Column: off the record…, vol. 11-477

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off the record, from @U2


I am two decades late with my ZooTV confessional, but I feel that I need to come clean about something in my U2 fandom. Thanks to the robust network of like-minded U2 fans I became friends with through Propaganda’s Grapevine section, I received the Achtung Baby outtakes within a month after the first copy began circulating. I was an enthusiastic idealist in my late teens, so I took the liberty to actually write to Principle Management to share my opinion on how U2’s new direction was “wicked awesome” and let them know which tracks from the three cassettes worth of material were my favorites. Mind you, this was months before recording was finished for Achtung Baby. I don’t know what caused my momentary lapse of reason, but I seriously thought that U2 needed my focus group-style feedback. (In case you were wondering, “She’s Gonna Blow Your House Down” continues to be my favorite to this day.)

Looking back on it now, I realize that my enthusiasm might have been better vented through an online forum or a few phone calls with friends. But, it was the early 1990s, the Internet as we know it wasn’t available and my Grapevine friends were accessible by postal mail only. Knowing what I know now about the intensity of the recording sessions and how they nearly caused U2 to break up, I’m certain hearing from a teenager living in Connecticut who had a copy of their stolen material wasn’t the encouragement they needed.

Fast-forward to present day and we’re seeing that material resurfacing on the Achtung Baby anniversary edition. It’s great that U2 are stealing back these tracks, and that they did take my advice from 20 years ago and are putting the tracks that I suggested on their album. Perhaps my youthful idealism wasn’t wasted after all.

If you were frustrated by the U2 360 tour ticket buying experience, then you might want to join up with the Fans First Coalition. The coalition of fans, industry leaders, sports teams, local theaters and music artists began this past May “in an effort to change and improve the ticket-purchase experience for fans by fighting for greater access to reasonably priced tickets and enhanced protection against fraudulent business practices. Our goal is to ensure that fans get what they deserve — a good event experience, from ticket purchase through the final out or encore.”

Ticketmaster, Tickets Now and Live Nation are listed among the 17 industry leaders backing the coalition. As a consumer, I find it very ironic that the ticket reselling site created by Ticketmaster is a part of a group trying to get access to “reasonably priced” tickets. Other national ticket resellers such as StubHub are missing at the table. I believe that if fans are going to see a change, more resellers need to be involved.

I realize that it’s still early days for the coalition and I hope to see more artists and industry leaders join it. R.E.M. and Barenaked Ladies have already lent their names, and I’m hopeful to see U2 get involved.

While on the topic of ticket-purchase experiences, Fast Company reported this week that Ticketmaster and Facebook have teamed up to allow ticket buyers to tag themselves for events they have purchased tickets for. If you choose to do that, make sure your Facebook privacy setting is set because your tag will be public by default. It will also create a “check out my seats” message on your Facebook wall with the options of not only the “comment” and “like” buttons, but also a “buy tickets” one. By tagging yourself, you are willingly serving as a ticket selling portal for Ticketmaster.

Now that I’m not following U2 on tour, I’ve taken up trolling YouTube for some rare (and not so rare) finds. Here are a few I’d like to share with you:

And finally … I’d like to wish Fergal and Laura a very happy first anniversary (wherever you may be).

While I’m at it, I’d also like to wish my husband a fantastic birthday – thank you for being so understanding and supportive. To think we first met in a chat room on the old site all those years ago!


© @U2/Lawrence, 2011

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