U2 Announce “The Virtual Road”

Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2021-03-15)

U2 have announced a new venture called The Virtual Road which will feature four concert videos streaming in full on YouTube. Each concert will be made available for free for 48 hours on YouTube and will be newly remastered at 1080p. Along with the videos, exclusive merchandise will be available via U2.com for each show.

The performances will be broadcast in full via the band’s YouTube page. A trailer for the event has been made available on YouTube. The pre-show appearance is due to start at 3:30pm ET according to social media posts by Dermot Kennedy (7:30pm GMT.) The full show is due to start a half hour later, with the March 17th show currently listed as starting at 4:00pm ET. (The other shows may have different start times.)

In advance of each performance, there will be an opening act, a contemporary performance by a newer act ahead of the U2 performance. These opening acts are all artists that have never opened for U2 in the past, and include Dermot Kennedy, Fontaines D.C., Carla Morrison and Feu! Chatterton. Dermot Kennedy will be up first in front of the Slane Castle performance. He will perform in the desert outside of Los Angeles. Fontaines DC will perform ahead of the showing of Red Rocks, Carla Morrison will appear ahead of Popmart and Feu! Chatterton will appear ahead of Live in Paris from the 2015 tour. The links above are to these pre-show performances.

Available now are two T-shirts on the U2.Com merchandise store. However, we would be remiss if we didn’t point out that there are people still waiting for merchandise ordered in October from the Elevation merchandise offer when that concert streamed via U2.Com. The two shirts now available to order are listed as a pre-order and will not ship right away.

The first three performances have not before appeared on streaming services.

Upgraded videos for Vertigo Live from Chicago, and Zoo TV Live from Sydney, and Elevation Live from Boston were remastered and streamed via U2.Com in high quality last year as was a subscriber only high definition version of U2’s 2018 performance in Berlin. The Elevation show from Slane was also streamed but it was a low quality version, less than DVD quality, and was the only one at the time not shown at 1080p quality as a minimum. U2 is continuing a process to ensure that their old video material on streaming and video channels can be viewed at a high quality level by anyone who wishes to view this older material. As of yet plans to make this material available beyond the 48-hour window has not been announced, but the remasters of their promotional videos have shown up on music services after their debut on YouTube.

Sam Lunn, head of campaign strategy at Island Records, discussed the promotion: “One of the reasons U2 remain one of the greatest and most interesting bands in music is their desire to always break new ground. No band has managed to combine emotion, ambition, innovation and spectacle to produce such consistently brilliant live shows. With the announcement of The Virtual Road, and this hugely exciting partnership with YouTube, U2 are once again leading the way with this incredibly exciting virtual concert series.” U2 themselves commented, “Every show is memorable for us but these four particularly so…it’s exciting to be on the road again…embracing all the wonder of the virtual road…and especially exciting to be joined by such a brilliant line-up of fellow travellers in Dermot Kennedy, Fontaines D.C., Carla Morrison and Feu! Chatterton.”

In advance of these shows, U2 have shared a newly remastered version of “Elevation” live from their 2001 concert at Slane Castle on their YouTube Channel. On September 17, the date of the first show, a four-track EP of tracks from the Slane Castle performance were released to digital storefronts and streaming services.

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