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U2's next tour: what do we know? UPDATED

At the start of the month, we catalogued everything we knew about U2's next tour. In the wake of recent comments and rumours, it is time for an update. This article is based on the original one, with new information in red and now-outdated content removed. Of course, nothing has been announced formally, but enough has been said to get at least a vague idea of the band's intentions.

Acoustic radio sessions: These have now occurred; most dates on the promo tour so far have featured acoustic performances. There might still be more to come. When Bono was interviewed on KROQ, he indicated U2 might do an acoustic session on that station, so if/when some promo appearances occur in North America, the acoustic format might continue. The acoustic promo performances may also be a harbinger of acoustic sets on the next tour, which if the past is any indication would most likely comprise a few songs mid-show on a b-stage.

Smaller venues: There have been plenty of indications that the band intend to go smaller, at least initially. Bono told Absolute Radio and Rádio Cidade 102.9 that the tour will be more indoors than outdoors and he would prefer to play smaller venues. He specifically mentioned playing at London's O2 Arena. Bono's not the only one saying this either. Edge expressed no intention to "top" the 360 Tour in a radio interview, and told Rolling Stone that "I think we will start small". Meanwhile, in The Independent, Arthur Fogel of Live Nation said that after such a massive production as 360 it can be a good idea to go the other way, a clear allusion to a more stripped-back and simpler tour.It is worth noting, however, that in the Rolling Stone interview the band indicate moving to stadiums later in the tour once Songs of Experience is complete.

The setlist: At the end of U2's recent write-up in Q (download it from here), Adam mentioned that they are booking the tour in pairs of shows, and that they want to have two different shows. What could that mean? Two rotational setlists? Two shows with different themes? One electric show and one acoustic? Even one show of big hits for casual fans and one with deep cuts and rarities for hardcore followers? This quote has spawned a lot of speculation online, and of course at this stage answers are impossible - Adam even gave himself a great get-out clause by saying the plan could change completely. (Update, 30/10/14: Adam indicated to Rolling Stone that he does indeed mean one electric night and one more acoustic night, but the band haven't yet fully committed to the idea or how to present and market it.)

Larry also indicated there might be increased setlist diversity at the recent "Unplugged and Talk" event in Germany on 24 October 2014. During the discussion, Larry said the old songs "can't be there all the time", he thinks the new songs are good enough to replace them, and "if we do three or four shows in the same place [I hope] that we would change the set for every night completely". Bono joked this was news to the others, but that he would be curious what the favourite songs of fansites are (dear Bono, "One Tree Hill", "A Sort of Homecoming", "Heartland", "11 O'clock Tick Tock", and "Gone". Thanks, Ax).

As a cautionary note, before previous tours such as Vertigo, there have been hints in interviews of greater setlist diversity that have not really come to fruition. I would not advise fans to get their hopes up that U2 will suddenly have the crazy, exciting setlist variation and spontaneity on the level of Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen, or even Neil Finn/Crowded House. By the way, I have been making my own setlist predictions recently. Join me; I am currently up to Pop and will complete the series soon.

Production: The above quotes about smaller venues suggest something more spare and basic instead of the monolithic Claw of 360 or the sensory overload of Zoo TV. Edge told Rolling Stone that it is hard to know what the tour will be like yet, as it is still in the planning stages. However, that does not mean they will be playing on crates and breezeblocks (much as some of us would love a return to the Dandelion Market). Bono told KINK FM that U2 "try to spend a lot of the ticket price on the show", so even if it's a smaller and simpler tour, it will likely still have its fair share of bells and whistles.

Tour start date: According to Q, the tour is set to begin May 2015. Other recent rumours support this, suggesting that the first leg will take place in North America in May/June. Bono did tell German radio station SW3 in September that U2 would be in Germany in May, but it is possible he was conflating the tour starting in May with an intention to visit Germany, or that plans changed.

Tour itinerary: The latest rumour is that U2 will play residencies at arenas in seven North American cities, performing as many shows as they can sell. (No word yet on whether similar plans exist for elsewhere in the world.) This would be a major break with their past touring habits, but would represent a more efficient touring model for the band. The only city named specifically as receiving a residency is Toronto.. That backs up Edge's comments in September when he told Alan Cross that U2 will play Toronto.

As for other parts of the world, rumours indicate that U2 will perform in Portugal and in Milan and Rome. Adam told an Argentinian radio station that U2 are already looking at touring South America and they miss the continent. That backs up a rumour that U2 will tour Argentina, Brazil, and Chile, and possibly visit other Latin American countries for the first time such as Colombia and Peru. There are as yet no solid rumours about other parts of the world, e.g. Australia, New Zealand, Asia, South Africa.

Tickets on sale: One rumour suggests that tickets for North American shows will go on sale to the general public on 22 November. This would imply that presales would occur in the preceding days, and that a tour announcement would be made by mid-November. We will know soon whether or not this rumour is accurate!

Posted on by Axver

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