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Flashback: U2 Play ‘Pride (In the Name of Love)’ for the First Known Time

The Martin Luther King Jr. tribute song was just performed for the 1,000th time on a European stop of U2’s ‘Experience + Innocence’ tour

As the definitive fan site @U2 points out, U2 performed their 1984 hit “Pride (In the Name of Love)” for the 1,000th known time last week in Manchester, England. We say “known” since there are a handful of U2 concerts from the 1980s that weren’t documented by fan recordings or contemporariness reviews. @U2 believes that there are at least nine unconfirmed performances of “Pride,” meaning they likely hit the 1,000 song mark earlier this month.

The first documented performance of “Pride (In the Name of Love)” took place August 31st, 1984 in Wellington, New Zealand. You can hear a recording of it here. This was the second show of the Unforgettable Fire tour, which took place a little a month before the album actually came out and just days before the “Pride” single hit. The tour started two days earlier in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the odds are high that “Pride” actually premiered that night. There’s enough circumstantial evidence that setlist.fm flat-out says they did it, but @U2 and the Pimm Jal de la Parra book U2 Live: A Concert Documentary only list a partial setlist that doesn’t contain “Pride.” (Never let it be said that hardcore U2 fans are anything short of obsessive and extremely detail-oriented.)

“Pride (In the Name of Love)” is a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. and was at least partially inspired by the book Let the Trumpet Sound: A Life of Martin Luther King, which was given to Bono by former Rolling Stone editor Jim Henke. It became their first single to breach the Top 40 in America, and it played a big role in moving them from playing theaters into arenas. It’s been a key part of their live show ever since, though as @U2 points out, they skipped it half the time on the 2009/’10/’11 360 tour and a quarter of the time on the 2001 Elevation tour. Their ongoing Experience + Innocence tour features very few 1980s songs, but they’ve done “Pride” every single night.

No U2 song has more documented performances than “Pride,” but it’s a virtual certainty that they’ve done “I Will Follow” many more times. They often played it twice a night during their early 1980s concerts, but many of those weren’t bootlegged and have been lost forever to time.

In This Article: Martin Luther King Jr, U2

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