Tour Music: PopMart Tour
Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2017-05-26)
It’s been 20 years since PopMart, and although that time has passed, there are many who remember the tour with fondness, including some of the music surrounding the tour. As we have done with other tours, we are putting together a list of the songs that surrounded PopMart, from the preshow songs to the songs used after the shows. If you would like we’ve put together a Spotify playlist you can listen to while reading the article although not all the songs mentioned below are available.
Early in the day during the PopMart shows in many cases an entire album would be played as background music in the stadium, then there would be a music mix over the PA, before Howie B would take the stage. These albums would include the following, played in full:
- Underworld – Second Toughest In the Infants (March 1996)
- Fun Lovin’ Criminals – Come Find Yourself (February 1996)
- Oasis – Be Here Now (August 1997 – used for Wembley Stadium, London)
- Skunk Anansie – Stoosh (May 1996)
- Placebo – Placebo (June 1996)
Sometimes you would get the full album, and sometimes you would only get a smaller portion. The Oasis album is particularly remembered for being played for a long time while the crowds waited outside and inside Wembley – the album had just been released that week.
Fun Lovin’ Criminals, Oasis, Skunk Anansie, and Placebo were all used as opening acts on the PopMart tour as well, and their album would not be used on the day that they were performing as an opening act.
Howie B would then dish up an interesting mix of songs before the concert started, but there was also music chosen to be played over the PA that was not part of Howie B’s performance. The pop music and songs from the opening acts were likely part of the sounds outside of Howie’s mix. With twenty years now passed, it’s difficult to put together a full list but the following are all remembered as having been featured in one piece or another. If you have memories of other songs used in these sets, please contact us at contact [at] u2wanderer.org and let us know what you remember.
- “Strange Boat” – The Waterboys (Always early in the day, usually the first thing heard over the PA)
- “Super Bon Bon (Remix)” – Soul Coughing
- “Atom Bomb” – Fluke
- “Pure Shores” – All Saints
- “Scooby Snax” – Fun Lovin’ Criminals
- “Whole of the Moon” – The Waterboys
- “Hyperballad” – Bjork
- “Ob La Di, Ob La Da” – The Beatles
- “Walking on Sunshine” – Katrina and the Waves
- “Born Slippy” – Underworld
- “The Saint Theme” – Orbital
- “6 Underground (Nellee Hooper Edit)” – Sneaker Pimps
- Angels Go Bald Too – Howie B.
Just before the show would start, a set group of songs would be played. In early shows “Bittersweet Symphony” by the Verve would lead into “Pop Muzik (Steve Osbourne Mix)” by M. Later in the tour, a remix of the “Mission: Impossible Theme” by Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen would fall between the two songs. As “Pop Muzik” played U2 would take the stage. Prior to the show in Edinburgh these songs were mixed up a bit, and rather than the basic version of “Bittersweet Symphony”, the band used “Bittersweet Symphony (The James Lavelle Remix)” instead which had been just released as a B-Side to the single “The Drugs Don’t Work”.
The remix of “Pop Muzik” was done by Steve Osbourne at U2’s request. U2 approached a number of DJs to provide remixes of the song, and at one point a single was planned on Mother Records of the track. The single never happened, but U2 would record their own version of the song which was released as a B-Side to “Last Night on Earth.” More information about the remix of M’s version, and U2’s own version can be found in our History Mix column.
During the show itself, U2 would transport themselves around the stage in the futuristic mode of transport, a mirror ball lemon. And during this segment they would use one of their own songs, “Lemon (The Perfecto Mix)” each night.
At the end of the shows, they would use a number of songs at the close of the concert. They would initially end the show with “Tomorrow (‘96 Version)” by Bono and Adam Clayton in Las Vegas but switched to “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby” by Marvin Gaye after the first show. They would switch it out for “Sitting in Limbo” by Jimmy Cliff after about six weeks of the tour.
They would also use a number of other songs at the end of the night, in memory of those who had passed. When Jeff Buckley died, his version of “Hallelujah” was played at the end of the show. When Princess Diana was killed near the end of the second leg, U2 would start using Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind” for a number of shows. And when Michael Hutchence passed during the third leg, U2 would end a few shows with “Never Tear Us Apart” by INXS. But with each, they would eventually switch back to the Jimmy Cliff “Sitting in Limbo”. When the tour reached Australia for its final leg in 1998 U2 would use “Into My Arms” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds as well as “Never Tear Us Apart” by INXS.
This list could not have been done without the help of Roars, Clare, Cathy, Lisa and Patty, and for that we thank you.
We’ve been tracking tour songs for a number of years, and the full list of songs can be found in our Tour Songs section for other tours.