The questions you’re bound to hear when U2 come to town

Did you hear U2 are breaking up? Why won’t they pay tax like the rest of us? Isn’t Bono an awful eejit? Conor Pope answers the burning questions that everyone will be asking

 Light and shade: Bono  onstage during the U2 “iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE” tour at Madison Square Garden on July 31, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

Light and shade: Bono onstage during the U2 “iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE” tour at Madison Square Garden on July 31, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

 

They want HOW much for the room?
The conversations on a homecoming for U2 had barely started when dark reports of mean hoteliers gouging poor unfortunate fans started doing the rounds. At a cursory glance, the moaning seems right on the money.

As this week ends, the starting rate for rooms in the Gibson Hotel in the shadow of the Point (why should we play ball and call it the name the sponsor’s demand? It’s not like they’ve given us any cash) on November 28th – the last date of the four Dublin concerts - was €290. A double room two weeks earlier when U2 haven’t come to town was just €144.

“A 100 per cent increase! It’s outrageous,” fumed the easily outraged. The thing is, it’s not really that outrageous, it’s just supply and demand. Demand goes up. Price goes up. Giving out about higher prices at peak times is kind of pointless.

But don’t be fretting. These are not the dark days of Garth Brooks. There are around 150 hotel s in Dublin, and in the region of 15,000 rooms, which is about the capacity of the 3 Arena. Assuming some of those going to U2 – let’s say 30 per cent – are from Dublin, that means about 10,000 fans will need a bed on the night. If three-quarters of them are part of a couple – or willing to share a room – only 6,250 of the 15,000 available rooms will be needed to accommodate U2 fans on any of the four days of their residency. And that takes us back to supply and demand. So you’ll be grand.

Did you hear the band are breaking up?
“U2 are splitting up at the end of the tour, I heard it from a friend of a friend of Larry,” is the kind of sentence people in Ireland have been whispering to each other since the 1980s. The rumours are likely to intensify in the weeks ahead – the theme of the iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE tour is nostalgia, after all, and wouldn’t it close the circle nicely if U2 called it a day within spitting distance of where it all started on Cedarwood Road. It might. But they won’t. Or maybe they will. In which case you read it here first.

Did you see them in the Dandelion?
If you didn’t see U2 play the Dandelion Market where the Stephen’s Green Centre now stands back when they didn’t have an arse in their trousers, you’re no one in this town. Of course, you could always pretend you were there like everyone else of a certain age does.

Every good lie needs details, mind you. So remember that their first Dandelion concert was on May 12th, 1979, at 3pm. It was raining outside (we think). From what we can glean from the oracle that is the internet, Bono wore a black T-shirt (the rebel) and a hatless, hairy Edge wore a sports coat and a loosely tied scarf (the weirdo).

If you want to add an extra layer detail to your lie, you could pretend you made a weekend of it. The previous day’s slot was occupied by Zebra, and the day after U2 played, Fit Kilkenny & The Remoulds took to the stage. A band who had a reunion in Dubai in 2006 – a fact that is even weirder than the Edge’s clothes that time I saw them playing in the Dandelion.

Would they not just pay their tax?
The rage U2’s tax affairs instil in some people really is a thing to behold. A decade or so ago, the band moved part of their massive business empire to the Netherlands to avail of lower tax rates there, and suddenly it was like they’d robbed a Magdalene Laundry and thrown a bag of adorable puppies into the Tolka on the way home.

The outrage in some quarters has never dissipated. It seems disproportionate. Rich people manage their tax affairs in ways the rest of us could only dream of. That is not new nor is it unique to U2. “It’s just some smart people we have working for us trying to be sensible about the way we’re taxed,” Bono said earlier this year when quizzed about the band’s tax affairs. “We pay a fortune in tax. Just so people know, we pay a fortune in tax; and we’re happy to pay a fortune in tax, people should.” Will that silence the critics? Will it hell.

Saint Bono’s an awful gobshite isn’t he?
Indeed. Who amongst us hasn’t slagged Bono off for all his pious do-goodery and his tiresome determination to make life just a little better for tens of millions of people living in the most desperate of conditions in sub-Saharan Africa. How dare he. Why doesn’t he just snort coke with super-models, and hang out in the Playboy mansion eating burgers with Heff like a proper rock-star?

Do you think they’ll play the old stuff?
Yes. Yes they will. While the band are touring their new album, they are nothing if not crowd-pleasers. Allowing their fans to leave the 3Arena without Pride, One, Bad and all the rest ringing in their ears is just not the U2 way. You can take that to the bank.

How dare they give me an album for free?
Yeah, that really was terrible wasn’t it? A band, giving everyone something for nothing? It’s not like Bono and Adam Clayton broke into your house and forced you to hit play on the album in the days after it magically appeared on iTunes. They’re saving that strategy for the next album.

What’s with Bono’s sunglasses? And Edge’s beanie?
Well Bono has Glaucoma. And The Edge, well, The Edge is bald. There. We’ve said it. There’s no need to be ashamed Edge. There’s no need to hide it. It’s grand. Take it from one who knows. And you must get awful hot wearing the hat on stage, almost as hot as that time you wore a sports coat and a scarf back in the Dandelion.

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