Fan Fare

Entertainment behind the scenes

U2 links up to Space Station and blasts off new tour

(Reporting and Writing by Ben Harding) It was typical U2 that, in the unofficial scrap to be called ´World´s Biggest Band,’ the Irish super groupu22
would seek to cross an audacious new frontier, outer space. A live link-up to the International Space Station half way through an exhilarating first night of their 360 Tour in Barcelona Uwas not just a cheeky stunt, but also a bold statement harking back to a pre-YouTube era when the eyes of the world would be glued to the big acts on stage in huge arenas.
Of course, it was a savvy move to choose Barcelona to blast off their first tour in three years — Mediterranean crowds can usually be relied upon to go completely nuts and get things rocking. But most in the press pack on Tuesday night seemed to agree U2 had earned the adulation. Alongside the usual theatrics, the band went straight for fan appeal with early tracks like “City of Blinding Lights” and “The Unforgettable Fire” — a song they had not performed on tour for 20 years — and largely eschewed their dance tracks from the 1990s. The new album “No Line on the Horizon”, seems to have been put together with big stadiums in mind and went down well, but it was not until “Beautiful Day” that the crowd hit full throttle on an evening so hot it must have tempted The Edge to finally discard his trademark beanie hat. Bono got the 90,000 crowd jumping with passionately u23delivered classics like “Pride” and “Where the Streets have no Name” and by the time they had reached a pulsating rendition of “Vertigo” the press box, suspended from the roof, was shaking disturbingly. But above all it was the staging that threw the gauntlet down to rivals. The circular construction, ringed by a runway for Bono and The Edge to strut their stuff on, was a novel and effective way to connect with the crowd encircling them. Topped with a clever barrel-shaped video screen and dwarfed under the canopy of a towering ´claw´ — the seminal image of this tour — U2 have just raised the bar for those staging the biggest gigs. Will the Rolling Stones, Coldplay and others be able to respond?