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U2's 360 Tour: 'One of the best stadium shows of the last decade'

September 13, 2009 |  4:41 pm

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The arena spectacle that is a U2 show won't arrive in Los Angeles for a few more weeks yet. The band's "360 Tour," dubbed so due to the 90-foot tall, four-pronged canopy that serves as a mega in-the-round stage -- a look that calls to mind a giant alien spaceship plopping down in the center of a football stadium -- launched its North American leg this weekend in Chicago.

The Chicago Tribune's Greg Kot took in the festivities and labeled it "one of the best stadium shows of the last decade" in a video review on his Turn It Up blog. U2 will touch down in Los Angeles on Oct. 25 with a date at the Rose Bowl. The U2 site lists the concert as sold out, but Pop & Hiss was able to find single tickets available via Ticketmaster searches. If you're still on the fence about attending, here's an excerpt from Kot's review:

On its previous tours, U2 had started to resemble its generation’s answer to the Rolling Stones: a band that had started to become predictable, a stadium act rolling out decades-old hits as its songwriting stagnated. This time, the band reconnected to deeper themes in its music and reinforced a recent development in its sound: groove.  

There was also the inescapable Godzilla in the room: that much-hyped mega stage, which splits the difference between silly contrivance and weird, sometimes awe-inspiring art object. It literally dwarfed everything, and reached out to all corners of the stadium, allowing the four ant-sized band members to play to the crowd on all sides. The setting often made for compelling theater, though it wasn’t on par with the band’s 1992-93 Zoo TV tour, a multimedia barrage that mirrored the chaos and anxiety harnessed by its 1991 “Achtung Baby” album. Ever since, U2 has been searching for the right mix of spectacle and intimacy, pizzazz and poignance on the big stage, but Zoo TV remains the finest supersized tour mounted by any band in the last two decades.

The centerpiece of this year’s stadium model, dubbed the 360 Tour in honor of the circular stage, was the Irish quartet’s latest hit-and-miss studio album, “No Line on the Horizon”; seven of its songs were performed, out of 23 on the set list. Though there was no salvaging thin material such as the brash but empty “Get on Your Boots” and the convoluted “Unknown Caller,” the atmospheric yet expansive tone of the title track connected U2 to the spiritual quest of its 1984 album “The Unforgettable Fire.”

In the days leading up the concert, the Chicago Tribune provided in-depth, behind-the-scenes coverage. An earlier post on Kot's blog discussed just what goes into creating that sci-fi-inspired contraption at the center of the field. It's most striking feature is its 54-ton cylindrical video screen, and the monster takes four days to build. More details are here.

And for those concerned that such a device may not exactly be green friendly, Kot also wrote a piece about U2's environmental plan, details of which are expected to be made public by the end of the year.

The Rose Bowl concert is currently the penultimate date on the band's 360 Tour. The Los Angeles Times will run the full text of Kot's review in Monday's Calendar, and Pop & Hiss hopes to cover the local date of the tour.

-- Todd Martens

Photo: U2 in Chicago. Credit: Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune

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