U2's latest tour - ludicrous, expensive and a bit hypocritical

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Protesters in Dublin were furious about the time it took to dismantle Bono's massive stage 'claw'

Paul Lester, Guardian.co.uk

(Editor's Note: In my opinion, everyone is entitled to their opinion, to each their own.)

Considering their reputation as the most socially aware band on the planet, U2 have been doing their best to inflame at least one section of society with their latest venture. Protesters in Dublin this week picketed the Croke Park stadium where the dismantling of the world's most expensive - and most preposterous - rock show, including a giant electronic "claw", required almost two days of continual activity and the relentless rumble of juggernauts down narrow lanes. All of this presumably left a giant dent where a dainty little carbon footprint should have been.

The claw, which resembles a monstrous cyber-crab, is 164ft tall, twice as high as the previous largest stadium stage set, from the Rolling Stones' A Bigger Bang tour. Each of the claw's four sides has its own full-sized sound system - each powerful enough for an entire arena. There are 72 separate subwoofers. It is made of solid steel - requiring 120 trucks to cart it from show to show.

This is not the only time our favourite humanitarians have eschewed modesty for hubris and come out looking a little foolish. During the multi-faceted extravaganza that was their PopMart tour of the late-90s, a technical malfunction during the encore of their concert in Norway led to the band being trapped inside a gigantic lemon, forcing Bono et al to escape through the back. It was a Spinal Tap moment.

Of course, U2 are not the first band to use lavish theatrics to impress a crowd. ELO's 1978 stage show featured laser beams ricocheting off a mirrored ball hung from an ascending hot-air balloon and incorporated a five-tonne, 60ft-wide fibreglass structure resembling a spaceship. George Clinton's Parliament-Funkadelic crew also had a cosmic 70s: their concerts often culminated in the landing of the "mothership", a mock flying saucer from which space "aliens" would alight onstage. Todd Rundgren's Utopia took prog-rocking excess to new heights when they featured a 20ft pyramid onstage, as well as a fire-breathing dragon.

And yet there was a sense of delight in the preposterousness and absurdity of it all that made their OTT schemes acceptable. U2 have about them such an air of piety, Bono especially, that it makes their forays into the phantasmagorical seem unsuited to their general abstemiousness. Maybe that giant claw will help, well, claw back some sales for U2's current album, No Line On the Horizon, their worst-performing to date. But it probably won't stop the residents of one area of Ireland thinking of our leading green-fingered earth-saviour as a bit of a hypocrite.

© 2009 Guardian News and Media Limited

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This page contains a single entry by Rita published on August 2, 2009 4:10 AM.

Ego warriors: U2 speak out on rock-star hypocrisy was the previous entry in this blog.

NLOTH'S Sister CD / "Songs Of Ascent" is the next entry in this blog.

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