If I’m anyone in the U2 organization, I’d be worried about the state of North America. Something is wrong.
Tickets for the band’s first stadium tour since 360 went on sale across the continent yesterday and it wasn’t an instant sellout. Yes, most shows (including Toronto and Vancouver went clean; Chicago, LA and New Jersey have announced second shows), but tickets remain for Houston, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Miami, Tampa, DC and Cleveland. Compare that the Europe where ever single gig sold out on the first day.
We longtime U2 fans have been discussing this. When was the last time U2 failed to sell out a North American tour on day one? It’s been…decades. And why is demand down?
- Ticket prices? Not necessarily. Prices are as low as $35 in some places. A top ticket in Cleveland is $280, which, compared to what other top acts are charging, is peanuts.
- Lack of a new album? Yes, Songs of Experience has been delayed so the band can write and record songs relating to the Trump presidency, but new material hasn’t been much of a draw for fans since How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. Instead, the band is celebrating the 30th anniversary of The Joshua Tree, their biggest-selling album 30+ million) of all time. Fans should be going crazy for a front-to-back performance of that record.
- U2 fatigue? Possibly, but why has this manifested so strongly in America and nowhere else?
- Or was this a marketing failure, a lack of hype?
- Or is America so Trump-obsessed that everyone’s attention is elsewhere?
The lack of sellouts impacts cities where where all the tickets are gone. As Larry points out, “Is it better to have one sold out show and a second that’s not? Maybe it’s best just to have one show with insatiable demand than two shows where the hype is diluted. Do they risk adding a second show in, say, Toronto, only to find out that no one wants to go?”
This situation bears close attention.
UPDATE: As of Thursday morning, Pittsburgh, Houston and Tampa are the only cities not registering a sellout.
UPDATE: Once source suggested to me that there will be no more shows added to North America at this time. Maybe on another leg of the tour, but not right now. If true, that means demand for tickets on the secondary market will push prices up.
UPDATE: Official words is that U2 sold 1.1 million tickets in 24 hours. That’s plenty, but I somehow remember other tours selling more. Can anyone confirm or deny with hard numbers?
PS: Self-proclaimed U2 Ninja Mark sent me this:
I, like you, have a rich history with U2. Been to over 60 shows. Tagged along on one of their tours in a VERY unofficial capacity on POP.
I saw Vertigo 11 times on 4 continents. I was at Massey hall Dec07 1984 (their last theatre show in Toronto,) and I was there in Hawaii when they played with Pearl Jam Dec07 2006. Hate to say I have noticed a trend. But…
Along the way at some point on U2360 somebody clued in that a confused album of mostly boring B-sides didn’t belong on the main marquee and should be traded in for “anniversary” versions of songs from Achtung Baby and one extra offering from The Unforgettable fire. Do you think songs of innocence was offered for free because the band was skeptical that anybody would actually buy it? It’s no secret the band is very skittish, even timid on the eve of a release. Maybe they went for the sure millions in the bank offered by Apple. It would save them the humility of the album not doing well through sluggish sales.
I imagine they had business obligations to stage a tour this year that was likely to coincide with a set of (presently) unfinished music (songs of experience.).
Cut to today:
There is one reason only why I got tickets for U2 in Toronto. My daughter who is now only 5 wants to see a BIG show. I often tell her about the u2 shows her mother and I went to many continents to see. I want her to see one BIG U2 show in her lifetime. I don’t see anymore in the future.