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U2 Fans Quick to Form Queues for First British Concerts in Five Years

The Independent
In bed at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday, Simon Sanders, 24, an unemployed business graduate from Turnpike Lane, north London, heard the news he had been waiting for. Radio 1 disclosed the dates of four concerts by U2, the Irish rock group, their first in this country for five years.

Two hours later, complete with rucksack, sleeping bag and Nintendo Gameboy, Simon was encamped outside the gates of Earls Court Exhibition Centre, the venue for the group's only London show on the last day of this month.

Simultaneously, queues began forming in Glasgow, Birmingham and Sheffield, the only other British cities in which the rock group will appear during their Zoo TV tour.

Jonathan Wilson arrived at Earls Court later on Thursday to claim his place on the pavement next to Simon. "If you get there enough hours ahead you know you'll be able to get the tickets," he said.

Soon, Phillip van Rensburg arrived from Cape Town, South Africa -- he planned his British trip in the hope that it would coincide with the band's concerts. U2's most recent album, Achtung Baby, has sold 7 million copies in five months. Their fans know that there is no point taking chances when it comes to concert tickets. They have just played to 500,000 people in 31 American cities, where touts were selling tickets for $1,200 (pounds 680) -- twice the rate for Madonna.

Pacific Bell, the telephone company in Los Angeles, recorded 54 million attempted calls for tickets in less than four hours. In Boston, the demand temporarily shut down the telephone system, and many venues were sold out between three and four minutes.

Tickets went on sale in Britain this morning and were restricted to two per person in an attempt to keep ticket touts out of the market. But the prospect of getting a ticket was enough to keep spirits high at Earls Court last night as the queue ran into the hundreds. A drenching from a three-hour downpour the previous night failed to dowse their spirits.

Georgina Cranley, 17, who bunked off college and her part-time job in Bristol to travel to London to make sure of a ticket, has been waiting seven years to see U2. She was not old enough to go during their last tour.

"My bedroom is a shrine to U2," she said. "There's no one like them. My mum doesn't know I'm here, she'll go spare if she finds out."

© Independent, 1992. All rights reserved.