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Why U2 Open Their Concerts With the Pogues’ ‘A Rainy Night in Soho’

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Every night on their Joshua Tree 2017 Tour, U2 have been walking out onstage to “A Rainy Night in Soho” by the Pogues. The track first appeared on Poguetry in Motion, a 1986 EP that was produced by Elvis Costello.

Formed in London in 1982, the Pogues gained fame by mixing political punk rock with Celtic folk music, and also gained a well-deserved reputation as a hard-drinking band. Naturally, this appealed to the four Dubliners, and U2 invited the Pogues to open up for them on five dates on the initial Joshua Tree tour, beginning with their date at London’s Wembley Stadium on June 13, 1987, at which point Poguetry in Motion was their most recent release. They also played in Dublin, Paris, Edinburgh and New York.

“They were very normal, very approachable and nice,” multi-instrumentalist Jem Finer said in Kiss My Arse, the Story of the Pogues. “Adam [Clayton] was the more fun-loving one. I’m not saying the others weren’t, but he seemed to be the one who was up for hanging out a bit. They’re very friendly, not at all stuck up. We were their personal guests, and it was much appreciated.”

Finer added that he was intrigued by the Edge’s guitar rig. “I did want to try my banjo through his 1,001 effects,” he said.

On two occasions, Bono has worked in snippets from “A Rainy Night in Soho” into “Beautiful Day.” The first was a promotional event at the BBC in 2000 for All That You Can’t Leave Behind and the second was at a club performance at the Astoria Theatre in London four months later.

According to U2songs.com, the initial Joshua Tree tour saw the band use John Lennon’s 1975 hit cover of Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me” as their introductory music, although they sometimes played the Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love.” After the concerts they either played “Rowena’s Theme,” an instrumental the Edge wrote for the movie Captive, or Clannad’s “Caisleán Óir” (Gaelic for “The Gold Castle”).

UPDATE: Of course, the day we published this story, U2 changed their walk-out music for their Bonnaroo set from “A Rainy Night in Soho” to the Waterboys‘ “Whole of the Moon.” Whether this will be a permanent change or was just an acknowledgement of the evening’s full moon has yet to be seen.

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Next: See the Set Lists From Every Show on U2's 'Joshua Tree' 2017 Tour

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