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I might just stay in Dublin. Dublin knows how to drink. -- Bono, on how he would greet the new millennium, 1999

Column: off the record..., vol. 9-369


off the record, from @U2

I'm exceptionally late in saying this, but it should still be said: The U2.com ticket presales for this tour were, with a couple minor problems, very well done and ... dare I say ... enjoyable? It should still be said because we (@U2, not to mention other fan sites) were very vocal in 2005 when the presale was a disaster. Seems only fair that, if we're going to be noisy when things go wrong, we also be noisy when things go well. And they did this year.

The reason I'm exceptionally late in mentioning this is that I've been trying to convince some of the people/groups involved in the pre-sale to do an interview to discuss what they did differently this time, what precautions were in place to make sure 2005 didn't happen again, etc. They decided not to talk about it due to a fear that it would look like they were tooting their own horns. Well, since they don't want to, I'm doing it for them. Toot! Toot! Well done all around.

Speaking of the tour, are you one of the many who are waiting and wondering about "Drowning Man"? U2 rehearsed almost throughout the two weeks they spent at Camp Nou last month, but there's been nary a whiff of the song live. (And, no, I don't count Bono's reciting of a line or two from the song as a snippet.) If you're not a U2.com member, you may have missed this excerpt from one of Willie's Diaries -- the ongoing, awesomesauce writings of Willie Williams. This is from his June 27 diary entry on U2.com.

"We did another full run-through this evening, which has brought us very close to the set that I think we'll play on Tuesday. It's working well overall, with only a couple of things still proving troublesome. Drowning Man is one of these and I am beginning to wonder whether my judgement has been clouded by my sheer delight and joy at hearing this being performed live after 25 years waiting in the wings. Everybody really wants it to work and it sounds great but it's proving to be a very difficult mood to recover from. We tried going into Bad afterwards but by the end of that double-whammy of beautiful melancholy the set didn't recover for about half an hour. This may well be why U2 never performed this song in '83. I remember we tried a set which opened with it (brave move) but as far as I recall this was never unleashed on the public. We were all a bit too post-punk at the time, I think. The plan is to rehearse bits and pieces tomorrow night then do a final dress rehearsal on Monday at which point we'll make the call. We're going to shuffle its place in the show a little too, so it may not be over for Drowning Man just yet."

That's an interesting read not only for the insight about this one song, but also for what it tells about U2's song selection process. U2 concerts aren't just play a song, play the next song, play another song, etc. There's a vibe, a mood, a storyline. I've been to concerts by other bands that are just one song after the next, and frankly, they're boring. I loved REM in the '90s, starting with Automatic For The People and all the way through Up. Saw them on the Monster Tour in 1995, which was great. Saw them twice on the Up tour, and those shows were yawners. It was REM-as-jukebox, just cranking out random songs one after the next. I'm glad U2 doesn't do that. I have higher expectations when I see a U2 show, and U2 has yet to let me down.

Will we be seeing you at The Hype and The Feedback in October? Hope so! You probably saw our note on the home page that conference registration is now open. You may have missed this interview with conference organizer Scott Calhoun -- it's a good read, and hopefully all the reason you need to sign up. It's gonna be a fun weekend.

Thanks to all who have emailed or shared kind words in our forum about the new @U2. And special thanks to the readers who've shared constructive ideas for things that could be better. We've received a couple good ideas and a couple bug reports (RSS isn't working, for example) and we'll be working on those things in the coming week.

We've also started on the next project, too: a new design for our blog. Can't have that still looking like the old site, now can we?

I mentioned in this old OTR that there was/is a U2/Rolling Stone magazine t-shirt being sold at Wal-Mart. So I feel somewhat obligated to also mention that there's a Bono tote bag also available there. You can see a pic in this forum thread.

And finally ... an amazing video: "Carry On Wayward Son," as covered by a 10-year-old keyboardist.


See you next time!

(c) @U2, 2009.