When former U2 manager Paul McGuinness broke away

PAUL McGuinness’s decision to quit as manager of U2 in 2013 raised many eyebrows across the globe, but it seems the band was aware he would depart three years before it happened.

U2 were playing the first show of the Australian leg of the U2 360° Tour at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium on December 1, 2010.

The 11th song was Bad.

In the video above, at 2min 35sec, Bono sings:

It’s for you Paul
It’s for you Paul
Gotta break away, yeah yeah
For you Paul
When you break away
When you break away

No-one outside the U2 family could have known the magnitude of those words.

The inclusion of Bad on the set list was significant, as reported by U2gigs.com at the time:

“The big surprise of U2’s setlist was Bad, performed in the middle of the main set. This is just the third time it has been played in 2010, following 23 September 2010 in Brussels and 8 October 2010 in Rome.”

The song’s title was enough to sum up the mood conjured by McGuinness’s announcement.

On November 12, 2013 (20 years to the day that U2 brought the Zoomerang tour to the Melbourne Cricket Ground), The New York Times reported that Live Nation was buying the management companies behind U2 and Madonna.

Guy Oseary was installed as manager, with McGuinness hovering in the background as a mentor.

U2 360° was the highest grossing tour by any band in history.

McGuinness was at the helm. He bowed out on top after 35 years.

One thing that constantly amazes me about the U2 organisation is its professionalism in keeping things in-house. For three years, the public never heard a peep about McGuinness stepping away.

His business acumen has been integral to the success of the band.

In the early days, he booked venues that were too small to cater for U2’s popularity.

While ensuring sold out shows, it also created a fervour among those wanting to buy tickets. They would queue for hours for fear of missing out and anyone driving past would see these lines below U2 billboards and get the impression they were worth seeing.

Pure McGuinness genius.

Since then, there’s been U2 iPods, a 3D movie, a concert streamed live on YouTube, a deal that ensures U2 owns their own music, and much much more.

Not bad for a bloke who took a huge punt in agreeing to manage a young, yet driven, band while being partly supported financially by his wife in 1978.

Well played Paul.

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