U2 2023 In Review

Original Story (2023-12-31)

Each year we like to take a little look back at the year that has just passed, looking at the major releases from U2, their collaborators, and other related projects. 2023 has been a busy year with the final shows of Bono’s book tour, the release of Songs of Surrender and the new single “Atomic City” and the first twenty five shows at Sphere. We took a look at those Sphere shows earlier in the week, today we’ll take a look at many of the other projects we saw throughout 2023.

We’ll start by going through U2’s releases for the year, followed by other U2 related releases and solo projects. We’ll then take some time to look back at U2’s performances, promotion of the Songs of Surrender album, subscription gifts, the Zoo Station exhibit in Las Vegas and some U2 related films. Then we’ll look at updates to U2’s YouTube channel for 2023, and a quick look at the U2 X-Radio station for 2023. We’ll wrap it up with a look at our own site for the year, as well as links to prior year updates that we’ve completed.

Let’s dive right in with the U2 releases for 2023…


Songs of Surrender Album

During Covid lockdowns, The Edge started work recreating U2 songs. The project grew to include 40 songs, and became tied in to Bono’s book project via the chapter headings of that project. Initially planned for a November 2022 release (check your vinyl, 2022 is listed on the back on some versions), the album was eventually pushed back to a March 17, 2023 release instead. Three main configurations were released, a 16-track basic version of the album, a 20-track version of the album with four bonus tracks, and a 40-track deluxe box set. Although rumoured for nearly a year before its release, the album was finally announced in January. The announcement? Via 40 letters sent out to fans of the band around the world. The letters, handwritten by The Edge, appeared in countries around the world in early January. A day later, the track list was also announced via a special hunt on Spotify, songs on the new album had updated video content showing the album name in Morse code. Fans were surprised by the number of vinyl versions, as U2 took the marketing path many other current artists have done by releasing a number of coloured vinyl formats. In the end 11 versions of the 2-disc set on vinyl were done in a number of colours. The rarest, in “seaglass blue” was pressed at 1500 copies. The most difficult to find however seems to have been the version done in conjunction with Notre Dame University (pressed at 2500 copies.) The album entered the UK charts at #1, giving them their 11th number one album, tying them with the Rolling Stones. Only The Beatles have had more number one albums as a group.

“Atomic City” Single

  • Discography Entry: “Atomic City“ Single – U2
  • Discography Entry: “Atomic City“ Promotional Single – U2

One of the bigger stories this year has been Larry Mullen’s health, which has kept him from performing with the band at their concerts at Sphere. A series of surgeries has taken place to repair damage from years of drumming. And in September the band were able to show that Mullen is on the path to recovery, with a newly recorded song, and video filmed in the streets of Las Vegas. The video also shows us Mullen on stage at Sphere. The song itself is an ode to Las Vegas, released to tie in with the launch of the shows there. It’s the first commercial single released physically outside of Record Store Day events in 14 years. The last standalone single outside of those was 2009’s “I’ll Go Crazy if I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight”. “Atomic City” has made an impact in the charts, allowing U2 to take the lead with the most number ones on Billboard’s Adult Alternative Airplay chart. It also gave U2 their first number one on the Alternative Digital Song Sales chart on Billboard. In the UK the recent physical singles release, as well as the digital release of a new remix saw the song hit #10 in the Singles Sales Charts, reaching #5 in the Physical Singles Chart, and #4 in the Vinyl Singles Chart.

“Atomic City” (Mike WiLL Made-It Remix)

Three months after the main version of “Atomic City” was released, a second version was issued on December 13, this time remixed by American record producer and rapper, Mike WiLL Made-It. The song was released on all streaming platforms and digital platforms. The regular version was released the week of the first shows at Sphere, and the remix was released the final week in 2023 that the band was performing at Sphere. The name of the producer may not ring a bell immediately for U2 fans, but it is not the first time he’s worked on a track with the band. 2017’s “XXX” by Kendrick Lamar featuring U2 was also produced by Mike WiLL Made-It.

Bono and The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming with David Letterman

IMAGE: Promotional kit for Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming with Dave Letterman

One of the highlights of 2023 was this special, featuring Bono and the Edge speaking with David Letterman about songs, part of the promotion for Songs of Surrender. The special, streamed on Disney+ starting on March 17, also featured footage of Bono and The Edge performing at two locations, the Ambassador Theatre in Dublin Ireland (December 14, 2022) and McDaid’s Pub in Dublin (December 15, 2022). They were joined by a number of other musicians to perform U2 songs at both these evenings. The film also sees Letterman visiting locations in Dublin, interviewing Bono, The Edge, as well as Glen Hansard, and acting as an MC at the Ambassador theatre show, speaking with the audience between takes. At the end of the special is a new song composed by Bono and The Edge, “Forty Foot Man”. The special has been put forth for Emmy Awards, with boxed sets being sent to television influences, and has picked up one nomination for sound. Initially, the special was only available on Disney+ but in May got a wider release on Hulu in the United States. The film also debuted at the Orpheum Theatre and Bono and The Edge were on hand to take questions and even gave a brief performance of “Forty Foot Man”.

Record Store Day Releases

There were two releases done for Record Store Day events this year. Both celebrated 40th anniversaries. Up first was a 40th anniversary single for “Two Hearts Beat as One”, which also featured “Sunday Bloody Sunday”. Both of these singles had been released at the same time, in different territories, in 1983, and this year they were celebrated together. The single did not include any new material however, featuring the Songs of Surrender version of both songs on one side, and the original versions on the other. The other release was for Record Store Day’s Black Friday event. This time around it was a new remaster of Under A Blood Red Sky on red vinyl. The same edit as the 2008 version is used, however, sound levels have been tweaked to fix a few issues in that earlier release. With the release on red vinyl, U2 have re-issued all of their albums on coloured vinyl in recent years except for War, Rattle and Hum, Original Soundtracks 1 (Passengers), and All That You Can’t Leave Behind. Unlike most of their Record Store Day releases, Under A Blood Red Sky was also made available on streaming services and digital store fronts.

Zooropa 30

U2 also celebrated the 30th anniversary of Zooropa this year with a special vinyl release on yellow transparent vinyl. The record used the 2018 master of the album, previously available on black and then on blue vinyl. The newest version however, is released in a gatefold sleeve for the first time, and also is in a foil sleeve. The covers are reflective. Unlike Under A Blood Red Sky, a digital version was not made available this time. If you are looking for a digital version you’ll have to find one of the 2018 releases (black or blue vinyl) as those included a download card, which this new release does not.

Single Reissues

U2 have been cleaning up their releases on digital storefronts and streaming services, and making more of their catalog available through these services. In July 2022 the band released 11 newly mastered, and cleaned up digital singles, covering from 2004 to 2019. These featured cleaned up audio, and new cover art in some cases. In September 2022, one additional single was added, “Get Out Of Your Own Way”. This year the band added two additional singles to that list both as part of the 30th anniversary celebrations for Zooropa. In July 2023, a newly remastered version of “Lemon” was added to digital services including four tracks. And in August 2023, “Stay (Faraway, So Close!)” was also released as a five track single. Initially we were told that the Achtung Baby singles would be reissued as well this year, but plans shifted to a new single instead, with the band getting “Atomic City” finished prior to the opening of Sphere. Maybe we will see those soon?

Space Baby Site

One final U2 project to mention…as fans reached Las Vegas, people started talking about gorgeous, ambient mixes of U2’s Achtung Baby songs being played in Zoo Station, the shop and exhibit the band had set up at The Venetian. These mixes are also heard throughout the lobby of Sphere on show days, and also are heard outside of the building ahead of the show. Everyone is asking how to get these mixes. Fans are really enjoying them. While no traditional release has happened yet, U2 have made the mixes available via the Space Baby site, see the instructions listed in the discography link above if you have trouble finding them.

Other Releases

New Releases:

Peter & The Wolf was reworked by Gavin Friday in 2003, for a book and audio release. The pictured used throughout the book were painted by Bono, with help from his daughters Eve and Jordan. This year for the 20th anniversary, an animated film was developed from the book. This fall the special aired on Max (formerly HBO) in the US and later on RTE in Ireland. Bono appears at the start and end of the film in live action. And a new song is included over the final credits. The song, “There’s Nothing to Be Afraid Of” is co-written by Bono and Gavin Friday, and it is Friday that performs the song. The song was not included on the new soundtrack for Peter & The Wolf but is released as a standalone single (with the instrumental version) on digital services.

  • Discography Entry: Los Angeles Album – Tolhurst x Budgie x Jacknife Lee

The Edge features on two different songs on the album Los Angeles appearing on both “Train with No Station” and “Noche Oscura”. The album is a collaboration between longtime U2 producer Jacknife Lee, and Lol Tolhurst (The Cure) and Budgie (Siouxsie and the Banshees). The album came out in November.


A number of projects that U2 have been involved in over the years have been reissued in 2023 in various formats. It isn’t just U2 that are reissuing old releases to the market, most artists have been doing so over the years and this year was no different. Operating Theatre re-issued their 1986 single “Spring is Coming With a Strawberry in the Mouth“ on vinyl in March, featuring all five tracks from the original single produced by Bono, as well as a new remix of one of the songs.

The Produced by Tony Visconti boxset looks back on the career of producer Tony Visconti, featuring newly remastered versions of the songs he worked on throughout his career. Only one U2 song is present, the “live” version of “A Sort of Homecoming” recorded at a soundcheck at Wembley Arena. The track is newly remastered by Phil Kinrade under Visconti’s approval.

R.E.M.‘s Michael Stipe has spoken often about Bono’s contribution to the song “Walk Unafraid” from the album Up and this year to celebrate the 25th anniversary of that album it was newly released, including remastered tracks, and additional bonus materials. One of these bonus tracks is a newly released live version of “Walk Unafraid” recorded in Los Angeles in 1999.

With the loss of Tina Turner this year, Warner Brothers issued a compilation album Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll in November. The set, available on a variety of formats, includes “Goldeneye”, written by Bono and The Edge. The song is included on the 5LP and 3CD sets, but is not available on the single LP version of the compilation.

Over the last number of years, Universal Music has been selling a new version of The Greatest Christmas Songs each year, with each year bringing a new colour of vinyl for the pressing. It appears however, that 2022 was the final year for that compilation which had featured U2’s version of “I Believe in Father Christmas” and Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”. Seven of those songs do make it onto a new compilation this year, Christmas Collected including both U2 related tracks. Like the previous compilations, this one is on coloured vinyl and the 2023 release is on transparent green and transparent red vinyl.

The band could also be found on a new version of The Devil Wears Prada soundtrack, released on black and white marble vinyl, or on red with white marble vinyl. The soundtrack features “City of Blinding Lights”.

They also are featured on compilations from Universal Music: Nineties Collected Vol. 2 (Purple vinyl, “Stay (Faraway, So Close!)”), Now That’s What I Call Massive Hits & #1s (4xCD, “Vertigo”), Now Millennium ’00-‘01 (CD or vinyl, “Beautiful Day”), Now That’s What I Call Legendary (4xCD, “With or Without You”), Now Yearbook ’92 (CD or vinyl, “EBTTRT” (The Perfecto Remix)”), ‘90s Movie Hits Collected (Yellow vinyl, “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me”), New Wave of the ’80s Collected (Turquoise vinyl, “11 O’Clock Tick Tock”), and Fetenhits – The Real ’90s (CD or vinyl, “Discotheque”). Additionally the compilations Now Yearbook ’83 (“New Year’s Day), Now Yearbook ’84 (“Pride (In the Name of Love)” were both reissued in 2023 on vinyl.

Sphere and Other Shows

The big news for U2 throughout the year was Sphere, and the 40 shows they will play there. We covered those in an article earlier this week. Other live highlights this year were performances by Bono and The Edge, performing onstage with Antilya in London. The group is a Ukrainian based group, who Bono and The Edge had previously performed with in Ukraine last year. Bono and The Edge also made an appearance on Piano Room, playing Abba’s “S.O.S.” as well as their own music, and they also made a promotional appearance on the Tiny Desk Concerts series. Bono’s “Stories of Surrender” tour picked up again in April with a residency at the Beacon Theatre in New York, and a performance in Italy at the end of the run. The final performances at the Beacon were filmed, as was the Italian show, and those are expected to be released in 2024 to Apple’s iTunes. Portions of the show were filmed with new technology, which will allow an immersive experience when viewing using the new Apple glasses, so we expect that this will be released at the same time those glasses hit the market. You’ll be able to watch the show without that technology, but if you do own it, it will add additional views to watch the show.

Songs of Surrender was released in March, and included a wide variety of promotion for the album. One of our favourite, was the “40 Songs, 40 Cities“ promotion, which saw U2 set up geo-locations at 40 cities around the world. At each location one found a mural or a poster, or some other advertising for the album featuring a lyric from one of the 40 songs included on the album. And if you were at one of those locations you unlocked a special merchandise offer via U2.com. It was a fun hunt to locate these around the world. (The location in Germany offered goodie bags, while Toronto offered coasters for the event.) Another fun promotion was done via Spotify, where they updated the video for each song title on the album. U2’s way of announcing the track listing of the album in advance of the full announcement. They also did a series of 40 letters to fans across the globe to announced the album, which started arriving a few days before the official announcement. One promotional exercise was heavily criticized by fans, as U2 released multiple versions on coloured vinyl, sometimes limited in quantities, and almost always restricted in geographical availability. Thankfully the hunt was small compared to what some artists have done.

U2 also announced gifts for both 2023 and 2024 in their subscription package to U2.com. Two lyric books are being produced, containing the complete U2 lyrics, and will include images and other content. Although these were announced early in the year, it looks like U2.com will miss starting to ship the fan club gift in or before the year that it is for for the first time ever. As we write this it is December 31, and no shipping notifications have been sent to date. All that has been sent is a confusing request to “redeem” your gift which isn’t working for many subscribers. Looks like the 2023 gift will ship in 2024. Lets hope the 2024 book is underway already and will come out early.

One of the bigger items this year was the launch of Zoo Station in Las Vegas, a special pop-up space over two floors dedicated to U2. The space is 12,000 ft-squared over the two floors. The exhibition is curated by Gavin Friday and presented by Vibee, who are doing the VIP packages for the Sphere shows. The first floor space features an Anton Corbijn gallery of photos as you enter, which change over time. On your right you’ll find a Trabant surrounded by a wall of TVs, you can sit in and by pressing pedals and buttons can hear “So Cruel”. Toward the back of the exhibit is a B-stage, where you can pose with friends and instruments to make your own band photo. To the left is a photo booth with Zoo TV era icons, in a replica of a Berlin train car. In the centre is the Satellite of Love display allowing you to send messages home to loved ones, and there’s an extensive shop on the first floor as well. On the second floor is a large open space called the Ultra Violet Lounge. There is a bar to one side called The Fly Bar with a “paintable” Trabant and video displays, and there’s a smaller U2 merchandise stand in the space. Also present on the second floor is the Zoo TV Cinema.

The Cinema features a ticketed film experience. All of the films being shown are curated by The Edge and all have been remastered in sound to playback in Dolby Atmos sound. The films are showing in 4K, and those not natively at that size have been upscaled and mastered at this higher resolution for the best version of these films. Although many of the films have been released over the years, this Zoo TV Cinema is the only place you can see and hear these films in this quality. And there are a few items which haven’t been released to the home market, such as the 2009 Somerville promotional concert, and the LoveTown documentary. We’re hearing that the films will eventually pop up on a streaming service going forward, but Zoo Station is the only place showing these currently. Zoo Station reopens on January 29 and closes for good on March 2.

The full list of films shown so far is as follows:

  • Live from Red Rocks, 1983 (1983)
  • The Making of The Unforgettable Fire (1984)
  • U2 Joshua Tree: Live from Paris, 1987 (1987)
  • Outside its America (1987)
  • Rattle and Hum (1988)
  • Making of Rattle and Hum (1988)
  • Making of All I Want is You (1989)
  • Lovetown (1989)
  • Achtung Baby: The Videos, The Cameos, and a whole lot of Interference (1992)
  • Zoo TV Live from Sydney (1993)
  • Zoo TV Mini Documentaries (1993)
  • A Year in Pop (1997)
  • Popmart: Live from Mexico City (1997)
  • Tour of the Tour (1997)
  • Lemon for Sale (1998)
  • Making of Beautiful Day (2000)
  • Elevation, Live from Boston, 2001 (2001)
  • The Making of the Elevation Tour (2001)
  • Making of Elevation (2001)
  • U2 Go Home: Slane Castle (2001)
  • U2 @ HQ (2004)
  • U2 3 Songs (2004)
  • Making of Vertigo (2004)
  • Vertigo Live in Chicago (2005)
  • Beyond the Tour (2005)
  • Linear (2009)
  • Making of Get On Your Boots (2009)
  • Somerville (2009)
  • U2360 Live at Rose Bowl (2009)
  • Squaring the Circle: Creating U2360 (2009)
  • A Day in the Life of the Edge (2009)
  • From the Sky Down (2011)
  • Films of Innocence (2014)
  • Innocence + Experience: Live from Paris (2015)
  • Experience + Innocence: Live from Berlin (2018)
  • Bono and The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming with David Letterman (2023)

Another film debuting this year (not at Zoo Station) was Kiss the Future a film by director Nenad Cicin-sain, produced by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. The film debuted at the Berlin International Film Festival in February 2023, and later showed at the Tribeca Film Festival (August 2023), the Sarajevo Film Festival (August 2023), the Busan International Film Festival (October 2023) and the Tucson Film Festival (November 2023.) The film was still seeking distribution at the earlier festivals, and has not been widely released.

The director describes the film as “a cautionary tale about how politicians divided a country and lead its people into a horrific civil war and how music brought them back together for one night.” The film focuses on the struggles of Sarajevo residents during the Bosnian war, and how aid worker and filmmaker Bill Carter brought the struggle to U2, and got U2 to Sarajevo. Bono shares, “It’s also about the role art can play in uplifting the souls of people living under such a threat.” The filmmakers worked with longtime U2 collaborator, Ned O’Hanlon, and while they did not have any video footage of the Sarajevo concert in 1997, they were provided audio stems of that performance including Bono’s isolated vocal, and isolated drum, guitar and crowd noise, which U2’s team remixed for the documentary. The film also contains new interviews with Bono, The Edge and Adam Clayton.

A few other things that may be of interest? Early in the year a new set of U2 Funko Pop’s was announced. This time it’s all four in an album display, with the band’s outfits and poses taking inspiration from a promotional poster for the Pop album. Although Surrender, Bono’s book was a 2022 release, some foreign editions didn’t come out until 2023, with new copies being released in Romania, Hungary and Greece this year in local languages. Longtime collaborator, graphic designer Steve Averill debuted a U2-themed podcast this year with his son Gareth. It’s a great listen, and is called U2-Y. And while we’ve had the soundtrack to Angelheaded Hipster for a few years now, the film finally debuted this year, featuring footage of U2 recording their contribution to the album. It was released in theatres in the UK for one night in September, and has been followed by release on streaming services and Blu-ray/DVD in November.

YouTube and Other Videos

Studio Videos:

“Atomic City” was the big one this year, with Larry Mullen joining in the filming in Las Vegas, and even appearing on stage at Sphere in the video itself. Two lyric videos were also featured, one featuring the Songs of Surrender version of “Pride (In the Name of Love)”, and the other for the Zooropa version of “Stay (Faraway, So Close!)”. A fourth video, called a “Visualiser” consists of the Songs of Surrender version of the song, with a still image of the album cover.

Live Videos:

U2 continue to release live videos via YouTube, as well as making them available on services like Tidal and iTunes. This year’s collection includes footage from previously released shows such as PopMart from Mexico City, Vertigo from Chicago and Milan, and towards the end of the year as they moved towards celebrating the 40th anniversary of Under A Blood Red Sky, three videos from the “Live from Red Rocks” video. Also included this year? A full length version of “Invisible” from the new Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming with Davide Letterman television special.

Ads, Trailers, Partial Songs:

Trailers and ads focused around U2’s album Songs of Surrender and the Super Bowl ad that launched their concerts at Sphere in Las Vegas. No full songs from Sphere have been released, but U2 have been sharing edited songs on YouTube, with many more available via U2.com, some only available to subscribers.

U2 X-Radio

U2 continue to provide content to U2 X-Radio, a station on the subscription services SiriusXM, available in North America. This year the only band member to have a regular show was Adam Clayton, who continues to do playlists for the station. This included playlists focused on Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois, and Steve Lillywhite; a special year end playlist focused on Achtung Baby, and playlists focused on the desert, Irish Music, and more.

The band used the station to promote the Songs of Surrender album, with a special on the station with Bill Flanagan interviewing Bono and the Edge, and another special where Adam Clayton and The Edge went through the album track by track. The promotions spread to other channels as well and The Edge was interviewed by Lori Majeweski on First Wave, and also appeared on The Writers Block with David Fricke.

After three years as resident remixer and DJ, Paul Oakenfold did his last Discotheque on June 30, 2023 almost exactly three years after his first show. The program continues, however, and in October, Pauli the PSM, Atomic MC took over the Friday night show, mixing his own favourites each week. Pauli the PSM is also appearing each night as the opening act at Sphere, and was the focus of one of Gavin Friday’s shows from Las Vegas. Gavin also introduced Bram Van den Berg to U2 fans via the station, and throughout the opening weekend there was live coverage and interviews with fans from Las Vegas on the station.

Other specials this year included a 40th anniversary of War special with Adam Clayton looking back on that album, a Record Store Day Special celebrating the 40th anniversary of “Two Hearts Beat As One” and a 30th anniversary of Zooropa set of specials, one going through the album track-by-track, while the other saw The Edge and Adam Clayton discussing the album. In May, U2 X-Radio took votes from fans for the “U2 of the ’90s Countdown”, and the DJs also did a look back at the year 2023 at the end of the year.

In July, the station also featured a short program looking back at Sinead O’Connor’s work with U2. It included her singing “Heroine“ with The Edge and Larry Mullen, “You Made Me the Thief of Your Heart“ which had been co-written by Bono for the film In the Name of the Father, and finished with “I’m Not Your Baby“.

Site Updates

Much of our time has been spent this year covering the Las Vegas shows at Sphere and Bono’s Stories of Surrender shows. For those who have enjoyed our nightly show summaries in the Show Archive, we’ve also been spending some time working on these for other tours. We’ve recently updated our entire U2360° tour archive with nightly write ups. And the first leg of Innocence and Experience is also complete. As time permits we’ll continue to work on others. (Hint: A lot of the early Boy shows are done as well.)

We’ve also recently added in information to our show entries detailing ticket sales, pricing and attendance. Look for these new bits of information throughout the show archive. We’ve also continued to go back and research older shows. We’ve added dozens of show entries over the last year, most not included in other archives at the time. You can see a sampling of some of these here. We’ve also added a section tracking U2’s festival appearances, both as a full band and solo.

Over on the lyrics side of things we added a few additional ways to look around U2’s songs. We have sections for songs that U2 have covered, as well as songs that the band have covered as solo performers outside the band. You can also look for spoken word tracks, and instrumental songs.

This year we added two new pieces looking at the work outside of U2 by various producers. The 5 Albums series now includes a look at Bob Ezrin, and another five albums from Jacknife Lee.

We’ve linked to a number of discography entries throughout this article, so we won’t repeat those here, but we also added a number of items to the page that didn’t get as much fan fare. A look at some of those items are in the list below:

We’ve recently reviewed 1200 U2 and U2-related tracks, and identified a number of unique edits of material that we will be adding over the coming months. We’ve also added 369 new images to the discography over the last twelve months. We continue to update the discography daily.

We’ve also expanded our social media offerings, and site updates are now posted to Threads (u2songscom) and Bluesky (u2songs) as well as our usual Facebook (U2songs) and Twitter (U2Songs).

Past Years

This year’s review is the fifth in a series of year end reviews we have done since 2018. For a look back at the earlier years, please check out our stories below:

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