Hi Nick and others interested in the Red Zone.
First of all, you will be happy to hear that I am extremely satisfied with my Red Zone Experience in Cologne.
- Days before the concert I received an email with instructions how to collect the ticket, etc.
- The email also contained the cell phone number of Jennifer, the Red Zone Coordinator. She' s very enthusiastic, and to my great surprise she is actually answering to your text messages if you feel the need to ask some additional info (I texted her if I could join the backstage tour ;-), unfortunately that didn't work but still she replied).
- As promised a Red Zone check-in table and a dedicated Red Zone entrance to the venue was organised.
- There was no dedicated bar inside the RED ZONE. On the other hand there was plenty staff walking around the venue and selling drinks.
- I was there around 17h30. The concert started at 20h30.
- The doors for the general public weren't opened yet, actually U2 was still soundchecking inside the arena.
- We were allowed to go inside the venue (the area with the bars etc.), but we had to wait for the soundcheck to end before we were walked by Red Zone Staff inside the actual arena to the Red Zone.
- By the time we entered the actual arena the people who had queued for hours in the GA were already inside. Maybe a couple of hundred people were already inside the arena at that time.
- It was perfectly possible, if you would wish so, to NOT go to the RED ZONE area but instead to take position near the main or E stage or along the rail. When I entered the arena around 18h, you could still have first row (rail) at the screen walkway, and you could still stand in the first 5 rows in front of the main stage or e-stage.
- This was the biggest relief / advantage I found of the RED ZONE. You can of course stand in the dedicated RED ZONE area, but you can also freely roam around the GA floor. And come back to the RED ZONE whenever you want. That is a HUGE advantage.
- In my personal opinion, and having seen the show twice now, if you really want to fully benefit from the RED ZONE ticket you MUST allow yourself to move around during the concert.
This was my technique:
1) Opening of the concert until the intermission movie from the RED ZONE AREA
2) During the intermission movie, move in the GA and make your way as fast as you can to the E-stage (I could still stand on the fifth row near the drum kit of Larry) before the band appears there after the intermission
3) Enjoy the band at close range during the songs they play at the E-stage
4) During "Summer of Love" (acoustic version Bono and Edge) move back through the GA towards the RED ZONE (or if too crowdy, check if you can leave the floor and re-enter near the RED ZONE area through dedicated door as in Cologne).
5) At that moment you will not be able (temporary) to enter the RED ZONE as the small temporary stages for Edge and Adam are erected exactly at the entrance points of the RED ZONES.
6) Don't worry about this, try to stand as close as possible to the temporary stage before "Summer of Love" ends and "Pride" starts
7) You will be at 1 meter distance from Adam or Edge during Pride, incredible experience keep your cool ? After Pride the temporary stages are quickly disassembled, after which you can re-enter the RED ZONE again and enjoy the remainder of the concert from inside.
In Koln/Cologne, the moving around as described above was greatly simplified by the additional entrance to the arena close to the RED ZONE area. In fact all spectators could leave the main floor by this entrance, but only with a RED ZONE pass you could enter again through this door (with a GA ticket you had to use another entrance door at the back of the arena).
Indeed a RED ZONE ticket is expensive. And it is basically only an entrance ticket, no drinks or merchandise is included. But to be able to move from one side of the arena to the other during the concert; basically repositioning yourself together with the band, while retaining at all times your perfect viewing spot near the main stage is the biggest benefit of it. This is merely impossible to do with a normal GA ticket (unless you have no problem to push yourself through a few thousand people, not really appreciated by most).
- I actually arrived too early in the venue. Only around 19h the RED ZONE started to fill up a bit. On the other hand that is probably very locally driven. In some countries the floor is almost full two hours before the show starts, in other countries it's only the last 30 minutes the bulk of people start to arrive. I stood first row in RED ZONE, when I came back from the E-stage I could easily walk through the RED ZONE and reposition myself on the same spot I had left 30 minutes ago.
If your arrive early, and after your initial entry in the RED ZONE, check out the different doors and entries to the GA floor you are allowed to use. Check how fast you can reach the closest toilet if needed. It will save you a lot of time during the concert if you want to move around.
So conclusion: RED ZONE allows you to see the show from the floor at close proximity to the stage, and allows you to freely roam around in the venue before and during the show, facilitating you to follow the band around during their performance.
I found it a great experience, I have seen by now almost 20 U2 shows, and never I came so close to the band. It's also nice to see the show from different viewing angles.
Probably if this is your only show you will attend, you won't feel the urge to leave the RED ZONE. I would still recommend to dare to move to the secondary stage during the intermission.
Hope this helps a bit. Enjoy the show and let me know how you experienced it!