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!