The Inner Workings of the U2 360° Inner Circle
or Making the Most of Your U2 360° General Admission Ticket
Meet Joe. That’s him there next to The Edge. I’ve labelled the image in case you don’t recognise them.
Joe lives in Canada. Joe is a really nice guy. And most importantly for purposes of this conversation, Joe is a U2 Super Fan. And that’s not an exaggeration in any way at all. He is a total, absolute, complete U2 Super Fan.
Let me illustrate that “U2 Super Fan” status for you…
Joe has been attending U2 concerts since 2001. Since then he has seen the band perform live a total of 41 times! He has plans in place to see them in concert at least another 15 times this year. Suffice to say that by the time the 360° Tour draws to a close Joe will have attended almost 60 live U2 concerts.
Joe is such a serious and committed fan, that not only does he shoot and then publish the photographs he takes at each of the shows, he also reviews many of them and documents the set-lists as they are performed. You can see all of the photographs that Joe has taken during the Elevation, Vertigo and 360 Tours on his Fotki Photograph pages. And you can read his concert reviews and find out much more about Joe’s “U2ouring” exploits on his Online on the Horizon U2 Fan Site blog.
All of that is interesting, but not really the chief reason that I wanted to introduce to Joe. You see, the other major thing that Joe has done is compile The Unofficial Guide to the U2 General Admission Queue.
Of the 41 U2 concerts that Joe has been to so far, 39 of them were seen using General Admission (GA) Field Standing entrance tickets. And in all cases Joe and his friends have managed to secure positions for themselves in the centre Front of Stage (FOS) area, normal in the front row right up against the rail. 18 of the 360° Tour shows have been watched from the very front of the Inner Circle – that special area of The Claw staging that sits between the main stage area and the circular ramp the runs around it. It’s reasonable to suggest that Joe knows a thing or two about the U2 General Admission Queue!
This Inner Circle area would normally be reserved for VIP/Golden Circle type ticket holders. But in the case of the 360° set-up, those cash-heavy fans have the opportunity to access the two areas on each side of the ramp – known as the RedZones. In the case of the 360° Tour that prime viewing ‘should be a Golden Circle’ area becomes the domain of a few lucky, determined U2 fans who hold standard, nothing special GA – Field Standing tickets to the shows.
And that’s where Joe shows his generous nature. His Guide is without doubt the most detailed, comprehensive and honest “Instruction Manual” explaining how to best go about queuing for and making the most out of your U2 General Admission concert experience. And he also advises people on how to get into the Inner Circle, if that’s what you’re aiming for.
The big question now is “How do they decide who gets into the Inner Circle?”
Initially, Big Concerts and Computicket suggested that they would issue Inner Circle armbands a day prior to the concerts. This subsequently changed to the information below:
Cape Town Concert: Inner Circle tickets will be issued on a first-come-first-served basis to the first 2,700 fans with general standing tickets. Obviously many people will queue at the venues from the day before the show in order to get these tickets – and accordingly we will ensure that a safe area is provided for these fans, with security, food, bars, toilets etc. (Big Concerts via Facebook – 25 Jan)
Johannesburg Concert: The first 2,700 people with general field standing tickets to queue at the venue gates will be issued with Inner Circle armbands. We are preparing for fans to arrive from the day before the actual show. We will be ready from early on Saturday for people queuing for the inner circle. In fact we are on site from the 5th February already and both our security head and the metro traffic police will be keeping a watch on crowd build up and making allowances for any unexpected rush. (Big Concerts via Facebook – 26 Jan)
Slightly different wording in each case, but the approach sounds the same: if you want to get into the Inner Circle for either of the U2 concerts in South Africa, be prepared to tough it out in a General Admission queue that will probably start forming the day before each show. And if you aren’t one of the fortunate 2,700 at the head of the queues, don’t despair. Try to get to the centre front of the rail on the outside of the ramp. I think the experience from there will even better than it will be for the RedZoners in similar positions on the sides!
Joe answers all your questions in his Unofficial Guide
Joe covers every conceivable eventuality in his Guide in a nicely ordered and detailed page. He even throws in a Table of Contents for us that covers areas such as “Time to Arrive at the Queue”, “Camping Overnight”, “Meeting the Band”, “What to Bring to the Queue”, “What it is like on the Floor”, and much more.
Throughout the Guide Joe answers the questions burning in all our novice concert-goers’ minds.
Questions like “What time should I show up to the queue?”, “Can I get the queue early and save spots for my friends who will arrive later?”, “What do you do all day in the queue?” and the ever important “How do I get to the floor (inner- or outer-circle)?”
To add more clarity he even tosses in a bunch of real-world photographs and a couple of diagrams too. Here he illustrates how best to access the Inner Circle area, depending on the size and position of the two RedZones:
Sadly, Joe won’t be joining us in South Africa
Which really is a great pity because I know there’ll be loads of people who would have liked to have thanked him personally and shown him some true South African friendship once they’ve read his Guide. Even so, please do drop him a note in the comments on his blog and tell him we sent you.
In his absence, I did assure Joe that we would keep an eye out for two of his good friends and fellow U2 fans who will be in the country:
If you are spending time in the General Admission queue, you should meet my friends who will be there. Jana Pinto (from Sao Paulo, Brazil) will be there, as will Cathal McCarron (from Derry, Ireland). You can spot Cathal pretty easily. He’s a tall, red-headed fellow wearing a black T-Shirt with "Me & U2" on it. Cathal’s promoting his book about growing up with U2’s music in Ireland.
Now don’t let me down on this one: look out for Jana and Cathal and be sure to pass on Joe (and my!) regards.
That’s it Blablanians. Get reading. Get planning. Get queuing! Rock on!
A last word from Joe
I truly believe U2 are the Beatles of my time, and I do not regret seeing as many shows while I still can. One day, all of this will be gone, and I want to look back with the fondness and richness of memory. I look forward to sharing more experiences with you all — see you in the queue!
A personal note of gratitude to Joe for his unhesitating support for this post, and for giving me permission to take from his material so freely. Any and all errors in this post are mine alone, not his. Joe, I’m sorry that we won’t have the pleasure of your presence here in South Africa. Hopefully one day in the future we’ll meet in a U2 concert queue and I can extend my thanks personally. Until then – Thank you, you are a true legend!