When Bono and the boys take the stage next week in Barcelona for the first date in their yearlong “360º” concert tour, the set will get as much notice as the music. Okay, that may be a stretch. But the stage is a departure from the standard rock concert setup, and the band is known for its lavish set designs (on their last tour, in 2006, U2 showed maps, walking cartoon figures and text on a beaded curtain hung behind the stage).
In fact, the 360º tour takes its name from the stage. Designed by architect Mark Fisher, it places the band on a circular stage smack in the middle of the audience. The stage has no front or back. Nor does it have the stacks of amplifiers that have been a rock concert fixture since the early days of the Grateful Dead. Instead, the speakers are embedded in four legs that support that rise 164 feet to support a cylindrical video screen. “We have some magic,” Bono told MTV, “and we’ve got some beautiful objects we’re going to take around the world, and we’re inside that object.”
Fisher says he designed the four-legged stage, nicknamed The Claw, in imitation of the Theme Building at LAX International Airport, where a restaurant on parabolic arches. William Pereira and Charles Luckman, in turn, created the Theme Building in 1961 under the influence of late-1950s sci-fi movies.