U2101 – The Saints Are Coming

I’m not much of a fan of American football. To be honest, I can’t stand the sport, but the few times in my life that I’ve deigned to tune in to football related festivities on the television all had to do with U2. One example was the 2014 Super Bowl, when the band unveiled their new song “Invisible” – I watched from the very beginning of the game, waiting for U2’s ad. Another time that U2 were involved with a broadcast of American football came in late 2006 when U2 and Green Day opened a game between the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons with a performance of Green Day’s song “Wake Me Up When September Ends”, followed by a medley of the collaborative song “The Saints Are Coming” and U2’s “Beautiful Day”. This event took place to commemorate the first game in the Louisiana Superdome in the wake of hurricane Katrina. The live performance “The Saints Are Coming” was then offered for sale on the internet, with the proceeds going to Edge’s Music Rising charity, which was started to replace instruments that were lost due to the hurricane. The studio version of the song would then be released as a single, (with profits going to the same charity) as well as on the compilation album U218 Singles


“The Saints Are Coming” was originally recorded and released in 1978 by the Scottish punk band The Skids. The lyrics deal with the Biblical promise of the impending return of Jesus Christ, who will be joined by saintly figures of Christianity’s past, along with dead believers who, according to the Bible, will be rising from their Earthly graves. There’s an extra poignance to U2’s and Green Day’s version with the lead character of the song asking his father “how long now” until the second coming. I’ve always felt that Bono was singing to his deceased father, asking how long will it be before he can be reunited with his parents, both of whom had passed by this point in the singer’s life. The music to this cooperative effort is vigorous and dynamic, with lots of pounding drums and loud guitars. Everything in this song seems to be especially beefed-up, probably because, with Green Day and U2 playing together on the track, every instrument has double representation.


As I stated above, U2’s and Green Day’s version of “The Saints Are Coming” came in late 2006 at the New Orleans event, but the song did make a few appearances on the subsequent fifth leg of the Vertigo Tour. The last time the song was performed by U2 came at that tour’s final show, in Hawaii, and Billie Joe Armstrong, lead vocalist from Green Day, joined the band for this performance. Due to the song’s energetic nature, it’s hard to imagine that the band would never play “The Saints Are Coming” again, but with U2’s original being a combined endeavor with Green Day, I wouldn’t be surprised if any future performances come with members of that other band.

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Ever since I realized as a kid, while poring over the liner notes of the Bob Marley - Songs of Freedom boxed set, that writing about music was a viable career choice, one of my greatest desires has been to write about U2. The band has been a major part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I'm thrilled to have this opportunity to contribute a little something to the fantastic online community that's been built around the band.

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