Posted by: martinworster | December 5, 2016

Where The Seats Have No Name (U2 Barcelona)

u2 barcelona

I always wondered what U2’s Bono was looking for after years of not finding it. It’s a staple song in all those ‘authentic’ Irish bars, particularly ones near Las Ramblas, serving Guinness and good craic in equal measures. ‘I have climbed through the mountains, I have searched through the streets,’ Bono sang. Then it dawned on me. Bono was looking for U2 tickets in Barcelona. I was excited at the news that U2 – sorry Ooohh Dos – were coming here (and Madrid, and San Sebastian) as part of their Vertigo World Tour. I got vertigo imagining the big pile of cash they’d earn by the end of it. As long as Bono manages to squeeze in erasing Third World debt in between strutting his stuff then that’s okay by me.”

Tickets for Madrid at the Calderon went on sale on Thursday February 3rd. I thought I’d buy a handful and impress my friends back in the UK and see if they wanted to see ‘Ooohh Dos’ en Espana. Just after lunch I went to FNAC Plaza Catalunya to be met by hoards of disappointed looking punters. Agotadas – sold out. That was quick. Nevermind there’s two dates left and Madrid is a bit far away. Mildly gutted but I will recover.

Next Thursday I had it meticulously planned. I had enough Euros to buy six – the maximum allowed per person – of the best seats. As this was the Barcelona date and we were in Barca, I would get there earlier. I left my house at 8AM thinking the stores didn’t open till 10AM. I cycled up to Plaza Catalunya and was met by a state of pandemonium. The queue for FNAC was six deep and snaked around the block. It was easily two thousand people plus. People at the front had sleeping bags, matts, chairs – having been there for days. Journalists with TV cameras interviewed the hardy types who had braved the night for Bono and Co. I had seriously miscalculated.


Nevermind. I had done some more planning and had lists of other outlets. Smaller, less known stores like Overstocks and Music World on Caller Tallers, Barcelona’s Camden. Again I was met by silly queues, journalists, teams of security guards and mad fans who had been waiting all night. Okay, the other FNAC outlets will be less busy? At first FNAC Diagonal Mar looked promising as I got to the ticket point of sale, not realising the REAL queue was outside the mall. This also weaved around the whole building with ansty Indie types waiting at the end. Right, FNAC Illia – that’ll be a breeze? Yeah right. Similar crowds. I think I was gripped by the hysteria and utter stupidity fell over me. It was now 11.30ish and I opted to head back to Tallers thinking the queues would have shrunk. They hadn’t. I waited in a painfully slow queue for three hours to be told it had sold out. The quickest sell out in the history of Spain. I went home a cliché of despondency; head slumped, hands deep in pockets and kicking stones. There’s always San Sebastian.

Thursday February 17th 9.23 AM Caller Tallers. Basque Country here I come. There are no TV cameras. The queue is smaller. I feel hopeful. There are a few happy campers at the front who slept al fresco. But we’re in Barcelona and the gigs in the NW so won’t be as popular? A lot of outlets who were selling tickets last week are not this week. Perhaps they’d seen enough of U2mania for one week. I have never been in a slower queue. I think the shop was hand painting each ticket. I started to worry as I thought of similar queues all over the Iberian Peninsular. In Malaga, Bilbao, Villareal, from Alicante to Zaragoza, fans were waiting and getting served a whole lot quicker. I can see the front of the queue now. I remain optimistic. At 12.30 we are told the bad news – agotadas. Another sell out.

I have reflected on the scenario and remain philosophical. I imagine the concert in the Nou Camp. ‘Have you found what you’re looking for?’ I ask as I pass my pair of binoculars to my friend where we sit in the highest tier of the stadium. A small 2 mm figure comes into focus. ‘Yes, it’s Bono! I found him!’. In the distance we hear feint opening chords to ‘With Or Without You’. By the time the sound reaches us Edge is already strumming the second chorus. I will wait till the ‘Live At The Nou Camp’ comes out on double DVD with extras. At least in mi casa there’s no queues for the toilet.

(Originally published in Metropolitan Magazine)

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