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Old 05-04-2011, 08:03 PM   #1
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Avoiding Setlists Before Your First Show (SPOILER!)

A little blog post some of you may disagree with

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There are different levels of U2 fandom. From fans who struggle to remember some of the words of the choruses of the big singles but generally like the band, to anoraks who cuddle Twitter anxiously during every concert to find out what snippet Bono will sing at the start Crazy Tonight.

Some people have told me that I must be one of U2’s biggest fans. One of my oldest friends asked me to enter a “Find Ireland’s Biggest U2 Fan” contest on Irish radio last year. I didn’t enter as I don’t like losing. I’m probably the biggest U2 fan in my house, and I possibly could be the biggest U2 fan on the short street that I grew up on in Derry, but I’m sure I wouldn’t be anywhere near the biggest U2 fan in the estate.

It’s all relative. In my view I loiter somewhere in the middle of the scale. To most of my friends, (especially the non-U2 fans) I am a mega U2 nut. To the many mega U2 nuts I’ve met, I may well be one of them. But really, I’m just your average big U2 fan. I get very excited by a new album and a new tour. I’ll (usually, not always) get the album on day of release. I’ll join the scramble for concert tickets the instant they go on sale. And I check the @U2 homepage every few days or so for the latest news.

But I’m not an obsessive - I think. For example, before this tour (and wee red book nonsense) I’d never considered travelling abroad to see U2. I hadn’t even considered travelling from the UK back to Ireland for a show. And I’ve never bothered with following setlists during tours. I’ve never been interested in what songs U2 play at concerts I’m not at. I was consequently quite surprised to find out that fans on Interference have ‘setlist parties’ where they follow, discuss and joke about every one of U2’s concerts as it happens. I’ve joined in on three setlist parties during this tour, including two when I was in the city where the show was. They are addictively good fun.

But personally I think fans, even the mega U2 nuts, should avoid all setlist news if they’re going to a concert in the near future. The show is far, far better when you have absolutely no idea what to expect, either in terms of setlist or production. It’s better to ensure that any surprise is a surprise. Stingray Guitar’s first performance in Turin was just so stupendously wonderful because it was so stupendously different, fun, exciting and, (after Bono’s back injury) so stupendously emotional an opener. And it was even more so because I had no knowledge of it in advance. Same too for Miss Sarajevo, Hold Me Thrill Me, and the two new songs played in Turin.

For this reason I try obsessively to avoid all news of rehearsals before the opening nights of tour legs on the 360 tour, as it’s one of the few shows where I can expect a surprise (if expecting a surprise isn’t a contradiction). This means a U2 news blackout, avoiding Interference, @U2, U2Gigs, Twitter, and hiding status updates on Facebook from U2 fans, for a few days.

Unfortunately some of the bigger surprises on this tour have been spoiled by people letting slip what songs were rehearsed. Someone revealed on the thread on Interference for the Auckland show that Scarlet had been rehearsed. The pre-concert threads are mostly used for fans to discuss obtaining tickets, transport to the stadium, accommodation and meeting up for drinks. It’s bad form (in my blinkered view) to discuss rehearsals too, especially on threads for the tour leg’s opening night. @U2 is better in this regard as they insist on including the word “SPOILER” in the titles of threads with setlist news.

And a mate who had just arrived in Sao Paulo instantly and excitedly revealed that Zooropa had been rehearsed as soon as I met him at the airport. That would have been the biggest surprise of all. Can you imagine being at the show, singing along and jumping around to U2 playing a familiar setlist, and then being hit with “wait a minute ... that sounds familiar ... that’s ... FUCKING HELLSKI! ... THAT’S ZOOROPA!!!” How many OMGs would you scream in between flapping your hands uncontrollably beside your head? (Of course, if you never follow setlists then you would never know that Zooropa was such a treat, so maybe I’m only speaking for how flappy I would have been.)

(And I really didn’t mind having the Zooropa rehearsal revealed, as I didn’t have a ticket for that show anyway, until being given one for free completely out of the Oi FM blue. I had a different and better surprise that night.)

I have to confess that I made a stupid setlist faux pas in Seville last year. I was sitting in the GA queue with some very fabulous American girls who had just flown in the day before. One of them had successfully avoided all setlist news for that tour leg. I lavished great praise on this strong-willed and wise person, and told her how much I agreed with, admired and respected her principled stand. Two minutes later I speedily rattled off a sentence with four song titles in it, including Miss Sarajevo. She graciously didn’t punch me.

U2 are frustratingly good at spoiling surprises too. I realise that they need to rehearse the production of songs like Zooropa and Your Blue Room on the Claw. But they have an annoying habit of loudly rehearsing new setlist songs (which don’t seem to require involved production) during soundchecks on the afternoon of the gig. They rehearsed I Will Follow, Pride and the acoustic version of No Line before Helsinki 2 last year, to cheers from the thousands of hardcore fans who were waiting outside in the GA queue to get prime spots in the pit. They rehearsed Love Rescue Me and All I Want Is You in Sydney, Even Better Than The Real Thing and Ultraviolet in La Plata, and (perhaps the biggest and best surprise) Zooropa in Sao Paulo.

So the fans who are most likely to follow setlists closely, who will camp outside stadiums for days to be directly below U2, and the fans who would go the most nuts if they heard a new song on the setlist, are the fans who don’t have any surprised reaction when the song is finally played.

U2 have kept two great surprises from spoiling soundchecks: Bad in Brussels 2 last year, and Out Of Control at Sao Paulo 2 this year. I wasn’t at Brussels 2, but I imagine there must have been a great response from fans in the pit. It would be very nice if they could spring more surprises like these.

Furthermore, I am aware that I’m using this blog and the associated Facebook page to try to promote Me & U2. And I am aware that I've been chucking out little tales of each show I attend, which by necessity means describing what songs were played, especially any new ones. So I'm a big spoiler myself. (And blog posts like this where I speedily rattle off many songs hardly help!)

Anyway, as major issues go, this one ranks with where I lost that missing sock. I’m writing this to pass the time whilst waiting for a flight at Bogota airport, and it’s boarding time. My South American sprint is almost over.

So here in a Mexican nutshell is what I think U2 fans should do: avoid all setlist news, whilst still following this blog. I appreciate how likely both are to happen
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Old 05-04-2011, 08:14 PM   #2
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I just don't have the will power. I did manage to avoid all spoilers before opening night in Barcelona. I even walked away from the stadium when they started the rehearsal show, but after that all bets were off.

You're not a good fan.

I've thought of not tuning in for the Mexico setlist parties since I will be in Denver, but it probably isn't going to happen. I will be vigilant as much as possible to make sure that spoilers are contained in the setlist forum though for the sake of others.
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Old 05-04-2011, 08:16 PM   #3
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I'm going to attempt to avoid rehearsal and setlist spoilers until Seattle (ONE MONTH!). That seems do-able.

I'll just have to hide probably 75% of my Facebook friends list.

And try to avoid the obvious threads here, but beyond that if I still get spoiled, that's the way the cookie crumbles.

We'll see how it goes. If I make it that far, I wouldn't be surprised if I overhear a spoiler or two in the GA line, but oh well.

If they don't make any changes since the SA leg, I don't even know that I can bother getting peeved about it. There's no guarantee they'll change anything. But after hearing some of the comments from band members about Glastonbury, and knowing there's AB remaster stuff going on, and my god, they even acknowledged the existence of Pop! It's hard not to hope for something new and exciting.
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Old 05-04-2011, 08:21 PM   #4
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A few months prior to the beginning of the 360 tour, I decided to avoid this site, for fear of hearing rehearsal spoilers. It was a smart move, as hearing stuff like The Unforgettable Fire and Ultraviolet were complete surprises. In fact, I was in the GA line for Barcelona One as of 6am, and made sure to have my iPod blasting as they went through sound check that day.
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Old 05-04-2011, 08:22 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ramblin rose View Post
I just don't have the will power. I did manage to avoid all spoilers before opening night in Barcelona. I even walked away from the stadium when they started the rehearsal show, but after that all bets were off.
Well if you managed to walk away from the Barcelona rehearsals then I take back everything I said about the Auckland rehearsals

Go on Rosa, go out for nice meals or to see movies during the Mexico setlist parties. You can always catch up a week later!
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Old 05-04-2011, 08:26 PM   #6
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I'm going to attempt to avoid rehearsal and setlist spoilers until Seattle (ONE MONTH!). That seems do-able.
Fair play, Cori, you're one of the setlist party queens! Hide us all in FB!

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If they don't make any changes since the SA leg, I don't even know that I can bother getting peeved about it. There's no guarantee they'll change anything.
Yeah, fair point, but they have brought at least two new oldie songs back every tour leg (except the mini South African leg). I reckon there'll be changes.
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Old 05-04-2011, 08:56 PM   #7
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Well if you managed to walk away from the Barcelona rehearsals then I take back everything I said about the Auckland rehearsals

Go on Rosa, go out for nice meals or to see movies during the Mexico setlist parties. You can always catch up a week later!
I don't regret the Auckland rehearsals, considering it was the only opportunity I had to hear Mercy and Boy Falls from the Sky. Mind you it was behind a chain linked fence but at least it was live.
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Old 05-04-2011, 09:04 PM   #8
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You know, this might be a good idea for me this time. Although, there will probably be more surprises in Mexico City (since there will be three shows there) than there will be in Winnipeg and I would miss out.
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Old 05-04-2011, 09:19 PM   #9
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Well, Miami's gonna be my first-ever U2 show (little less than two months from now) but I know I can't resist from looking at the rehearsal threads or U2gigs. I'm just a curious person, and can't stay a month without finding out what the band have been playing. And then there's Twitter (I'm following many U2-related accounts who will obviously post setlists and highlights) Even if I know most of the setlist, I'm gonna have the time of my life. That said, I just got excited. Can't fucking wait.

Though I know my Dad and Uncle will really be surprised with what they're playing this time around.
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Old 05-04-2011, 11:14 PM   #10
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I did that for Turin last year.

I went bazonkers when they opened with Stingray. Sure, there had been talks of a new song or two, but man, that blew me away. Also Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me. What a surprise. Highly recommended, but hard as hell.
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Old 05-05-2011, 03:40 AM   #11
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It's much better to not have a scooby about the setlists. As above, in Turin 'Stingray' started and that all too rare u2 concert feeling of not having a clue what was going on was fantastic. Same when 'Glastonbury' and 'North Star' were premiered. Pre concert 'butterflies' are great and even better when they last through the concert too.
But If you're not going to an opening night. You have more will power than me
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Old 05-05-2011, 03:58 AM   #12
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To most of my friends, (especially the non-U2 fans) I am a mega U2 nut. To the many mega U2 nuts I’ve met, I may well be one of them. But really, I’m just your average big U2 fan.
Well, just for the record, I think it's pretty clear you're a much bigger fan than I am. At least, that's how I see it.

As for the spoilers thing, by virtue of running U2gigs, I naturally have no real choice - you can't exactly run the site and avoid spoilers, what with our policy of shamelessly running every spoiler under the sun. I enjoy running the site enough that I don't care too much; if I were seeing a show very early on in the tour and weren't running the site, I'd think about avoiding spoilers, otherwise I wouldn't bother since it would mean extricating myself from a community of people whose company I enjoy. I'd rather be spoiled and hang out with people I like than avoid friends for months for the sake of a bunch of spoilers that impact only 2 hours of my life.

As for other bands I really like ... usually I look. If they have varied sets, like Crowded House, I follow quite closely because my shows will be a surprise anyway (out of the 4 shows I saw on their last tour, every single one of them featured a song [or multiple songs!] not played for the rest of the Aussie leg, and two of them featured songs not played at any other show on the tour full stop). If it's a band with largely static sets like Porcupine Tree, I may not follow it very closely. I'll look now and then, but in the end I don't feel a compulsion to follow setlists of bands who don't vary it up anyway! By the time my show rolls around I've kind of forgotten bits and pieces. If I hadn't got into U2 when I did, there's no way I'd rigorously follow their sets now because there isn't enough variety for me to care to check back regularly.

And I'll be honest, sometimes I like to know. There's this local Melbourne band called Alpine that I see frequently ... we usually peek at their printed set before they even begin to check for surprises and to pace ourselves during the show (or one of the band members tells us ahead of time!). So I think I've just rambled to a totally inconclusive conclusion. Yep.
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Old 05-05-2011, 06:08 AM   #13
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your average u2 fan does not attend practically every show on the tour. you're very lucky that whenever u2 does something interesting in concert, you're front row centre. a lot of us will take whatever live u2 we can, whether we're in the building or not.

it's not a question of who is the omg true fan, it's a question of doing whatever the hell you want and not worrying about what others think, and not trying to convince someone that what they feel like doing is wrong.
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Old 05-05-2011, 06:30 AM   #14
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your average u2 fan does not attend practically every show on the tour.
Unless you're cathal
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Old 05-05-2011, 08:39 AM   #15
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it's not a question of who is the omg true fan,
Agreed.

Quote:
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it's a question of doing whatever the hell you want and not worrying about what others think,
Agreed.

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and not trying to convince someone that what they feel like doing is wrong.
Agreed. Damn, this is going to be a boring post

Oh, but I didn't bring any kind of "it's WRONG!" judgement into it. Just an opinion that shows are better if ya don't know the setlist, and a suggestion that fans who are seeing a show soon should consider avoiding setlist news. And a whole lot of other words besides.
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