U2 - The Joshua Tree tour 2017

U2 have gone back into their past to inform their latest stadium tour: a 30th anniversary celebration of The Joshua Tree. And Stageco is delighted to continue its relationship with the band that has consistently informed the evolution of modern concert design. Unthinkable as it may now seem, when U2 first toured The Joshua Tree in 1987, it was without any form of visual support. The band soon made up for it with the eccentric video feast that was the Zoo TV tour and by the time Stageco came onboard for the staggering PopMart production, 20 years ago, U2 had earned a reputation for pioneering a raft of new technologies every time they hit the road. That spirit of innovation shows no sign of diminishing with the current tour, a 51-date trek through Europe, North America and Latin America that sees the band perform in front of what is believed to be the highest resolution screen ever deployed on a concert tour. According to Jake Berry, who has steered U2’s productions for the last 17 years, the design was inspired by the band’s performance at Dreamfest last October for San Francisco industry giant Salesforce (see Stageco’s Winter 2017 news bulletin), for which long-time creative director Willie Williams devised a 30.5m x 13m screen. “We had PA hanging in front of it,” recalled Berry, “and then at Desert Trip there was this massive screen behind a bunch of black boxes, and it all looked a bit disjointed. So when Willie decided that he wanted to go 61m wide by 14m high with the screen for this tour, we needed to find another solution for the sound.” The solution was to devise a cantilever system. The four 18m long cantilever devices above the screen are supported by a network of portal structures that are anchored with ballast to enable the long reach. Stageco provided some rigging points for Tait for the header but the biggest collaboration was with PRG because this screen requires a different approach. The Spaceframe makes the wind bracing quite simple, because although the overall load remains the same, the Spaceframe requires less in the way of rear supporting structure from Stageco. For previous screens, Stageco had to provide support everywhere and add a lot of horizontal bracing. Now the Spaceframe takes care of much of that and has fewer connections to the steel. A ‘shadow’ of the tree also extends out 23m on a B-stage thrust from where the band start the show before moving to the main stage to perform The Joshua Tree album as a whole piece, against a backdrop of visuals mostly created by Anton Corbijn. Five systems were built by Stageco, each requiring 11 trailer loads of black steel and rigging equipment while another five move the scaffolding. Two of the systems toured North America for the first leg that began on May 12th, and three were transported around Europe until the start of August with two steel teams of 14 splitting the duties between them. At which point they moved back to the USA and finally South America at the end of the year. From a construction and logistical perspective, this is much easier than the 360° tour but the schedule is much more of a push with less margin for delay. The first site day is focused on scaffolding, the sub deck and the base out, and on the afternoon of day one we start building with the black steel. On day two, we construct the same front of house risers used on the 360° tour, plus the three delay/spot towers and scaff platforms in the stands, and complete all the black steel work if it remains unfinished.