For the first time in its career, U2 is launching back-to-back tours. Months after the end of the Joshua Tree 30 road trip, the band is readying the Songs of Experience tour. While the stage setup will apparently be much the same (different visuals and setlists, of course), this is being positioned as a completely different and separate tour.
Nice. But it hasn’t sold out in all cities across North America yet. That’s a bit weird for U2, a group that’s become accustomed to seeing all their shows go clean immediately. Including freakin’ Boston, by the way.
Not this time. Why?
Writing for @U2, Sherry Lawrence takes a thoughtful look at the situation. Might it have something to do with the way tickets are being priced for this tour?
I received a call out of the blue from a family acquaintance last week asking me if I knew that U2 was playing in Boston. He heard an ad on the radio while driving to work and wasn’t sure if I knew, and asked why they were touring the 2015 production again. He sounded surprised when I told him that U2 has a new album out, and although the stage design is the same as for 2015, it will be a different set list with different graphics — and yes, I knew they were coming to Boston. Later that day, I saw the Experience + Innocence Tour 2018 commercial on both our local Boston CBS and NBC stations. The tour commercial promoted only the second show in Boston, June 22. At the time of this article’s publication, there were still over 1,500 tickets available for that night on Ticketmaster.
Since when has U2 not sold out Boston?
That is a question I’ve been wrestling with for a while now given that U2 performed four nights in Boston in 2015, and a total of eight over the course of 2005. We are about 80 days before the 2018 tour kicks off in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and there are still over 30,000 face-value tickets available for sale on Ticketmaster across at least 15 dates. Major markets like Chicago, New York City, San Jose and Los Angeles, as well as smaller markets like Tulsa, St. Louis and Washington, D.C., all have plenty of inventory to choose from (except general admission). Go to any show with an interactive seating chart on Ticketmaster and take your pick. (This does not include the hundreds of Verified Resale tickets offered at a higher price on Ticketmaster.)
I do recognize that the Experience + Innocence tour is at least 80 percent sold overall, and given today’s concert climate, the current ticketing situation shouldn’t throw up any red flags. After all, many people will choose to purchase their tickets closer to the concert date. Face-value tickets for the general public are usually available to purchase right up to show time, so a true sell-out doesn’t happen until the show is well underway that evening. I will also concede that at least one more date has been added in New York City (with the possibility of another in the future), even though face-value tickets are available for the other two nights at Madison Square Garden.
However, fans have been wondering why the American market has been so soft while shows in Europe have been selling out within a day of the general sale. For this tour, a few key factors might explain the sales figures so far.
Keep reading. This is instructive about how the concert industry is operating in North America today.