Little Richard is featured preaching, rapping in funky rhyme style, and singing background vocals amid Maceo Parker's saxophone playing on the extended "Live from the Kingdom Mix." The single contained two different versions of the Patti Smith song "Dancing Barefoot". The 7" and cassette featured the long version, while the 12" and CD contained the short version. While U2 has stopped playing it live since 1993, it features in B. B. King concerts. During the Lovetown Tour concerts, this song would be played, usually along with "Angel of Harlem" and "Love Rescue Me", in an encore featuring B. B. and his band.
The debut performance took place on 24 November 1987 in Fort Worth, TX during the concert's encore and BB King joined U2 to perform the song. On 1989's Lovetown Tour, the song again featured during the encore and was played with BB King. It was played at 46 of the 47 shows; the only concert it missed was 18 December 1989 in Amsterdam, as the show concluded prematurely due to Bono suffering vocal problems.
On the next tour, 1992-93's Zoo TV Tour, "When Love Comes to Town" did not debut until the second-last concert of the first leg on 21 April 1992 in Tacoma. It appeared only infrequently on the second leg, in Europe, but on the third leg, in North America, it was performed frequently and this was continued on the fourth leg return to Europe. The Zoo TV Tour version of the song was stripped down in comparison to previous versions and was performed on a b-stage in the midst of the crowd. U2 would not perform the song for years after the fourth leg's final show on 28 August 1993 in Dublin, although B.B. King continued to play the song at his live shows.
On 26 October 2008, Bono and the Edge rejoined B.B. King to play the song for the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Founders Award.
After King died on May 14, 2015, U2 paid tribute to him during a show in Vancouver the following night by playing "When Love Comes to Town" for the first time in 23 years.