Slane Castle, Slane, Ireland

Set List of Show:

Main Set:

  • "With a Shout (Jerusalem)"
  • "Twilight"
  • "I Will Follow"
  • "I Threw a Brick Through a Window"
  • "An Cat Dubh"
  • "Into the Heart"
  • "Gloria"
  • "Rejoice"
  • "October"
  • "Stories for Boys"
  • "Boy / Girl"
  • "Out of Control"

  • "Happy Birthday"
  • "Fire"
  • "11 O'Clock Tick Tock"
  • "The Ocean"

Additional Music

Snippets of Other Songs Performed by U2:

    "I'm A Believer" (The Monkees) /

Show Details:

This show is a bit of history, as it was the first Slane Festival concert held in Ireland. Since then the concert has happened annually with a few exceptions. The 1981 show was the first of this tradition. Slane Castle has sloping grounds that form a natural amphitheater. The castle is located just outside of Dublin in County Meath.

The 1981 show is headlined by Thin Lizzy. U2 is below them on posters, followed by Hazel O’Connor. Also appearing on posters are the bands Rose Tattoo, The Bureau, and Sweet Savage. Tickets are £8.00 (Irish) or £7.00 (UK) in advance or £10.00 on the day of the show and were available throughout Ireland in a number of music shops and other outlets. The full timing listed in the program was:

  • 12:30 – 1:00: Sweet Savage
  • 1:30 – 2:15: The Bureau
  • 2:15 – 2:45: Smiley Bolger (The half mad Irishman)
  • 2:45 – 3:30: Rose Tattoo
  • 4:00 – 5:00: Hazel O’Connor (with Megahype)
  • 5:30 – 6:30: U2
  • 7:00 – 8:15: Thin Lizzy

The concert was promoted by MCD. It is said that 30,000 people attended the inaugural show. Gardaí only made three arrests during the day, and things went smoothly in general.

U2 have spent most of July and early August working on finishing off their new album. As such they debut a number of songs from the new album for the first time live at Slane. This was the first public performance of “With a Shout,” “I Threw a Brick Through a Window,” “Gloria,” “Rejoice,” and “October.” The show also featured “Fire” which was on the album, but had made its live debut in the USA tour earlier in the year. “I Fall Down” which had also been played in the earlier USA tour did not get played at this show. The show kicks off with Bono telling the crowd, “this is a song you haven’t heard before” and Larry going into the drums on “With A Shout.”

Introducing “I Threw A Brick Through A Window” Bono takes some time to make sure the press knows he wants some fair coverage of the event “I can tell ya, I can tell you about a special sort of person you get at this type of place, they’re called reporters, they come with notes, and pens in their hands. And they find somebody like that guy over there that’s throwing the bottles in the air. They take a photograph of him. Then they print the photograph. Then you all are throwing the bottle then! Do you see what I mean? We will ask, we will ask and I’m sure you’ll agree, any such reporters that have come to this place, to spoil our enjoyment of this occasion by bad mouthing it just to leave.” The song is still very rough and he seems to be making up some of the lyrics as he goes along. U2 has been struggling in the studio to finish the album, and are not well rehearsed but there are also technical issues. The song is followed by a couple of older ones, “An Cat Dubh” and “Into the Heart.”

“Gloria” is introduced as “Gloria Gloria” and the band struggles through the song. During the song Bono addresses the Edge to ask “Can you hear anything? I can’t! I got all these echoes in my ear…I’ve got these echoes in my ear.” Not only lack of rehearsal, but the sound system is giving them troubles at the venue leading to some of the issues that are happening. He introduces “Rejoice” by saying “Rejoice! You haven’t heard this one before, neither have we, this is the first time!” Like the other new songs, Bono is still making up words for the song, and it doesn’t reflect the lyrics that appear on the album. During the song he repeats a few times “on the sides of the hill — up!” trying to urge the crowd to their feet. A third new song in a row is “October” which opens with The Edge playing a long instrumental on piano. “Next week we’ll be finished a record called ‘October’ Edge is going to play you the title track.” The lyrics are significantly different than the album version of the song but the piano sounds as we know it. “October. When I fall down, I get up.”

During “Boy / Girl” Bono sings the snippet of “I’m A Believer” that he has been adding since the North American tour. Thanking the crowd at the end of “Out of Control” Bono says “Good nig…good afternoon, good night, thank you!” After the encore break, the band comes back to ask the crowd to sing “Happy Birthday” to Edge’s girlfriend Aislinn who is at the show, the crowd join in to sing, and the band goes into “Fire” as the crowd trails off. The show continues with “11 O’Clock Tick Tock” to the cheers of the crowd and finishes with “The Ocean”. Bono is changing up the lyrics on the opening of “The Ocean” as well, “Picture in blue, picture of you, just me, and you. I thought I could do it, I thought I would get it, just right, for you.”

Related News

Officially Released Tracks