For U2, maybe the biggest and most popular touring band on Planet Earth, a 16,000 seat basketball arena is about as intimate a venue as you’re ever liable to catch them, which is what made their decision recently to perform a one-off gig at the relatively tiny Apollo Theater in Harlem so monumental. Select fans, contest winners, journalists and celebrities packed into the hallowed house that James Brown made famous to watch Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr., and Adam Clayton dig deep into their catalog for a one-of-a-kind performance, packed with a variety of deep cuts you won’t hear on their current tour.
Surveying their surroundings, and with the loss still deep on people’s hearts and minds, U2 dedicated a portion of their set to the the celebrity chef and writer Anthony Bourdain, who tragically took his own life earlier this week. “It’s hard though, to lose a friend,” Bono told the crowd. “This band has been through that…lost some great people who gave up on their own life and that makes it kind of harder.” He described Bourdain as “A great storyteller, who had stories he couldn’t tell us,” before dedicated the song “Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of” to his memory and his friends and family.
Befitting the location, U2 also performed the deep cut “Angels In Harlem” during this show as well, backed by the Sun Ra Arkestra, who also stuck around for “Desire,” as well as a re-worked “When Love Comes to Town” and the aforementioned “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of.” You can check out that performance above, and a collection of other highlights, including a version of “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses.”