26 hours to go: When U2 comes to town

news-u2-spiderThe 360 Tour crew began construction of "The Claw" at 9am Wednesday morning.
PHOTO BY ANNA HARRISON

With anticipation building, ticket prices lowering, and four days of pre-production underway, the night before the Charlottesville's biggest rock show is far from a night off for U2's crew.

Headed by longtime production manager Jake Berry, the day before a show is the true marathon. Despite four days already notched prepping Scott Stadium's field, it will take twelve hours to get the stage– nicknamed "The Claw" by the crew and "The Spider" by the Hook– assembled. 150 feet tall, including the center pylon, with a circular video screen hanging just below the speakers (roughly 66 feet from the top), the stage might as well be the fifth star of the night, according to Berry.

"Every stage has a wow factor," he says. "Ours just lasts longer."

The idea of playing in the round, he says, is one that has fascinated U2 frontman Bono since the indoor-only U.S. dates during the 2005-06 Vertigo Tour. Architect Mark Fischer and designer Willie Williams, longtime U2 collaborators, took up the challenge.

"The band has never played stadiums in America," says Berry. "After the last gig, we were all sad, and Bono walked in and said he wanted something big–- so we designed something to make the stadium look small, very intimate."

Charlottesville was always a part of the schedule throughout all seven versions of the tour, according to tour manager and Live Nation senior vice president Craig Evans. The draw of a university town was a factor.

"Charlottesville fit very well with touring from the North to South, and it's the best of cities to meet the band's desires," says Evans. "[Live Nation] had a terrific experience with the Rolling Stones in Charlottesville as well."

But can Charlottesville's inclination towards green living mesh with this tour's 120-truck (only 104 for the Charlottesville show) impact?

"We're trying to be a carbon neutral tour, buying a series of carbon offsets after the tour has ended under the advice of environmental experts we bring with us," Evans says. "But it's also fan-based– we all have to work together."

According to Evans and Berry, U2 wants to remind audience members, who make up nearly 80 percent of a concert's carbon footprint, to carpool, use hybrid vehicles, and turn off lights at home before leaving. Yet the post-tour fate of the stage– with a steel frame that can support up to 180 tons and a video screen made up of 1 million pieces– is still undecided.

With a little over a day before the stadium's gates open, the crew still has hours to go before the band can take over Charlottesville. But, according to Berry, it's a job– and a show– without comparison.

"If it stops being a challenge, it stops being fun," he says. "When the band takes the stage, there is not a person on this tour that doesn't get tingles up his arms."

Read more on: 360 tourThe ClawU2

22 comments

U2 has played plenty of stadiums in America, and they've rocked 'em all. A leg of the ZooTV tour was in stadiums, and all of Popmart was a stadium tour. Before that, they played at least one stadium in the U.S.; I know that because it's readily visible in "Rattle & Hum" when they play several songs at Sun Devil Stadium. I suspect somebody misquoted Mr. Berry.

Geez people its just a rock show. If you enjoy music, it will be a good time. U2 wouldn't even be in my top 50 but I'm going with a big group just to have fun. It won't be the greatest concert I've ever seen but it certainly won't be the worst.

Some of you people make me sad. Why the hate? Why does everyone and everything you dislike have to be utterly evil? Are you really that narrow-minded and simplistic? Hmmm. Smells like hypocrisy to me.

I just left the show and found it to be amazing. The spectacle, the music, the soul of the show, all of it. Btw, this might have something to do with thanking GWB: http://tinyurl.com/3yp4fw Unless you think the WASHINGTON POST is a right-wing hack.

I'm not a big fan of GWB either, but I have enough common sense to know that not everything he did was wrong and that despite his lack of self-defense, he didn't become President (twice) by being stupid. Consider it. It may be hard to imagine a President not constantly putting himself in the spotlight and getting all the glory, but for all of his foibles, and there were many, there is also much he did well.

btw, GSOE, 3 stages. 120 trucks, 3 stages, & one rockin' show.

Bono's ego is just too much for me. He claims to be all about the environment but is dumb enough to think that carbon offsets are a legitimate way to undo the damage this tour is doing to AMERICA? He wants a big tour to satisfy his own ego, not the fans!

I don't care what any of you haters say--U2 is awesome. Bono is the only entertainer that actually makes a difference in this rotten world. I thinks it's great U2 wants to give their fans a show that's entertaining and exciting!

And, in case you morons were not aware, U2 put a cap on their ticket prices so everyone could enjoy the concert in these difficult economic times...so there!

you call $250 a cap on ticket prices?

never played in a stadium? i guess rfk doesn't count?

It'll be interesting to see how the more liberal Charlottesville crowd reacts when Bono thanks George W. Bush for his work in Africa.

Geoge W Bush saved africa

Morons. Do they even realize how hypocritical they are on so many levels? The only thing "green" about U2 is the desire they have for me to give it from my pocket to theirs. They want us to carpool while they drive around 120 big rigs. They want us to turn off the lights while they fly a large jet around the country?

I wish I could "like" Jimi's comments here, though I've made plenty of my own. No way I'd pay money to see them.

You too can look like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:U2360-Suu_Kyi-tribute.JPG

I'm sure there is a less disturbing way to show support.

Cynical bastards. This show is about a gathering of the masses, all together, to share in love and music. It is great to get so many people together in one place. It is a spectacle of great magnitude, one that may never happen again in Charlottesville. Step out onto the streets, whatever the name of the street is, and feel the warmth that thousands of people emit and you will come to realize this show is bigger then you, its about humanity and that people can get together for good things rather than bad things. Peace, love and prosper.

You people are too funny. U2 is about entertainment...their message is the point. If they have millions should they live in the slums because they rally against poverty? Be real and chill out!

This village is so conservative that we are against modernization such as roads and movies, so saying liberal and C-Ville in the same sentence is a waste.

Bush/Palin 2012

what work in africa? PEPFAR or Bush's plan for a U.S. military command for Africa? the first is rather modest ($15B for abstinence programs (since those work so well here), and which also pales in comparison to his $850B war in Iraq). the 2nd seems to serve American rather than African needs.

praising him for that seems as simple-minded as that little, pea-brained smile that played across his features when he wasn't sure what was going on. Which was most of the time. He was forced into spending that money on AIDs by Powell and others.

Arguing in U2's favor is like betting on the house in blackjack.

And if the world is so rotten, you have the power to stop living in it.

@:What?

Hey, don't blame me, it's Bono that's thanking him. Take it up with him.

If only it were 1987, I'd be pumped about seeing U2.

Liberal Charlottesville --download your mask here may even save you from the flu.

http://www.u2.com/news/title/walk-on

In 2009 U2 fans at every show will be reminding the world of the plight of Burma's democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi. A Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi has been described as Asia's Nelson Mandela. Her party, the National League for Democracy, won elections in 1990 but the ruling military junta refused to hand over power. Since that day most of her time has been spent under house arrest.

U2 believe the world must not be allowed to forget Aung San Suu Kyi and on the 360 Tour fans are being invited to wear the mask when the band play Walk On, which was written for her.

Interesting...... having looked at their tour schedule, it seems U2 must have more than one stage. They have concerts every second and third day for the rest of the month of October. There's no way they can disassemble the stage, transport it, and set it back up in time for the next concert. The next concert is in Raleigh, North Carolina on Saturday night.

2.5hrs to U2 don't forget your mask!

http://www.u2.com/news/title/walk-on