Back in August of 1979, U2 were still pretty far away from the superstars they eventually became. They were just another punk band playing gigs around Dublin. Their debut album Boy was still over a year away; their very first EP Three was just about to be recorded. To know much about that part of U2’s genesis, those early days slugging it out in their hometown alongside a bunch of peers who would’ve seemingly had just as much of a shot of making it, you had to have been there.
Today, the rest of us can get more of a glimpse of that time. The fansite ATU2 has always been a trove for archival information and trivia for superfans. And they have a whole division dedicated to fleshing out the details of every show U2 have played. In the process, the site has brought us long-lost recordings of a show U2 played on August 11, 1979, at a defunct venue then known as Dandelion Market.
The recording was made by a man named Pete McCluskey, who was in a band called the Strougers opening for U2. (They must’ve had a pretty early set, considering U2’s was at three in the afternoon.) It’s the earliest known live recording of the band.
If you head over to the dedicated show page on ATU2, you’ll notice U2 were already playing songs that’d soon introduce them to the world — “Out Of Control,” “Shadows And Tall Trees,” and a couple other early cuts. Bono apparently also tried a bit of Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog.”
But the big selling point for U2 diehards is that the show featured two songs that, as ATU2 reports, don’t seem to have any history of having been recorded in any form. They’re called “In Your Hand” and “Concentration Cramp.” They are, in effect, new 40-year-old U2 songs. Maybe some day we’ll get a full archival treatment of those days from the band themselves. But for now, you can hear snippets of both songs, beamed in from that summer day in 1979.
For more in-depth analysis of the tapes/show history and a brief Q&A with McCluskey, head over to ATU2.