The Big Fat Song Guide To U2 At Glastonbury

If you cannot tolerate U2, switch to a different website now.

So you’ve got tickets to Glastonbury. Firstly, well done! Secondly, I hate you for all eternity. Finally, if you’re unaware about U2’s catalogue (apart from the staples) then this is the guide for you.

There’s just one thing you need to know beforehand: U2 love to make big gestures; Bono probably picking up girls from the crowd, communicating and dancing really badly; Adam Clayton will be bopping with his bass like a hipster geography teacher; Larry Mullen will be whacking his drums with precise timing while pain is etched across his face; while Edge chimes his Gibson Explorer and shaking it furiously around, making sure every single repeated note reaches the far end of the festival.

And if you think I’m lying about their big gestures, then look no further than their latest stage:

OK, you ready? Here we go:

It’s no secret at allSongs That Will Have A 99.9% Chance of Being Played

1. Sunday Bloody Sunday – 1983

 When Jay Z stole the show back in 2008, he sampled Larry Mullen’s distinct militaristic drum beat from this song. In 2010, U2 and Jay Z performed together in Germany, with Jay Z lending his rapping skills which added a modern element to the song (disgruntling some of the U2 purists out there) and with Beyonce headlining also, you never know if the Brooklyn rapper will make an appearance.

Oh yes, expect politics and whatnot during this song.

2. Pride (In the Name of Love) – 1984

A tribute to Martin Luther King and a staple in their sets for the past three decades. Distinct ringing guitars, bellowing vocals and and a historically incorrect lyric (“early morning, April 4” – Martin Luther King was assassinated in the evening) all amounts to crediting this song a classic.

3. The Joshua Tree trio: Where the Streets Have No Name, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For & With or Without You – 1987

Timeless classics and shamelessly providing writers glorious puns to work with when writing about the band. You must have been living in the deepest depths of The Ocean (shameless pun there) if you haven’t heard at least One of these songs.

4. Even Better Than the Real Thing – 1991

Swagger, sliding guitars and an infectious rhythm. No wonder why this song was revived this year.

5. Until the End of the World – 1991

Apocalyptic U2; lyrics consist of a conversation between Jesus and Judas with a crunching and heavy Edge guitar-riff set on back-stabbing fire.

6. The Fly – 1991

They’ve been rehearsing this song during the last leg of their 360º Tour to coincide with the 20th anniversary of their ground-breaking Achtung Baby album. The 90s were the only time U2 were cool; described as a crank call from hell with Bono’s recognisable voice buried in an unrecognisable pool of distortion and intimidating growls while Edge lets rip.

UPDATE: The song finally made its 360 debut last night (18/06/11), more or less confirming its appearance for Glastonbury.

7. Beautiful Day – 2000

The first U2 song I’ve ever heard. Unfortunately, it has been relentlessly played and covered over the past 10 years that it has slowly diminished from being a great song to a ‘WHY IS THIS PLAYING NOW? IT’S BLOODY RAINING!’ sort of song.

8. City of Blinding Lights – 2004

This could be used as a case study for an essay exploring how U2 achieves that soaring sound. Streets is set in a barren landscape, while Lights is set in the hustle and bustle in the city “lit by fireflies.”

9. Magnificent – 2009

Revamped and treated with a faster tempo than the studio effort – classic, cinematic mid-tempo U2 with Bono in typical Bono mode.

10. Moment of Surrender – 2009

Beautiful gospel sound and beautifully delivered vocals. It has been U2’s closing number for the past 2 years while surrounded by masses of phones held aloft in a 60,000+ stadium to create a Milky Way.

Other mentions: New Year’s Day, One, Mysterious Ways, Elevation, Walk On, Vertigo, Get On Your Boots, I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight

I know that this is not goodbye – Songs That Could Make An Appearance

1. I Will Follow – 1980

A fan-favourite and one of their first singles featuring Mullen’s rough drums and Edge ringing those bells which soon became his trademark.

2. Bad – 1984

The song that helped immortalise U2; Bad went from what should have been a six minute song to a twelve minute epic at Live Aid and like the rendition from Live Aid, expect a barrage of song snippetry.

3. Desire
Their very first UK number #1 and still gets rotation on the UK airwaves today. It could make an appearance because:

1. It has made an appearance on 360.
2. Easy enough for the band to trot out.
_____________3. It barely scratches 3 minutes.

4. When Love Comes To Town – 1988

The song features legendary bluesman BB King and he is also set to play Glastonbury, so the idea of this song making an appearance isn’t farfetched.

5. Ultraviolet (Light My Way) – 1991

Along with Streets, Ultraviolet was the show-stealing moment on 360. Swirling disco ball lights, stage washed in purple and indigo while Bono wears a laser embedded suit while dangling from an enlightened steering wheel microphone.

6. Zooropa (song) – 1993

Recently revived and this weird number was ahead of its time because it recognised the explosion of the mass media age with its slogan-filled lyrics and electronic stuttering.

7. Glastonbury – 2010

The song was originally written for last year’s performance before U2 pulled out due to Bono’s back injury. Haven’t really listened to it as much as I would like so I’ll reserve my judgement. You can judge it yourself by listening to it here.

Other mentions: 40, The Unforgettable Fire, Running To Standstill, Angel of Harlem, All I Want Is You, Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses, Love Is Blindness, The First Time, Stay (Faraway, So Close!), Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of

I’ll see you again when the stars fall from the sky – Songs You Will Not Hear Ever But Should

1. The October (1981) & Pop (1997) albums

Both albums rushed; the former suffered because of someone stealing Bono’s lyrics thus fulfilling the difficult second album and the latter was caused because the tour was booked before the album was finished. Pop, for the record, had some great songs in the form of the bass-bombardment of Mofo, the danceable Discotheque and Last Night On Earth’s addictive refrain.

October was at least represented on the latest tour with Scarlet making an appearance while Pop snippetry made it’s way into the dance-routine mid-way through the 360º set.

Nevertheless, both albums remain as the most misunderstood U2 albums (although latest outing No Line On the Horizon could just about qualify).

2. Seconds – 1983

Edge takes lead with the first couple of lines before Bono takes over this marching romp from War. Any song with an Edge lead is a must have.

3. God Part II – 1988

The sequel to John Lennon’s God with a thumping bass and howling vocals. Why are you so ignored?

4. Lady With Spinning Head – 1991

Unreleased b-side which has all the elements of Ultraviolet, The Fly and Mysterious Ways and superior to another unreleased b-side known as Mercy which has been making appearances on 360.

5. The one song from Achtung you will never hear: Acrobat – 1991

U2 very, very rarely incorporate profanity in their lyrics which could be the primary reason for excluding it (or in typical U2 fashion, can’t find a suitable live arrangement). But if they can perform Pop’s Mofo which has “mother, mother sucking/f*cking roll” then surely they can sing Acrobat’s refrain “don’t let the bastards grind you down” without sweating.

6. Numb and most of the Zooropa album – 1993

“If you hear one U2 song, you’ve heard it all.” Shame really because Zooropa (and Pop) counters that statement outright. Numb features a monotone rap by The Edge with circulating arcade sounds; Lemon is another disco number with Bono in fantastic falsetto form while Dirty Day is my perfect hangover song.

7. Half of No Line On the Horizon – 2009

Number 1 album in 30 countries yet nearly ignored. On the third leg of the tour, No Line On the Horizon (s0ng), Unknown Caller and Breathe were abandoned, reducing the songs from No Line from 7 to 4 so the chances of hearing other songs from the album like White As Snow are as likely as Americans understanding a conversation between Rhod Gilbert and Cheryl Cole.

Other mentions: The Electric Co., An Cat Dubh, Into the Heart, A Day Without Me, Gloria, Drowning Man, Bullet the Blue Sky, One Tree Hill, Mothers of the Disappeared, Van Diemen’s Land, Kite, When I Look At the World, Original of the Species, Fast Cars, Every Breaking Wave

Permission To Throw Tomatoes At Larry Mullen (Bono is too easy) If They Play…..

In A Little While – 2000


‘Til next time,


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