By contrast, insiders are placing the over-under on the sales debut week for their new Interscope album, No Line on the Horizon, at 500k.


Grammy Winners Return with 12th Studio Album, and First in Five Years, Launch Week on Letterman
U2 has a lot to live up to.

Their last album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, hit the streets on Nov. 16, 2004, with 840k in first-week sales, eventually moving 3.25 million in the U.S. and 9 million worldwide, with eight Grammy awards, including Album and Song of the Year.

By contrast, insiders are placing the over-under on the sales debut week for their new Interscope album, No Line on the Horizon, at 500k.

All That You Can’t Leave Behind, which came out on Oct. 31, 2000, reached #3 in the U.S. album charts, selling 428k its first week, 4.3 million in the U.S. and 12 million worldwide, while earning seven Grammys in 2001 and 2002, including two consecutive Records of the Year (“Beautiful Day” and “Walk On”) and Song of the Year (“Beautiful Day”).

Overall, the band has been awarded a total of 22 Grammys and sold 145 million albums in a three-decade-plus career, which culminated with its induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.

Reuniting with former producers Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois and Steve Lillywhite, the group’s new release has been receiving raves from critics, including a rare five-star Rolling Stone review, though the first single, “Get on Your Boots,” received a lukewarm reception at Rock radio, with the title track up next.

Kicking off their unprecedented week-long appearance last night on Letterman, U2 launched into a typically rousing “Breathe,” from the new album, which you can see on YouTube here, a performance that had the entire studio audience on its feet and cheering wildly by the climax. Showing they were good sports, Bono and company also helped shovel snow in front of the Ed Sullivan Theatre, which you can see them doing here. The group will also perform on this Friday’s Good Morning America from Fordham University in the Bronx.

The stakes are high for the new album, and, with longtime manager Paul McGuinness, they’ve jumped into promotion for it feet-first. In addition to the week-long stint on Letterman, the band made high-visibility performances at the Grammys, the Brit and the German ECHO awards shows as well as an impromptu gig Let It Be style last Friday (2/27) on the rooftop of BBC’s London offices. A special pre-tour performance at a yet-to-be-determined Boston club, on March 11, was announced earlier this week on local stations WBCN, WLZX and WBOS, all of them are offering tickets to listeners via on-air contests.

Tour dates for the group’s Live Nation-promoted summer tour of stadiums will be announced March 9, and Bono has already said the band will make sure there are affordable tickets made available, though they’ll probably be in the nosebleed section. The tour is the band’s first since signing a 12-year deal with the concert giant for touring, merchandising and digital rights last March.

At retail, Amazon is offering downloads of the new album for $3.99 with the entire catalog priced at $5.99 apiece, while iTunes has both a deluxe edition on sale for $17.99 and the regular release available at $9.99.