U2 just announced their 2015 iNNOCENCE and eXPERIENCE Tour, making the first time since 2011 that the Irish band will be touring. Four years will have passed since U2 said goodbye in Moncton to their 360 Tour, but don't worry -- they'll be back in Summer 2015.
Here's a look at the top 10 U2 live songs to hold you over and get you ready for the latest U2 venture. Will any songs from Songs of Innocence end up cracking this list next time people talk about the best live U2 songs?
"Where the Streets Have No Name" -- There is no better U2 song, period, and it's also the song that you must hear at any U2 concert. The moment the stage lights begin to turn red (save for the Vertigo Tour lighting), shivers are sent down every fan's spine, as the organ introduction soon follows. After that, it's five-plus minutes of musical bliss, as The Edge's sublime delayed guitar-riff kicks in, before Larry Mullen Jr. and Adam Clayton kick the song into another level.
Bono's vocals are just as crucial to the song as any piece of music as well -- as we found out at the World AIDS Day benefit concert in Times Square, when The Boss filled in for an injured Bono. It's just not the same, and it just goes to illustrate how U2 are indeed a band whose whole outweighs the sum of its parts.
"City of Blinding Lights" -- U2 rotated openers on its Vertigo Tour in 2005-06, but "City of Blinding Lights" was easily the best opening song that the band used. In an admitted effort to recapture the magic of "Streets," U2 wrote "City of Blinding Lights" for their 2004 album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb -- and it's certainly one of the best U2 songs of that era.
The simple piano introduction that's all of five notes and palm muting from The Edge is perfect as it sets the stage for a minimalistic and simple slide guitar riff. The driving bass and uplifting chorus -- "Oh, you look so beautiful tonight, in the city of blinding lights" -- make this one of U2's finest live moments, which is certainly why it stuck around on the 360∙ Tour.
"One Tree Hill" -- U2 put on some of their best performances at the end of the 1980s, but perhaps no song came to life more than "One Tree Hill" on The Joshua Tree and Lovetown tours. Guitar parts that aren't quite as audible on the album version are much more present during live versions, and the song is infinitely better for it.
Musically, "One Tree Hill" is one of U2's most interesting songs, but it's also coupled with one of Bono's better lyrical efforts -- and his delivery is on point when he performs the song live. It's certainly one of U2's most underrated songs, and hopefully the band will recognize that on their upcoming tour.
"Please" -- Unfortunately, U2 like to forget that Pop exists, which is a shame. The much-maligned 1997 album is actually one of U2's best -- despite what critics may say. "Please" is one of the most interesting songs on the album. The album version of the song certainly leaves something to be desired -- and U2 delivered just that during the PopMart Tour, as "Please" was one of the highlights of the show, and now one of U2's best live songs.
The band resurrected "Please" on the Elevation Tour following 9/11, but as an acoustic performance with just Bono and The Edge. On PopMart, the transition from "Please" to "Streets" is one of U2's finest moments in their entire career, and evokes just about every emotion you could ask of music to.
"Zoo Station" -- Zoo TV is hailed as not only U2's best tour, but the best tour by anybody, ever, as it changed the way artists perform live. "Zoo Station" represents a lot of things in U2 history -- it's the first track on Achtung Baby, which transformed U2 from the earnest, too serious rock stars they were in the 80s, to the ironic, too cool rock stars that they became in the 90s.
The band chose "Zoo Station" to open each show on Zoo TV, and it was simply perfect. The Edge's industrial guitar riff opens the song, followed by thunderous drumming from Larry Mullen Jr. Musically, the song is adventurous and encapsulates 90s U2 perfectly. "I'm ready for the laughing gas, I'm ready for what's next," Bono fittingly sings to open the song.
"Running to Stand Still" -- Really, I could just tell you to pop in the Zoo TV DVD and that would probably suffice for this entire article. "Running to Stand Still" was great in the 80s, and great when U2 brought it back on the Vertigo Tour, but it was perfect on Zoo TV. Rather than using the piano as The Edge does on The Joshua Tree, he reinvents the song on his guitar, using both delay and shimmer -- and the result is one of U2's finest moments.
Like "Please," "Running to Stand Still" segued perfectly into "Streets" on Zoo TV, once again creating 12 minutes of pure musical bliss. Many believe "Running" into "Streets" on Zoo TV to be U2's finest live moment ever, and you'd be hard pressed to get an argument out of me.
""Bad" -- "Bad" hasn't been a live staple for U2 on recent tours, but that doesn't stop it from being one of thet band's best songs, and makes it just that much more special when they do play it. A song about addiction, "Bad" is U2 at their finest, and like most U2 songs, really takes flight live. While "Bad" is great even in its studio incarnation, it's got a "Streets"-like quality to it when U2 play it live. Bono in particular takes the song to the next level live, but don't overlook The Edge's guitar moving to the forefront of the song as a reason for the song to take off live.
Plus, if you're old enough to remember -- or you're just a mega U2 fan -- you'd know that U2's performance of "Bad" at Live Aid in 1985 was one of the most recognizable performances of the event, and helped cement U2's status as one of the best bands of the 80s.
"Last Night on Earth" -- Seemingly a forgotten single off of Pop, "Last Night on Earth" was one of the best moments of the PopMart Tour. Described oddly as a bass and drums song by the band in retrospect, "Last Night on Earth" is U2's 90s rock on one of its best displays on PopMart.
With catchy verses, a guitar-driven chorus and a rare U2 outro that features both Bono and The Edge rocking out on guitar, "Last Night on Earth" is easily one of U2's best live songs -- and here's hoping they bring it back on the iNNOCENCE and eXPERIENCE tour.
"The Fly" -- Speaking of 90s U2 rock songs, "The Fly" is probably the most important U2 song of the 90s. The first single of the decade for the band, "The Fly" introduced the public to the new sound, look and attitude of U2, as they ditched their earnest 80s attitude.
"The Fly" features one of The Edge's best guitar riffs and solos, while lyrically, the song is described as a phone call from Hell. It's simply one of U2's five best songs, and it especially takes off live.
"Dirty Day" -- Were you expecting the other famous day song by U2? Apologies to "Beautiful Day," which is certainly one of U2's best songs, but "Dirty Day" is one of U2's finest live moments. Admittedly, "Dirty Day" is somewhat underwhelming on Zooropa as an album track, but live? Relative to improvement from studio version to live version, "Dirty Day" may be the most improved song in U2's catalogue.