As the band moves this week to Antwerp, Belgium and Koln in Germany, the Zoo spoke to Matt & Ax, the guys behind @U2gigs...
"U2gigs.com is a global effort. At its core it is two people: Matthias in Berlin and André (better known as Axver or Ax) in Melbourne".
Matt handles the technical side and photos/videos, while Ax describes himself as a "setlistorian" who handles setlists, live trivia, and other information.
"We are lucky to enjoy the written contributions of Matkin (aka Matthew) of Toronto and Chris of New York, the videos of Stefan of Bielefeld and Frank of Hannover, the recordings archive run by Marc of Cologne, and assistance with coverage of live shows by Ashley and Travis of Los Angeles".
The site began in 2000 as U2Setlists.com, with elevation-tour.com a spinoff in 2001; Matthias was assisted by Martin from Vienna in creating the database in those early days. Both sites still exist, using data from the U2gigs database. In 2005, Matt created a new website, U2-Vertigo-Tour.com, and Ax came on board. This site changed to a new, permanent name of U2gigs in early 2008. The recordings archive was added in 2009.
"Since my early days building U2 websites in 2000 I wanted to create something unique and outstanding. I have loved U2 since the eighties, as well as computers and photography, so it was only a matter of time before I made something like U2gigs.com. My goal was clear from the beginning: collect accurate setlist data and attract readers by offering something more than just plain setlists. Today we have a comprehensive tour archive with lots of details, photos, videos, and connections between data, and we still add features when ideas come up or are suggested by visitors. Our setlists are also used by other fan sites too.
"Every few years I take the opportunity to travel the world to see U2 and document the concerts through photography and video. It's something I really love and it has taken me to many places I would not have seen otherwise. Highlights so far were the Australia/New Zealand trip for the fifth leg of the Vertigo Tour in 2006 and the 360° South American leg in 2011. This year I'm on the road again to see the Innocence + Experience Tour in Europe and I'm feeding our Twitter page with live coverage, taking photo sets for each concert I see, and adding videos to our YouTube channel."
"I discovered U2gigs back in the elevation-tour.com days in 2003, when I was 16. I thought it was the best U2 setlist database and I spent hours sneaking onto it during boring lessons at school. By early 2005 I had practically committed it to memory and I could not believe it when Matt invited me to join him. Today I take real pride in what we have created.
"I started running live setlists on the main page during Vertigo Tour concerts, something we still do to this day. Since the 360 Tour these have been more prominent on our Twitter account. Matt originally linked to press articles about shows, but during Vertigo's first leg I started writing summaries with trivia and these gradually became larger and more significant.
"We have tried really hard to make the site as comprehensive a resource as possible. Our photo database is massive: it has over 30,000 images. We created the first personal show charts feature in 2006 - it was based on a suggestion by somebody on the Interference fan forums and I'm sorry to say I can't remember who! I created a setlist FAQ that has now become quite detailed. I'm a historian by training so I'm drawn to any hint of new information. In 2005-06 I spent weeks listening to recordings to make our snippet listings more extensive and precise.
"I think I've now heard practically every U2 show that's ever been recorded - the last two tours usually from listening live thanks to the dedication and mobile data of other fans sharing the shows. But that's got nothing on Matt, who has travelled the world to see and film the band. His videos from Australia and New Zealand in 2006 attracted great attention on a nascent YouTube and laid a foundation for the HD videos that began with Barcelona 2009. Matt's videos - and those of Frank and Stefan - are probably our most popular feature now. European legs are a particular thrill, when Matt is able to attend most shows of a leg."