U2 in T.O. for tour rehearsal

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By Jane Stevenson - Toronto Sun

If the A-list celebrities in town for the Toronto International Film Festival aren't enough, star-gazers can also look forward to sightings of Irish rockers U2 for the next week.

The veteran Dublin group arrives in the city today to begin rehearsing at the Air Canada Centre before they launch the second leg of their North American tour. They have four sold-out shows here.

"What a week in Toronto," U2 tour promoter and Toronto native Arthur Fogel told the Sun in a Canadian exclusive interview yesterday. "I know there's going to be a lot of people in town and a lot of great events."

So not only might singer Bono, guitarist The Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr., show up at the odd film festival event, but the VIP guest list for the four Toronto U2 shows will be impressive.

"It's definitely starting to reach frenzy point," says Fogel.

"I'm just looking forward to getting rolling again. It's hard to beat this band, this show, and what they represent. It's something very special."

U2's other ACC shows are next Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, with all available tickets being sold in 45 minutes.

Fogel said that the band, who have performed 28 arena shows in North America and 32 stadium shows in Europe so far, will use the Toronto rehearsals to get back in the groove. They've been having a break since their Aug. 14 date in Lisbon, Portugal.

He expects the set list in Toronto will have changed slightly since the San Diego launch on March 28.

"Europe was really incredible," he says. "Playing stadiums is an art form in and of itself and there are very few artists that can pull it off. U2 are one of those, obviously, and they do it in a very different way from perhaps other acts. While the production elements are certainly part of the experience, this band is unique in the sense of how they captivate, project to a stadium. Somehow they make a stadium small. It's a unique ability where they can draw in 60,000 people in a way that makes it seem very intimate."

The mammoth U2 stage began loading into the ACC a few days ago, says Fogel, although that really began in earnest yesterday. Elton John gave two soldout shows at the venue on Tuesday and Wednesday, so they had to wait until he'd left the building.

The big rumour du jour, as posted on the U2 fan site, Interference, is that the band might open their Sunday rehearsal at 2 p.m. here as a Hurricane Katrina Fundraiser.

But Fogel shot that down.

"At this point there's nothing to that effect, no," says Fogel, who also arrives in Toronto today from his L.A. office.

Still, he didn't rule out that the philanthropically-minded U2 might be involved in some kind of Katrina fundraising.

"I really don't know what the plan is, or the thinking is. But when we regroup (today), I'm sure I'll get a sense," says Fogel. "There's no question (the hurricane) was an incredibly impactful event and I'm sure it's on everybody's mind. I've never known U2 not to live up to expectations."

One possibility, also unconfirmed, is an appearance on tonight's international TV special, Shelter From The Storm.

When Fogel is asked why Toronto was chosen as the starting point for the second North American leg of the tour, he says it was due to scheduling, availability of the venue, and logistics.

"It was really as simple as that -- not to mention it's a pretty great place to start off. It's really always been a fantastic U2 market, and very supportive -- you know, Canada as a whole -- but certainly Toronto. I think it'll be a great vibe."

Given how fast tickets went in Toronto, Fogel says they certainly could have added more shows.

"It's a funny thing, but I would say, in essence, we have underplayed in every market on the tour, and Toronto's no exception. But when you have a limited time frame, you have to allocate as makes sense. There's no question we could have done more than four shows."

After Toronto, the band goes to Chicago for two dates, Sept. 20-21, and stays on the road until Dec. 19 in Portland, Ore.

Fogel says the U2 tour is on track to be the most successful of any this year and that more dates could still be added in 2006.

"We have had some preliminary discussion about other parts of the world that we haven't played on this tour, but there's no firm decision."

Copyright © 2005, Canoe Inc. All rights reserved.

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This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on September 9, 2005 2:43 AM.

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