Setlist History: U2’s First North America Show 37 Years Ago Today

There's no contesting it, U2 is one of the biggest bands of all time. They sell out arenas all across the globe every time they’re on tour. Last week, they released their fourteenth album, Songs Of Experience, with their sixteenth concert tour set for 2018. But even U2 had to start somewhere, right? Before these Irish lads became the iconic rockstars they are today, they released their very first record in 1980 called Boy. And on December 6, 1980, Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen Jr. made their US debut at The Ritz in New York, New York.

U2 - "I Will Follow"

They were just one of a few bands set to perform that evening, with roughly 25-plus people in attendance. In a fan review, it was said that people were dancing and clapping and had actually watched the band play, despite their unfamiliarity with the Dublin quartet. Being the final act of the night, the room quickly chanted, “Encore! Encore!,” soon after U2 walked off stage. A few minutes later Bono and company returned, picked up their instruments, and played their two final songs of the night. They started the encore with the punk-rock tune, “Out of Control,” which is found on their debut record. Bono said that it had become tradition for them to play their opening song as an encore, and therefore, performed the song “11 O'Clock Tick Tock” to close out the set. While the song didn’t make the cut to their debut album, Boy, it had been released as a prior one-off single. It later appeared on the 1983 live album, Under a Blood Red Sky.

U2's setlist by

U2’s first North America show on that December day wasn’t intended to be their first as their scheduled show the night before at the Penny Arcade in Rochester, New York had been cancelled. However, their performance at the Ritz was received with a strong, positive response from the audience, which thrilled Frank Barsalona, head of the Premier Talent booking agency. While 1980's Boy doesn’t feature any of the band’s classics such as, “One,” "Sunday Bloody Sunday,” or “With or Without You,” the opening track, “I Will Follow,” is their second most performed song of all time, according to our records. U2’s Boy Tour wrapped up in 1981 with a total of 151 performances.

To see U2 next year on their eXPERIENCE + iNNOCENCE Tour, visit Live Nation.

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