It’s a little difficult to find the bands that U2 opened for. I have found various lists online, but none of them seem to be complete. There’s no real official list, there’s not really a simple way to find the bands, not without scrolling through show by show. I think the biggest band they opened for was Talking Heads (at least in my eyes, I’m a big Heads fan), most of the rest on the list are names I’ve never heard of.
The more interesting thing is to look at the list of bands that have opened for U2. In theory, at least in the latter days, this should have been a boost to their careers. A band that only opened once, maybe not, but someone who toured with them for more than a few shows ought to see something. Well, I say that, but I must admit of the probably dozen bands I’ve seen open for U2, I’ve never gone on and bought their music or tshirts or anything like that. Some of them I actually spent the time out in the concourse, didn’t really care for, one I remember standing in the back of the GA and thinking they were pretty good, and one I thought was terrible.
Sorting atu2’s list of opening acts by number of shows, I see that in second place is PJ Harvey, who just happens to be the terrible act I mentioned a minute ago. I also read a couple of weeks ago that she is now managed by Paul McGuinness, which might explain why she got the job. BB King is third, I saw him open a couple of times, really enjoyed that, what I remember of it. Of the rest, there are some well-known names, the fun part is looking at the list and checking to see how famous they were at the time. For example REM opened twice for U2, in 1985, which I think is before they got famous. Or Oasis, two shows in 1997, I think they were well-known by then. Even The Ramones, how cool would that have been for Bono?
Who are the others I saw? Damian Marley, that was one that I was out in the concourse for. Didn’t sound very interesting from out there, and I doubt it was much better inside. No Doubt, which I very much enjoyed,i had a friend who was a huge fan of theirs but I didn’t know much about them, but it was a good show. And Muse for 360, they were the guys who played while we stood at the back and enjoyed it. Still didn’t buy their stuff though.
This tour of course they have no opening act, and I think I like that. In general the opening act is there to warm up the crowd, but they usually don’t do that, the crowd is usually just booing or ignoring, waiting for them to get off the stage so U2 can come on. There are of course the small hardcore of fans, you hear tales of people who come to the show, watch the opening act then leave. I think that’s more urban legend though. But yeah, it’s been nice that you don’t have to deal with that, you know U2’s going to be on between 8.10 and 8.30 (and I think they’ve been starting later in recent shows, right?), and you can be ready for it. The music they play over the speakers is good (they have some Talking Heads mixed in), and it’s nice to be preparing for the show, just like the band do.