Milestones: U2’s ZOO TV Tour opened 20 years ago tonight — see news footage, dress rehearsal

Twenty years ago tonight, U2 opened its ZOO TV Tour in Lakeland, Fla. — debuting a high-tech stage show that not only redefined the Irish rockers, but changed the way arena and stadium tours have been staged ever since, incorporating dazzling visual imagery and extending the performance space out into the audience.

For U2, the Feb. 29, 1992, tour opener was the band’s first U.S. concert in five years, and it represented a new look at the “new U2″ — and an almost unheard-of focus on new material by an arena-level act. The band opened with eight straight songs off its current album, Achtung Baby, and played a total of 10 of that album’s tracks that night.

As Bono told news crews after the show, “We might lose some of the pop kids, but… we don’t need them” — an attitude that carried the band through the ’90s, only to be abandoned in the 2000s.

There’s surprisingly little footage of that first show to be found online, but, above, you can check out a four-minute, Kurt Loder-hosted MTV News report on the Lakeland concert. And, below, we’ve assembled a playlist featuring a dress rehearsal of much of the show — the Achtung opening run, plus most of the encore — that was performed two days earlier, on Feb. 27, 1992, to a nearly empty arena (individual tracks can be seen at Slicing Up Video).

Share your ZOO TV memories in the comments below. Who’s still got their Bono bucks?

 

VIDEO: U2, ZOO TV dress rehearsal, Lakeland, FL, 2/27/92

 

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11 Comments

  • Great momments remembering ZOO TV TOUR.
    I saw one show: Zoo TV Tour live at San Sebastian (SPAIN) 05/14/1992 (it was the 2nd U2′s concert in Spain after Madrid’87).
    Everything was new, amazing, i didn’t know where to look: screens, trabants, group…
    I specially remember the acoustic set: angel of harlem (inc. Abba’s Dancing Queen) + Spanish Eyes + Satellite of Love…
    JUST THE BEST SHOW IN MY LIFE!!

     
  • still got my Bono bucks and a sign from a newspaper machine that reads ‘the zoo starts here!’ was at the lakeland show, and the next three shows after… this was a magical evening!

     
  • I didn’t make it to night #1 in Lakeland, but i was at show #2 in Miami on 3/1/1992.

    What I remember most about the show actually had to do with the openers, The Pixies. I’d seen the Pixies numerous times already (huge fan) and this night was easily their worst performance ever. The band was self-combusting on stage, arguing, not completing songs, and generally just making asses of themselves.
    U2 were fantastic though. :) They hadn’t COMPLETELY jumped-the-shark at this point (though almost).

     
  • Sandy Alonso

    I was at this show – the band was in Lakeland for over a week and my roommate and I were there every day. We were invited (with about 40-50 other fans) to sit in and see the dress rehearsal…I can’t help but wonder if this isn’t the same dress rehearsal captured on video here. I remember we were given strict instructions to sit in our seats and stay quiet, otherwise we’d be booted out. Just an amazing time and show.

     
    • Sandy, wow i thought i would never run into someone who was at the same dress rehearsal. There was only 40-50 of us, even though U2s propaganda magazine reported 75-100. We couldn’t take cameras and couldn’t clap or make a sound. Bono stopped singing about 7 songs in, and we had to leave. On the way out i really had to go, so they stopped and let me into the bathroom while everyone waited … in walks Willie, so i got to pee next to him LOL. Afterwards, the band continued to rehearsal without bono, edge sang lead for the remaining set. I too was there all week … you wouldn’t be part of our group who did the message on the night be before opening night that almost got me arrested????

       
  • Pete Skaggs

    Absolutely brilliant.

     
  • Frank

    Hands down – best tour ever. Saw it three times indoors (Paris, Dortmund and Rotterdam) and then another four times outdoors (Rotterdam and Nijmegen). All of these were f***ing amazing!

     
  • Scott

    I saw the ZooTV show a number of times. Never did get a Bono Buck. Some of the best shows I have ever seen. Unforgettable!

     
  • saw march 31 chicago rosemont – remember being in the nosebleeds and thinking it was the best way to actually see it. was blown away how the entire crowd – the entire night – was on their feet. then, saw the outside broadcast in september with that awesome bush footage…we will, we will, we will rock you

     
  • I still have my Bono bucks from their Miami appearance that year. Not only that, but I worked as a temporary stage hand and helped build the stage at Joe Robbie Stadium. It took us three days to bust our humps and I carried more metal pipes that I can count. The concert was amazing, and I will never forget the day-glo painted car that was hoisted up over the stage. It was a concert I will never forget! @ Dane I completely forgot about the Pixies, not hard to imagine why. :)

     
 

 

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