Electric Ballroom, Camden, England
Set List of Show:
- "Concentration Cramp"
- "Speed of Life"
- "Shadows and Tall Trees"
- "Stories for Boys"
- "The Dream Is Over"
- "Inside Out"
- "In Your Hand"
- "Boy / Girl"
Snippets of Other Songs Performed by U2:
U2’s next show is a big one for them. They pick up a gig with the promoter, Straight Music, who are promoting a two night appearance of Talking Heads at the Electric Ballroom in Camden, on High Street. U2 are added to the bill late, too late for U2 to be featured on the ads for the show in the music papers, or even on the posters for the show. Both shows start at 7:30, and U2 are first on stage, followed by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, and then Talking Heads. Tickets for the shows are £3.00 each night. The Electric Ballroom is a 1500 capacity venue.
Recently on Close to the Edge on U2 X-Radio, The Edge remembered back to these shows while interviewing David Byrne of Talking Heads, “We opened for you early on, on a number of occasions. And we learned so much from playing with you guys. I think it was the first time we really played at what I would say was a fully professional grade level was opening for Talking Heads.” Byrne replies, “Was this Hammersmith Palais or some place?” And the Edge mentions the earlier shows, “But also the year before. 1979, in the Electric Ballroom. We were actually third on the bill that night. We supported OMD. But it was so great to share a stage with you and see you guys in action.”
Malcom Dome, reviewing the show on December 8 a number of years later for Classic Rock Magazine, said: “While the gig itself had sold out weeks in advance, precious few bothered to turn up for the opening band. But those who did make the effort saw a band who clearly had an indefinable charisma. Raw, at times somewhat unsure of themselves and boyishly gawky, U2 nonetheless expressed a Celtic fever in a framework that owed more to Thin Lizzy than to Stiff Little Fingers.”
Ross Fitz reviewed one of the shows in Hot Press and fills in a number of details, “A week in the smoke and already a measure of recognition – a scattered cheer goes up as U2 take to the stage. The response to their first number is a lot more positive, “Concentration” sets a lot of pulses racing and feet tapping. No pause for applause before “Speed Of Life”, Bono exulting in the scope afforded by the big stage, Edge striking the occasional guitar hero pose.” Fitz also mentions “Shadows and Tall Trees,” “Stories for Boys,” “The Dream is Over” (called a recent addition to the set), “Inside Out,” “In Your Hand,” and “Twilight – When A Boy Meets a Man.” His review finishes with “While the band have been building their musical power, and the front half of the hall is with them all the way, there are still those who are unwilling to respond. But Bono understands, he reasons with them, he and his pals entertain them, and while it may not be “cool” to clap for a support band in London, he gets them to do just that. Thus encouraged, most of the crowd respond even more warmly and when U2 leave the stage after “Boy/Girl”, the reception is nothing short of tumultuous.”
Although we don’t know what night the review above was for, the hometown review from Hot Press seems to paint a good picture of the show. With nine songs listed, that would be a similar length to OMD’s set on the 7th which we know ran for 8 songs. But we expect that “Out of Control” being the A-Side of the new EP, that it would have been played as well. The order of the songs is not known, but this was likely close to the full performance. For comparison, the set by Talking Heads on the 7th was 17 songs. Neither OMD, nor Talking Heads mention the others acts performing that night in their performances.
U2 did stick around for the shows, as mentioned by The Edge on U2 X-Radio. After the show the band were seen outside of both shows, handing out flyers promoting themselves to attendees leaving the gig. The promotion mentioned the band, and listed some of the upcoming shows in London, and plugged their single which was available at Rough Trade in London.
The shows with Talking Heads made an impact on Bono, who would later write “11 O’Clock Tick Tock” with those nights in mind as he explained to Kris Needs, in Zigzag Magazine, “I think people are realizing now the danger of hiding behind a mask. The new single is about the Electric Ballroom [where they supported Talking Heads, with poseurs present]. I saw these faces running away. It’s like the 11th hour, closing time. The image that they’re going home; they don’t want to but they don’t know where to go.” The title for the song itself came from a note from Gavin Friday that had been left on Bono’s door.
- 2020-08-21 December 1979: U2 Take On London (Original Story)
Officially Released Tracks