The first time U2 played 5 consecutive shows in a city was in 1984 in Australia, as part of The Unforgettable Fire tour. Remarkably, this was the first time U2 had performed in Australia. Originally, 3 shows were scheduled in both Sydney and Melbourne, but when they were quick to sell out (partly due to the success of the Red Rocks video release) U2 added 2 more nights to each city. The band played for a total of 60,000 fans within 6 days. The first show was positively received although U2 experienced some technical malfunctions during the show (Gloria was performed twice for this reason). As for the setlists, of which 4 of 5 are known, two nights (2 and 4) featured the same set of songs. U2 a total of 21 different songs, 16 of which were played every night. 92% of the setlist was similar across the 5 shows, the highest percentage in all runs of 5 shows or more.
With just one stop in Brisbane in between, U2 kicks off another five-night run in Melbourne, four days after the last show in Sydney. The venue was considerably smaller in Melbourne playing to just 35,000 fans. U2 took only a single day of rest in a period of 6 days. A 6th show was considered in Melbourne, but it didn't come to be. Several fans came on stage during these 5 shows, from girls running after Bono to a big skinhead which lifts Bono in his arms while holding him dangerously close to the edge of the stage before they break into a dance together. In response to a newspaper review of the first Sydney show, where the author questions "how this man can suggest we surrender in times like this?", Bono breaks into Surrender with the words: "To you I surrender, dance with me!". Two songs make their live debut during the fourth show - A Sort Of Homecoming and Wire - of which the latter surprisingly opened the show. 23 songs were played over these 5 nights, of which 16 shows were played every night. 88% of the setlist was similar every night, although only 4 of 5 setlists are known today.
The week of April 17, 1987 was an amazing week for U2; their single was number one on the Billboard's top 100, while U2 was shining on the cover of Time Magazine as "Rock's Hottest Tickets". These hottest tickets were valid for one of U2's 5 shows in Los Angeles, which again took place over a period of 6 days for a total of 74,176 fans. Despite the 5 shows, there was still a shortage of tickets with many scalpers taking advantage. The 3rd night saw Bob Dylan come on stage to perform I Shall Be Released & Knockin' On Heaven's Door with the band, while the 5th and final night featured a nice surprise which U2 would repeat later more times. While the PA system was still playing Stand By Me before the concert, Bono came on stage and started singing along, before the rest of the band followed and launched into a full version of the song to start the concert. Of the 5 setlists, 76% of the songs were similar across the nights, with U2 playing 17 songs every night of the 25 different songs (including 5 covers) they would play in Los Angeles. The Electric Co. made its tour debut during these shows, which also marked the first time it was performed live without "The Cry" as its intro since 1980.
The first leg of The Joshua Tree Tour came to an end with a 5-show run in May 1987 in East Rutherford, which followed the usual pattern of one day of rest in a period of 6 days. A total of 102,640 fans saw U2 perform a run which started the day after Bono's birthday, coincidentally the first show started with Bono's throat being a bit sore. Later in the show his soreness disappeared. The second show had Edge's baby Holly in the audience, who attended her very first U2 show leading Bono to dedicate People Get Ready to her. The fourth night appeared to be the most memorable, with Ali in the audience and the show ending up being the longest show of the tour (23 songs), part of which due to Trip Through Your Wires being performed twice as Bono was unhappy with the first performance. 81% of the setlists were the same across the 5 nights, with U2 ending up playing 16 of the same songs every night, as part of a total of 25 different songs (5 covers) played over the 5 shows.
While not playing 5 or more nights in a venue in the nineties, U2 chose New York as city to do the same thing as it had done a few times in the eighties, to play 5 consecutive shows in the same venue. It was October 2005 that U2 set out to play 5 shows in Madison Square Garden for the Vertigo tour over a period of 8 days. It went on to became five amazing shows with some special highlights. The first show marked the record of a show with the most songs performed from the How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb-album (9 songs), while it also was the first time With Or Without You closed a show since March 1992. The second night had Mary J. Blige come on stage to perform One along with U2. The second show got better reviews than the first, while the third show was a little less received due to Bono being a bit ill on the day of the show. The fourth and fifth show were very well received and even better rated, although some fans had higher expectations of the final night which didn't have "anything very special", although Vertigo closed the show while it also appeared earlier in the setlist. Setlist-wise, U2 played a total of 34 different songs over 5 nights, with 15 of them being a part of every show. Overall, these shows had a setlist similarity of 66%.
28 years after Rock’s Hottest Tickets U2 again set foot in Los Angeles to play 5 consecutive shows. The two runs couldn’t be more different, as in the night after the first show and the day of the second show, U2’s longtime tour manager Dennis Sheehan suddenly passed away. A fan who attended both shows described them as follows: “Night one, was a celebration. Night two, was a wake”. While the first show didn’t have many surprises, show two featured the tour debut of 40. The third show featured the tour debuts of Elevation and Stuck, the fourth show of All I Want Is You and the final show had the tour debuts of Volcano and Ordinary Love. All in all, these 5 shows had a total of 5 tour debuts and a staggering total of 12 songs which were only performed once, a record in the runs covered in this slideshow. On the other hand, of the in total 36 songs performed, 19 were performed every night, which is a shared highest (together with Chicago, 2015). The 5 shows had a setlist similarity of 65%, the lowest in all runs of 5 shows or more, also shared with the shows in Chicago in 2015.
Three weeks after U2 played 5 shows in Los Angeles for the Innocence and Experience tour, U2 did the same in Chicago. It turned out to be another amazing run of shows. The first show was very well received among fans and got great reviews. Bono had a bit of a cold during the second show which somewhat affected his performance of that night. The third and fourth show had two of the biggest surprises of the tour to that date: the tour debut of Gloria at night 3 and the live debut of The Crystal Ballroom at night 4. Night 5 was another celebration, a festive show which ended with 40. Setlist-wise, these 5 shows were almost identical to those in Los Angeles with a setlist similarity of just 65% and 36 different songs, of which 19 were played every night. A total of 11 songs were only performed once.
Before the shows in New York in 2015, Melbourne had the record of hosting the most consecutive U2 shows. In October 1989, U2 invaded Melbourne for a period of 10 days during which it performed a staggering total of 7 shows. U2 played to a total of 112,000 fans in a venue twice as big as where they've played 5 shows in 1984. There was even an 8th show printed in the official tour book a day after the 7th but this show never took place. As the shows happened, every night felt more special than the one before. The 3rd night featured the live debut of Van Diemen's Land, the 4th had the tour debut of Out Of Control and the longest show of the year (23 songs), while the 5th had Bono forgetting the lyrics to One Three Hill requiring Edge to help him out with singing in his ear off-mic. The 6th night had the Lovetown debut of Exit, the last time this song was played to this date. The final 7th day had fans listen to rehearsals outside in the afternoon, who then were invited inside by Bono. U2's crew directed them to seats in back of the stage and got them drinks, while arranging tickets for the fans who didn't have a ticket for the show. These fans then witnessed U2 rehearsing Dancing Barefoot, making these fans the only fans ever who ever saw U2 performing this song live, as it never appeared in concert. Setlist-wise, U2 played 31 different songs of which just 11 were played every night, the lowest in this slideshow. U2 had a setlist similarity of 68% across the 7 shows.
In July 2015, U2 played a record-breaking 8 consecutive shows for the first time in their career . The 7th show was also their 25th performance at The Garden. These nights proved to be magical, as U2 put on 8 amazing shows. The shows were marked by the appearance of many guests on stage who got to sing along with U2: Jimmy Fallon, Lady Gaga, Paul Simon and on the final night Bruce Springsteen. With regards to the setlists, the New York shows had it all. On the entire first leg of the Innocence and Experience tour U2 played a total of 48 songs, of which 42 (89%) were played at least once in New York. Of these 42, they played 20 songs every night whereas 13 songs made just one appearance, a record in all shows featured in this slideshow. Overall, the setlists in New York had a similarity percentage of 65%, as was also the case in Los Angeles and Chicago earlier that year. By the end of July 2015 these 8 shows made their way into U2's history as the longest run of consecutive shows ever in a city.
U2 in total played 9 runs of 5 consecutive shows or more in a city during their career. If you take a look at the setlist similarity, you can clearly see a (positive) drop in similarity from the eighties to the post-2000 shows. Another difference between the eighties and post-2000 shows is that, as U2 has more material to play, they play more different songs during these longer runs, of which many are only played once. This adds to the excitement for those attending all shows of a single run of shows, as it is likely there is at least one song that is only played once during every show.
Sydney, 5 shows (1984): 21 songs, 16 played every night, 1 only once (92% similarity)
Melbourne, 5 shows (1984): 23 songs, 16 every night, 3 once (88% similarity)
Los Angeles, 5 shows (1987): 25 songs, 17 every night, 6 once (76% similarity)
East Rutherford, 5 shows (1987): 25 songs, 17 every night, 6 once (81% similarity)
Melbourne, 7 shows (1989): 34 songs, 11 every night, 5 once (68% similarity)
New York, 5 shows (2005): 34 songs, 15 every night, 10 once (66% similarity)
Los Angeles, 5 shows (2015): 36 songs, 19 every night, 12 once (65% similarity)
Chicago, 5 shows (2015): 36 songs, 19 every night, 11 once (65% similarity)
New York, 8 shows (2015): 42 songs, 20 every night, 13 once (65% similarity)