After selling out stadiums for a year, U2 is headed back inside to some of the world’s biggest arenas.
The 59-date tour will take the Irish rockers to 17 North American cities, nearly all of which are major pro sports markets.
There are multiple shows in many of these cities, including three nights in Madison Square Garden. There are also dates in places like London, Paris, Berlin, Milan, Madrid and Amsterdam. And, of course, Dublin.
And then there are two notable outliers: Omaha and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band will play the CenturyLink Center on May 19, and judging by the other stops on the tour, getting the world’s biggest touring band to Omaha was a coup.
The Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority, which runs the arena, landed U2 by being persistent with promoter Live Nation. MECA’s Tom O’Gorman, in particular, is known for constantly pitching the arena to the biggest concert tours.
And having the experience of U2’s sold-out 2005 show definitely helped.
“Omaha has proven to be a good tour stop,” MECA president Roger Dixon said. “The community supports the shows we bring in, so we’re proud to say our ticket sales speak for themselves. U2 easily sold out our arena in 2005, (coming to Omaha) even before our expansion. We know a show of this magnitude will once again draw a large and exciting crowd.”
Last year, U2 toured stadiums to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its seminal album, “The Joshua Tree.” The band played the entirety of the 1987 album, and every date sold out. With 2.7 million tickets sold worldwide, it was the top-selling tour of the year, according to Pollstar.
The closest stop on that tour was at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium, and many Omahans made the trip.
“It was a hell of a show. Just amazing,” said Omahan Robb Brouillette, 47. “I’m getting chills just talking about it.”
Brouillette called it a “no-brainer” to try to see U2 again this year.
“Omaha always seems to get that one huge show,” he said. “I can’t wait.”
The 2018 U2 shows are likely to feature a more traditional set list, with some new songs as well as a trove of hits.
Named after U2’s last two albums, this year’s “Experience + Innocence” tour is a sequel of sorts to 2015’s “Innocence + Experience” tour, which featured six songs from 2014’s “Songs of Innocence” among a 24-song set list. Largely, those shows consisted of classic U2 hits such as “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” “Beautiful Day,” “Where the Streets Have No Name,” “Mysterious Ways,” “Pride (In the Name of Love)” and “With or Without You,” according to Setlist.fm.
The May show should be an easy sell to local fans. U2’s 2005 Omaha show sold out in 33 minutes.
Dixon credited passionate fans with helping make the arena a top destination for big tours. When fans buy tickets, big acts want to play there, he said. His theory will be tested this year; three big acts — comedian Kevin Hart, country singer Shania Twain and U2 — play the facility on consecutive nights, May 17 to 19.
That same week also will feature performances by comedian Tiffany Haddish (May 19) at the Holland Performing Arts Center and the popular touring Broadway musical “Wicked” (May 16 through June 3) at the Orpheum Theater.
U2 tickets, priced at $41 to $325, go on sale at 10 a.m. March 12 via Ticketmaster. Subscribers to U2.com can access fan presales starting 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. Tuesday.
Formed in 1976, U2 has 22 Grammy Awards, more than any other band, and ranks at No. 21 all time in album sales in the U.S. with more than 52 million sold. They’ve also marked eight No. 1 albums and six top-10 singles.
Last year’s “Songs of Experience” landed at No. 3 on Rolling Stone’s list of the year’s best. The album shows U2 “harnessing their earnest post-punk past to their remarkable facility for modern pop gestures,” the magazine said.