That garish four-legged thing: they call it the claw, or the spaceship, or – less fantastically – the structure.
No matter what the name, the claw is, at 50 metres tall, the largest piece of rock’n’roll furniture ever built. It is a looming aberration of olive-green skin pulled taut over scaffold bones and pierced by a spear of light.
It serves a purpose: its four talons shelter the stage and up to 2,000 fans, die-hards who camped out for up to four days for the honour of being wrapped by its lurid embrace.
“The band wanted to get that intimate feeling,” tour producer Jake Berry told a crowd of press at the Canad Inns Stadium on Saturday, as over 100 workers scurried about the claw’s skeleton. “If we build a big structure, then we can get the stadium to feel small.”
The claw is predatory like that. It is arachnid, poised to swallow whole stadiums. It is also audacious, a fever dream pulled from the imaginations of four teen boys from the rough end of Dublin who dreamed they could be the biggest rock band in the world. Thirty-five years later, the echo of that reverie drove over 50,000 people into Canad Inns Stadium on Sunday night for what was to be the biggest concert Winnipeg has ever hosted: U2 360.
The two-year tour is on track to rake in $700 million by the time it wraps up in July. It is the most lucrative rock’n’roll tour the world has ever seen.
That dream wasn’t always so robust. The band woke up once, in 1989. That was when Bono, a.k.a. Bono Vox, a.k.a. Paul Hewson, stood on a stage near Dublin and told a stunned crowd it was time for U2 to “go away, and dream it all up again.”
Fans feared they were being given the news of U2’s demise. But having survived a bruising couple of years touring on The Joshua Tree and Rattle And Hum what U2 really meant was: You want to see rock stars? Fine. We’ll show you some bloody rock stars.
What followed: the electro shockwave of Achtung Baby. Leather, sunglasses, the brazen satire of Zoo TV. Bono as the Fly, Bono as a salivating demon, Bono as a caricature of everything the band, back in their days jamming in drummer Larry Mullen Jr.’s family kitchen in Dublin, didn’t want to be.
And they brought tens of millions of fans in on the joke. They would pretend to be the most arrogant rock stars; and fans would pretend to believe it. But the truth was closer to the heart.
“U2 makes us feel as though they like us. Like we mean something,” said one woman, No. 75 in the crush of fans who lined up as early as 5 a.m. for a chance to surround the circular stage for which the tour is named. “And people like to be liked.”
The fans and Bono; the fans and guitarist The Edge; the fans and Mullen and bassist Adam Clayton. They all dream this up together, this explosive thing called U2; when the show begins they are one, though not the same.
full story: Brandon Sun