Stella Ballroom, Limerick, Ireland

Set List of Show:

Early Set: (In Front of Judging Panel)

  • "Street Missions"
  • "Life On A Distant Planet"
  • "The TV Song"
Late Set: (In Front of Audience)

  • "Street Missions"
  • "Life On A Distant Planet"
  • "The TV Song"

Additional Music

Snippets of Other Songs Performed by U2 Malahide:

Show Details:

It’s well known that U2 won a talent contest in 1978 but how much do we know about the contest itself? The contest was part of Limerick’s Civic Week 1978 which ran from March 11 – March 19. The focus of the week was on music, and there were multiple music contests. One of those contests was Pop Group ’78, which was held in conjunction with the Evening Press and Guinness.

The contest was advertised throughout January 1978, and the closing date to apply for the contest was January 31, 1978. The contest rules stated there was no fee to enter, to be considered a group you had to be a musical act with between 3 and 8 members, and that your act had to be less than 9 minutes in length. Groups were responsible to bring their own instruments.

It was not the only musical competition. “Ireland’s Golden Voice” was judged and awarded on March 13 (in conjunction with Guinness and the Sunday Independent). A competition for Irish traditional musicians called Ceol ’78 was judged and awarded on March 17 (in conjunction with Guinness and the Irish Press). A final competition for Church choirs took place earlier in the week.

Acts were promised from the start that the price would include 500 pounds, and a “recording test where suitable by CBS Records”.

The finale of the contest was held at the Stella Ballroom, starting at 8:30pm on Saturday March 18. Admission to view the bands competing in the finale was 1 pound. Reports vary, but 36 -38 acts entered the competition, and judges spent three days looking at acts and determining the groups that make the finale. Judging for these initial stages took place on March 16, 17, and the day of March 18. It is not known exactly when U2 went through this process, but they did perform in Dublin late on the 17th, and Jackie Hayden, one of the judges of the competition recalls U2 preforming early in the day and returning later to perform in front of an audience.

U2 were not registered as “U2 Malahide”, and this was an error in one media report from the event. Other media sources list them correctly registered as “U2, Malahide, Co. Dublin”.

U2’s performance included three songs, reported to be “Street Mission”, “Life on a Distant Planet” and “The TV Song”. All three were original songs from U2. Of the three songs, only “Street Mission” has been released, as part of U2’s “The Complete U2” set via iTunes. The band performed all three songs in judging (likely early on the 18th) and again in the finale. Jackie Hayden would confirm three songs were played including one in Irish, which was most likely “The TV Song”. Hayden suggested this may have possibly been an early version of “An Cat Dubh”.

Hayden writes, “I remember Bono impressing me most, with a superbly confident stage presence, even through a tired throat produced overtones of Rod Stewart. I remember his ‘I’m not moving, feet apart’ stance, which has become legendary, and he wore a tight grey polo-neck sweater. He was neat. The rest of the band looked serious and went about their respective jobs in a workmanlike fashion.

Eight bands made it to the finals. U2 won the event. Second place was taken by Rockster, a group from Dublin. Third place was taken by Village, a pop group from Limerick. Other groups who entered included East Coast Angels, Harmony (an all girl group), Midnight Flyer, Ground Hog, Oddwish, Fletcher, Chamber Five, The New Carousel, Charles Five, Fletcher and Skylark.

Mike Rave McNamara, a disc jockey, acted to introduce groups for the Grand Final of the Pop Group ’78 competition. The judging panel was announced to be Billy Wall (RTE), David Dukes (CBS Records) and Jim Conway (president, Junior Chamber). However, by the time of the competition it appears that Jackie Hayden (also of CBS) had taken David Dukes position, and that it was Jackie and Billy Wall that had judged the competition.

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Officially Released Tracks