The U2 Conference meets April 26-27, 2013, in Cleveland, Ohio. We are planning for a pre-program event the evening of April 25, and a post-program event on the evening of the 27th.

For quick reference, we list here the Mainstream Sessions on the schedule.  Our full schedule is here.

Presented by @U2

1. Transition: Marketing U2 in the 1990s – A Conversation with Brian O’Neal
Format: Interview with moderator and audience Q&A

U2 reinvented itself in the 1990s, starting the decade with a new attitude, a new look, and new sounds. They went from a monochrome earnestness to the bright lights of Zoo TV, the vivid colors of Pop, and a decade-long mission to “f***-up the mainstream.” Brian O’Neal was along for the ride, creating promotional strategies for Achtung Baby, Zooropa, Pop and their respective tours, as well as side projects like Passengers, “The Theme From Mission: Impossible,” and more. We’ll talk to O’Neal about how he helped U2 transition and transform in the 1990s, and there’ll be plenty of time for audience Q&A too.

2. Transmission: U2 on the Radio Past, Present and Beyond – A Conversation with John Gorman
Format: Interview with moderator and audience Q&A

Description: Cleveland radio legend John Gorman met U2 on the band’s first tour of the U.S., and has followed them throughout his storied career in the radio industry, which included 13 years at FM powerhouse WMMS. He’s seen how radio has handled U2 over the years, and how it handles U2 today. Join us for a conversation about U2 and the band’s changing relationship with the radio industry.

3. U2 as ‘The Next Big Thing’ – A Conversation with Jim Henke
Format: Interview with moderator and audience Q&A

Description: Cleveland native Jim Henke met U2 in 1981 on tour in England and wrote the first Rolling Stone magazine article about them, “U2 – Here Comes the ‘Next Big Thing.'” As a writer and editor at Rolling Stone for 16 years, he continued covering the band in the 80s before he became a vice president and chief curator at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum for 18 years. While at the Rock Hall, Henke worked with U2 to contribute to the museum’s collection, and curated the 2003 major exhibition “In The Name of Love: Two Decades of U2.” In this session, Henke will share his unique perspective and personal stories about U2’s rise to international success and his work documenting it.

4. U2’s Sound Explained for Non-Musicians: Featuring Unforgettable Fire
Format: Moderator-led session interviewing the band members of Unforgettable Fire.

Description: Why does Edge change guitars after almost every song in concert? How has Adam and Larry’s playing changed over the years? How has Bono’s voice and singing changed over the years? If you’ve ever wondered how U2 gets its unmistakable sound, this is the session for you. The band members of Unforgettable Fire will demystify the U2 sound and, since actions speak louder than words, they will not only talk about U2’s sounds, but to also play examples for us, too. And be sure to hear them live in concert Saturday night at the Hard Rock Cafe Cleveland at the U2 Conference’s official after-program party. Details here.

5. Get On Your Boots: Activism & Its Impact on U2 and U2 Fans
Format: Moderator-led group discussion

Description: Africa, Amnesty, Music Rising, Greenpeace and beyond … U2 has a history of supporting causes and asking their fans to do the same. It’s become part of U2’s music and their concerts. Has it gone too far? Or not far enough? Join us for a conversation about how activism has impacted the band and its fans, for better or worse.

6. Zoo TV: The U2 Tour That Changed Everything … or Did It?
Format: Panelist presentations with moderator-led Q&A

Description: Twenty years ago, U2 was traveling the world with its groundbreaking Zoo TV tour. A new look, a new sound, a new approach to the entire U2 concert experience … this was the tour that changed everything. Or was it? Join us as our panelists discuss what happened twenty years ago and what it meant for U2 and U2 fans alike.

7. Stories for Boys & Girls
Format: Multiple brief (5 min.)  informal presentations selected from audience submissions, led by a moderator with time for general discussion

Description: U2 fandom is a very tribal experience. U2’s music touches our hearts, stirs our souls and challenges our minds. These songs and this band have changed some of us, saved some of us and become part of the fabric of our life. In this session, listen to your fellow fans tell remarkable stories of U2’s impact in their lives and join in what’s sure to be a U2 fan tribal experience.

8. Is It Love or Blindness? U2’s Changing Relationship with Fans
Format: Panelist presentations with moderator-led Q&A

Description: Few bands can claim the large and loyal following that U2 has. Fandom is rife with stories about the band members’ individual generosity with their time and attention in one-on-one and intimate settings, but there’s a tension in how the business side of U2 has related with its fan base over the years. While U2 seeks out new and younger fans to remain popular, many longtime fans feel left out. Attendees will hear panelists discuss the ups and downs, the hows and whys of U2’s evolving relationship with its fans.

9. U2 on the Side: Movies, Theatre, Commercials & More
Format: Panelist presentations with moderator-led Q&A

Description: U2 reached the top of the music industry in the late 1980s and has stayed there since. But over the years, the band’s reach has extended into new areas: Broadway, film, television, entrepreneurial investments, and more. The last decade especially has surprised many fans with Larry launching an acting career, and Bono and The Edge helping create the Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. In this session, we’ll review a timeline of U2’s extracurricular projects over their career, consider the band’s motivations for branching out beyond rock and roll, and debate the benefits and pitfalls of U2’s side projects.

The U2 Conference logo and site design by Beth Nabi.