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"We love this idea, especially in rock 'n' roll, of good guys and bad guys. We're the good guys; they that wear the suits are the bad guys. But in fact they're just the busy guys." — Bono

Column: off the record ... vol. 18-769



With the increased news bits, teases and chatter surrounding the Experience + Innocence tour, I think it’s safe to begin the countdown. This tour looks to be a special one for me personally because I’m leaving the confines of the East Coast (this is the one everyone knows) and venturing to the far-off lands of Tulsa, Oklahoma, for my first-ever tour opener. I’ve watched from a distance as my fellow fans have been hit by the opening-night wow factor. This year I get to experience it for myself. As many have theorized, U2 know better than to hit the road without the aforementioned “wow factor.” Any doubt that they’d deliver on that was squashed this last week. But before we get to that, I want to share with you all some party arrangements!

The magnificent, sharp, ticketing-savant and resident butt-kicker Sherry Lawrence announced recently that we will be holding a pre-show “Eve of Experience” at Kilkenny’s Irish Pub in Tulsa. The celebration runs from 9 to 11 p.m. on Wednesday, May 1. There’ll be trivia, prizes and U2-themed drinks. We look forward to seeing you all there! It’ll be a fun night!

On a personally disappointing note, it was confirmed to us last week that there will NOT be an opening act for this tour. I’m disappointed for two reasons. First is that once we GA’ers get into the venue, it’ll be one heck of a wait for the show to start. On JT30, the opening act’s arrival, performance and departure signified to my brain that the show was about to start, which triggered the butterflies in my stomach that stayed until “A Rainy Night In Soho/The Whole Of The Moon.” Not having an opener makes the wait all the more excruciating for me. The second reason this development bums me out is that I love discovering new music. I had listened to very little Beck before seeing him in Orchard Park last summer, so it was really cool to hear his stuff for the first time in a live setting. I was hoping for a similar experience on E+I.

CAUTION: The rest of this article will discuss spoilers for the E+I tour. Read at your own risk.

Now let’s get to the good stuff. Something we’ve guessed at for months was confirmed by head honcho Willie Williams: This tour will feature augmented reality. If you’re like me and immediately thought of little Bonos, Adams and Edges popping up in the arena Pokémon Go-style, unfortunately, projections will likely be emanating from the cage. No one really knows for sure, but I imagine the best comparison to make here is the I+E cage was like seeing a movie in 2D, whereas E+I will be more of a 3D experience. But with these guys, you never know. I can’t wait to see what they try to pull off here in just a few short weeks. My guess is that “Until The End Of The World,” “Red Flag Day,” “Lights Of Home” and “Even Better Than The Real Thing” will be the biggest beneficiaries of this new technology, assuming they make an appearance.

Perhaps the biggest piece of news, this one coming from the horse’s mouth so to speak, is a rehearsal video posted to the official U2 social channels where the band is shown playing the much-beloved “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses.” As Scott Calhoun pointed out through one of the carrier pigeons the atu2 team uses to communicate, they might be considering playing the “Baby” version of this song. For those who don’t know, the song starts off with the line You’re innocence, I’m experience. While I certainly agree with Scott, there’s something to be said about the album version being on the album for a reason. I’d guess that if “Horses” makes it, it’ll be in that arrangement, hopefully with a snippet or lyric replacement of the “Baby” version. For the record, that version is one of my favorite U2 songs, so I’m hoping and praying that Scott is right.

Elsewhere in the augmented reality news break was the development that these shows will be a little longer than I+E and JT30 and are set to feature rarities that “the band is excited to be playing for the first time.” With that in mind, here’s a quick list of what I believe are the five most likely songs to make their debut, organized by album.

War: The Refugee, Drowning Man

Other than “Two Hearts Beat As One,” the I+E tour dug up quite a few Boy and October rarities, so wouldn’t it make sense for albums 3 and 4 to receive the same treatment? Of the two candidates, I think "Drowning Man” is the most likely. The snippeting during JT30 and the song’s lyrical relationship to “Red Flag Day” is a sign that this song’s day will come soon. I have "The Refugee" listed for similar reasons. The subject matter is still relevant; it’s a flat-out cool song; and it fits in nicely with “Summer Of Love”/”Red Flag Day.”

The Unforgettable Fire: Promenade

I’m probably reaching here, but my gut tells me "Promenade"’s got a shot to make it into the set, albeit in a "Zooropa-leading-into-'Bullet'" kind of way. I’ve always thought this was a pretty song that could be effective if used correctly.

Achtung Baby: Acrobat

I will die on this hill if I must. In all seriousness, there aren’t too many songs that haven’t been played that can be justified to pop up on this tour, so I might as well start setting myself up for disappointment.

How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb: One Step Closer

If I ranked this list in terms of probability, "One Step Closer" would be in the Top 2. That’s because the band rehearsed it in Vancouver before I+E, and the song ties in pretty well to “Lights Of Home.” Both songs are meditations on death, its inevitability and what lies beyond the veil. Because of its tempo, it would probably belong best in an encore, which is typically reserved for the hits. But if they choose to omit some Joshua Tree songs as Edge has suggested, “One Step Closer” might be, um, one step closer to making it into the set.

See you all in Tulsa!

Any opinions expressed in this column are those of the individual author and do not necessarily represent the views of @U2 as a whole.

© @U2/Merritt, 2018