Imagine a structure 164 feet tall, that uses 120 trucks to move and several days to assemble. Now imagine that same structure surrounded by 50,000 to 300,000 people per tour stop; pretty impressive, right?
June 29th U2 landed their space ship like stage in Sun Life Stadium. This monster stage – the largest touring stage ever built – looks like a giant claw or a structure built by NASA. The stage has four legs that support a center column of LCD screens, speaker stacks, and even four aerial lighting platforms that 12 crew strap in to and get hoisted into positions within the legs. A giant spire looks as though it’s been thrust through the whole apparatus, and the stage has two concentric circles of performance platforms. There was a lot of buzz about both the stage and the tour when I went to LDI in 2009, but even with the advanced knowledge I couldn’t grasp the magnitude of this concert.
The idea of the stage, as the “360” tour name suggests, is a concert in the round. Instead of the traditional stage flanked by speaker stacks and fans only concentrated in one direction, the fans literally surround the stage. This stage did everything functionally and SFX wise that I was hoping for. Whenever I’d say “it would be cool if…” all of sudden that very thing would happen – smoke, LCD screens moving, elevator systems for bringing equipment on stage, even the ramps that span from the inner circle to the outer circle moved! With 432 speakers distributed between eight speakers stacks the sound quality was excellent no matter where you sat. This was truly a feast for the eyes and a massage for the ear drums.
U2s songs reverberated through the stadium and the crowd was so in tune to it that you could feel it. Yes in the way you do at a normal concert where you feel the bass and the music, but there was more than that. As people were clapping, stomping, and jumping I could actually feel the vibrations through the steel of the prestressed concrete of the stadium. This was both really cool, and a little disconcerting all at the same time. My mind kept bouncing between enjoying the show and worrying about the stadiums mechanical resonance and how that affected the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Obviously the fans did not cause the stadium to shake itself apart, or you would be reading about somewhere else than my blog.
This was one impressive concert. We left the stadium visually stimulated, physically resonated, and all over tired. If you want to check the tour out, there are only 10 stops left of the 109 scheduled on the tour. So get your tickets or watch it online!