In the early 1990s, U2 had a very serious problem. ‘The Joshua Tree’ and ‘Rattle and Hum’ (a project that was both an album and a movie) had turned them into a highly serious band that addressed real societal issues. However, the critical and public backlash had put them in a difficult position, and they needed a makeover, no matter what. And that’s how ‘Achtung Baby’ was born.
Watch out, babies!
‘Achtung Baby’ was an album that created tensions within the group because no one was quite sure where they should be heading. In fact, there were even a few months when they separated to try to find a solution. Eventually, when it was released, it sold 18 million copies, became a massive success, and hits like ‘One’ or ‘The Fly’ found their place on the charts.
But of course, an album meant nothing in 1991 without an epic tour to match. And they couldn’t be the same old U2; this time, they had to surprise everyone and show that you could have fun with U2 too. Thus began the Zoo TV Tour, which had its first concert in Lakeland, Florida, on February 29, 1991, and ended, 157 concerts later, in Tokyo on December 10, 1993.
Along the way, everything changed: the show was much more fun and dynamic; they knew how to poke fun at themselves and earned positive nicknames wherever they went. If their previous concerts had been minimalist and very intimate, now they were breaking the stage and proving that they were a proper rock band, mimicking the style of morning radio shows.
To emphasize this almost humorous shift, they launched some unexpected merchandise items during the concerts: condoms (two in each pack) with a crossed-out baby on them and the words “Achtung Baby!” Obviously, at this point, they can’t be used (who would want to?), but if you’re curious, you might be able to find a pack for around 20 euros. Unopened, of course. Naturally.