U2 Tour To Strengthen Band’s Claim Of Greatest Live Act Of All-Time
It’s not really news when U2 announces a tour in wake of an album release. I mean, when you hear about a new U2 album you immediately expect a new U2 tour. After all, the Irish rockers are the world’s number one live act and a tour is an excuse for them to make more money than a medium-sized country’s annual GNP.
What is news is when Bono crashes his bicycle. That’s headline making stuff. Paul Hewson was actually in a bike accident back in mid-November. Despite five hours of surgery, and numerous fractures (one to the orbit of his eye), he’ll be ready to go come tour time. You’d think Bono can just pay someone to ride a bike for him.
Innocence + Experience
The tour in question, “Innocence + Experience Tour 2015,” begins May 14, 2015 in Vancouver, British Columbia at Rogers Arena. Right now, the band’s North American leg will end July 23 with the world tour ending Nov. 11.
Insiders, however, believe “Innocence + Experience Tour” may last two to three years with multiple legs in the States and Europe as well as treks of Asia, South America, the Middle East, and Australia.
The North American leg, as it stands now, will have U2 playing 22 shows in nine cities. Seven of those cities—Vancouver, San Jose, Phoenix, Montreal, Chicago, Toronto, and Boston—will host two shows while cities eight and nine host four. For example, U2 will be in Boston on July 10 and July 11.
Los Angeles gets the band on May 26, May 27, May 30, and May 31—all four shows will be at the Forum. New York City hosts U2 at Madison Square Garden on July 18, July 19, July 22, and July 23.
Their European leg begins Sept. 4 in Turin, Italy at the Palpa Alpitour. It wraps Nov. 11 in Paris. Like in North America, all European cities except London host two shows. The Capital of England gets four performances—Oct. 25, Oct. 26, Oct. 29, and Oct. 30.
Say what you will about their music, you can even doubt their contribution to rock and roll, but you can’t question the fact that they’ve revolutionized the live concert experience—for example “the Claw” and video cylinder from “The 360° Tour.”
For their upcoming “I & E” tour, the band will employ staging that will be placed in the center of the venue and encompass the entire arena floor. Sounds like what you’d expect if you attended an NBA game only the court is a stage and instead of basketball you’re watching the world’s greatest rock band.
Two Nights, Two Shows
This time around, and in keeping with the “innocence and experience” theme, the band will program one show around “innocence” and the other around—yes, you guessed it—“experience” (I imagine the first night is centered on their new album while the second evening focuses on their old stuff). This innovation makes the two shows in each city different thus enticing U2 fans to buy tickets to both nights.
"We are going to try to have a completely different feeling from night one to night two and have some fun playing with the idea of innocence and experience." — Bono
The tour’s name also foreshadows the band’s next album, Songs of Experience. In a recent Rolling Stone article, Bono says the opus should be thrust into your smart phone in a year and a half.
U2 Tours By The Numbers
U2 doesn’t need gimmicks to sell tickets. During their last trek, 110 U2 concerts grossed more than $736 million. Spanning from 2009 to 2001, the “U2 360° Tour” hosted 7,272,046 fans. It’s the highest grossing concert tour of all-time.
>>The band’s “Vertigo Tour,” from 2005 to 2006, grossed more than $389 million and enjoyed an attendance figure of 4,619,021.
>>U2’s 2001 outing, “The Elevation Tour,” was the highest grossing tour of the year. It was seen by more than 2.1 million fans and grossed more than $143 million.
>>The “PopMart Tour” began in 1997 and ended in 1998. It saw box office receipts in excess of $171 million. The slog was seen by 3.9 million people.
>>During the “Zoo TV Tour” of 1992-1993, U2 attracted 5.3 million fans and grossed $67 million in North America alone. At the time, it was the continent’s third highest grossing tour. Despite those impressive numbers, the tour almost bankrupted the band.
>>“The Joshua Tree Tour” (1987) grossed $35 million in North America alone and was seen by 2,035,539 people.
When you throw in “The Lovetown Tour” (1989-1990) and “The Unforgettable Fire Tour” (1984-1985), U2 has performed for 22.8 million people and grossed more than $1.5 billion in the last 30 years.
A Different Look At The Numbers
If all of those concert goers got together and formed a city, it will be the third most populous city in the world behind Shanghai and Karachi. It will be the third most populous U.S. state behind California and Texas.
The number of people who’ve seen U2 live is roughly the population of Syria. After their upcoming tour, U2 will have performed to the same number of people that reside in Australia.
The Forum in Los Angeles, where U2 will perform four times during their upcoming tour, holds 17,500. To duplicate their total live audience of the past 30 years, U2 will need to perform 1,257 times at the Forum—1,140 times at Madison Square Garden.
U2’s success is built on the fact that they are not only big in North America and Europe, but all over the world. One out of every 312 people on the planet has seen U2 live.
That number is based on the assumption that no one has seen two U2 concerts—we know that’s not the case. Yet, with the unreliable data from every region but the United States, and if you include the band’s pre-1985 concerts, which totals more than 400 shows, the aforementioned number is probably accurate.
The “Innocence + Experience World Tour” won’t be as big as its predecessor—even the band admits it can’t top their last odyssey. That’s because U2 is returning to the more (relatively) intimate settings of arenas. Still, U2’s upcoming jaunt will be the highest grossing tour of 2015 and almost certainly the most attended tour since their last go-around.
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