Exclusive: U2 Readies '360' Global Tour
It’s a groundbreaking tour with production that includes a 360-degree audience configuration, ambitious staging and a cylindrical video screen. “We’re very excited about the idea to go on the road with this album,” the Edge says. “It’s an album that I think is going to translate so well to the live context. The songs we’ve tried in rehearsal are sounding fantastic, so that’s got everyone really fired up.”
U2 will be playing in a setting unique among all previous tours, by any artist. The tour will be global and lengthy. U2 will stay in Europe through Aug. 22, then hit American shores on Sept. 12 with a show at Soldier Field in Chicago. The band will play in North America until Oct. 28 and plans on working the globe until the fall of 2010. In addition to its production firsts, the tour is destined to become one of the highest-grossing tours ever; at $389 million, the band’s 2005-2007 Vertigo tour is second only to the Rolling Stones’ A Bigger Bang trek.
After playing arenas in North America and stadiums elsewhere on their last few tours, U2 will play stadiums everywhere this time out. “This is going to be completely different, and that’s what makes it exciting -- finding something new to bring to the touring culture,” says the Edge. “It’s hard to come up with something that’s fundamentally different, but we have, I think, on this tour. Where we’re taking our production will never have been seen before by anybody, and that’s an amazing thing to be able to say. For a band like U2 that really thrive on breaking new ground, it’s a real thrill.”
As they have for well over a decade, Live Nation global music chairman Arthur Fogel and his team will produce and promote U2 worldwide. Committing to a global stadium tour is “obviously a major undertaking on a bunch of different levels,” says Fogel. “On the last tour it basically broke down indoors in America and stadiums outside of America. Both shows were pretty different and they were both incredible, but I think the general feeling, and certainly mine, was the experience of U2 in a stadium is special and unique, and it would be great for North America to experience that the way the rest of the world did the last time around.”
Playing in a 360 configuration will increase the capacity by about 15%-20%, depending on the stadium. The configuration opens up myriad opportunities for scaling ticket prices, an important consideration for Fogel and the band. The top ticket price will be slightly higher than last time and the bottom price will be lower, with the floor seats -- the closest to the stage -- the lowest priced. In fact, playing larger capacity venues allows for more conservative pricing overall. Field level is going to be $55, and there will be 10,000 tickets a show, every show, at $30, Fogel says. The price points are $250, $90-$95, depending on the market; $55 and $30.
On-sales will begin in Europe in mid-March, and North American on-sales will start in late March/early April. U2 will also resurrect its random upgrade program first seen on the Elevation tour in 2001, where select fans purchasing GA tickets will be moved closest to the stage.
The basic layout of the tour is Europe in July and August, America in September and October with a total of 40-45 shows this year; more stadiums in America in June and July next year, then August and September in Europe. The trek then tentatively will hit South America in the fall of 2010, for potentially as many as 90-100 shows over the next two years.
This will be the first tour under U2’s 12-year multi-rights deal with Live Nation, though the band’s relationship with Fogel dates back to a show at the El Mocambo in Toronto in 1979. “Arthur and I are great friends and I’ve been very interested in the Live Nation project for years now, and we’ve been very supportive of it,” says U2 manager Paul McGuinness. “We obviously intend to go on performing for a long time to come and that’s what the deal reflects. U2 always had parallel careers as recording artists and a touring act and it was always fundamental to our way of thinking that the two should be complimentary.”
[Edit note: The tour name was changed from "Kiss The Future" to "U2360" on March 7]
More Exclusive U2 Tour Coverage:
Read The Full Billboard Q&A With The Edge
Read The Full U2 Tour Billboard Cover Story