March 2017 Archives

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Opinion: Paul McGuinness's insight into bots, touting and band fan clubs was fascinating

by Jim Carroll, Irish Times

Sometimes the answers you're after come from the most unlikely sources. Former U2 manager Paul McGuinness spoke with former Dire Straits manager Ed Bicknell at the International Live Music Conference in London earlier this month. Here were two former high-profile managers chewing the fat over their years in the music business with choice anecdotes for everyone in the audience.

Both McGuinness and Bicknell are astute, experienced players who operated for many years at the very top of the business. They also know that their comments will be circulated beyond the attendance of live music agents and promoters.

Certainly, many ears would have pricked up when the conversation moved to the issue of ticket sales and touting, as McGuinness' former charges U2 have seen sizeable quantities of tickets for their upcoming Joshua Tree tour end up on sites used by touts.

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U2 kept fiddling with their ninth LP long after it hit shelves in early 1997, so here's a new take from live recordings, remixes and re-recordings

by Andy Greene, Rolling Stone

U2 are going all out to celebrate the 30th anniversary of The Joshua Tree this year, complete with a new super-deluxe box set and a stadium tour where they'll play the 1987 LP straight through. Lost in all the hubbub is another major U2 milestone. The 20th anniversary of 1997's Pop came and went this month without a peep from the U2 camp, but that's not really surprising. The electronica-influenced disc polarized fans and critics when it came out. With the exception of the soundtrack to their 1988 film Rattle and Hum, it was their first album that was seen as a disappointment, and it forced them to retreat back to a more traditional U2 sound for 2000's All That You Can't Leave Behind.

Looking back years later, U2 said the album was marred by their foolish decision to book a stadium tour long before it was ready. "Deadlines were looming ominously," Bono said. "Pop never had the chance to be properly finished. It is really the most expensive demo session in the history of music." But during the course of the PopMart Tour they made heroic efforts to fix the thing, releasing new mixes of the songs as singles and fiddling with the live arrangements as the tour progressed. The work continued in 2002 when they released The Best of 1990-2000, which featured new mixes of some Pop songs. If you piece it all together, they practically made an entirely new version of the album. The band never did piece it all together, though, so - as promised on a recent Rolling Stone Music Now podcast - we did it for them. Here's a new version of Pop in the original sequence. It's not better - it's just different.

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