Any time that U2 tours, you can expect something out of this world when it comes to the staging setup, and the 360 tour is certainly out of this world. A self-named “spaceship” by Bono himself, the 360 touring stage is a giant claw with two staging areas, one platform positioned under the massive claw, and one catwalk that forms a ring around the inner platform.
When the 360 tour concept was announced, it was U2′s intentions that it bring the audience closer to the band by giving an “in the round” setup so that you had the same experience no matter where you sat. Unfortunately, when the tour finally debuted, reports began to pour in from those who sat on the side of the claw where the drummers back was facing. We had to take a look for ourselves, so we headed out to check out the show from this perspective.
Having seen the U2:360 from the “inner circle”, I knew immediately from the view at our seats that this was going to be a completely different experience than the view from the floor, but I tried to keep that from influencing my opinions. The first thing I noticed was that all of the musicians gear was set up to face the same direction, as opposed to facing out to the audience at every angle like most ‘in the round’ concerts do. One thing that impressed me, however, was that although we were in a massive football stadium, the way the stage was positioned made it seem as if it were closer to us than it actually was.
The house lights dimmed for the opening act (the Black Eyed Peas), and our show was under way. It was to no surprise that the singers immediately began to favor the side of the stage that the band equipment was facing, just as if it was in an ‘end stage’ setup. The massive video screen hovering over the stage was a tremendous help, and I found myself watching the video screen more often than I normally care to. It wasn’t until a few songs into the set that the band began to make their way around to the back side of the staging area to greet us, and the Fergie even took the time to perform her hit single while completely facing our direction. Aside from these few moments, that was about the only attention that the ‘rear view’ section got from the opening act.
As U2 began their incredible show, it also became quickly understood that while Bono made frequent trips around the catwalk, the band would highly favor the opposite side of the stage. I’m not sure why this surprised me in this tour. I guess because I had seen other bands pull off ‘in the round’ setups beautifully in the past, it just made U2′s choice to address one side of the claw more than the other three sides seem like a poor choice.
Now, all of this to say that the show was just as enjoyable from these seats. However, if I was on tour management, I would charge significantly less for the tickets in this area of the stadium, and let people know that they are sitting behind the stage. Regardless, if you do choose to sit in these sections, you’re going to be guaranteed a phenomenal show, just as U2 has always done.