U2 Hot Topix: DVD Debacle

I know that I was supposed to be writing this week about the promo video for “A Celebration,” and I honestly did plan to. I still aim to cover that video eventually, but something happened this week that I feel compelled to write about instead. Specifically, U2.com announced its annual gift for members of the fan club. The announcement was that we would all be receiving a DVD of the final Experience + Innocence show, recorded in Berlin. I have to admit that my first reaction was, “Seriously? a DVD? What decade is this?” I would really like to have a copy of this show in HD, whether in the form of a Blu-ray disc or even a digital download.

Furthermore, I would expect U2, a group that prides itself on being at the forefront of technology, to be progressing to 4K now, not regressing to a format that was relevant years ago. Then I started reading other peoples’ comments on various forums, and one person asked a question that really stopped me in my tracks: is this gig still being planned for a commercial release? I re-read the announcement on U2.com over again, paying attention to the specific details. Nowhere does that announcement use the word “exclusive” or any other language to indicate that this same show would not be released later on to the general public. If the plan is to give us a low-def version of this concert as a gift, then expect us to shell out our hard-earned cash for a higher quality version of the same show…well, that leaves a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth.

I am not someone who likes to be negative or to complain about U2’s website or the band itself or decisions that they make, but I have to admit that this bothers me. I’d be willing to spend a little extra on top of my fan club subscription fee for an HD version of the show, but having a sub-par release given to me as a gift and then having to spend more money for the same show in the sharpness and clarity that should have been dispatched to subscribers in the first place is, frankly, disappointing. I should follow my own advice and just wait to see how things pan out before jumping the gun and joining the complainers on this bandwagon, but don’t I have a responsibility to voice my opinion heard before it is too late to do anything about it? U2 has always done right by its fans in the past, and I think that we should all have a little faith in the band that they will take care of us, or at least not screw us over, in this circumstance as well.

If I’m wrong, I guess that I will be eating some crow in a few months. As I write this, it occurs to me that if the Joshua Tree 2017 show is still being planned for a commercial or theatrical release this year, the band might want to avoid making consumers choose between the two products, and so the Berlin show might not be on the table for a commercial release after all. At this point, I am willing to give the band and/or Live Nation (I’m not really sure who is in charge of these decisions) the benefit of the doubt. Let’s all take a deep breath and wait for the rest of the information before rushing to get angry or upset.

I think that at the heart of the matter is this question: how much should a fan expect from whatever they are a fan of? I have seen a lot of complaints about U2.com that I thought were petty and unfair, but now I am the one doing the complaining. Do I have a legitimate complaint, or is this also a petty concern? What are your thoughts about the responsibilities that a band, for instance, has to its fans? Please leave your comments below.

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Ever since I realized as a kid, while poring over the liner notes of the Bob Marley - Songs of Freedom boxed set, that writing about music was a viable career choice, one of my greatest desires has been to write about U2. The band has been a major part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I'm thrilled to have this opportunity to contribute a little something to the fantastic online community that's been built around the band.