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"Ireland is like a shelter from the storm. It's a place to escape, a refuge. The groups that succeed are the ones that stay where they are, where they've always been." — Edge

Column: Off the Record..., Vol. 19-777


OTR off the record 1200

To me, one of the most wonderful benefits of being a U2 fan is the friends I’ve made over the years in the community. I’ve connected with people of different faiths, political persuasions, nationalities and geographies who I never otherwise would have known as a result of writing for this website and traveling great distances to enjoy live shows.

The views shared by those who come from different backgrounds only enhance my world views and broaden my mind about issues and philosophies that I probably would previously have only had one opinion about, so I’m grateful for the perspective.

When the opportunity presents itself to meet these longtime friends in person, especially if I have only known them online, I make every effort to do so. When U2 announced their upcoming Australasia tour late last week, I was thrilled because it meant I would finally get to see a show with a dear friend who I’ve known over a decade, yet have never met in person. Plus, I’d get to celebrate my birthday with a mini-vacation.

The instant the announcement hit, we began messaging to iron out accommodations, transportation, etc. and the adrenaline rush commenced. When something good happens in my life, I like to share it on social media … but this time I refrained and only passively mentioned it in the comments section below one of my posts.

Why? Because there’s a growing backlash from fans about Americans and Europeans greedily taking tickets away from local concertgoers who haven’t had the opportunity to see the band in their neck of the woods since the Vertigo or 360 tours.

To the fans who are fired up about this: I hear you. I don’t disagree that priority should always go to local fans — even more so when there’s been such a gap in U2 appearances in said locales. And if this was an arena tour, there’s a very strong chance the shows would sell out in minutes, leaving only resale crumbs for those who aren’t in the fan club or fast to the public sales.

But consider this: These are stadium shows. The ticket capacity is large at the massive venues where the band will perform and the possibility of U2 adding additional dates in many cities is high. I’m confident that supply and demand will balance. Plus, I’ve met Australasian fans at shows in Europe and here in North America, so at least some of them haven’t missed out on recent tours. That said, I understand not everyone can travel long distances to see the shows, but I also know that goes both ways.

Furthermore, U2 sometimes comes to the city where I live and I haven’t always gotten tickets on the first — or even second — try (but always ended up finding them in time for the gig). I’m sure out-of-towners took some of those first-dib tickets and I harbor zero resentment over that. When the band does play Seattle and I go, the most I buy in relation to a show is the bus fare it takes to get to the venue, the ticket itself and perhaps a meal out with friends. But when I’m a tourist elsewhere, I’m spending money on accommodations, transportation, food and souvenirs — all of which boosts the local economy of wherever the band is playing. My point here? Visitors are a good thing.

Above all else, my argument in favor of welcoming fans from other continents goes back to the beginning of this column: Diversity is a beautiful thing. When fans from different backgrounds share in a meaningful experience, the positive far outweighs the negative. If I’m able to get tickets in the sale this week, I do plan on visiting at least one Australian city to finally meet my dear friend and share a show with her. I only hope fans understand that it has nothing to do with greed.

Speaking of the tour, Bono, The Edge and Adam Clayton all surprised fans the day of the announcement by participating in a live tweet Q&A from the official @U2 Twitter account. If you haven’t had a chance to catch up with those tweets, do yourself a favor and head there now. I promise their responses will make you smile.

It’s no secret I’ve been an advocate of U2 being more active on social media for quite a while now. I wrote an admittedly cringeworthy, pun-heavy column over a decade ago suggesting I’d be happy to facilitate such an endeavor. Though they didn’t hire me to help, I’m so happy they’re finally embracing the idea and hope with all my heart more social media interactions will become a regular practice for the band.

On a more serious note, it’s with great sadness that I announce the passing of my former atu2 colleague, Laura Page.

Laura joined our team in 2004 in a role we used to call “News Hunter,” which entailed searching for and posting relevant U2 news to our site and alerting the team to any major announcements that needed to be addressed. She also sometimes covered events, such as the King Center “Salute to Greatness” dinner, which honored Bono for his humanitarian efforts and wrote news articles such as this one, which published in the eye of the 2005 U2 ticket storm.

Personally, I remember Laura (pictured front and center in our staff photo from 2005 below) as a supportive, spirited team member who welcomed me to the staff when I joined by saying, “You are certainly U2 nuts enough to fit right in!” Did I mention she was also seldom wrong? :)

atu2 staff 2005

We adored her as a colleague on atu2, but perhaps her greatest U2-inspired achievement was her role in the creation of the African Well Fund (AWF). The organization posted a remembrance of her that details her involvement and you can read that here. Even after she left our staff, she always made a point of thanking me and other writers whenever we posted about AWF, which is just another testament to how much the project meant to her and how sweet of a person she was.

If you're moved to donate in Laura’s memory, the link to AWF is here. May she rest in peace.

(c) @U2/Kokkoris, 2019.