Flashback: U2 Launch 1997 PopMart Tour at Kmart Lingerie Department
Manhattan’s last remaining Kmart closed its doors forever earlier this week. The discount chain has been struggling for years to compete with Target, Walmart, and Amazon, and its parent company, Sears Holdings Corp., filed for bankruptcy in 2019. Kmart was bought by Transformco, who closed all but a couple dozen nationwide locations. New Yorkers hoped they’d find a way to save the three-story location in Astor Place, but they shut it down on Sunday without any advance notice.
It’s a sad day for lovers of cheap underwear and discount toothpaste, but it’s also a sad day for U2 fans since this Kmart is where U2 announced their PopMart tour to the world. The event took place on February 12th, 1997, in the lingerie department, and the band was in rare sarcastic form when dealing with the press. Bono even sat on the lap of Rolling Stone‘s David Browne when answering a question about their plans to tour South America. (It happens at the 25:20 mark in the below video.)
This was the same era when Kiss announced their reunion tour on an aircraft carrier and the Rolling Stones picked Brooklyn Bridge Park to roll out their Bridges to Babylon tour, so many reporters were surprised that U2 took a very different route. “By holding a news conference in this setting,” asked a CNN reporter, “you don’t mean to suggest that your music is flimsy, constructed from cheap materials, is discountable, and ultimately disposable?”
Bono responded with a smirk as the crowd booed. “I agree with everything you say,” he replied. “Apart from ‘discountable.'”
The event kicked off with a performance of “Holy Joe,” the B side to “Discothèque.” It remains the only time the song was played live in any capacity. Check out footage of the moment in the video up top.
U2’s future plans are a little murky at the moment, though they are recording a new album and, at the very least, contemplating a Zoo TV 30th anniversary tour. If they feel like announcing it at a Kmart, they’d better act fast. There are just 23 left.
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