In Profile: U2 (1983)


1983 began with the release of a single “New Years Day”, taken from the forthcoming album, “War”. A promotional video had been filmed to support that release. Directed by Meiert Avis, the promo was filmed on 15th and 16th December in Sälen, northern Sweden. The single would peak at number 10 in the U.K. (53 on the Billboard charts).

U2 – New Years Day Single
Recorded at Windmill Lane studio, Dublin
Produced by Steve Lillywhite
Label: Island

Side 1 – New Years Day (8)
Side 2 – Treasure (Whatever Happened To Pete The Chop?) (6)

On February 26th the band embarked upon the first leg of the “War Tour”, with 29 dates in England, Scotland, Wales and ending in France at The Festival In Printemps, Bourges on April 3rd.

U2’s third studio LP, “War”, was released on February 28th. Produced once again by Steve Lillywhite, the album would be the band’s first U.K. number one and top 10 in the U.S.

U2 – War Album
Produced by Steve Lillywhte
Label – Island

Here’s The Hackskeptic’s review of “War”.

U2 – War (1983): Review

During March The Edge teamed up with P.I.L bass player Jah Wobble and ex Can founder Holger Czukay for the mini LP “Snake Charmer”.

On March 18th the band played five songs on the popular live U.K. TV show “The Tube”, performing “New Years Day”, “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, “Gloria”, “I Will Follow” and “40”.

On March 21st a second single from “War” was released. In the U.K, U.S and Australia “Two Hearts Beat As One”, whilst in The Netherlands and West Germany “Sunday Bloody Sunday”. The flip side for both songs was “Endless Deep”.

U2 – Two Hearts Beat As One Single
Recorded at Windmill Lane studio
Producer Steve Lillywhite
Label: Island

Side 1 – Two Hearts Beat As One (8)
Side 2 – Endless Deep (6)

U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday single
Recorded at Windmill Lane studio
Produced by Steve Lillywhite
Label – Island

Side 1 – Sunday Bloody Sunday (9)
Side 2 – Endless Deep (6)

On March 30th the band made an appearance on chart TV show Top Of The Pops, promoting “Two Hearts Beat As One.”

Between April 23rd and June 29th the band embarked on the second leg of the “War” tour, playing 47 dates in the United States and Canada.

Their June 5th show at the Red Rocks Ampitheatre, Denver, Colorado would be filmed in its entirety for a commercial video release titled “Under A Blood Red Sky.”

Following the completion of the North American tour the band would play a number of European festivals. On July 12th guitarist The Edge would marry Aislinn O’Sullivan in Enniskerry. Bono would be best man, and the newly wed couple honeymooned in Sri Lanka.

In August, Irish Prime Minister Garrett Fitzgerald invited Bono to become involved in a select Government action committee handling unemployment.

November 7th saw the release of U2’s first live LP. The eight song “Under A Blood Red Sky” would contain live recordings from concerts in Denver, Boston and Sankt Goarshausen, Germany. Produced by Jimmy Iovine the album would peak at number 2 in the U.K., and 28 in the U.S.

U2 – Under A Blood Red Sky album
Produced by Jimmy Iovine
Label – Island

From November 22nd to 30th the band would play 6 shows in Japan, their first in Asia.

In Profile: U2 (1976 -79)

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In Profile: U2 (1982)

10 responses to “In Profile: U2 (1983)

  1. I think I”ve written about this- maybe you agree or disagree but I’ve always thought around this time -1983 that The Alarm and U2 were pretty much neck and neck. U2- then exploded and The Alarm hung in their for a while but never came close to reaching U2’s level of success. Better songs in the long run? More ambition? Maybe I am just wrong but I listen to The Alarm’s best of and I think- how did this group not get bigger?

    • Unfortunately for The Alarm, the press always treated them as in the slipstream of U2 and their records were reviewed in comparison. There was a point in the early 80s when they could have been a bigger band, but I think they failed to adapt, which of course U2 did

  2. It’s interesting, but I DO feel that 1983 was a critical year in post punk, a number of bands were struggling, confused, in decline, and of course personal preference is by definition personal, but at no point did the Alarm EVER represent a viable option to U2, the Bunnymen, Big Country, Simple Minds, the Cure, New Order etc., not knocking them per se, but U2 at this point kicked the knackers of them all in terms of fearless ambition, innocence, and fanbase. 1983 was the year we lost U2 to the world, we mourned, as we’d bought Boy, worshipped October, and saw the trendies celebrate the new year. War was the weakest LP by a kilometre, yet propelled the band into the mainstream. Thankfully it lead to the Unforgettable Fire, U2 went to the big school and became popular rock’s Ian Ogilvie ( one for the Michael Palin fan club). These guys lived our nearly twenty something dreams, still playing guitars, still tearing hearts apart, about to conquer the world!

    • Thanks Kenny, I agree that for better or worse “War” was the point where they put on big boy trousers, but the music that accompanied the album was similar to both “Boy” and “October”. You’re right, “The Unforgettable Fire” sounds like a completely different band and without it there would have never been “The Joshua Tree” and eventual world dominance. By 1987 though, they couldn’t be considered a post punk band…or could they?

      • I really think that 1983-4 was the end of post punk, remember we’re on the cusp of Live Aid, and the electronic pop acts’ dominance leading to the trite top forty tripe of today left U2 with their last two major statements to make before setting off to seek new styles, new fashions and new technology, whilst really forgetting who they are and most importantly, the songs. Question: how many punk bands made it into and through post punk unscathed?

    • It’s this, and I don’t want this. It does disturb me but I’m a professional and I’ll rise above it. Any how, it is an amazing observation that many punk/post punk/ new wave bands are now celebrating 40th anniversaries, after imploding or exploding, disappearing or dying, with hardly any original personnel, and we lap it up! U2 and the Sex Pistols are a rare commodity, in that they are still able (if they choose, Mr Lydon) to entertain as their original line up. Which brings me neatly back to my question ; are they unscathed in 2017?

      • U2 are a completely different band now, in every aspect. The Pistols are trading off their past, but I guess they’ve always attempted to maintain their original identity.

      • I agree with you Hackskeptic, and there’s the real rub. Is it better for a band to burn brightly and die, or continue beyond their years, declining in relevance and diminishing in quality? How do you live a long life in rock? The Beatles were amazing for near on ten years, the Stones haven’t been amazing (for me) since 1979, and U2 are suffering by searching for a place in modern music that I don’t think suits them, and a fear of falling from the pedestal to mere mortality where they might perhaps find their personal mojos rather than have to mollycoddle the masses. And look at The Fall… Still brilliant, still on their own terms entirely, still sounding like no-one else, half the time unrecognisable as themselves, but still unique. What if Mark E. Smith had taken the band to the stadia of the world in the mid 80’s – would they be burned out and pointless?

      • I like your point about The Fall Kenny. In the mid 80s when Brix was playing wife and guitarist they were getting close to the mainstream, which would have probably finished the band. Smith stuck to his principles (or non principles) and led them on his own terms, producing music that he likes (and the hardy fans agree to).

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