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Old 10-10-2005, 11:06 AM   #1
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Should U2 Play Stadiums?*

By Mark Reed

Stadium rock. Admit it, it's a dirty word, a phrase that brings up images of the very worst excesses of the perpetually naff. A stage in a football stadium festooned with inflatable pigs, telephone boxes, strange props, drum kits that revolve in mid-air, and a ridiculous line in wire work as the singer is suspended in mid air above the crowd. A field of people. 30,000 or 300,000. Big numbers. A £5 (about $9) slice of microwave pizza, £4 (about $7) for a beer in a plastic cup. An obligatory sell through DVD at Christmas at the end of the tour. Outside, kids scale the gates to try and get in. Inside, a bloke tots at his smuggled bottle of vodka, and gets surrounded by people in shiny yellow jackets. A street away a grafter prepares his bag of dodgy T-shirts at £5 or £10 (about $18) a shot.

Bon Jovi on wires over San Diego. A sweaty Bruce Springsteen in a plaid shirt rockin' hard. Guns N’ Roses in kilts and bandanas in a football ground somewhere in Düsseldorf. The Eagles as distant dots on a stage inside a roofed baseball pitch in an American metropolis on its third farewell tour.

This is stadium rock.

On its current tour, U2 will perform about 113 shows, spending five months in arenas in America, and two months in European stadiums. In Australia, Japan, and Mexico, the question is being asked, quite rightly—"When's our turn?" The band's decision to play arenas in the United States and stadiums in the rest of the world is controversial, and baffling, to many of the bands biggest fans.

Longtime manager Paul McGuinness has always been demonstrably aware of the drawing power of his charges and also of the prices that the market will bear. Instead of providing consistent coverage for the whole of the world, U2 has almost always (with the exception of the PopMart experiment) played the markets that could be most profitable for them—the United States and Europe.

Vertigo is no different.

"People are coming to a rock show and watching television," Larry Mullen Jr. said in 1992 and there it was presented as a contradiction, a context. The central dichotomy of stadium rock writ large during the ZooTV Tour, the last U2 tour of a similar scale where the band mixed stadiums and arenas and played both. These days, watching television at a rock show isn't a contradiction, it's a necessity.

In those days, the stadium rock market hadn't burst.

So why are U2 playing Arenas in the United States and stadiums everywhere else?

In America's concert market, sales are down, way down. Stadium rock tours are a thing of the past. Even veteran act Metallica, who has played stadiums in its fervent home market for the past 12 years, had to succumb to market pressure and play its first arena tour since 1989 last year. Other big hitters, such as Cher, have faced the indignity of half-empty halls, thousands of unsold tickets at $100 (about £180) a throw and tours being cancelled hours before a show.

Not even U2, the biggest band in the world, is immune. The somewhat undersubscribed 1997 PopMart shows in the United States suffered similarly. Even a cursory glance through the essential "U2 Live: A Concert Documentary" book, shows that the band, by hiking up prices and playing stadiums, found itself playing to half-full stadiums. The second US leg of PopMart, which saw the band play to 20,000 people with over 30,000 unsold seats on some nights, gave us—and the band—the false impression that U2 wasn't popular anymore. Popular can only go so far in an unforgiving economy.

Put simply, U2 lost its guts after PopMart and retreated to playing arenas where the band knew it would sell out every seat in the house, though at least one show on the third US leg of the Elevation Tour had some 1,000 unsold seats.

Call it what you want, going back to the basics, or whatever, but since “Pop” U2's role has been one of consolidation. Previously verboten Best Ofs were released in quick succession to maintain the band's profile during dormant periods between tours, ensuring that you were never more than a year away from a major U2 album or DVD in any direction. Tours were booked into the type of halls the band was selling out 15 years previously despite bigger album and ticket sales.

In press terms, it's always better to play to 11,000 people and sell out than have 11,000 unsold tickets for a stadium. In fan terms, it's always better to see U2 somewhere than not at all.

So to say that U2's "doing it for the fans" is a lie. The furious testimonials from unhappy fans unable to get tickets, coupled with obscene eBay auctions, offer proof of unsatisfied fans out there.

From a business point of view, the figures are good on the current tour. Playing to 20,000 seat arenas, with tickets at up to $160 and with instant sell outs looks like good business. To then move the tour to 50,000-80,000 seat stadiums at up to £85 a ticket (about $160) with near instant sell-outs also looks like good business.

And it is, but it's not necessarily good business practice. If, as it has been suggested in “U2 Show,” it's about extracting maximum profitability from a tour, U2 would be in stadiums in the US. And they wouldn't spend five months in the US, where the dollar exchange rate is somewhat weaker than a lot of European Currency. It must be something less tangible then.

The question, then, is can U2 play a stadium tour in the United States? And the answer is, of course, if anyone can, U2 can. But the memory of selling less than half the tickets in Tampa and Jacksonville in late 1997 probably hangs heavy over the band. Rather than face such a potentially disastrous PR event of playing to stadiums of unfilled seats, U2 seems to have chosen to play it safe.

In order to be successful, U2 needs to be seen as being successful, needs to project success. Success is as much about projection as it is reality. An arena full of paying punters looks better than a stadium with a view of empty blue plastic seating even if demand is saturated. By the fourth stadium show in London in '93, the band was offering tickets at £5 a head to those on low incomes on the day of the show. Having realized that it couldn't shift the not-so-cheap-seats, U2 practically gave them away.

For the U2 fanatic, the idea of seeing the stadium heroes in the smallest venues the band has played for almost a decade in 2001 came at a premium—arena rock but at stadium prices. Elevation still needed to keep Bono in jets (or Elevation Air, if you like). In 1997, the PopMart shows cost £32.50 (about $59), in 2001 Elevation cost on average £45 (about $81). In 2005, Vertigo's most expensive seat was £85 (about $160).

Inflation? If U2 was an economy, wage packets would be delivered in wheelbarrows and worthless by the end of the day. Spend, spend, spend!

But if anyone can sell out a stadium show in the United States these days, it's U2. Burnt by its 1997 PopMart experience, an album and show now written off unfairly and retrospectively by everyone, even the band, as a failure, U2 won't even try to play stadiums in the United States.

From a punter’s point of view, if you can get a ticket, an arena show is preferable to a stadium. On an aesthetic level, the sound is normally better, even though this year's crop of U2 stadium shows has easily the best sound of any show that size I've ever heard. The band members aren't distant dots and the undoubted intimacy of the venues, by relative standards, provides U2 with an experience that makes you, me, us, and the band all feel as if we are one. The communal sense of unity at a rock show is rare and beautiful. At Elevation we were all one.

At Vertigo we were one but not the same, not with three price tiers and not from the back of a stadium. The band may compensate for choosing smaller venues by playing four shows in a city (the latter of which was mostly a set list-lucky-dip for casual fans in the United States being that fan club tickets were generally restricted to the first night of any residency) but every night there were always thousands of disappointed punters unable to see or hear the band. Reports of fans turning up with useless forged tickets bought on eBay on some nights on the spring leg of the tour are legend.

I don't need to repeat the details of the unprecedented and ugly scramble, not to mention the vocal heartbreak from the thousands of denied fans, in the rush to snap up the woefully undersupplied tickets for the first leg of Vertigo. Even at the frankly absurd ticket prices, U2 sold out every seat in the house and eBay made a tidy profit.

Rule 1 of Post-Modern Business: Create the illusion of, or impose the restriction of, an artificial scarcity of the art. Deliberately manufacture in small numbers and price high.

Rule 2 of Post-Modern Business: Make sure everyone knows how rare the commodity is. Everyone wants to be an elitist.

Rule 3 of Post-Modern Business: It's a show. It's a business. It's show business.

To be frank, one must lay the blame for the ticket fiasco at the feet of U2 and McGuinness. While McGuinness may be a wonderfully astute businessman, for a band who have always preached the art of ethics and morality to be so blatantly profit-driven, and to the extent where fans consider a civil action against them for bait and switch on ticket sales, it must sit uncomfortably on their shoulders.

The band was even driven to making a public apology on live television, which must be a first, even after the rioting in the streets following the highly priced 1989 Dublin shows.

The decision to play an often woefully inadequate number of arena shows at exorbitant prices must have been agreed by the band. We can't blame McGuinness alone. If you can't get a ticket for Vertigo, you know who to blame—Not Us Ltd.

The stadium rock market may be dying on its feet but if anyone can sell out a stadium, U2 can. For most people, a tour is just another entertainment distraction to compete with the iPod, the PS2 and the mortgage. Ever more desperate measures to keep the market afloat are appearing: hyper-expensive golden circle tickets, special fan club packages of backstage buffets, soundchecks and meet-the-band moments, or half-price offers designed to keep the money flowing in. The US concert market is in a glut as every band
reforms, takes to the stage, buries the hatchet until the check clears and charges $100 a ticket.

But U2 is different, it's the only band to be approaching what looks like the autumn of its performing lives and not be a boring nostalgia act of reformed musical employees.

These days it's the norm, going to a rock show, and watching television; watching a set of small dots move around in a fog of dry ice and lights, surrounded by massive televisions and enormous screens, 150 foot wide and 100 foot tall.

Having seen U2 in stadiums, arenas, and car parks over the past 20 years, there's a lot to be said for any U2 show, anywhere. Each show, in each size of venue, is different. Each feels resolutely intimate, yet, when you're the biggest band in the world, it's increasingly difficult to achieve the feeling that everyone has a front row seat.

In 1997, from halfway down the pitch at Wembley Stadium, the members of U2 were distant dots, muffled sounds and pretty colors. I thought the light show was brilliant, the playing spirited but the venue itself, scene of U2's Live Aid triumph 20 years ago, somehow sucked the life out of the band.

But U2 was brilliant, despite the setting.

In 2001, from the nosebleeds of the Manchester Arena, U2 performed valiantly under the shadow of Bob Hewson's imminent death and yet it felt even more distant in some respects. Despite the intimacy and understated Elevation staging, the notion of sitting down to watch U2, as if it were a ball game or a TV show, was wrong. It felt an aberration to be shunted to a small space 12" x 12" across, the size of a vinyl record, and being prevented from moving.

And U2 was brilliant.

For me, and many others, U2 has always been about the democratization of feeling. Given the intro to the current tour—a male voice intoning "Everyone. Everyone. Everyone!"—I think the band agrees with me. And yet, this notion of one yet not the same flies at odds with the very nature of the venues the band is forced to play. By choosing to play arenas the band limits and enforces some level of intimacy but only by comparison.

And yet, despite this, U2 offers possibly the most intimate stadium rock show ever.

This year I saw U2 in Manchester and Twickenham. Manchester was organized like a school fete, you could move between the seats and the standing area freely. Security staff was selling wristbands for the bomb shelter at £10 each. Bars were organized like pigs in a trough (and I lost two songs of the set as a result, which at an average cost of over $4 a song is one hell of a hit to take). It was like amateur night at the big top.

And U2 was brilliant.

A week later, at Twickenham, was like watching a different tour. This time, I saw the band from the floor, with security guards actually knowing what they were doing, water on tap, and no absurd crush caused by all the people with seated tickets crushing down the front.

And U2 was brilliant.

For the United States, the band is touring arenas, as it has on at least some point of every tour since 1983 (barring PopMart), and like every tour since 1985, the band has played two legs in the States. Like 2001, U2, the biggest band in the world, are exclusively playing the Pepsi Centers and Lexmark Arenas of the US, and, looking at the numbers alone, is playing more shows in the United States than the rest of the world combined.

Is it any wonder then, that Australia and Japan and Mexico are wondering what the hell U2 is playing at? It's playing at making money. Predictions are that the Vertigo Tour will be the most profitable tour of the year, with all the tour costs covered by date 51, and every date after that is almost exclusively profitable. Date 51, by the way, is Zurich. Hello, hello, we're in a place called profitable.

And how much is U2 expected to gross this time round? Some estimates say the tour will pocket some £225 million (about $405 million). As ever, U2 isn't just about art, it's about profit. Or as Bono himself, "For love or money? Tons of money" back on the ZooTV Tour. It's a show, it's a business, it's show business. U2 know, like Wayne and Garth, if you book them, they will come.

Touring is a business and recently it seems U2 have been blinded by the lure of lucrative markets. Elevation, and to some extent Vertigo have both been a case of U2 retreating from its ambitious touring plans of the past, concentrating on profitable core markets, scaling down availability of its product so that demand is ramped up. On the day that tickets went on sale, I remember checking back at Ticketmaster and found that even late into the afternoon, some tickets were available.

But only for the £85 Circle 1 tickets. On the day of the show, as I entered Twickenham Stadium, I looked up and felt sorry for them. Yes, they were at a U2 show, the best show in the world. But they also paid the equivalent of $160 to sit some 50 feet in the air, on a blue plastic seat, at the back of a football stadium to see U2 perform and at least a third of the show was in daylight.

Perception is that U2 tickets are as rare as rocking horse manure (and, given that there were at about half a million tickets for the United Kingdom alone, this isn't quite accurate). Even then, after two hours of hammering an overloaded server, fans saw that they either paid £85 or missed the show completely.

Every band should play to the size of the audience it can. A big band should play the big rooms. Businesses often lose customers by refusing to serve them. Show business is not much different. And whilst there may be a finite number of shows the band can perform, to choose venues a quarter of the size of the demand is simply poor business acumen and poor customer service. If anyone can mount a successful stadium tour in the United States, U2 can.

Wherever you see U2, be it a stadium or an arena, you're seeing one of the best bands in the world in its home environment. U2 can make a stadium feel like a front room. But for those who can't get tickets, the only view you'll get is your front room. Perhaps U2 should take some chances again. Dream it all up again. Play to all the people, everywhere. Everyone. Everyone. Everyone.

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Old 10-10-2005, 11:26 AM   #2
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Wow. That was well written.

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Old 10-10-2005, 11:49 AM   #3
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Given the choice, I'd pick arenas. But some cultures thrive in the stadium setting.
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Old 10-10-2005, 02:08 PM   #4
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"So why are U2 playing Arenas in the United States and stadiums everywhere else?"

Because U2 would sell out stadiums everywhere else.

And the ratio between US/selected parts of Europe vs everyone else is already bad enough.
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Old 10-10-2005, 03:18 PM   #5
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Good article (and I agree for the most part) but it is being a bit harsh on U2. If you think U2, in today's economic reality, are going to go out and lose money *by design* on a tour then you are dreaming. In the U.S. it is an economic fact that U2 can guarantee profitability by playing arenas. I think it's a good, sound plan and it allows them to do some things technically and artisticly that they weren't able to do in previous tours when they didn't know what venues would sell out and which ones wouldn't even break even. Willie WIlliams himself said that there were things they had to cut out due to economic uncertainties.

I don't even begin to understand how much money it cost to develop and utilize the curtain of lights.. it has to be insane. By doing those guaranteed sell-outs, you, the concert fan, get to see dazzling, expensive, and truly groundbreaking visual and audio effects whether it be indoor OR outdoor (yes that massive and beautifully bright video board and "best outdoor sound ever" costs money, Mark). People always want to criticize musical acts for making money. It is unwarranted, IMO, to rip U2 for how they have conducted these last two tours. For what you are paying, you are getting your moneys worth in 2005 dollars. It's not 1992 anymore.
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Old 10-10-2005, 05:05 PM   #6
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Here are the latest attendance and GROSS figures for the Vertigo tour. I'm sure this tour began turning a profit long before show 51. ZOO TV cost $125,000 dollars a day and POPMART cost $214,000 dollars a day. Most of the VERTIGO tour in 2005 is in Arena's in North America which cost substantially less to play than stadiums, about only 1/3 as much. Adjusted for inflation, the cost of touring in 2005 for U2 will be much less than it was in 1997 on POPMART, and the band will be making around 2 to 3 times as much money. Still, demand has not been met, not even close to being met in many places. All 32 European stadium shows soldout on the day of sale. The 32 date stadium tour in Europe is the highest GROSSING tour in the history of Europe, yet the band did not come close to meeting demand.

In the United States and Canada, Stadiums should have been used for the large markets and even some of the medium sized markets, allowing the band to reach demand in these area's with a smaller number of shows, which would allow arena shows to be played in several markets that got skipped. Following the ZOO TV model for North America would have been perfect. Do a short single show per city tour in the winter/spring, and then come back in the fall for stadiums/arena's based on the level of demand that was found from the short arena tour earlier in the year. Demand can be a difficult thing to gauge, so the band played it safe, way to safe in the opinion of thousands of fans in North America without tickets.

The price of the shows is simply the result of supply and demand, the market. The band always attempts to price its tickets based on market value. So far the results of the tour show the band could have charged even more for tickets.

Here are the attendance and GROSS figure results of the tour so far. Numbers for the 2nd US leg of the tour have not been released yet.


1, 2. San Diego, California : March 28, 30, 2005 : ipayOne Center at the Sports Arena : GROSS $2,909,029 : ATTENDANCE 29,140 : SHOWS 2 : SELLOUTS 2

3, 4. Anaheim, California : April 1-2, 2005 : Arrowhead Pond : GROSS $3,454,198 : ATTENDANCE 33,535 : SHOWS 2 : SELLOUTS 2

5, 6. Los Angeles, California : April 5-6, 2005 : Staples Center : GROSS $3,673,850 : ATTENDANCE 34,527 : SHOWS 2 : SELLOUTS 2

7, 8. San Jose, California : April 9-10, 2005 : HP Pavillion : GROSS $3,357,098 : ATTENDANCE 36,140 : SHOWS 2 : SELLOUTS 2

9, 10. Glendale, Arizona : April 14-15, 2005 : Glendale Arena : GROSS $3,198,861 : ATTENDANCE 34,905 : SHOWS 2 : SELLOUTS 2

11, 12. Denver Colorado : April 20-21, 2005 : Pepsi Center : GROSS $3,509,741 : ATTENDANCE 36,714 : SHOWS 2 : SELLOUTS 2

13, 14. Seattle, Washington : April 24-25, 2005 : Key Arena : GROSS $3,105,574 : ATTENDANCE 30,251 : SHOWS 2 : SELLOUTS 2

15, 16. Vancouver, British Columbia : April 28-29, 2005 : General Motors Place : GROSS $3,020,466 : ATTENDANCE 37,031 : SHOWS 2 : SELLOUTS 2

17, 18, 19, 20. Chicago, Illinois : May 7-12, 2005 : United Center : GROSS $7,541,679 : ATTENDANCE 77,173 : SHOWS 4 : SELLOUTS 4

21, 25. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania : May 14-22, 2005 : Wachovia Center : GROSS $3,767,178 : ATTENDANCE 39,273 : SHOWS 2 : SELLOUTS 2

22, 23. East Rutherford, New Jersey : May 17-18, 2005 : Continental Airlines Arena : GROSS $3,838,066 : ATTENDANCE 40,347 : SHOWS 2 : SELLOUTS 2

24. New York, New York : May 21, 2005 : Madison Square Garden : GROSS $1,907,086 : ATTENDANCE 18,415 : SHOWS 1 : SELLOUTS 1

26, 27, 28. Boston, Mass. : May 24, 26, 28, 2005 : FleetCenter : GROSS $5,071,565 : ATTENDANCE 51,658 : SHOWS 3 : SELLOUTS 3


GROSS: $48,354,391


29. Brussels, Belgium : June 10, 2005 : Koning Boudewijn Stadion : GROSS $4,864,554 : ATTENDANCE 60,499 : SHOWS 1 : SELLOUTS 1

30. Gelsenkirchen, Germany : June 12, 2005 : Arena AufSchalke : GROSS $4,203,947 : ATTENDANCE 59,120 : SHOWS 1 : SELLOUTS 1

31, 32. Manchester, England : June 14-15, 2005 : City Of Manchester Stadium : GROSS $11,119,740 : ATTENDANCE 107,671 : SHOWS 2 : SELLOUTS 2

33, 34. London, England : June 18-19, 2005 : Twickenham Stadium : GROSS $13,677,410 : ATTENDANCE 110,796 : SHOWS 2 : SELLOUTS 2

35. Glasgow, Scotland : June 21, 2005 : Hampden Park : GROSS $5,819,053 : ATTENDANCE 53,395 : SHOWS 1 : SELLOUTS 1

36, 37, 38. Dublin, Ireland : June 24-25, 27, 2005 : Croke Park : GROSS $21,163,695 : ATTENDANCE 246,743 : SHOWS 3 : SELLOUTS 3

39. Cardiff, Wales : June 29, 2005 : Millennium Stadium : GROSS $6,406,073 : ATTENDANCE 63,677 : SHOWS 1 : SELLOUTS 1

40. Vienna, Austria : July 2, 2005 : Ernst Happel Stadion : GROSS $4,200,416 : ATTENDANCE 55,645 : SHOWS 1 : SELLOUTS 1

41. Chorzow, Poland : July 5, 2005 : Stadion Slaski : GROSS $3,127,416 : ATTENDANCE 64,711 : SHOWS 1 : SELLOUTS 1

42. Berlin, Germany : July 7, 2005 : Olympiastadion : GROSS $4,725,530 : ATTENDANCE 70,443 : SHOWS 1 : SELLOUTS 1

43, 44. Paris, France : July 9-10, 2005 : Stade De France : GROSS $11,822,645 : ATTENDANCE 160,349 : SHOWS 2 : SELLOUTS 2

45, 46, 47. Amsterdam, The Netherlands : July 13, 15-16, 2005 : Amsterdam Arena : GROSS $13,022,200 : ATTENDANCE 165,516 : SHOWS 3 : SELLOUTS 3

48. Zurich, Switzerland : July 18, 2005 : Stadion Letzigrund : GROSS $3,574,993 : ATTENDANCE 44,260 : SHOWS 1 : SELLOUTS 1

49, 50. Milan, Italy : July 20-21, 2005 : Stadio San Siro : GROSS $7,565,264 : ATTENDANCE 137,427 : SHOWS 2 : SELLOUTS 2

51. Rome, Italy : July 23, 2005 : Stadio Olimpico : GROSS $4,010,779 : ATTENDANCE 67,002 : SHOWS 1 : SELLOUTS 1

52. Oslo, Norway : July 27, 2005 : Valle Hovin : GROSS $3,765,136 : ATTENDANCE 40,000 : SHOWS 1 : SELLOUTS 1

53. Goteborg, Sweden : July 29, 2005 : Ullevi Stadion : GROSS $4,081,864 : ATTENDANCE 58,478 : SHOWS 1 : SELLOUTS 1

54. Copenhagen, Denmark : July 31, 2005 : Parken Stadion : GROSS $3,650,294 : ATTENDANCE 50,000 : SHOWS 1 : SELLOUTS 1

55. Munich, Germany : August 3, 2005 : Olympiastadion : GROSS $5,343,379 : ATTENDANCE 77,435 : SHOWS 1 : SELLOUTS 1

56. Nice, France : August 5, 2005 : Parc des Sports Charles-Ehrmann : GROSS $3,548,702 : ATTENDANCE 51,900 : SHOWS 1 : SELLOUTS 1

57. Barcelona, Spain : August 7, 2005 : Camp Nou : GROSS $5,130,437 : ATTENDANCE 81,269 : SHOWS 1 : SELLOUTS 1

58. San Sebastian, Spain : August 9, 2005 : Estadio de Anoeta : GROSS $2,936,571 : ATTENDANCE 43,720 : SHOWS 1 : SELLOUTS 1

59. Madrid, Spain : August 11, 2005 : Estadio Vicente Calderon : GROSS $3,679,354 : ATTENDANCE 57,040 : SHOWS 1 : SELLOUTS 1

60. Lisbon, Portugal : August 14, 2005 : Estadio Jose Alvalade : GROSS $4,492,762 : ATTENDANCE 55,362 : SHOWS 1 : SELLOUTS 1


GROSS: $155,932,214
ATTENDANCE: 1,982,458


GROSS: $204,286,605
ATTENDANCE: 2,481,567
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Old 10-10-2005, 05:08 PM   #7
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I like the arenas better, but I agree that some cultures seem to prefer the stadium shows.

I just don't like being at the mercy of the weather.
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Old 10-10-2005, 05:13 PM   #8
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One more thing about the article. Metallica has never really been stadium level act in the United States. The tour for the Black Album 1991-1993 in North America was all in Arena's, many of which did not completely sellout. Metallica played 25 stadiums in North America during that time co-headling the shows with Guns N' Roses. But neither of these bands has done a coast to coast stadium tour without extensive support or being a part of a large package of bands, a "festival" essentially, usually at a medium ticket price. These bands in North America are only on firm ground in the Arena's when they are by themselves. Several of Metallica's arena shows in 2004 played to nearly half empty arena's.

When it comes to ticket prices, most artist are still charging well below $100 dollars, only U2 and a few artist that are a decade or two older have average ticket prices that are nearly at or above $100.

In terms of touring these days, the only artist that can compete with U2 on a global scale is the Rolling Stones. The Rolling Stones used to always be #1, but it looks like when its all said and done, Vertigo will come out ahead of the "Bigger Bang" tour, the first time anyone has been ahead of the Stones worldwide in concert drawing strength since the early 1970s.
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Old 10-11-2005, 06:17 AM   #9
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In some countries, like for instance Finland, don't have large enough arena's for big name bands such as U2. So they're forced to play at stadiums like the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki coz it's the only viable venue in the whole country. You Americans don't seem to realise how spoiled you all are!?!
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Old 10-11-2005, 09:08 AM   #10
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Should U2 play stadiums? Of course they should.

Arenas and Stadiums is not just an EITHER/OR.

Areanas are intimate experiences, closer to the action, you don't have to queue up all day for an half-decent seat, and they're usually cheaper.

Stadiums are a different type of buzz. Anticipation builds up through the day, many have to queue earlier to get a close GA spot, everyone there to enjoy the full day with crates of beer not far away, and the sheer scale is awesome. 81,000 in Barca.

I've never quite understood why U2 decided to do Arenas only in the US. Seems pretty clear that they're risk averse. Surely U2 would have sold-out a Stadium 1st leg, and then maybe planned an Arena 3rd leg if ticket take-up was not as quick as expected.
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Old 10-14-2005, 02:52 AM   #11
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I met with someone from the RFU recently (RFU own Twickenham stadium) who said that rolling Stones took a day to sell out the stadium when they played there a couple of years ago. U2 took 2 hours!
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Old 10-14-2005, 11:43 AM   #12
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Originally posted by yertle-the-turtle
Wow. That was well written.
I agree.
"Knight in shining Zubaz."

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Old 10-20-2005, 09:13 AM   #13
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I think in the States arenas are the way to go alot more intimate
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Old 10-03-2006, 12:45 PM   #14
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 180
Local Time: 09:06 PM
This is ridiculous. The U2 shows were fantastic and everyone knows that. You can't automatically asume that they picked the more-likely-to-fill venues purely for self image issues. Think about it logically for a second.

Stadiums are a lot more expensive than arenas. They're bigger. They're outdoors, which means you have to pay extra for waterproof equpiment (remember the MiSphere in the US, the curtain of lightbulbs which formed the video backdrop? Just a guess, but I think the Hi-res, water resistant OLite 510 used in the stadium shows was probably a lot more expensive.) You need more expensive lighting equipment, since, being outside, it has to be a lot brighter. The Irish Times reported, a day after Dublin's friday night concert, that each stadium show cost €1 million a night. Even the cost of hiring out the stadium is probably far more than it is for hiring an arena.

Take all that into account. Does anyone seriously think U2 would go to all that trouble to book a stadium when they knew it would be a waste, the stadium wouldn't be filled, and there was a far more cost efficient alternative around the corner which would suit the audience AND the band?

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