U2 to Return to North America for Tour’s Second Leg
Billboard Magazine by Ray Waddell (2001-09-15)
NASHVILLE- Adding further muscle to what has already been a remarkable year of touring, U2 will revisit North America for another 22 dates in October and November, Billboard has learned. An official announcement is expected Sept. 11.
Having already wrapped legs in the U.S. and Europe, the Irish quartet will kick off round two of its Elevation tour at Notre Dame University (home of the Fighting Irish) in South Bend, Ind., where U2 will play the 12,000-capacity Joyce Center Oct. 10.
Half the cities on the second route are repeat markets from the first leg of the sold-out tour, including Montreal (Oct. 12), Chicago (15), New York (24), East Rutherford, N.J. (28), Philadelphia (Nov. 2), Denver (7), and Los Angeles (12). Given that U2 has committed to 22 dates and only 16 markets are on the route, several multiples are expected.
Why are half the cities on the second North American leg return engagements as opposed to new markets? Primarily because business was left on the table in these markets. “We felt we did dramatically underplay some of the major markets,” says Arthur Fogel, president of touring for Clear Channel Entertainment (CCE), worldwide producers of U2’s Elevation tour, “We felt it was important to go back and play them again.”
One repeat market is Philadelphia, where U2 notched two sellouts at the First Union Center that grossed over $3 million. “We’re thrilled to have another date. They did outstanding business the first time,” says Peter Luukko, president of the First Union Center. He adds that the general admission floor setup, which was met with skepticism by many when the tour was announced, worked beautifully. “There were no security issues whatsoever. These guys are great planners.”
Officials at the United Center in Chicago, where U2 played four sell- outs last May (grossing $6.4 mil- lion), are also happy for another shot at the band. “Logistically it was a great show,” says Terry Savarise, senior VP of operations at United Center, adding he wasn’t surprised U2 opted to return to the Windy City. “Chicago has always been a great market for U2.” So far, U2 has played 50 dates in North America and 33 in Europe on this trek, all of which sold out. To date, the tour has grossed $105 million; the remaining dates, which will be the last for this tour, should take U2’s gross close to $135 million for the year. Such numbers make a strong case for U2 as 2001’s top touring act in the world.
As tours go, Elevation appears to be that rare unqualified success among critics, fans, venues, band, and producers. “It has been an unbelievably smooth tour,” Fogel says. This is Fogel’s second U2 tour; he and partner Michael Cohl produced U2’s PopMart stadium tour before Cohl’s touring company, The Next Adventure, was acquired by CCE (formerly SFX).
Fogel, hired by Cohl in 1981, remains based in Toronto and under CCE retains a team that has produced four Rolling Stones world tours, Pink Floyd’s final stadium tour in 1994, every David Bowie tour since the late 1980s, last year’s Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Marc Anthony tours, and this year’s sold-out Madonna tour, which itself will gross $75 million from just 49 dates. In addition to Fogel, the Toronto-based CCE team includes Jerry Barad, bookings; Steve Howard, tour operations; Susan Rosenberg, marketing; Craig Evans, tour rep; Tres Thomas, tour rep; Eric Kert, business affairs; and production guru Jake Berry. (Cohl has stepped into a consultancy role.) Under Cohl and Fogel’s direction, this team pioneered seamless international tour production, including booking, sponsorships, and merchandising. “Probably the most important element of what we’ve done is establish the international one-stop shopping concept and bring everything to the table in terms of ancillary revenues,” Fogel says. “Michael [Cohl] has been my guru, and we’ve managed to put together a fantastic team of people. That’s the key.”