“This Irish band's incantatory power is no more vividly demonstrated than in concert,” said Christopher Connelly's review in Rolling Stone, “and this eight-song mini-album, culled from their last tour, gives ample evidence why people have been calling U2 the best live band of 1983.”
U2 had been honing their stagecraft for years by the time Under A Blood Red Sky was released as their first live album in November of that year. But in the slipstream of their hugely successful third studio album War, issued some nine months earlier, this was the record that told the world that the Irish band were en route to becoming one of the greatest attractions in all of live music. As Adam Sweeting put it in his Melody Maker review: “Anyone who's caught the full blast of U2 at full tilt has to admit it's a rare old shiver.”
The album was recorded at three shows on the epic War tour, a global outing that even outdid their previous October outing in length and ambition. Indeed, so globe-straddling was the itinerary that the band were still completing the final dates even as Under A Blood Red Sky and its companion concert film Live At Red Rocks were emerging.
Five of the eight tracks on the album, including the whole of the second side of the LP, were recorded a mere three months before release, at U2's Rockpalast show at the Lorelei Theatre in Sankt Goarshausen, on the banks of the Rhine in Germany.
These included the increasingly anthemic 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' and 'New Year's Day,' while the Red Rocks Amphitheatre gig, near Morrison, Colorado in June, yielded 'Gloria' and 'Party Girl.' The other track, '11 O'Clock Tick Tock,' came from the band's Boston show in May.
The album entered the UK chart at No. 2, and has so far spent 73 weeks in the top 40 and a dazzling 201 in the top 100. Among its huge worldwide achievements and certifications, it was gold in the US in three months, platinum in about 18, and went triple platinum in 1994.