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Beyond 'Joshua Tree': What else will U2 play in Buffalo?

While U2’s Buffalo tour stop on Sept. 5 at New Era Field will feature front-to-back coverage of its 1987 masterwork, “The Joshua Tree,” its set lists have been packed with songs spanning the entirety of the band’s nearly 40-year recording career.

Some — like “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” “Pride (In the Name of Love),” “New Year's Day” and “One”— have been intermingled into every tour stop within the show’s four- or five-song lead-in, post “Joshua Tree” short set, or as part of the encore. But throughout the band’s more than 30 shows across the U.S., Canada and Europe, there have been some welcomed classics and surprises.

Revisiting the joy of U2's 'The Joshua Tree'

How will the set list look in Buffalo? No one knows, but based on previous tour stops, here are some songs that could join the night’s performance:

“Ultraviolet (Light My Way)”

Album: “Achtung Baby”

Appearances on this tour: 32

Notably performed at: Gillette Stadium (Foxboro, Mass.), June 25

About the song: Revived during U2's illuminated 360 Tour — in support of 2009’s “No Line on the Horizon” — the deep “Achtung Baby” cut has become a near standard inclusion in the encore of these "Joshua Tree" shows, and is often dedicated by Bono to the women in the band members’ lives. But for dedication or otherwise, the track delivers sonic elements of what some (me) would consider the band’s best album.

“A Sort of Homecoming”

Album: “The Unforgettable Fire”

Appearances on this tour: 8

Notably performed at: Soldier Field (Chicago), June 4

About the song: When it’s appeared in the set, it’s taken the place of fellow “Unforgettable Fire” cut, “Bad.” For some, this swap would be a disappointment, as the latter’s anthemic emotion and echoing Edge chords are the essence of the Dublin act. For others, the former is an ideal bridge from early U2 to “Joshua Tree”-era U2, which makes it an ideal lead-in for the tour’s focus.

“I Will Follow”

Album: “Boy”

Appearances on this tour: 8

Notably performed at: Rogers Centre (Toronto), June 23

About the song: Amid its “Songs of Innocence” Apple debacle in 2014, many found it ridiculous that a band as mammoth as U2 was linking itself to minimalistic icons The Ramones with the single “The Miracle (of Joey Ramone).” But this encore-included song is emblematic of when U2 was just a ramshackle, punk-influenced act from Ireland, playing small clubs and carving out its yet-to-be-determined identity.

“Mysterious Ways”

Album: “Achtung Baby”

Appearances on this tour: 8

Notably performed at: FirstEnergy Stadium (Cleveland, Ohio), July 1

About the song: A live favorite well before its "Zoo TV Tour" belly dancer (Morleigh Steinberg) married The Edge, the song’s inclusion on a handful of tour stops makes sense. Its memorable chorus, danceable groove and Edge-delivered Gretsch injections are made for the stage. And just like “Ultraviolet,” it’s another nod to the band’s other masterpiece.


Album: “The Unforgettable Fire”

Appearances on this tour: 1

Notably performed at: BC Place Stadium (Vancouver, British Columbia), May 12

About the song: Would it be stunning if Bono and Co. snuck this “Unforgettable Fire” capper into its Buffalo set list? Yes. Including this tour, the band has only played the Martin Luther King, Jr.-inspired number live twice in the last seven years — but you never know. Now starting its second American leg amid a time of social unrest, the band may want to dust off its succinct ode to the late civil rights icon.

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