Former U2 manager Paul McGuinness shared stories from his illustrious career during a wide-ranging interview at last week’s International Live Music Conference (ILMC).
McGuinness, who was grilled by raconteur Ed Bicknell of Damage Management for ILMC’s traditional Breakfast Meeting, recalled U2’s ground-breaking 360° tour of 2009-11, which remains the highest-grossing tour of all time ($736.42 million).
“The name of that tour was my little joke in a way because the record companies at that time were pursuing these immoral [360°] deals where having failed to exploit digital distribution, the only thing they could think of to make more money was to take it off the artists who were going out doing gigs. It was shameful, I thought,” said McGuinness.
“So when we put together that production – which was playing in the round in stadiums – it was extraordinarily expensive to do. We were $30-40 million into pre-production before the tour started. That tour grossed three quarters of a billion – 110 shows – the net of course was rather less.”
Famous for its four-legged structure dubbed The Claw, 360° was attended by 7.2m people across the globe. Elaborating on the astonishing scale of the presentation, McGuinness revealed that days off effectively cost $300,000. “There were 200 trucks. There were 400 people travelling – but 200 of them were drivers,” he said. “It was great fun in a way but it was a bit of strain waking up each day thinking, Oh god, even though we’re not playing today, we’re spending $300,000.”