"This might be one of those U2 records I even like."
-- Bono, on All That You Can't Leave Behind
Outside Europe & North America, U2 Fans Torn About Latest Tour Snub
February 08, 2017
Angry. Disappointed. Frustrated. That's how many U2 fans in South America, Oceania and other areas where U2 hasn't scheduled any shows on its upcoming Joshua Tree Tour 2017 are feeling. But despite a second straight snub of their home countries, our recent online survey shows that few U2 fans there are losing interest in seeing the band perform.
Barring a surprise announcement of additional dates, the Joshua Tree tour will only visit Europe and North America this year -- the same two continents that U2 visited during 2015's Innocence + Experience tour. It's been almost six years since U2 brought the 360 tour to South America, and more than six years since that same tour played in Australia and New Zealand. Fans in Japan have waited even longer: U2 hasn't played there since the Vertigo tour in 2006. To put it in perspective, the 33 announced shows this year are about half as many as they've ever played in Australia, 19 more than they've played in New Zealand, 12 more than in Japan, and 11 more than on the entire South American continent.
Last week, after tickets for all of this year's shows went on sale to the public, we invited fans around the world to take a survey about their ticket-shopping experience -- including fans where U2 isn't visiting in 2017. Since most of the questions were geared toward fans who were trying to buy tickets for this year's shows, and due to language barriers for some fans in Latin America, Japan and elsewhere, we received about 120 responses from fans outside Europe and North America. That's not a huge number, but it's enough to reveal that many fans are torn about this latest U2 tour snub. They're angry and frustrated for sure, but ready to scoop up tickets whenever the band returns.
"Disappointed that the Southern Hemisphere is left out again," wrote Australia's Kathy Papasotiriou in response to a survey question. "Some of the most dedicated fans are here and it's just a shame that we must keep waiting for our U2 thirst to be quenched."
"It's very sad not to be able to see them for the second consecutive tour in my country," said Brazilian fan Patricia Moura. "It makes us feel like we're second-class citizens to our beloved band."
The fans' disappointment in these countries is evident from the first question we asked: How satisfied are you with U2's tour plans? Only 13 percent indicated some level of satisfaction, while 75 percent said they're either "very" or "somewhat" dissatisfied.
"They talk a lot about 'One' and all are equal, but that's not only a word. They have to treat more equal their fans that do not live in the EU and the U.S.," wrote Richard, a fan in Chile who didn't include his last name with his survey responses. "We are thousands of fans that cannot be forgot," wrote Brazil's Fabiano Costa. "When U2 comes to my country, all concerts are sold out as well."
"It's more than a decade since you came here, so please come back next time," wrote a Japanese fan who wanted to remain anonymous, answering a question about what fans would want to say to U2. Said another unnamed Japanese fan in response to the same question: "Have you forgotten Japanese fans or do you dislike Japanese?"
Why Just North America & Europe
"I wish we could go everywhere," Guy Oseary, U2's manager, recently told Billboard.com, seeming to confirm that the tour won't travel beyond North America and Europe. In a Q&A with U2.com, Bono admitted "it's not fair" that fans in those areas get another U2 tour while other fans keep waiting.
Neither Bono nor Oseary mentioned any specific reasons why the Joshua Tree tour is only visiting the same two continents as the Innocence + Experience tour. When previous U2 tours didn't make it to South America, Oceania, Japan and other less frequently played countries, the most common explanations from either U2 or Live Nation have related to costs and logistics. So we asked fans outside North America and Europe if they agreed with the statement, "I understand why the tour isn't coming to my country." Forty-eight percent said they agree, while 43 percent said they disagree. (The remainder indicated "neutral.")
"I would love to see the show, but recognize the difficulties of bringing the show to Australia and New Zealand," wrote Australian Duncan Aldridge. "I understand," wrote Australian Rebecca Lee. "Australia is a long way from the Northern Hemisphere countries and logistically it may not be practical at the present time. As a passionate fan, I've chosen U2 as my excuse to see the rest of the world."
But some fans don't want to hear about financial excuses for not touring beyond North America and Europe.
"They should put commercial interests aside and consider their longstanding and loyal fans in other parts of the world," wrote Andreas Laveth of Australia.
"I understand business," said fellow Australian Michelle McCauley. "I know that Europe and the U.S. is where the money is. But, when I read an interview with Bruce Springsteen who is about to embark on his THIRD Australian tour inside four years, saying that he's forged a deep understanding with his fans 'down under' and that he will continue to regularly tour here, I can't help but feel deflated."
Songs With Local Ties
When talking about their frustrations over not having any local Joshua Tree tour shows, many fans mentioned the fact that a couple songs on the album have direct connections to their home countries.
"There is one strong reason to bring the Joshua Tree tour to South America: 'Mothers Of The Disappeared,'" wrote Colombian fan Felipe Echeverry. He's referring to the last song on The Joshua Tree, written as a tribute to mothers' groups in Latin America whose children went missing at the hands of brutal regimes in the 1970s and '80s. When U2 brought the PopMart tour to South America in 1998, they brought a group of mothers on stage while playing the song in Santiago, Chile.
"After coming here for the first time in 1998, they left us out of tours twice: the Elevation and I+E tours," said Chilean fan Matias Reyes. "We can accept one, but not two, especially because The Joshua Tree has ties with Central and South America. If this tour is for making a political statement, they are missing a big point here."
And it's not just Latin America that can claim a connection to The Joshua Tree.
"The album is dedicated to a New Zealander [Ed. note: Greg Carroll, Bono's roadie and assistant in the mid-'80s] and has 'One Tree Hill' on it, too," said New Zealand's Scott Cleaver. "How can you not bring it down under, especially to New Zealand?"
Still Interested, Still Patient
Despite this latest snub, most of the fans who took our survey remain interested in U2 and ready to see the band perform whenever a tour gets to their country.
A whopping 84 percent of fans outside North America and Europe who took the survey disagreed with the statement, "Next time U2 plays concerts in my country, I'll be less interested in seeing them perform." Eleven percent agreed with the statement, and five percent indicated "neutral."
We asked a similar question, but not specifically about the next U2 tour. Instead, we asked fans outside Europe and North America to agree or disagree with the statement, "My overall interest in U2 is dropping." Oddly, more fans agreed with this statement than the previous tour-related question: Almost 18 percent said yes, their interest in U2 is dropping, while about 71 percent disagreed with the statement.
Latin American fans recently showed their passion on social media, launching a campaign using the hashtag #U2ComeToLatinAmerica to let the band know how much they want another U2 tour in their countries. The hashtag hit the trending topics list in many countries, and radio stations across Latin America picked up the story. The Consulate General of Ireland in São Paulo even got involved. Fans considered the effort a success, but it looks like they'll still have to wait to see U2 until sometime after the Joshua Tree tour ends.
Patience -- that's something fans living in the Southern Hemisphere are familiar with.
"Since the release of Songs Of Innocence in 2014 and then the Innocence + Experience tour, Latin American fans are waiting for the band," said Brazil's Ricardo Rocha. "Almost three years later, another tour is announced and once again we're here waiting."
Australian Tim Marsh points out that fans down under have had their patience rewarded with some of U2's best shows. "We have also been very lucky in some respects -- seeing a band in red-hot form when they do get down the end of the yellow brick road. While the wait has often been long, the reward has been worth it."
Perhaps Australian fan Graham Semple summed up the most common attitude that fans in snubbed countries have toward U2 right now:
"It was torture to have a 'Red Hill' pre-sale code and not be able to use it. It's been six years since they were last in Australia, yet I will still spend a fortune to see them when/if they come back ... so frustrating!"
Great thanks to @U2's Fernanda Bottini, who assisted with reporting this story and translating comments from fans in Latin America. Thanks also to Natalie Baker for additional reporting assistance from Australia and New Zealand.
(c) @U2/McGee, 2017.