How To Dismantle A Worldwide Tour?

Reports in the music press and U.K. papers saying U2 will be postponing its world tour due to a “family illness” look to be wide of the mark, but organising this massive trek doesn’t seem to have been without its problems.

The story appears to have originated in Rolling Stone and was quickly picked up by the New Musical Express, a handful of the U.K.’s serious daily broadsheets and a European music industry online magazine.

“The World Wide Web is the quickest way to inform the world, but it’s also the quickest way to misinform the world,” U2 agent John Giddings told Pollstar.

When specifically asked if the tour would or would not be postponed, he replied, “You can’t postpone a tour that you haven’t announced.”

The early stories claimed “a source close to the band” had said the act’s How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb Tour was due to start in Miami, Fla., March 1st, but wouldn’t go ahead as originally planned. Follow-up stories said it would be postponed altogether.

Although Giddings, who is head of Clear Channel’s London-based Solo Agency, wouldn’t discuss the “family illness” or the effect it may have on the tour, the postponement stories look to be ill-informed.

If the tour is to start in Florida March 1st, then the delay in announcing the dates may be the result of a logistics glitch with the American leg that would follow. That’s hardly likely to be reason to tear up the whole route book for what’s rumoured to be 114 shows.

In the worst of all worlds, Clear Channel would more likely try to lift the front end off and somehow bolt it on the back.

Three European promoters have confirmed to Pollstar that they have unannounced U2 dates and haven’t been told they may need to move them. All three promoters spoke on condition of anonymity and refused to reveal the dates or the names of the venues.

Arthur Fogel, head of Clear Channel’s TNA International and U2’s world tour producer, was equally tight-lipped and would only say, “I cannot confirm any details relating to the tour until we are ready to announce.”

Neither would he confirm or deny that the act will play at the February 13th Grammy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles or its March 14th induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in New York.

Whatever the reason for the delay in announcing the dates – which were expected to be made public at the beginning of the month – it may put Internet ticket scalpers on the wrong foot as thousands of fans will have already bought tickets online for show dates that haven’t been made official. Stories about postponements may prompt many of those fans to enquire about refunds or at least produce a flood of calls asking exactly what’s happening.

In October, U2 reportedly sent a letter to stop one unnamed Internet shop from advertising tickets for stadium shows at Dublin’s Croke Park and London’s Twickenham Park. At the time, Giddings said he could only reiterate his earlier warnings that people should only buy from established outlets offering tickets for shows that have been confirmed and announced.

At least four sites took down their U2 ads but other sites soon sprang up.

As of January 9th, Pollstar found a dozen including Getmetickets, Pallmall Tickets, Herts Box Office and London Ticket Shop. The Online Ticket Shop put its U2 ad back up after having removed it.

Advertised prices are around £125 for a standing ticket and anywhere between £175 and £275 for seats.

“I don’t think U2 would let me charge that,” Giddings said in reaction to the prices.