It was while I was editing the U2 Concert File that I discovered that back in 1987 the group played a prank on fans that I figure must be unique, appearing on stage in disguise among the support acts as another group altogether.
They tried it on first on November 1 at the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis. After The BoDeans the MC announced there was an extra band on the bill called The Dalton Brothers, and this was the cue for U2 to walk out on stage in wigs and dressed in cowboy gear. Adam wore a skirt and girly wig, and Bono’s wig was red. With all four Daltons wearing sunglasses and assuming Texan accents, hardly anyone recognized them. Bono introduced his fellow Dalton Brothers as ‘Luke, Duke and Betty Dalton’, and sang their country song ‘Lucille’ after which Edge (Luke) sang the Hank Williams song ‘Lost Highway’. During the song Bono talked about meeting the late country legend “a few years ago in Indianapolis” and, hilariously, recalled that Williams told him, “You can go far with Country & Western, not that rock’n’roll shit.”
During their own set later that night U2 reprised ‘Lucille’, and only then did the vast majority of the audience realise that The Dalton Brothers were actually U2 in disguise.
U2 repeated the stunt at the Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on November 17, with The Dalton Brothers again making an appearance between the two support acts. After a grand introduction they walked on stage and spoke to the audience in thick Texas accents. “Right, we play two kinds of music: country and western,” said the singer. “This is a little tune I wrote back down south, a tune I’ve labelled ‘Lucille’, hope ya like it.” By this time the U2 bush telegraph must have been crackling as about half the audience recognised U2 and laughed their heads off, but the other half was bewildered and looked on silently. During the song the singer announced, “I’d just like to introduce you – we got Luke Dalton on guitar. This is my sister Betty Dalton, behind me on the drums we got Duke Dalton. My name is Alton Dalton, don’t you forget it.”
During their set a reporter from a local newspaper asked a fan her opinion on the Daltons. “They’re OK but I wish they’d bring U2 on,” she said.
The Dalton Brothers made one more appearance during the tour, at the Coliseum in Hampton on December 12, this time in the middle of U2’s set with four members of their crew dressing up as the band’s alter ego to surprise them. Bono managed to retain his composure to introduce and sing with them, remarking, “My, Betty, do you grow prettier every day!”