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A new album has divided opinion and now U2 - the ultimate stadium act - are downsizing to arenas. Have they lost their pulling power

by Ed Power, Irish Independent

What's going on with U2? The band have just crawled free of the controversy over their 'freebie' album, Songs Of Innocence, and its opinion-dividing overnight appearance in the iTunes folders of 700 million people (a chunk of whom turned out not to want a giveaway U2 record, thank you very much). Now Bono and the Edge have let it slip that, when the group tour next year, they won't be taking in their traditional stadium stomping grounds. Instead, they are to step down to smaller venues, such as Dublin's 14,000 capacity 3Arena.

This is quite downsizing for an outfit who have always placed great store in being as big as possible. Granted, only an artist at Bono's level could describe a vast shed such as 3Arena as "intimate".

Nonetheless, compared with the cloud-scraping buttresses of Croke Park, where U2 pitched up for three nights during 2009's 360° tour, 3Arena and its ilk will make for spectacularly modest backdrops. Indeed, for many, the idea of experiencing U2 at close quarters may feel ridiculous, even surreal.

U2 to tour indoor arenas in 2015

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The band's last major tour was the ambitious U2 360° Tour of 2009 to 2011

by Dan Stubbs, NME

U2 say they'll be touring their new album, 'Songs Of Innocence', in 2015 - and playing indoor arenas.

The move marks a scaling-back for the band, whose last major tour was the U2 360° Tour of 2009 to 2011, which saw the band play 110 shows in outdoor arenas and stadia around the world in support of 2009's 'No Line On The Horizon'. They performed in the round from within a bespoke, four-legged structure nicknamed 'The Claw', which had a wraparound video screen and multi-directional sound system.

Of the plans to tour next year, Bono told Absolute Radio: "We're going to be touring. We're going to start next year. We're going try and play The O2 [in London] and places like that, more indoors than outdoors this time, but we'll see where it takes us."

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By Ray Waddell, Billboard

U2 manager Paul McGuinness had a long and fruitful relationship with late, great architect/set designer Mark Fisher, who passed away on Tuesday (June 25) and was invovled with every U2 tour since 1991. Here's his thoughts on Fisher's "genius."

"I had known Mark in a previous life. Before I managed U2, back in 1973 I worked on a movie called "Zardoz," made in Ireland by the director John Boorman. It's kind of a cult movie now, sci-fi, Sean Connery, Charlotte Rampling were in it. In those days, Mark Fisher was a student at the Architectural Association in London. He and a couple of other kind of hippies from the Architectural Association worked on that movie building inflatable buildings -- it was set in the future. I always thought [the Rolling Stones tours] was where they developed the technology, and John Boorman must have heard about it and brought them in. That was the first time I met him, and then some years later he cropped up in rock 'n roll. We started working with him in 1991 and he was involved in every production since then."

The Year in Touring: U2's Mighty Roar

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Where the Streets Have No Name in Glastonbury

by Ray Waddell, Billboard

Any year in touring that includes the figure $736,421,586 can only be considered a good year for business.

That mind-blowing sum is the final tally for U2's historic 360° tour, a three-year behemoth that shattered preconceived notions (and capacities) for stadium shows, forever changed the paradigms of concert production and moved more than 7 million tickets around the globe.

When it wrapped in July, 360° went down has the highest-grossing and biggest ticket seller in the history of the business. Of those totals, $293.3 million in box office and nearly 3 million in ticket sales were generated during the Billboard touring calendar, which ran from Nov. 1, 2010, to Nov. 8, 2011-and easily enough to make 360° the top tour of the year.

Bono: U2 won't be back for a while

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Bono decides it's time to take a breather after rigorous world tour leaves him in need of some rock star rest.

Bono says it was heart-wrenching to wave goodbye to U2's 110-date monster tour but says he's done with life on the road... for a while.

In a rare interview with Guilty Pleasures, the singer lifted the lid on the Irish band's two-year 360° Tour during an evening when he was hounded and rounded on by other stars at the GQ Men of the Year Awards.

Pining for his travels across five continents, the charity campaigner told me: 'They say every tour is ten days too long. Not with this one. We genuinely loved every single night and at the end we were so sad.'

The great U2 clawback

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Iconic €20m stages up for auction as tour finally ends

By Grainne Cunningham, Irish Independent

THE Claw, the iconic centrepiece from U2's 360° tour, is up for sale to the highest bidder after the band's record-breaking tour ended in Canada at the weekend.

The massive stage structure was tested at more than 110 concerts in 78 cities in 30 countries, including two at Croke Park in Dublin.

It will be re-engineered to become a multi-use entertainment venue and is being sold by the Vancouver-based construction and real estate firm Panther Management for a fee of up to €20m.

Three 'Claws' were constructed, based on designs Bono had a hand in.

U2 was most challenging show ever: Fowler

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From left to right: Premier David Alward, promoter
Donald Tarlton, Mayor George LeBlanc and the
City of Moncton's economic development, tourism
and culture general manager Ian Fowler

Heavy rains turned concert site into quagmire and forced production delays

By Alan Cochrane, Times & Transcript staff

With 75,000 fans at the gate, the pressure of hosting the last show of the world's biggest rock tour and heavy rains that wouldn't seem to let up, Saturday's U2 concert was the most challenging ever.

"We were very thankful when it stopped raining, because the fans were able to enjoy a wonderful show in reasonable conditions," Ian Fowler, the City of Moncton's economic development, tourism and culture general manager, said as he flopped into a chair in the media tent after the show was over.

Heavy rains over two days had left the grassy field sopping wet and spongy. Heavy equipment rolling over it tore up the grass and threw a wrench into the tight schedules of setting up the production, the food vendors, sound checks and other aspects of the show. Saturday morning brought with it a steady downpour that continued through the afternoon. It was only at 6 p.m., just as the first band went onstage, that the rain stopped and the clouds began to clear. At times, there were spots of blue sky and sunshine, and by the middle of the U2 show, around 10:30 p.m., there were actually stars visible through holes in the clouds.

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