1978 was the year that a scruffy collection of Irish grammar school pupils who held English punk rock and post-punk acts like The Jam, Wire, and The Clash in high regard transformed from a rough and ready garage band called The Hype into the future world-conquering behemoth known as U2.
The band initially took shape at the Mount Temple Comprehensive School in Dublin, where the members were organised under the guidance of drummer Larry Mullen, Jr. After chasing out a few members, including guitarist Dik Evans, whose brother David decided to stay, the band won a talent contest in Limerick in March and went ahead with their new moniker. However, just two weeks before on March 2, the band were booked on the broadcasting station RTE’s Youngline programme where they were still known as The Hype.
It’s impossible to understate how young the members are in the clips. Adam Clayton, the resident adult of the group, had not yet turned 18 but was the closest out of them all. Bono was also 17, while The Edge and Larry Mullen, Jr. were both only 16, and boy do they look it. Cherub-like and completely wet behind the ears, the band previewed a primitive take on their early post-punk sound with tracks ‘Street Mission’ and ‘The Fool’, the latter of which you can watch down below.
There are a number of elements that are just flat out strange to witness. All members have a fairly difficult time accurately miming their own song, with Bono doing far too much and Mullen Jr. doing far too little. Mullen also plays with traditional grip, a style that he would later abandon, while The Edge plays a Fender Stratocaster, having not yet purchased his iconic Gibson Explorer. Edge also has hair, which is disconcerting.
By the time the performance aired, the band had already changed their name, hence why the presenter refers to them under their current moniker. It was a slow but steady snowball effect from here: soon the band would team up with manager Paul McGuinness, and by 1980 the band would sign to Island Records and release their debut LP Boy. Neither ‘Street Mission’ nor ‘The Fool’ would appear, nor would they feature on the band’s first official release, 1979’s Three EP, leaving their performances on RTE as the first officially recorded material from U2.
Check out the performance of ‘The Fool’ down below.