of 1980-1990: all have been played
  • All That You Can't Leave Behind: Peace On Earth (never the full song), When I Look at the World (never the full song), Grace
  • Best of 1980-1990: Electrical Storm
  • How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb: A Man and a Woman, One Step Closer

Although never performed live, "4th of July" was used as intro music before several Unforgettable Fire Tour concerts. It was played over the PA system as the band were taking the stage.

4. Is it true that Larry almost had to quit the band because of a hand injury?

See the Band FAQ for the answer.

5. Is it true U2 was unhappy with their performance at Live Aid?

Quoting from "U2" by Mark Taylor:

"Bono felt he had blown it, shot U2 in the head in front of the whole world. Back in Ireland, he just drove around for days, unable to communicate with anyone. He kept thinking about the millions dying of starvation and wondered what he was doing performing in something as banal as a rock 'n' roll band.

"As he travelled around the Irish countryside, he met a sculptor, an older man who knew very little about music. Ironically, the man was working on a piece which he called "The Leap", an attempt to reproduce the spirit of Live Aid through an image that U2 had themselves provided for him. After that, Bono went back home and started to believe people when they said that the part of Live Aid that they remembered best was Bono leaping into the crowd and embracing the girl." [SD]

6. How did U2 get involved in Amnesty International's "Conspiracy of Hope" tour in 1986?

In 1985, U2 donated the proceeds of a concert on the U.S. leg of The Unforgettable Fire tour to Amnesty International and Jack Healey visited back stage. He got a commitment from U2 to do the tour in 1986. At the time, U2 thought their next album would have been finished for release in October 1986. However, by the time they starting any meaningful recording for what became The Joshua Tree when they had to stop to meet their commitment to Amnesty International. By the time U2 returned to the studio and got back into the swing of things, the August deadline for an October 1986 release date had slipped. [JR]

7. How did Bono get that scar on his chin during The Joshua Tree Tour?

While in Arizona rehearsing for the opening night of The Joshua Tree tour, Bono fell backwards off the stage while holding a small spotlight. The spotlight hit Bono in the chin, forcing him to get stitches at a local hospital. [M2]

8. How did Bono break his arm during The Joshua Tree Tour?

He didn't break it. He dislocated it during a concert at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC on September 20, 1987. The accident happened when Bono slipped on the wet stage during "Exit."He was taken to a hospital immediately after the show and ended up performing with his arm in a sling for the next 12 concerts -- though he ignored doctor' orders by playing guitar on several occasions when he wasn't supposed to! You can actually see Bono's dislocated arm in a sling on the Rattle and Hum movie, during "I Still Haven't Found" and "Freedom For My People." [M2, CG]

9. What's the big deal with the "Dream It All Up Again" speech?

As U2 closed out their 1989 Lovetown Tour with a series of shows at Point Depot in Dublin, on the third night, December 30, 1989, Bono announced: "We've had a lot of fun over the last few months, just getting to know some of the music which we didn't know so much about -- and still don't know very much about, but it was fun! ... this is just the end of something for U2. And that's what we're playing these concerts -- and we're throwing a party for ourselves and you. It's no big deal, it's just -- we have to go away and ... and dream it all up again."

This sparked rumours of a U2 break up, which was not Bono's intention. In the following year, U2 knew they needed a new direction, but were stuggling to find it. A break up was considered, and even became likely until "One" came together quickly and easily and U2 were on their way again. [AC]

10. I've seen a picture of Bono wearing a red leather Fly suit. When did he do that?

He wore a red leather jacket with red leather pants during a rehearsal in Rotterdam for the 2nd leg of the Zoo TV Tour. The date was May 7, 1993. [M2]

11. Who are those big-headed U2 caricature-like people that emerged from the b-stage during some Zooropa Tour shows?

They're a Galway-based performing group called Macnas. U2 invited them to do a performance before several shows on the Zooropa tour. They also make an appearance in the "Sweetest Thing" video. See http://www.macnas.com. [M2]

12. Who were those characters Bono used in the live shows during the Zoo TV Tour?

Bono played three different characters on stage during Zoo TV. They are The Fly, the Mirrorball Man, and Mr. MacPhisto. The Fly is supposed to represent the typical "rock star" with his black, shiny leather clothes and his bug-eyed glasses. His excess and posing for the cameras is to make fun of the way rock has become impersonal and fake. The next character is the Mirrorball Man, who is a Television Evangelist. He wears shiny, sparkling clothes that look like, what else, a disco ball. The last character, who was seen in the Sydney concert, is Mr. MacPhisto, an aging thespian/rock star. Both the Mirrorball Man and Mr. MacPhisto are representations of, if not the devil, then very evil characters. The Mirrorball Man was seen during the indoor legs of the tour, and the early portions of the Outside Broadcast tour. MacPhisto debuted on the Zooropa Tour in the summer of 1993. [M, M2]

13. Who's in the picture on MacPhisto's dressing table in the Sydney video?

It's Mario Lanza in the photo. Mario Lanza was an American opera-style singer in the 1950. He had no formal training but sang in a light operatic style in several MGM musicals. He was touted as "the American Caruso." In fact, Mario was a truck driver from Philadelphia and could handle neither the stress of fame nor MGM's insistence that he sing like Caruso but weigh only slightly more than his leading ladies. He died of a heartattack in his mid 30's. Bono said in an interview with Spin magazine that Mario Lanza's singing impressed him as a child. [CB, MJS]

14. Is that supposed to be the McDonalds arch on-stage during the PopMart Tour?

Yes and no. It's kind of a parody of the McDonald's arch, representing the commercial instinct and consumism of the 90's. But it's not the real McDonald's arch! The real thing is a "M", and PopMart's is only half of it. Bono has said, "Luckily for us McDonald's has not copyrighted the parabolic arch" or something like that. [CG, QC]

15. What happened to the giant lemon used during PopMart?

In an interview with Willie Williams in Q magazine in the Fall of 2002, Willie revealed that The PopMart Lemon is in pieces stored in three different warehouses in Belgium. The giant olive and toothpick were revealed to be in storage in Dublin. It had been previously revealed that the arch had been deconstructed and used to make up portions of the heart shaped stage during the Elevation tour.

16. Who's that girl (guy?) dancing on the video screen during the "Lemon" remix?

It's a guy, and his name is Leigh Bowery. I believe he was a performance artist. He's no longer with us, unfortunately. [KB]

In the Mexico City PopMart video, Bono tells the crowd at one point, "We almost lost a brother last night." What's the story behind that?

After the first concert in Mexico City one night earlier, there was an incident involving U2's chief of security, Jerry Mele, and the sons of Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo. As the story goes, bodyguards protecting the Zedillo sons tried to leave the concert through a restricted area and ended up in a fight with TV crews using heavy equipment in the area. As the President's sons were leaving by car, Mele tried to get them to stop by standing in front of their car. They refused to stop, accelerating slowly until Mele was off the car. The accident left Mele with severe injuries, and that tour (which ended 9 days later) was the last he worked for U2.

18. What was Bono saying before "Where the Streets Have No Name" during the Elevation Tour?

He was quoting from a portion of Psalm 116 of the Old Testament:

What can I give back to God
For the blessings he's poured out on me
I'll lift hig the cup of salvation
A toast to God

I'll pray in the name of God
I'll complete what I promised God I'll do
And I'll do it together with his people

The translation of Psalm 116 that Bono had been quoting before "Where the Streets Have No Name" is taken directly from The Message by Eugene Peterson. [EH, M2]

19. Why did Edge wear numbered red shirts during the Elevation Tour? Did they mean anything?

Whenever he was asked about the shirts, Edge denied that there was any hiddden meaning behind putting numbers on the shirts and no meaning behind which number he wore in each city. [M2]

20. What was Bono saying before "Where the Streets Have No Name" at the Super Bowl?

The prayer Bono recited twice before "Streets" at the Super Bowl is Psalm 51:15. This is how it reads in the New King James Version of the Bible, which appears to be closest to what Bono says: "O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise." [M2]

21. What are those lists of numbers and letters in the Elevation Tour Programme?

Those are latitude and longitude information which give the location of various cities on the globe. For example on the center foldout of the programme, "53.3333N / 06.2500W" is Dublin, "51.4833N / 00.0000W" is London, "42.3500N / 71.0500W" is Boston, and "40.7166N / 74.0000W" is New York City. Most of the co-ordinates matched up with cities that U2 would play on the Elevation tour. [TS]

22. What was that music used before "Bullet the Blue Sky" on the first leg of the Elevation tour?

It's a song called "Let's Have Church." It's listed incorrectly in the credits on the DVD as performed by the Blind Boys of Alabama. The correct group is The Original Five Blind Boys, which was also known as The Five Blind Boys of Mississippi. This is a different singing group than the Alabama "Blind Boys". [AS, RW]

23. Why is the Edge slamming his guitar to the ground at the end of "Gone" during the June 2001, Elevation Boston DVD?

During a web chat The Edge answered this question from a fan by saying "Because we murdered the song."

That night in Boston it was evident that The Edge was having trouble with his guitar. From the perspective of being in the crowd in the heart it appeared that The Edge was unhappy with Larry ending the song earlier than The Edge had planned. After the incident with the guitar The Edge could be seen having words with Larry over at the drum kit. [M2, AS]

24. Who is on the pin that Bono wore on his green guitar he uses during "Walk On"?

During the Boston concert shown on the Elevation 2001 DVD, the pin shows an image of Aung San Suu Kyi, to whom the song is dedicated on All That You Can't Leave Behind. During other concerts on the Elevation Tour, Bono wore other pins, with pictures of other people on the pin.

25. During the October 10, 2001 concert which was webcast from Notre Dame, Bono says "If you were born 10 months after this came out, this is for you", at the start of "With or Without You". Was he dedicating the song to someone specific?

"With or Without You" was released in March of 1987, and 10 months later would be January 1988. Some have suggested that the dedication would be for Bono's daughter, but unless he got the math wrong, he's four months too early. Jordan was born on May 10, the same day as her father. "With or Without You" did hit the top five in the charts a month after it was released. Nine months after that, children conceived while it was holding strong in the charts would have been born. Many have suggested the dedication was a dedication to any of those children who were in the crowd that night. [AS]

26. Who designed Bono's black leather jacket with the red star from the Elevation Tour? Can I buy a similar jacket?

The jacket was designed especially for Bono by a designer named Todd Lynn, and was not produced for retail sale.

27. What are those extra lyrics Bono sings at the end of "With or Without You" in concert? Are they his own lyrics?

Bono has been known to add two different sets of lyrics to the end of "With or Without You" while performing in concert. The first set are his own lyrics and have been heard in concert since 1987. These extra lyrics are:

We'll shine like stars in the summer night
We'll shine like stars in the winter night
One heart, one hope, one love
With or Without You.

The second set of lyrics often included in "With or Without You" are from the Joy Division song, "Love Will Tear Us Apart". The lyrics that Bono usually sings consists of singing "Love, love will tear us apart again" multiple times. [AS]

28. What was the largest attendance at a U2 live show?

To date, the largest attendance at a U2 show was an estimated 150,000 fans who attended the September 20, 1997 PopMart show at Reggio Emilia, Italy. [AS]

29. Will U2 ever do an "Unplugged" show on MTV?

They were asked about this on several occasions in the early- and mid-90s when MTV's "Unplugged" series was at the height of its popularity. Bono's typical response was something along the lines of "We already do an unplugged show in the middle of every concert." [M2]

30. What is a bootleg?

A bootleg recording, in the case of U2, is a recording that has not been officially released by Island Records They usually take the format of a "live recording" of a U2 performance. Some prefer to call those recordings that are sold "bootlegs" and do not use that term for recordings that have been made of live material which are traded but not sold. In some countries bootlegs of concerts are legally available for sale. These are often refered to as "live imports." If you decide to buy bootlegs, you must consider that the artists get no royalties for the sales. [MJS, SL]

31. How does U2 feel about bootlegs?

In 1991, when a bootleg of U2's studio sessions called The New U2 (the first version of what would eventually become the SalomŽ bootleg) was being distributed, Island Records took out a full-page ad in the British publication Music Week warning record stores that the label would "take legal proceedings" against anyone selling the bootlegs. U2 manager Paul McGuinness issued a press statement saying the bootleggers were cheating fans by distributing inferior material.

In a later interview about the incident, Bono said: "The only thing that can piss you off is if people are charging a lot of money for something that isn't very good. It [the Achtung Baby working tapes] got bootlegged in Berlin and it was just like having your notebook read out. That's the bit I didn't like about it. There were no undiscovered works of genius, unfortunately, it was more just gobbledy-gook."

During 2001, several other comments were made by the band regarding the recording of their shows. They made it clear that they were fine with people recording their performances and trading them. They did make it clear that they were opposed to people making money from those recordings. As Bono says, "We invite people to bootleg our shows. We invite people to make copies, we've no problems with that, but if some guy is gonna make money off the back of this, we're gonna find out where he parks his car." Even with those comments being made, those recording cannot openly do so at a show, as security does still take steps to prevent that. [M2, AS]

32. Where can I find bootlegs?

With the explosion of the internet, fans now have an easy means to contact each other to exchange bootleg recordings. There are many U2 mailing lists which allow for the trade of bootlegs, and still other lists which are dedicated to the trading of bootlegs. Many fans also maintain webpages which list the material that they have for trade. Often you do not need to have recordings to trade to make use of these services, as fans often will offer to make copies for blank CDs and postage in return.

Traditional sources of bootlegs for sale still exist. If you are lucky, you may find bootlegs at your local record store. Mail order is another good source for finding recordings for sale, and there are several music stores on the internet that carry live imports. [AS, MJS]

33. Will U2 be playing any concerts in ________ year?

We suggest you visit U2tours.com regularly for the latest news and rumors about U2's concert and tour plans.