U2 release acoustic video of Sunday Bloody Sunday to mark massacre's 50th anniversary

U2 onstage in 2019
(Image credit: Han Myung-Gu/Getty Images)

U2 singer Bono and guitarist The Edge have released a new version of the band's 1983 classic Sunday Bloody Sunday. The acoustic performance was captured on film and uploaded to the band's Instagram account, with the message, "30 January 2022 - With love, Bono & Edge."

The date references the song's subject, the infamous Bloody Sunday massacre of 1972, when British soldiers opened fire on a group of unarmed protesters in the Bogside area of Derry, Northern Ireland. 26 civilians were shot during the incident, with 13 killed. A 14th died later in hospital.

In 2010, in the wake of the Saville report – which absolved the protesters of any blame for the incident – Bono wrote an op-ed for the New York Times that addressed the long wait for justice, and also revealed how the song was originally received by U2's record company. 

"The song will be sung wherever there are rock fans with mullets and rage, from Sarajevo to Tehran," he wrote. "Over time, the lyric will change and grow. But here, with the Cockneyed record company boss at the song’s birth, the maternity ward goes quiet when the man announces that the baby is “a hit”... with one caveat: “Drop the ‘bloody.’ ‘Bloody’ won’t bloody work on the radio.”

True to form, Bono has also adjusted the lyrics on this latest version, altering the final verse to include the lyrics, “Here at the murder scene / The virus of fiction, reality TV/ Why so many mothers cry/ Religion is the enemy of the Holy Spirit guide/ And the battle just begun/ Where is the victory Jesus won?”.

A live version of Sunday Bloody Sunday plays over the end credits of the 2002 movie Bloody Sunday, a docu-drama that tells the story of the massacre. 

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Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.