After months of speculation, Billboard has learned that U2 will announce 44 shows in 19 cities from its upcoming arena tour today, the U2 Innocence + Experience Tour 2015, beginning in May. The first shows will be May 14-15 in Vancouver, B.C., with the first leg to include 22 initial shows across North America, followed by 22 more in the U.K. and Europe. The tour is produced by Live Nation's Global Touring division, led by Arthur Fogel, president of Global Touring and chairman of Global Music for Live Nation.
To begin the tour, which is in support of U2's album Songs Of Innocence, the band will play six cities in North America (three in Canada, six in the U.S.), and 10 cities in the U.K. and Europe, beginning Sept. 4 in Turin, Italy. All of the tour stops are at least doubles, with four shows announced for the Forum in Los Angeles, Madison Square Garden in New York, and the O2 in London. A Nov. 16 bicycle accident that seriously injured frontman Bono did not delay the start of the tour, which has long been slated to begin in the spring of 2015.
Pre-sale tickets will go on sale for the fan club on Dec. 4, and tickets for the general public go up on Dec. 8. While only the first leg of North America, the U.K., and Europe will be announced out of the gate, when it comes to U2, the world is their oyster, and it would be not out of the question for the tour to run as long as three years, most likely returning to North America and U.K./Europe second runs, along with visits to Asia, South America, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Australia, and other territories, depending on how long the band wants to work.
U2 is the top touring act in the world, having moved 22.8 million tickets to 625 shows that grossed $1.5 billion at the box office in the past 30 years, according to Billboard Boxscore. The band's last tour, U2 360 in 2009-2011, was the biggest tour in history, with 110 shows that grossed $736.4 million and moved 7.2 million tickets, both all-time records. With so many multiples on the upcoming tour, U2 could conceivably approach those 360 numbers with Innocence + Experience, but it would seem unlikely they could surpass them, given the huge stadium capacities on 360, and it does seem the goals are different this time around.
Innocence + Experience will find U2 returning to the relatively intimate confines of arenas for the first time since the Vertigo tour in 2005-2007, which grossed $389 million, according to Boxscore. On 360, U2 played only stadiums, but, rather than relating to demand -- 360 sold every ticket in every city in a stagnant concert market -- the move to arenas is likely driven more by aesthetics. U2 is one of the very few bands capable of selling out stadiums around the world, but the band is a product of arenas, with those venues proving a fitting showcase for U2 since they first rose to that level 30 years ago. After the enormity and spectacle of 360, it has long been thought that the band would scale things back on their next run, and indoor arenas serve the introspective, personal nature of the music on Songs Of Innocence.
U2 breaks new concert production ground on every tour, often with elements which later become widely adopted by the industry, and Innocence and Experience will be no exception. As with "the claw" staging that stunned on the 360 tour, this arena production will feature its own innovation, with the staging in the middle of the bowl and spanning the length of the arena floor. U2's typically eye-popping video elements (as in the video cylinder that awed on 360) will have a giant double-sided screen running above the stage.
The tour will also be conceptually unique in terms of the music. Routing shows that the cities are all booked in multiples of two dates in each market, which is no accident. Though the concept is being refined, it is believed that the band will be performing two different shows in each market on consecutive nights, built around the "innocence + experience" theme. That said, all tickets will be sold as individual night tickets, with no package deals.
Arenas will be sold to full capacity, with views of the stage from all angles. Scaling follows the historical U2 model, with floor tickets priced at $65, prime seats priced at $250-$275 (depending on the market), scaled all the way down to a significant number of seats priced at $30.
At this stage, the only corporate partner is UPS, which will be U2's "official logistics partner" on the tour. This partnership is designed to help defray freight and transport costs, allowing the tour to move the massive production more cost-effectively, particularly on an international level.
NORTH AMERICA DATES
May 14 - Vancouver (Rogers Arena)
May 15 - Vancouver (Rogers Arena)
May 18 - San Jose (SAP Center at San Jose)
May 19 - San Jose (SAP Center at San Jose)
May 22 - Phoenix (US Airways Center)
May 23 - Phoenix (US Airways Center)
May 26 - Los Angeles (Forum)
May 27 - Los Angeles (Forum)
May 30 - Los Angeles (Forum)
May 31 - Los Angeles (Forum)
June 12 - Montreal (Bell Centre)
June 13 - Montreal (Bell Centre)
June 24 - Chicago (United Center)
June 25 - Chicago (United Center)
July 6 - Toronto (Air Canada Centre)
July 7 - Toronto (Air Canada Centre)
July 10 - Boston (TD Garden)
July 11 - Boston (TD Garden)
July 18 - New York City (Madison Square Garden)
July 19 - New York City (Madison Square Garden)
July 22 - New York City (Madison Square Garden)
July 23 - New York City (Madison Square Garden)
Sept. 4 - Turin, Italy (Pala Alpitour)
Sept. 5 - Turin, Italy (Pala Alpitour)
Sept. 8 - Amsterdam (Ziggo Dome)
Sept. 9 - Amsterdam (Ziggo Dome)
Sept. 16 - Stockholm, Sweden (Globe)
Sept. 17 - Stockholm, Sweden (Globe)
Sept. 24 - Berlin (O2 World)
Sept. 25 - Berlin (O2 World)
Oct. 5 - Barcelona (Palau Sant Jordi)
Oct. 6 - Barcelona (Palau Sant Jordi)
Oct. 13 - Antwerp, Belgium (Sportpaleis)
Oct. 14 - Antwerp, Belgium (Sportpaleis)
Oct. 17 - Koln, Germany (Lanxess Arena)
Oct. 18 - Koln, Germany (Lanxess Arena)
Oct. 25 - London (O2)
Oct. 26 - London (O2)
Oct. 29 - London (O2)
Oct. 30 - London (O2)
Nov. 6 - Glasgow (The SSE Hydro)
Nov. 7 - Glasgow (The SSE Hydro)
Nov. 10 - Paris (Bercy)
Nov. 11 - Paris (Bercy)