There are several moments that I really enjoy on the DVD that came with the deluxe package of the How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb album, but perhaps my favorite moment on that DVD is the alternate version of “Crumbs From Your Table.” The opening guitar riff is, as Bono says at the time, “a beautiful part,” and the aggressive part that forms the backbone of this version of the song is rousing and dramatic. My only complaint is that the drums aren’t louder in the mix, because Larry is really pounding those snares. I enjoy performances like this one, where I can tell that the whole band is feeling what they are playing.
Regardless of the arrangement, “Crumbs From Your Table” is one of those mid-tempo rock songs with a message that has come to define U2 in the new millennium. In this case, the message is that churches need to get on board with helping AIDS victims because these people desperately need and deserve our help. Bono said at the 46664 concert, in introducing another song, “If God loves you, what’s the problem?” As Christians, the church-folks are supposed to believe that God loves everyone and that Jesus “came to seek and to save that which was lost.” If the churches only cater to people who are doing well in their lives, they are not following the mandate of their savior, which is to offer succor to everyone who needs it, even if…no, especially if that person has nothing to offer in return. I know that the AIDS pandemic has largely become old news, but trust me, there are people in the world for who it is a very current concern indeed.
“Crumbs From Your Table” has only been performed live in front of an audience seven times, and oddly enough, on the few times that the song was performed live, those performances were arranged like the alternate version from U2 & Three Songs. I’m not holding my breath waiting for U2 to perform “Crumbs…” again, but I wouldn’t mind if they broke it out again on one of these nights, especially if they played it in the style of the album version, just for completion’s sake. I could make a joke here about how we’re all just waiting for crumbs from U2’s table while we wait for the band to vary their set-lists more than they do, but the honest truth is that I don’t feel that way. Every time I’ve seen U2 live, whether in person or prerecorded, they have given their audience much more than simply crumbs. I’m sure that I’ve written more about this topic in the past, but I’ll just say that I expect to hear people complaining again in a couple of weeks when U2 begins the Joshua Tree 2019 Tour. It just isn’t feasible for the band to play a completely different set-list every night.