By any measure, U2 is one of the world’s biggest rock bands.
It stands to reason then, that for their latest jaunt around America, the rockers are delivering a truly outsized spectacle.
The U2 360º Tour boasts an immense, stadium-shrinking stage design that has wowed fans from Barcelona to Boston. Designed by production designer Willie Williams and architect Mark Fisher, longtime U2 collaborators, the circular, immersive stage has been on the band’s mind since at least 2006. According to notes furnished by U2’s record label, the four-legged model was initially developed over dinner with a few forks during the Vertigo Tour.
The Irish quartet hasn’t been to North Texas since around that same time — 2005 — while touring in support of How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. It has been more than a decade since U2 has played stadiums in North America; it last did so in 1997, during the infamous PopMart Tour.
With buzzy opening act Muse in tow, U2 plays Cowboys Stadium on Monday to promote its latest album, No Line on the Horizon. Tickets, as of this writing, are still available (Ticketmaster’s Web site showed seats at all price points), as are $30 “party passes” similar to the type sold for Dallas Cowboys games.
Here’s a closer look at U2’s gargantuan stage, designed, the band says, in an effort to “establish a physical proximity” to the audience. It will be situated near Cowboys Stadium’s eastern end zone.
The highest point
Much has been made about the fact that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is willing to move the gigantic HDTVs for a rock concert but not
for a pro football game. That’s
probably because few punters could manage the considerable height of U2’s elaborate 360-degree stage. The overall steel structure is 90 feet tall, while the center pylon reaches a height of 150 feet.
Ready for a close-up
While the whole audience can’t be on the field for an up-close look at Bono and his stylish shades, the band has made it easier to watch the action. Wrapped around the 360-degree stage is a cylindrical video screen, described by the band as “groundbreaking.” The screen weighs a whopping 54 tons — the overall design is built to withstand a weight of up to 180 tons — and covers 4,300 square feet.
Plenty of pixels
The cylindrical video screen is made up of 1 million individual elements: 500,000 pixels; 320,000 fasteners; 30,000 cables; and 150,000 machined pieces. It can be broken into segments on what’s called a “multiple pantograph system.” This allows the screen to open and/or spread apart vertically as an effect. The screen can open to 14,000 square feet, roughly the size of two doubles tennis courts.
Building it up, tearing it down
A stage this dramatic doesn’t go up quickly: The steel structure alone takes four days to build (the stages were originally constructed by the Belgian company Stageco). The construction of each stage requires the use of innovative, high-pressure hydraulic systems. It takes an additional 12 hours to load in the screen, stage and other production equipment. Once the crowds have dispersed, it takes the crew six hours to dismantle the production aspect. Forty-eight hours pass before the steel structure is taken down and removed from the stadium.