U2 performed as the headliners of the first night of the iHeartRadio Music Festival 2016. It is their first live appearance as a full band since 7 December 2015, the last show (to date?) of the Innocence + Experience Tour. In an interview broadcast before the show, Bono stated that U2’s next album will be out in 2017.
The show began with an electric version of Desire reminiscent of the Hollywood Mix. Apart from a few small acoustic gigs and impromptu performances, Desire has never opened a show before. During this performance, footage of Donald Trump was broadcast; Bono asked the audience “are you willing to gamble with the American dream?” Much like on ZooTV, fake money (with Donald Trump on them) was launched into the crowd – tonight it had Trump’s face and the slogan “make America hate again”. At the end of Desire, Bono asked “what do you have to lose? Everything!”
Bono returned repeatedly throughout the evening to his opposition to Trump. Pride had the usual IE Tour speech about “sing[ing] for the peacemakers”, but also included a video recording of Martin Luther King Jr. In conjunction with this footage, Bono called for the “spirit of non-violence, not just across this land, but across the world” and emphasized that “peace is not just the absence of violence – peace is love that gets organized. So get out and vote!” In One he revisited another staple of the IE Tour, that the USA is “not a country but an idea”, and again linked it to the threat posed by Trump. He reiterated that a person is not defined by their ethnicity or religion and thanked the audience for humouring him and his speech making.
One ended with the Hear Us Coming verse, which Bono has not sung for some time (I promise we will one day have full statistics for this like we do for Shine Like Stars in With Or Without You). Speaking of With Or Without You, it appears to have been listed as a ninth song, but the band ended on Still Haven’t Found. It was preceded by Every Breaking Wave, performed in the stripped down style of the IE Tour and dedicated to Ryan Tedder and to iHeartRadio for playing it. After U2 left the stage, the usual IE Tour opening song, Patti Smith’s People Have the Power, was played over the PA.
The set list drew largely on the band’s popular and established hits, with Every Breaking Wave the only song performed from the last ten years (U2gigs.com).