U2 sets event 'Horizon'

Global stadium tour will launch in Spain

U2360, U2's world tour in support of the band's new album "No Line on the Horizon," will kick off its global stadium trek June 30 in Barcelona.

The tour includes a 360-degree audience configuration, ambitious staging and a cylindrical video screen.

"We're very excited about the idea to go on the road with this album," guitarist the Edge said. "It's an album that I think is going to translate so well to the live context. The songs we've tried in rehearsal are sounding fantastic, so that's got everyone really fired up."

U2 will stay in Europe through Aug. 22, then hit U.S. shores Sept. 12 with a show at Soldier Field in Chicago. They'll play in North America until Oct. 28 and plan on working the globe until fall 2010. In addition to its production firsts, the tour seems likely to become one of the highest-grossing to date; at $389 million, the band's 2005-07 Vertigo tour is second only to the Rolling Stones' A Bigger Bang trek.

After playing arenas in North America and stadiums elsewhere during their past few tours, U2 will play stadiums everywhere this time. "This is going to be completely different, and that's what makes it exciting, finding something new to bring to the touring culture," the Edge said. "It's hard to come up with something that's fundamentally different, but we have, I think, on this tour. Where we're taking our production will never have been seen before by anybody, and that's an amazing thing to be able to say. For a band like U2 that really thrive on breaking new ground, it's a real thrill."

As they have for well over a decade, Live Nation global music chairman Arthur Fogel and his team will produce and promote U2 worldwide. Committing to a global stadium tour is "obviously a major undertaking on a bunch of different levels," Fogel said. "On the last tour, it basically broke down (to be) indoors in America and stadiums outside of America. Both shows were pretty different, and they were both incredible, but I think the general feeling, and certainly mine, was the experience of U2 in a stadium is special and unique, and it would be great for North America to experience that the way the rest of the world did the last time around."

Playing in a 360-degree configuration will increase the capacity by about 15%-20%, depending on the stadium. The configuration opens up opportunities for scaling ticket prices, an important consideration for Fogel and the band. The top ticket price will be slightly higher than last time, and the bottom price will be lower, with the floor seats (the closest to the stage) the lowest priced. In fact, playing larger capacity venues allows for more conservative pricing overall. Field level is going to be $55, and there will be 10,000 tickets a show, every show, at $30, Fogel said. The price points are $250, $90-$95 (depending on the market), $55, and $30.

Sales will begin in Europe this month, and North American sales will start this month or in April. U2 will also resurrect its random upgrade program first seen on Elevation in 2001, where random fans purchasing general admission tickets will be moved closest to the stage.

This will be the first tour under U2's 12-year multirights deal with Live Nation.

Ray Waddell is an executive director at Billboard.
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