March 10th, 2006

Amak Axver

(no subject)

Well, I'm sure all those concerned already know that the final ten concerts of U2's Vertigo Tour have been postponed, and that includes the shows I was to see in New Zealand and Australia. The reason given for the postponement is the illness of an immediate family member of one of the band, with no further details given. I've taken quite a lot of heat for my response to this news, so I'd like to state my case here just for the record.

Firstly, I think this situation has been handled absolutely appallingly. The news breaks with a somewhat vague press release from the promoter - U2 may make good music, but they sure don't do the public relations side of things well. The really appalling part is the fact this comes a mere eight days before the first postponed concert. Frankly, the show must go on. If this had come with long-term notice, such as two months, then it would be alright. Most people wouldn't have even made hotel or airline bookings. But at this point, thousands of people have made their bookings and the show's virtually about to begin! Now, maybe something unforeseen has happened and one of the band members has to make an emergency trip home (for the rest of this post, let's presume the rumour mill is correct and The Edge's daughter Sian has leukemia, which would indeed be a tremendous tragedy for the Evans family). Nonetheless, the show must go on - Edge's guitar technician, Dallas Schoo, or a session musician could step in and fill the role. I'm utterly amazed at the aggressive response I have received to this suggestion, despite the fact other bands have done exactly such substitution, and if you go to the performing arts, productions have an understudy to replace a main actor if they fall ill! Apparently my perfectly reasonable suggestion is anathema to some U2 fans. Personally, I'd rather see Bono, Adam, Larry, and Edge's Stand-in than not see U2 at all and see a lot of money go up in smoke. I guess some people think U2 can't function without all their parts, despite the fact they coped fine back in 1993 when Adam had to miss a show and his technician stood in for him.

I'm also a bit bothered by one aspect: when Bono's father was on his deathbed in 2001, U2 kept touring. Bob Hewson died the morning of a show and the concert still went ahead, even though Bono had been beside his father when he passed away at 4am that day. So U2 could keep touring in We$tern Europe even though an immediate family member was so gravely ill that they actually died, but now they can't keep touring Australia and New Zealand? That raises an eyebrow. New Zealand in particular gets the short end of the stick. U2 were meant to visit NZ in 1983, but instead they felt tired so they canned the plans and came a year later. Alright, fair enough I suppose, they'd been touring or recording almost non-stop since 1979. U2 were meant to start the Joshua Tree Tour in New Zealand in late 1986/early 1987, but recording of the album ran overtime and they started in the US instead, not making up for New Zealand's omission until three years later. Extreme, but it led to Lovetown, U2's best tour ever, so I'll let it slide. 1993, we're just tacked onto the trailing end of a two year tour, even though initial plans were to come a year earlier but were changed when U2 decided to record a new album. 1997, New Zealand is initially listed as a location to be visited by the Popmart Tour, only for this to just vanish and no show to eventuate. FINALLY, U2 announce that they're coming for the first time in 12.5 years ... and they postpone. Spot a pattern? U2 has never toured New Zealand when they said they would. I can't say that particularly impresses me.

Now, I just hope that I and those I know who have invested lots in airfares and hotels are able to get refunds. I've been accused of being selfish, and maybe I am, but here's my perspective. Sian's illness is a horrific tragedy and I wish her and the Evans family all the best, but there's not a whole lot I can do. I don't know whoever's sick, I've never met or even seen them, I have no involvement in their life nor they in mine, and I have few emotions invested. On the other hand, I certainly do have a monetary investment in the tour that affects my life. So I'll worry about what has a significant impact on my life first. I also can't believe the audacity of people who just had 80 or so shows in their country when they talk down to those of us who are incredibly disappointed and worrying about finances. There they are, sitting back in their comfy seats with no money lost, having already seen U2 in their homeland, and they're trying to tell us to have some perspective? Well, I just gave my perspective: that I'll worry about what affects my life, and losing a significant amount of money affects my life. That's money I could have used to see my girlfriend who I miss tremendously, or money I could have saved to provide for future basic necessities as I am a poor student and finances are tight. I'd budgeted on seeing U2 now, not giving airlines money for flights I now have no intention of taking, and if/when U2 do return, it's doubtful whether my finances will stretch far enough to do what I'd planned on doing now. I have reason to believe the postponement may become a cancellation (and if we're lucky, the next world tour will begin here as "compensation"), and if I have to use the flights within 12 months (as people are being told) ... well, I better find something else I want to do in my destination cities and forget about U2 if they come here later!

This is just an awful blow. What has happened to Sian, Edge, and his family is utterly dreadful, but I think those of us who were just about leaping out of our skin in anticipation are justified in feeling very disappointed and concerned about our own circumstances too. We don't have bottomless pockets of cash or time to take off studies or work (personally, this tour fitted in incredibly perfectly with my university schedule but if they do come back later this year, who knows if it will or not). We rarely even have the opportunity to see U2 in a destination that isn't thousands of dollars and many flying hours away, and to have the elation that U2 had finally remembered us ripped away at the very last minute feels like a kick in the guts. It's just a bit rich when Americans who are guaranteed 50+ shows per tour in their country try to talk down to us and tell us to stop worrying about the circumstances that most impact upon us!