Acklam Hall, London, England
Set List of Show:
Known Set List: (Incomplete)
- "Stories for Boys"
- "Another Day"
- "The Dream Is Over"
- "Shadows and Tall Trees"
Snippets of Other Songs Performed by U2:
The Sense of Ireland festival in London in 1980 was a six week project, featuring Irish artists, musicians, and performers performing at a variety of venues throughout London. Over 46 nights the festival had featured The Dubliners, The Chieftains, the Irish Ballet Company, the RTE Symphony, performance groups like The Project Arts Company. And the Festival ended with a week of Irish Rock, called “The Sounds of Ireland” in advertising. The Festival opened on February 4, 1980 and featured over 90 events.
The Irish Rock week featured a number of unsigned and signed acts from Ireland. The bands were organized by Billy Magra.
Rory Gallagher played a legendary gig at the Lyceum as part of the festival on St. Patrick’s Day. U2 perform at a venue called Acklam Hall on the 19th. Berlin is the headlining act for the night, and both The Virgin Prunes and U2 are openers for the show. The show is The Virgin Prunes debut in the UK.
In a review for NME Steve Taylor writes of U2, “They have the seasoned intensity of Joy Division but are able to rely on a stunning range of guitar effects and supporting structures to encompass a poppy, melodic accessibility with no loss of poke.” Paul Rambali also reviews the show in NME saying “They’re good tonight. Not yet totally sure and commanding, but committed and determined and eager to cut across – refreshingly eager to create a rapport and to communicate with the crowd more than merely to them. So eager they sometimes rush and stumble. U2 are on the up; not yet set on the course, not yet set in their ways. Now is the time to see them.”
Hot Press describes the venue, “probably the most discouraging venue of all time to actually get to. Hidden deep in a maze of graffiti sprayed corrugated iron surrounding the endless building sites which are slowly removing the last of the appallingly decrepit slums of North Kensington, it consists simply of a filled in bay under the Westway. It’s recently been redecorated outside with lurid cockatoos and other jungle ephemera, inside in hospital green and yellow.” They share that about 50 people were in attendance when the Virgin Prunes took the stage.
Peter Owens for Hot Press continues, “There’s more swing than before, probably due to their self-confidence, and in some ways they’re also more commercial. There’s nothing to intimidate, nothing too offbeat, but neither are they sugary and safe as milk. Bono’s joyous smiling stage presence bites hard because of, rather than in spite of, the fact that no such overt friendliness is exhibited by the rest – it makes you wary, but doesn’t put you off.”
Rob Partridge from Island Records A&R was at the show and shared some memories with NME, “The first gig I saw them at was Subterania – or Acklam Hall, as it was called in those days. I think it was the day before they signed and there were about 27 people there, nine of which were from the record company. Again, the guitar player was immensely impressive. I remember thinking they were going to have to work on their songs a bit, and the singer’s going to have to calm down. He never did, of course, which kind of proves: what do I know?”
Photographer Paul Slattery was also present at the show, “People went mad for the gig, because it was starting to happen for them in London by then – and, of course, most of the people there were Irish. They were supported by the Prunes and Bono was even more theatrical. He was really getting his theatre persona together by then.”
Admission to the show is £2.00 and it is said that about 200 people were in attendance in total for the headliner. The songs that we are aware of are listed in reviews of the show.
The band are also being judged one final time this evening by Island Records. Several reps from the company to take one last look at the band before signing off on the contract Nick Stewart tentatively offered them at The National Stadium three weeks earlier. The band pass the test, and the paperwork for the contract is finished while the band are still in London.
A show with Berlin in Portlaoise, Ireland at St. Mary’s Ballroom, on March 17 has to be cancelled to make the trip. An upcoming show in Ballina at the Town Hall on March 22 has to be cancelled as well. The band are still in town, seeing The Cramps on the 21st and attending a show at the Lyceum on the 23rd where they sign their recording contract while attending an Echo and the Bunnymen show with executives from Island.
Officially Released Tracks