With their trademarked sense of understatement, U2 set up camp in Wembley Stadium for a two-night residency and I managed to get into the first night to see what subtle delights they had to offer on their 360° tour. Running over 2009-10, the tour is expected to include up to 100 shows all over the world. In a rather nice touch, the band have agreed to donate all of the three stages they’re currently using to various cities as permanent gig venues. It’ll certainly be quite an upgrade to the Dog and Partridge pub.

Due to the unique design of their massive stage, the band managed to break the previous attendance record set by the Foo Fighters with both days combined figure topping 177,000. That’s a lot of people to bombard with tickets, merchandise and gubbins. Still, it beats the dodgily-dressed PRs outside the venue, flogging their U2 branded phones from display stands all down the concourse. In the days since the show, it has seemed as though half the people I see in town are wearing tour shirts. Kerchinggg!

Despite never having been into U2, I can still see the appeal of going to such massively orchestrated shows and even with little interest in the music, it’s an experience to see such a well choreographed set (or at least the first three songs). The pre-show briefing warned us of rotating bridges to dodge and key points where the band come together and members would cross onto the ego-ramps closer to the photo-pit so there were no nasty surprises. The only band I’ve ever shot that were more choreographed were the Rolling Stones, oddly enough. That was pretty exceptional though with the pre-show briefing including “at the end of track two, Mick will move to the left of the stage, wave to the crowd and remove his jacket”. Further evidence that the band are actually dead and now entirely animatronic.. ;)

Having only had the chance to see the first three songs, it was surprising how little the band were using the “in-the-round” capabilities but I’ll assume that along with the choreography, rules had been put forward of staying in a group for the photographers benefit. I like to think that someone thinks of us chaps! On a connected note, when I was confirmed as a photographer for the show, I was asked whether I wanted the short or long position; the short being right in front of them and the long being on a 400mm to get an overall view of the stage. I opted for short and even then I had to stick a 1.4x converter onto my 70-200 to get close to a full-length! For any photographers shooting later shows in the tour, take your 400mm whichever pit you’re in..

Rather frustratingly, as we were being ushered out, Bono ventured across the ramps to where we had been standing and so I had a second to grab this last one as I was shoved through the pit by security. Hurray for flukes and luck!

10 Responses to “A full 360°”

  1. Interesting insight for a U2 fan and amateur photographer like me :-) Saw them in Berlin – great show!

    Posted by frank
  2. Great line up of images, my liege. Def like the last shot. :-)

    Posted by pixgremlin
  3. Jammy Git! I say with affection; the last frame is superb :-)

    Posted by Edmond Terakopian
  4. Cheers, all! It’s always the case, isn’t it? The one shot that you didn’t have chance to even think about taking is the one that works best! :)

    Posted by tabascokid
  5. I thought I saw you setup in front of the TVs (located behind the stage) at the edge of stadium with a nice big ladder…. must have been someone else. I think they ended up doing a time lapse.

    Posted by Gavin Stok
  6. Nice work….the blog in general, and these images.
    cheers from Tokyo.

    Posted by jsh
  7. Hi Leon.
    As always I try to get as much out of looking at your pictures as possible as I make my way across your collection of pictures and the third to bottom image has me in awe of the capabilitities of your camera body coping with a 1.4 TC .
    Just goes to show that a passion for photography is as powerful as a passion for the subject matter would be .
    Is there a three song rule for the long pit as I notice the long shot at the top .

    Posted by Ray Fothergill
  8. Cheers Ray. Yes, there was a three track rule but the long shot was still taken from within the pit. It’s just that the pit had people in front of you to allow for the U2 “ego ramps” that come out into the audience.

    Posted by tabascokid
  9. Ha :)

    Now I understand why the 70-200 was too short :)
    Does the three track rule allow you to get away from the venue and avoid getting caught up with the after concert exodus ?
    Do you get a relatively ‘safe ‘ exit ?
    I assume there is little point to hanging around .

    Posted by Ray Fothergill
  10. The origin of the 3 song rule is lost to history now but I’ve seen it credited to Led Zeppelin, Rush, The Who and Bruce Springsteen! It is handy in allowing us to get away early but it’s often a shame as the first three tracks are usually a bit sterile. The crowd is still just excited to see the artist so they aren’t really pulling out all the stops at that point.

    Posted by tabascokid

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