The numbers associated with the U2360° Tour are staggering: a 170-ton stage rightfully dubbed “the spaceship,” 200 trucks carting it around, 250 speakers, nearly 400 employees and $750,000 a day in overhead. But the band’s stadium show is more than a fantastic spectacle — it’s the biggest rock tour of all time, and Rolling Stone is onstage and backstage with U2’s Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. as they make history in our new issue, on stands today.
Explore three decades of U2 in photos.
Sales for U2’s latest album, No Line on the Horizon, may not match their biggest blockbusters, but the foursome are out to “engage and try and do something different,” as Edge puts it, as well as prove their new material can stand up next to the classics. “I walk out and sing ‘Breathe’ every night to a lot of people who don’t know it,” Bono tells RS‘ Brian Hiatt of the No Line show opener in our cover story. “I’m a performer — I’m not going to hang on to a song that doesn’t communicate and add up to something. They’re great songs live, and I think it’s a great album.” But three-fourths of U2 (save the Edge) think “Get On Your Boots” was the wrong pick for a first single.
Look back at U2’s essential LPs in our album guide.
Read the full story in our new issue to go behind the scenes as U2 prep for their opening-night show in Chicago, tweaking “Your Blue Room” from the band’s 1995 collaboration with Brian Eno; and join them in Croatia as the Edge generates new effects presets on the fly and the band reflects on the significance of performing in the once war-torn nation for the first time since 1997.
Climb aboard “the spaceship” and flip through photos of U2’s massive stage show.
As Rolling Stone tags along in a private jet en route to Chicago, Bono also meditates on what it means to be a rock star in 2009, praising Jay-Z as “a pioneer” who’s interested in a “porous culture, where there’s much more crosstown traffic.” He adds, “In this age of celebrity and pop stardom, maybe it’s a sensible thing to question the values of being a pop star. Radiohead, Pearl Jam, a lot of people, who maybe had more sense than us, rejected it. But the thing that’s suffered from that stance was that precious, pure thing, what they used to call the 45.”