By Greg DeTogne • August 4, 2011 "The Claw" is at the heart of the U2 360° tour production, supporting huge line arrays as well as lighting and video. (All photos by Steve Jennings) Grand, colossal, gargantuan… Mammoth, immense, monumental… Promethean, towering, or just plain walloping huge – get out the thesaurus for more adjectives to adequately describe the size and scope of U2’s current 360° tour, an outsized extravaganza that continues to demolish records. As of June this year, the tour surpassed The Rolling Stones in terms of tickets sold, eclipsing the Voodoo Lounge tour’s 6.3 million landmark with over 7 million sold. By April just past, 360° had grossed more than $700 million, making it the highest-grossing concert tour ever. And so on. Pass the thesaurus… Launched in 2009 in support of the album No Line on the Horizon, the tour has been years in the making. Incubating various ideas for epic in-the-round staging with the band and other crew members over the course of a career with U2 that began in earnest back in 1982, show designer Willie Williams finally gave life to a unified vision near the end of 2006’s Vertigo tour in a series of sketches. Paying homage to the Theme Building at LAX, the central structure within these early blueprints is what has come to be known as “The Claw,” a mass of four-legged, 170-foot-tall alien steel appearing ideally suited for a starring role in the next Hollywood remake of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. Serving as a grid for all of the major production elements, The Claw is used to suspend both the PA and a video screen designed by Mark Fisher in collaboration with Chuck Hoberman and Frederic Opsomer. Fabricated by Opsomer’s Belgium-based company Innovative Designs, the screen was purchased by XL Video and then rented to the tour. Comprising hexagonal segments that allow it to open and spread apart during the show, the expanding screen is 500,000 pixels large, and uses 320,000 fasteners, 150,000 machined pieces, and 30,000 cables to tie everything together. Bono (using Beta 58 element on Shure wireless) and his mates performing on the current tour, all outfitted with Future Sonics in-ear monitors working with Sennheiser G2 wireless systems. (click to enlarge) Rated to safely hold 200 tons, The Claw is double the size of the stadium set used by The Stones on their A Bigger Bang tour. And if one of these leviathans isn’t enough for your backyard standing next to the children’s playset, consider that the design was built in triplicate to facilitate leapfrogging, a logistical strategy requiring 120 trucks. Setting Sonic Goals U2 360° will also go down in history as a milepost marking a 30-year collaboration between U2, sound reinforcement provider Clair, and Joe O’Herlihy, U2’s sound designer and front of house engineer. “The 360 concept was indeed first considered very seriously by the band at the end of the Vertigo Tour at Honolulu’s Aloha Stadium in 2006,” O’Herlihy relates, his navel-length, graying beard giving him the countenance of a Russian novelist, or maybe a Civil War veteran. Veteran rock ‘n’ roll soundman Joe O’Herlihy (left) and system tech Jo Ravitz at the DiGiCo SD7 heading up the monstrous rig. (click to enlarge) “There had, however, been various other in-the-round plans discussed since Joshua Tree days,” he continues. “Once the idea was presented as a goal for the next tour, I was charged with developing, planning, and implementing an audio design that would clearly set new industry standards, all while maintaining what U2 and their fans had come to expect: Sonic quality, high dynamic range, and crystal-clear stadium sound.” Working with show designer Williams, plus Fisher and Jeremy Lloyd from the production architectural firm Stufish, O’Herlihy additionally relied upon the talents of an R&D team and engineers from Clair to establish the criteria and structural elements required of the build in 2008. Read the rest of this post 1 2 3 4 About Greg Greg DeTogne Gregory is a writer and editor who has served the pro audio industry for the past 32 years. Comments Have something to say about this PSW content? Leave a comment! Cancel reply Scroll past the ”Post Comment” button below to view any existing comments. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Name * Email * Website This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Tagged with: Concerts Consoles Greg Detogne Line Arrays Loudspeakers · all topics Subscribe to Live Sound International Subscribe to Live Sound International magazine. Stay up-to-date, get the latest pro audio news, products and resources each month with Live Sound.