U2’s Joshua Tree Tour is So Much More Than Just The Band

Photo by SLOAN

One day prior to the show, U2 opened their stage construction phase to the media and it’s pretty dang impressive. Hosted by Craig Evans, long time U2 Tour Director, the inside look at the stage construction was a fascinating flurry of activity.

Craig Evans U2 Tour Manager — Photo by SLOAN

16 semis, presumably empty, are parked along the side of the stadium, patiently awaiting the end of the show on Tuesday night. Craig explained that the process takes about three days total, from breakdown to set-up.

Craig said, “That there wouldn’t be a bad seat in the house, once the stage, giant screen and high tech cameras were in place.”, adding that Arrowhead has “fantastic sight lines.” According to Evans, Arrowhead is a particular challenge in that the tunnel into the stadium is quite low and that the equipment has to be off-loaded outside, then brought in on smaller trucks, forklifts and carts. The screen, an 8000 square foot screen, 40 feet tall and 200 feet wide, is adorned with art pieces resembling shadows of a Joshua Tree. Some of the most high-end cameras are being used to film the concert and project images of the band, crowd and graphics onto the massive screen. The screen is 7.6K resolution, a mighty feat for something that big, and the cameras are state-of-the-art 8K resolution. Craig mentioned that the first time he and the band saw the images, they were stunned, as the clarity was much better than they had expected.

Photo by SLOAN

There are three steel systems that are being used on the tour. While one is torn down in the last city, another one is one its way to the next destination. The lighting and PA rigs are singular in use and arrive the day after the stage begins set-up.

Of course we expect the band to rehearse for the tour, but so does the entire crew. Craig explained that the tour begins with the band choosing around 50 songs, then at rehearsal space, they begin to whittle it down. Over the course of a couple of weeks, they decide on 20 or so songs. In this case, that had to include all 11 tracks from The Joshua Tree album. Meanwhile, at their first concert venue, in this instance, Vancouver, the tour buys out a four week stretch to construct the stage for the first time, run and refine the audio and lighting schemes and coordinate the art direction of the concert.

Photo by SLOAN

After two weeks or so of teardowns, set-ups and tweaks, the band arrives for their first stage rehearsal. This gives them and the techs a chance to coordinate movements, songs lengths, and of course changes in the production to suit the vision of the band and the techs. At the end of the four week stint is the first show on the tour.

U2 will play around a two-hour and fifteen minute show at Arrowhead Tuesday night, September 12th. The doors open at 5:30, with Beck opening the show at 7:30. U2 will take the stage around 9. Tickets are still available.