U2 have been on the road pretty constantly in the past couple of years. After the late 2014 release of Songs Of Innocence, they embarked on the iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE tour in 2015, with the promise of companion shows once they unveiled the album’s sequel, Songs Of Experience. But global circumstances, some health issues, and a timely anniversary intervened, meaning that first we got U2’s revelatory 2017 tour honoring 30 years of The Joshua Tree, and then the arrival of Songs Of Experience at the tail end of last year.
Last night in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the band finally kicked off the continuation of the tour from back in 2015 — now renamed eXPERIENCE + iNNOCENCE. These shows have been split into thematic sections, early songs (or subsequent songs about their youth) represented the “Innocence” section, and ’90s material mixed with later-career songs denoted “Experience.” Those songs are the ones that often grapple with mature, adult themes — sex and faith, devotion and the collapse of marriages, global strife.
U2 always have a lot of hits to cram into a set, but on recent tours they also try to find room to highlight deep cuts or fan favorites — on various 360 tours around the beginning of this decade, I saw them play the mesmerizing title track from Zooropa (still one of their most underrated albums), the stunning lost Passengers track “Your Blue Room” (one of their best non-album cuts), and revive beloved compositions like “One Tree Hill” and “Ultraviolet (Light My Way).”
But along the way, there have always been songs left behind. Even when an album’s new and U2 tour it relentlessly, they’re not going to get to everything — for longtime diehards, part of the appeal of The Joshua Tree tour was getting to see rarities like “Red Hill Mining Town” and “Mothers Of The Disappeared.” Still, there are songs that linger and loom over setlists no matter how adventurous. Songs fans have been waiting to hear for, in some cases, decades. One of those songs was the Achtung Baby deep cut “Acrobat,” and U2 finally played it last night in Tulsa.
It’s hard to overstate this song’s stature in this context. Fans adore it, and journalists have been asking the band for years whether they’ll ever play it — myself included, when I interviewed Bono last year. It was just one of those things they never got around to, never figured out how to play live. But now, finally, here it is — right there in the “Experience” portion of the show. It looks like Bono also revived his ’90s devil parody persona Mr. MacPhisto, delivering an intro before the band launched into “Acrobat.”
The setlist featured a lot of other notable inclusions: How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb single “All Because Of You” for the first time since 2006, Boy album cut “The Ocean,” “Staring At The Sun” (from their misunderstood and wrongfully-maligned 1997 album Pop) for the first time since 2001, and “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses?” for the first time since 2006. That’s a lot! But nothing compares to the wait for “Acrobat” — the only song they never played from their best album — finally coming to a close. Watch a fan-made video below.