It will be a beautiful day for U2 fans
on May 24 — the day the Irish rock band performs at Rice-Eccles
Stadium — but also for the Utah economy.
In an exclusive interview, U2 tour director
Craig Evans said that the largest tour ever to roam the Earth
will employ some 1,500 Utahns and is expected to pump between $20
million and $40 million into the local economy.
That’s one big rock stimulus package.
“It will have a huge economic impact on the
community,” Evans said in a telephone call from his Los Angeles
office. He’s leaving May 7 for Mexico City, where the band will
play three shows between May 11 and May 15 before moving on to
Denver on May 21 and then Salt Lake City on May 24.
Local crews will be involved in nearly every
aspect of the show’s build-up, the show itself and the
disassembling, which will take eight days to accomplish. The
jobs, Evans said, will include steelworkers, client services,
show security, operations personnel, catering, concessions, plus a
small army of people needed to help assemble the largest concert
set in history.
Utah crews will supplement the tour’s
full-time crew of more than 200 workers from 17 countries.
“Without a doubt, it’s an expensive show,” said Evans, who
declined to say how much money the show costs. “It’s definitely
the most ambitious and most challenging tour ever.”
The reason this tour is the largest in music
history is because of what Evans calls the “steel structure,” but
what audiences and media around the world have dubbed The Claw.
The Claw is a 164-foot-tall in-the-round set,
which spans the width of a stadium and is perched on four legs
with sound systems inside each. The steel set supports a whooping
72 separate subwoofers and holds a 360-degree video screen
custom designed by Belgian company Stageco.
U2’s elliptical main stage is linked to a
surrounding B-stage runway via two automated tracking bridges
powered by hydraulics. A cigar-shaped obelisk loaded with
lighting fixtures towers over the set and crowd.
“The whole concept came at the end of the
[2005-06] Vertigo Tour,” Evans said. Bono had talked to Evans
about an idea to make U2 shows more intimate. As more people
became involved into the process of designing a set design to
support the band’s 12th studio album, 2009’s “No Line on the
Horizon,” tour designers came up with a way to make The Claw big
enough to make the stadium seem small.
The Claw’s look, designed by longtime U2 show
director Willie Williams, was inspired by Los Angeles
International Airport’s Theme Building, home to the eye-catching
Encounter Restaurant and Bar, with 135-foot-high parabolic arches
and a futuristic design.
The design, coupled with the band’s
unmatchable catalog of stadium anthems, has made audiences and
the media swoon since the tour began in June 2009.
“When you see [The Claw] for the first time,
there’s a ‘Wow’ factor,” says Ray Waddell, senior editor for
touring at Billboard magazine. “Be prepared to be blown away.”
The music journalist estimates the tour costs $750,000 per day,
whether the band is playing a show or not.
“They put a lot more thought into this than
anyone else,” said Steve Kandell, deputy editor of Spin magazine,
who interviewed the band before the launch of U2’s 360° Tour.
“It’s ridiculous,” Kandell said. “It’s a complete spectacle. It’s
almost grotesque — in a good sense.”
Now on one of its final legs, the tour has
already become the highest-grossing concert tour in history,
tallying more than $558 million in ticket sales in April.
It has surpassed the previous record held by
the Rolling Stones’ A Bigger Bang Tour. By the time U2 concludes
the tour in July, it will also hold the record for
highest-attended tour of all time with more than 7 million
tickets sold. That will top the Stones’ previous record of 6.3
million tickets sold for their Voodoo Lounge Tour in 1994 and
The broken records are even more impressive
considering that just before it was to begin a tour leg at
Rice-Eccles Stadium last summer — with part of The Claw already
assembled — lead singer Bono injured his back, forcing the
postponement of the North American tour leg.
Evans was in Salt Lake City when he got the
news. He and the tour staff immediately called crew members all
over the world who were scheduled to come to Utah to help work on
the show. “We got people who were checking in their bags,” he
Bono’s recovery has been “miraculous,” Evans
said, and one of the three touring Claws will be arriving on the
streets of Salt Lake City very soon. With a capacity of more than
40,000 seats, Rice-Eccles will be “one of the smallest stadiums
we’ve played, by far,” making the show even more intimate, Evans
The U2 team is focused on finishing this tour
before thinking of what’s next. “That is a great topic for us
all at the end of the tour,” he said. “You’re always looking for
ways to top it.”
One way to top it for the next tour: Bring Utah’s unemployment rate down
to 0 percent.
News Source: Salt Lake Tribune