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"The thing that's most oppressive in our era is celebrity. And that's why people want to burn my house down. I think I understand that." — Bono

Column: off the record ... vol. 17-765



While we're all waiting for The Joshua Tree Tour 2017 to restart, let's begin with a rumor about U2's next tour: Not too long ago, an @U2 staffer had a conversation with one of U2's longtime crew members and was told that U2 will be back on the road in April 2018. Considering the source, I'd say that's pretty reliable. And considering all the other rumors about new songs and a new album, I think it makes logistical sense, too.

If it happens, this'll be the Experience + Innocence tour; you may remember Bono used that name in a recent RollingStone.com interview. A tour starting next April makes sense if U2 has a new album coming out before the end of this year. (U2songs.com first reported a December 1 rumor. Some of our sources have indicated that same date, and the Irish Sun just reported the same today.) What's unknown is where the tour will start and visit. I know this: I'll be rooting for the fans in Australia, New Zealand and Japan to finally get a chance to see U2 live after not being included on U2's most recent two tours.

Speaking of rumors, we seem to be a month or so away from a new U2 single, maybe sooner if that September 8 date holds up. The band just shot two videos in Amsterdam for songs that we think are called "You're The Best Thing About Me" (or maybe "The Best Thing About Me Is You") and "The Blackout"/"Blackout." If one or both of these is released in September/October, you'd think the band will want to play it/them during the remaining Joshua Tree Tour dates in North and South America. An obvious change is playing one or both instead of "The Little Things That Give You Away" -- if so, I'd bet U2 plays the new single more often than they played "Little Things."

Should we expect any other changes in the upcoming shows in September and October? I don't think so -- certainly nothing major. The upcoming shows are all happening in cities that U2 hasn't visited yet this year, so I'm betting they'll want to keep the main structure, themes, set list, etc., the same. The encore has some room for experimentation, so there might be some tweaks there. But I think the overall show won't be much different from the first two legs.

Reaction to my recent article about U2's GA lines was, ummmm ... robust, to say the least. From the tweets and Facebook comments I read, and the emails that came in, the majority of responses were supportive of the idea that something has to change with how the GA lines work now. Not everyone thinks a Springsteen-style lottery is the answer, and that's fine. I'm not even sure it's the best option, but there's no doubt in my mind that a lot of fans

a) didn't even know the current line-up process existed, and
b) think the current process has lots of room for improvement

Not surprisingly, a lot of the objections to my article came from people who are active participants and organizers of the current process; that's to be expected, and I'm not saying that to be critical of them in any way. Most of their objections were thoughtful, intelligent and well-argued. But a few bordered on personal attacks against me (which I expected). The polite version of some of those comments can be summed up as "Matt's too old, too lazy or not a big enough fan to do the work to line up so he can be on the front rail." LOL, right?

Let me be clear: I didn't write that article with selfish intentions in mind, as if I want the system to change so that I can get closer to the band. (Trust me, if I wanted to be up on the front rail for a show, I'd make sure I get there.) I wrote the article because I think the current system needs to be improved so that all GA ticket holders who want to participate in it, can. It's that simple. I don't need to be on the rail to enjoy a U2 show. I'm perfectly content with getting to the venue at 6 or 7 p.m. and being far enough back where I can breathe, move around and not feel like a canned sardine. And I can't see that changing no matter what happens to the current GA line process. So whatever you thought of the article, please drop the idea that I wrote it so I can improve my chances of being close to the band. And, please, the next time I write something you don't like -- or anyone on this staff writes something you don't like -- be a man/woman about it and talk to me/us directly rather than casting judgment against us behind our backs.

Ultimately, I don't expect anything to change, at least not from U2 and/or Live Nation. But I stand by everything I wrote.

Remember when the U2/Kendrick Lamar collaboration came out a couple months ago? There was a ton of chatter about whether the whole band contributed to the track "XXX," or just Bono. We finally have an answer, thanks to Rolling Stone's Brian Hiatt (who recently interviewed Lamar). He confirmed in a tweet that, despite the DAMN album listing the song as featuring U2, it's really just Bono.

And finally, if you've been holding out for the price to come down on the 7-LP, super deluxe version of The Joshua Tree that came out earlier this year, check Amazon.com right now. As I type this, the price has come down to about $145, the lowest it's been since release day.

See ya next time!

Any opinions expressed in this column are those of the individual author and do not necessarily represent the views of @U2 as a whole.

(c) @U2, 2017.