U2 INSANITY--THE RUSH FOR TICKETS IS ON

Beatlemania . . . Springsteen madness . . . And now, U2 insanity.

With signs of a Boss backlash everywhere, maybe it's time to pass the torch to the idealistic Irish rockers, who are such a hot concert ticket that they sold out five dates at the Sports Arena next month, without even taking out an ad in the local papers.

Judging from the ticket-broker ads in last Sunday's Calendar--more than 30 different agencies touted seats for the shows--U2 ticketmania is in full swing.

"I haven't seen anything like this since Springsteen last came to town," said Brian Harlig, owner of Good Time Tickets and president of the California Assn. of Ticket Agencies. "It's really approaching Springsteen-style hysteria.

"It's been nonstop. On a normal day, we get 700 to 800 phone calls, but since U2 went on sale, we've had 1,100 to 1,200 calls, and I attribute the rise entirely to U2."

The good news for pop fans, who often see hundreds--and sometimes thousands--of the best seats for each show held back for record industry, radio and press big wigs, is that U2 has apparently gone to considerable lengths to keep industry ticket access to a minimum.

Harlig acknowledged that he has access to considerably fewer tickets than under normal circumstances.

"I wish I could say that I was sitting here with 2,000 or 3,000 tickets. But actually we only have about 500 tickets--about 100 per show, though we've already sold a lot. Initially, we had 200 per show, which isn't that much for an agency our size."

Prices are relatively high everywhere. A U2 fan, who called numerous agencies around town, reported the following prices (per ticket).

Equity Tickets: Top, $175; low, $65.

Murray's Tickets: Top, "about" $200; low, $45.

Front Row Center Tickets: Top, $300; low, $50.

Good Time Tickets: Top, "about $200"; low, $49.95.

Don't get too excited about those rock-bottom offers. Good Time's low-end prices were for seats, as Harlig put it, that "simply give the customer entree to the Sports Arena," a euphemism for seats in back of the stage or very far away from the stage. Harlig also said his top seats were $125 per ticket, a considerably lower price than his staffers quoted to callers over the phone.

"We think we're offering a fair price," Harlig said. "We're still only taking a modest gross profit on each sale. In fact, while it's normally safer to wait till closer to concert time, I've been recommending that people buy tickets early. This is a case where if you snooze, you'll lose. I expect prices to go way up, past $200, by the week of the show."

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