It’s hard to hide from a U2 concert. They’re playing in Edmonton tomorrow night and though I don’t listen to the radio, I’m still hearing about them everywhere. Twitter and Facebook are awash with updates on lineups, set times and excitement over what will likely be the biggest concert of the year in good old YEG. And yes, I’ll be there.
U2 was my favourite band for a few years back in the 1990s and I still love most everything they released prior to 1998. 2000’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind was coined as a “comeback” album for U2, but in my eyes it was the beginning of a steep decline in song quality and originality. In fact, I think it is my least favourite U2 album, with the following 2 coming in as the second and third worst. But I’m not going to see the new songs, I’m going to see the spectacle that is “The Claw” and the glorious hits of the past, including the average of five songs from Achtung Baby they are playing every night.
My favourite period of U2 is 1991 – 1997, when they were at their most experimental and their live shows were a theatrical experience that had to be seen. I got to see both shows in Edmonton in 1997 on the Popmart Tour at the height of my fandom and they were incredible, tomorrow I go to be nostalgic and remember when U2 meant so much more to me.
Since I love lists, I’m going to write a bit on my Top 10 favourite U2 songs. I can honestly say I’ve listened to each of these songs at least 100 times. I had to leave off a bunch of favourites like ‘Zoo Station’, ‘Exit’, ‘Gloria’, ‘Until The End of The World’ and ‘Red Hill Mining Town’, I guess I should have made a Top Twenty…
10. Where The Streets Have No Name – from The Joshua Tree
I think this was the first U2 song I ever heard back when I was in Grade 3 or 4. Likely the first U2 song I ever saw the video for as well. They were trying to be The Beatles by shutting down city streets and playing on a rooftop. An epic opener that reaches great heights live.
9. Ultra Violet (Light My Way) – from Achtung Baby
I love Achtung Baby. My favourite U2 album and one of my favourite albums of all time. This song was brought out live last year on the 360 Tour, but has been absent in 2011, to great sadness. This one has grown on me over the years and is just a brilliant piece of songwriting based around The Edge’s Achtung guitar riff.
8. Sunday Bloody Sunday – from War
“This is not a rebel song, This song is ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’!” The most recognizable drum beat in U2’s catalogue. ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ was the first song U2 released that made them superstars, it also is the first song that felt like a “U2 song”. My favourite track from their first three albums.
7. Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me – from Batman Forever
In retrospect the movie was pretty bad and the U2 song was the best thing it had going for it. I watched this video so many times on Muchmusic it’s scary. I think this is a sentimental pick as I don’t consider it better than the songs preceding it, but it was one of my favourites for a long time so it deserves its place here. U2’s best soundtrack song, and they’ve done a lot!
6. So Cruel – from Achtung Baby
I haven’t talked to U2 fans in years, but I remember that this was always considered a hidden gem among fans. I don’t believe it has ever been played live (ok it has, but very few times, but it is a centerpiece of Achtung Baby. A beautiful ballad of heartbreak that contains some of that classic Edge Achtung guitar. Bono is also in fine form here full of emotion and hitting those high notes that he just can’t do anymore.
5. Zooropa – from Zooropa
If Zooropa is not in your Top 5 U2 albums, you are not a true U2 fan. That’s right I said it, and hopefully offended all of you in the process. A critically destroyed, confusing album of genre mixing, Edge singing and Johnny Cash. It’s beautiful, but it took me at least ten years to figure that out. The title track, a six minute opus, is being played live on this tour and I so hope to see it tomorrow. Why couldn’t they have kept on this path?
4. Even Better Than The Real Thing – from Achtung Baby
I guess it is an odd one to have as my favourite from Achtung Baby, but it was the first one I loved from that album and really defines the beginning of my obsession with U2. I miss the suggestive U2, a little bit out there, all European influence, weird personas and trabrants. Also, my favourite video of theirs. Watch it to open the concert tomorrow night.
3. All I Want Is You – from Rattle and Hum
It’s a love song. One of the best. Could be the most beautiful song in U2’s catalogue.
2. Bad – from The Unforgettable Fire
I don’t think anyone can deny how powerful this song is, both live and on the studio version. This is U2’s slow burner. If there was one song that I’d like to see U2 play live this would be it. I’ve never watched the 1985 Live Aid performance, but it is supposed to be the definite performance, check it out below.
1. Please – from Pop
This is a surprising number one. I love this song, but if you can find the single version or a live version it blows the version from Pop out of the water. It really is all about The Edge and the guitar buildup about 2/3 through the song. Not originally a highlight for me, this song has slowly become my favourite U2 song since its release in 1997.