The U2 fan community went into a mini-frenzy today due to a story on an Italian fan site claiming to have inside info on the tour. According to Google Translate, the story states, "One of our inside sources inside the band's management informs us that the organization phase of the new tour is at full capacity. . . The Irish band seems to have no intention of touching fewer cities but to do more concerts in the same location, for example every city three concerts instead of touching different cities and make a full concert. . . each concert with a different setlist."
We'd usually never run a rumor as poorly sourced as that one. Translation issues aside, it seems unlikely that a management source is blabbing about this. Also, the European media doesn't have the best track record when it comes to accuracy. In fact, very little is known about their tour plans. Bono has been pretty clear about the fact that they don't want another stadium run like the massive 360 Tour that ran from 2009 and 2011 and shattered attendance records wherever it went. It's a safe bet they're going back to arenas, much like they did in 2001 after the enormous PopMart stadium tour of 1997/98. (On that note, little is also known about U2's upcoming album, other than Danger Mouse is the producer and it's coming out sometime in the not-too-distant future.)
All that said, the phrase "each concert with a different setlist" did grab our attention. U2 do change around their setlist a bit as their tours go on, but not nearly enough to please the hardcore fans. The vast, vast majority of their catalog remains unplayed throughout the course of their tours.
So let's pretend that this rumor is true. Here are some ways they could structure the shows to make the fans go absolutely insane.
Scenario 1 - Complete Album Shows
Night One: War + the new album
Night Two: The Joshua Tree + the new album
Night Three: Achtung Baby + the new album
Pros: It seems like the obvious move, since so many bands have had great success with this in recent years. Hardcores will go every night and they will finally get to hear super-deep cuts like "Drowning Man," "Red Hill Mining Town," "The Refugee" and "Acrobat" live. They could even swap around the albums as the tour goes on, forcing fans to fly all over the world for the chance to hear Zooropa or October live.
Cons: It's hard to imagine U2 will want to do something so nakedly nostalgic. Also, it can be a bit lame when you go into a concert and you know exactly what songs they're gonna play and in what order. It takes out much of the fun.
Scenario 2 - Decades Nights
Night One: The 1980s + selections from the new album
Night Two: The 1990s + selections from the new album
Night Three: The 2000s + selections from the new album
Pros: This is still an unabashed nostalgia-fest, but it opens them up to a broader range of material. On night one, they could play hits hits like "Where The Streets Have No Name" and super-obscurities like "I Threw a Brick Through a Window." It'll please the superfans, but not leave the casual ones bored.
Cons: To be frank, night three will be a bit of a letdown. There's plenty of great songs from the 2000s, but it's their weakest decade.
Scenario 3 - Theme Nights
Night One: Hits + selections from the new album
Night Two: Rarities + selections from the new album
Night Three: Band's choice
Pros: If they do this, they won't be tied to a single time period each night. The casual fans can all attend night one, and the hardcores can come to night two and have the chance to hear 1980s rarities like "Surrender" followed by latter-stuff like "Daddy's Gonna Pay for Your Crashed Car" and "Moment of Surrender." Then night three can be a nice balance of the two nights.
Cons: There really aren't any cons for this one. It seems like everybody wins, except the casual fans that find themselves at rarities night and have to endure "Your Blue Room" followed by "A Different Kind of Blue" and "Pete the Chop."