Watch U2 Perform 'October' for First Time in 26 Years

Bono and company open up eight-night stand at New York's Madison Square Garden with rare rendition of 1981 classic

U2 kicked off their eight-night stand at New York's Madison Square Garden Saturday night, and midway through the show they gave the hardcore fans in attendance a little gift by breaking out the title track to their 1981 LP October. It was the first time they had played the song since the New Zealand leg of the Lovetown tour in November of 1989. The stark song was played by just Bono and the Edge on the E stage.

The bleak state of the world in the early Eighties inspired Bono to write "October." "It was a colder time," Bono said in U2's official biography U2 by U2, "materialism without any idealism, the sun without any heat, winter. It was after the fall, after harvest. I had the line, 'October, the trees slips bare of all they wear.' The song is a really gentle, meditative piece of work. Edge at the piano coming up with these beautiful ice notes, and this picture of loss of innocence, the fall, the leaves falling from the trees, and you're left exposed."

Near the beginning of the show, Bono looked back to the group's earliest New York shows. "Welcome to innocence and experience," he said. "When we first played a club called the Ritz in this great city, we thought of ourselves as a great punk band. We still do. A band of equals with an audience of equals."

According to @U2, Salman Rushdie, Jon Bon Jovi, Harry Belafonte, Christy Turlington, Spike Jonze, Mario Batali and Chris Christie were all in the audience.

U2's Innocence + Experience tour has seen the rockers dust off a handful of fan favorite tracks live for the first time. They previously unearthed "In God's Country" for the first time in 14 years in Phoenix and gave "Gloria" its first live performance in over a decade.