The Unforgettable Fire Tour
Tour by U2
U2 - The Unforgettable Fire Tour poster.png
LocationOceania, Europe, North America
Associated albumThe Unforgettable Fire
Start date29 August 1984
End date7 July 1985
No. of shows110
U2 concert chronology

The Unforgettable Fire Tour was a concert tour by Irish rock band U2 that took place in 1984 and 1985 in support of band's album The Unforgettable Fire. Beginning in August 1984 with the band's first tour to Australia and New Zealand, the tour spanned four further legs which included 43 concerts in Europe and 50 in North America.

Initially challenged by the sonic complexity of the new album's material, the band were able to translate the complex layered atmospheric textures of the new studio-recorded tracks to live performance through the use of programmed sequencers, which the band until then had been reluctant to use. Since then sequencers are now used on the majority of U2 songs in performance. Songs criticised as being "unfinished", "fuzzy" and "unfocused" on the album, including the live favourite, "Bad", made more sense on stage.

For the first time, U2 consistently played in arenas instead of smaller halls and theatres, and sometimes for multiple nights. The group had reached the level of popularity where this was possible, but had not yet broken out into widespread fame and familiarity among the general rock and pop audience; that would come in 1987 with the release of The Joshua Tree. The band's now renowned performance at Live Aid in July 1985, was watched by millions on television and brought them to a new level of fame and exposure.


Leg 1: Under Australian Skies

U2 performing in Sydney in September 1984
U2 performing in Sydney in September 1984

Dubbed the leg "Under Australian Skies",[1] the band's first tour of Australia and New Zealand took place between The Unforgettable Fire's completion and its release. Plans to visit the two countries were discussed in 1982, and the band had intended to play there in late 1983 but were too tired from the War Tour. Although it had taken years to build up an audience through constant touring in Europe and North America, the band started playing sports arenas straightaway in Australia and New Zealand. The first show was on 29 August 1984 at the Town Hall Auditorium in Christchurch.[2]

Six shows were added when the first nine sold out. 60,000 tickets were sold for five sell-out shows at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, which was the band's largest audience to date in a single city.[1] Not having had time to rehearse the new album's songs for live performance, and as they had never played the two countries before, the band played a setlist based on the previous "War Tour". New songs from the album were rehearsed during soundchecks, and "Pride (In the Name of Love)"—which was released as the album's first single in August—and "The Unforgettable Fire" were played from the fourth date onwards.[1] The final Australian show was on 24 September 1984 at Perth Entertainment Centre, and The Unforgettable Fire was released on 1 October 1984.[1]

Leg 2: Europe

The tour's second leg consisted of 21 shows in halls and arenas in Western Europe, and ran during October and November 1984.[3] Following the largely War Tour setlist and presentation of the first leg, the band adapted the shows to the dreamy nature of the new album, and transformed the visual nature of the show. Pursuing a more subtle stage presentation, the band relied more on the moods transcending from the music and lighting as opposed to Bono's active stage antics of previous tours.[4] When "The Unforgettable Fire" song was played, for example, slides with Japanese writings and lithographs from the exhibit from which the song takes its name were projected onto a white backdrop. During "New Years Day", long white banners were lowered from the ceiling, and during "Pride", a portrait of Martin Luther King Jr. was projected. While illustrating the songs, the images were intended to bridge the gap between the audience rather than having Bono run around the stage.[4]

The leg was initially meant to start in Rotterdam on 1 October, the day of the album's release, but concerts between 1 and 17 October were postponed until 1985 or cancelled to allow U2 more time to rehearse the new songs. Translating the complex layered atmospheric textures of the new studio-recorded tracks to live performance proved a serious challenge.[1] One solution was programmed sequencers, which the band until then had been reluctant to use, on sonically elaborate new songs such as "The Unforgettable Fire" and "Bad". Since then sequencers are now used on the majority of U2 songs in performance.[1] Songs criticised as being "unfinished", "fuzzy" and "unfocused" on the album, made more sense on stage. Rolling Stone, for example, critical of the album version of "Bad", described its live performance as a 'show stopper'.[5]

Leg 3: North America

The third leg was 10 dates in major United States cities in December 1984, and was intended to gain positive notices in the press and provide a teaser of a major American tour in the first half of 1985. While a couple of shows were in arenas, most shows were in halls and theatres and demand for tickets significantly outstripped supply indicating that U2 would no longer be able to play these smaller venues.[6]

Leg 4: Europe

After a five-week break, the band returned to Western Europe for 13 shows in January and February 1985, playing cities that had been missed on the previous European leg, including replacement shows for those cancelled in October 1984. The leg included 5 shows in West Germany and the band's first concert in Italy.[7]

Leg 5: North America

The fifth leg comprised 40 shows, in 29 cities in the United States and Canada. It ran from late February to early May 1985, and was played solely in arenas for the first time, with multiple nights in many of the locations.[8]

The band had reached the level of popularity where this was possible, but had not yet broken out into widespread fame and familiarity among the general rock and pop audience; that would come in 1987 with the release of The Joshua Tree. The Unforgettable Fire Tour popularity level is sometimes referred to as "mass cult", and is similar to, say, what Bruce Springsteen had on his River Tour before Born in the U.S.A. or what Metallica had on their Damaged Justice tour before their Black Album. It made for intense concerts in this instance, because it provided a very large but fully devoted audience, with fans standing on chairs for the entire performance and continuing "40" refrains long after the show was over.

Leg 6: European Summer Festivals

U2 received 12 invitations to play from European festival promoters of which they played nine from late May through to mid July 1985. Also in this period, they played a homecoming concert at Dublin's Croke Park, their first headlining show in a stadium.[9]

Live Aid

See also: Live Aid

U2 participated in the Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium for Ethiopian famine relief on 13 July 1985.[10] During the song "Bad", Bono leapt down off the stage to embrace and dance with a fan. Initially thinking they'd "blown it", it was a breakthrough moment for the band, showing a television audience of millions the personal connection that Bono could make with audiences.[11]

All of U2's albums re-entered the charts in the UK after their performance. In 1985, Rolling Stone called U2 the "Band of the 80's", saying that "for a growing number of rock-and-roll fans, U2 have become the band that matters most, maybe even the only band that matters."[12]


A fashion industry friend of Clayton's, Marian Smyth, was contacted to organise a concert wardrobe for the band. She shopped in London, Paris, and Florence and showed the band her suggestions during their May 1984 recording sessions at Slane Castle. When the band asked her for advice for someone to go manage their wardrobe on tour, she nominated herself.[13]

Some Unforgettable Fire numbers were not even attempted, although "4th of July" was played over the PA as an introduction and cue for the band.

A performance of "Bad", from National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham on 11 November 1984, was released on the Wide Awake in America EP in May 1985, and was chosen by many radio programmers for airplay over the studio version. "Bad" was also the highlight of the Live Aid performance mentioned above, and has continued to be played up through the band's 360° Tour. After being played relatively rarely during the Innocence and Experience tour, It was resurrected (with snippets of Simon & Garfunkel's "America") for the Joshua Tree Tours 2017 and 2019.

As with all U2 tours from 1983 on, the stage and lighting design for The Unforgettable Fire Tour was done by Willie Williams. In this case, the stage was plain and the lighting was very austere, mostly all white except when use of colour would be meaningful.

Supporting acts

Red Rockers and Lone Justice split the opening act assignment during the long North American leg. Matt Finish supported the band in Australia, the Mockers in New Zealand. Waterboys supported for UK dates.

Tour dates

Date City Country Venue Tickets sold / available Revenue
Leg 1: Oceania (Under Australian Skies)[1]
29 August 1984 Christchurch New Zealand Christchurch Town Hall
31 August 1984 Wellington Show Building
1 September 1984 Auckland Logan Campbell Centre
2 September 1984
4 September 1984 Sydney Australia Sydney Entertainment Centre
5 September 1984
6 September 1984
8 September 1984
9 September 1984
11 September 1984 Brisbane Brisbane Festival Hall
13 September 1984 Melbourne Sports and Entertainment Centre
14 September 1984
15 September 1984
17 September 1984
18 September 1984
20 September 1984 Adelaide Apollo Entertainment Centre
21 September 1984
23 September 1984 Perth Perth Entertainment Centre
24 September 1984
Leg 2: Europe[3]
18 October 1984 Lyon France Halle Tony Garnier
19 October 1984 Marseille Marseilles Stadium
20 October 1984 Toulouse Palais des Sports
22 October 1984 Bordeaux Patinoire
23 October 1984 Nantes St Herblain
25 October 1984 Paris Espace Ballard
27 October 1984 Brussels Belgium Forest National
28 October 1984
30 October 1984 Rotterdam Netherlands Ahoy
31 October 1984
2 November 1984 London England Brixton Academy
3 November 1984
5 November 1984 Edinburgh Scotland Playhouse
6 November 1984 Glasgow Barrowlands
7 November 1984
9 November 1984 Manchester England Apollo
10 November 1984
12 November 1984 Birmingham National Exhibition Centre
14 November 1984 London Wembley Arena
15 November 1984
21 November 1984 Dortmund West Germany Westfalenhallen
Leg 3: North America[6]
1 December 1984 Upper Darby United States Tower Theater
2 December 1984 Worcester The Centrum 11,058 / 11,058 $144,029
3 December 1984 New York City Radio City Music Hall 5,874 / 5,874 $91,146
5 December 1984 Washington, D.C. DAR Constitution Hall
7 December 1984 Toronto Canada Massey Hall
8 December 1984 Detroit United States Fox Theatre
9 December 1984 Cleveland Music Hall
11 December 1984 Chicago Aragon Ballroom 5,500 / 5,500 $66,480
15 December 1984 San Francisco Civic Auditorium 8,472 / 8,472 $114,780
16 December 1984 Long Beach Long Beach Arena 13,974 / 13,974 $179,978
Leg 4: Europe[7]
23 January 1985 Drammen Norway Drammenshallen
25 January 1985 Stockholm Sweden Stockholm Ice Stadium
26 January 1985 Gothenburg Scandinavium
28 January 1985 Hamburg West Germany Kongresszentrum
29 January 1985 Offenbach Stadthalle Offenbach
31 January 1985 Cologne Sporthalle
1 February 1985 Mannheim Musensaal
2 February 1985 Munich Rudi-Sedlmayer-Halle
4 February 1985 Milan Italy Teatro Tenda Lampugnano
5 February 1985 Bologna Teatro Tenda
6 February 1985
8 February 1985 Zürich Switzerland Hallenstadion
10 February 1985 Paris France Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy
Leg 5: North America[8]
25 February 1985 Dallas United States Reunion Arena
26 February 1985 Austin Frank Erwin Center 11,633 / 11,633 $133,339
27 February 1985 Houston The Summit
1 March 1985 Phoenix Compton Terrace
2 March 1985 Los Angeles Sports Arena 45,071 / 45,071 $648,014
4 March 1985
5 March 1985
7 March 1985 Daly City Cow Palace 29,000 / 29,000 $391,500
8 March 1985
11 March 1985 Honolulu Neal S. Blaisdell Arena 8,178 / 8,850 $110,402
17 March 1985 Denver McNichols Sports Arena 17,457 / 17,457 $217,464
19 March 1985 Minneapolis Minneapolis Auditorium
21 March 1985 Chicago University of Illinois Pavilion
22 March 1985
23 March 1985 Detroit Joe Louis Arena
25 March 1985 Richfield Richfield Coliseum
27 March 1985 Montreal Canada Montreal Forum
28 March 1985 Toronto Maple Leaf Gardens 17,000 / 17,000 $225,403
30 March 1985 Ottawa Ottawa Civic Centre
1 April 1985 New York City United States Madison Square Garden
2 April 1985 Providence Providence Civic Center 13,349 / 13,349 $169,569
3 April 1985 Uniondale Nassau Coliseum
8 April 1985 Landover Capital Centre
9 April 1985 Pittsburgh Civic Arena 16,049 / 16,049[14]
10 April 1985 Hampton Hampton Coliseum
12 April 1985 East Rutherford Brendan Byrne Arena 61,715 / 61,715 $786,957
14 April 1985
15 April 1985
16 April 1985 Worcester The Centrum 37,416 / 37,416 $482,391
18 April 1985
19 April 1985
20 April 1985 Hartford Hartford Civic Center 15,606 / 15,506 $203,869
22 April 1985 Philadelphia Spectrum 18,455 / 18,455 $233,031
23 April 1985 Hartford Hartford Civic Center 15,606 / 15,506 $203,869
24 April 1985 Philadelphia Spectrum 18,455 / 18,455 $233,031
29 April 1985 Atlanta The Omni
30 April 1985 Jacksonville Jacksonville Memorial Coliseum
2 May 1985 Tampa Sun Dome 10,907 / 11,200 $147,244
3 May 1985 Pembroke Pines Hollywood Sportatorium
4 May 1985
Leg 6: European Summer Festivals[9]
25 May 1985 Nürburg West Germany Nürburgring
26 May 1985 Stuttgart Neckarstadion
27 May 1985 Münster Freigelande Halle Munsterland
1 June 1985 Basel Switzerland St. Jakob Stadium
22 June 1985 Milton Keynes England Milton Keynes Bowl
29 June 1985 Dublin Ireland Croke Park
6 July 1985 Torhout Belgium Torhout Festival
7 July 1985 Werchter Werchter Festival
Leg 7: Live Aid
13 July 1985 London England Wembley Stadium

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g de la Parra (2003), pp. 52–54
  2. ^ "U2 > Tours > Unforgettable Fire".
  3. ^ a b Parra (2003), pp. 55–58
  4. ^ a b de la Parra (2003), p. 55
  5. ^ Henke, James (18 July 1985). "''Wide Awake in America'' Album Review". Rolling Stone. No. 452/453 Summer Double Issue.
  6. ^ a b Parra (2003), pp. 58–60
  7. ^ a b de la Parra (2003), pp. 60–62
  8. ^ a b de la Parra (2003), pp. 63–69
  9. ^ a b de la Parra (2003), pp. 69–72
  10. ^ Live Aid: A Look Back At A Concert That Actually Changed The World Retrieved 31 October 2006.
  11. ^ Parra (2003), pp. 72–73
  12. ^ U2, the Only Band that Mattered in the '80s? Retrieved 31 January 2007
  13. ^ McGee (2008), p. 75
  14. ^ Civic Arena