The 360º Tour started in Spain. Barcelona's Camp Nou stadium saw The Claw taking off for the first time, but there's much more to it than that. Spain saw U2 playing four full 360 shows, plus a fortnight of rehearsals and a private dress rehearsal. Want to know all the details? Read on...
After The Claw was designed and built in Belgium, it was time to find its first home. Camp Nou, the stadium where F.C. Barcelona plays as home team and one of Europe's biggest stadiums, was the chosen location. There we saw The Claw taking shape for the first time, slowly built by dozens of operators during more than one week. Day after day we got to see the whole stage design, as well as the massive 360º screen - but we still didn't know what the catwalks were for, which part or parts of the stage could move around... Speculation at its best!
After the stage had been successfully built for the first time, the band started rehearsing the new tunes, getting used to the stage and to performing live on it. Over the span of two weeks, they rehearsed most of the songs they ended up playing during the tour, and also some that didn't make the cut (such as Drowning Man, Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own or If God Will Send His Angels). You can check out every song that was rehearsed each day in this forum topic. They polished up all the stage moves, song transitions and sync between music and visuals, but also tried different setlist rotations and structures that would later appear as the tour progressed. During these days, most info came from our friends at the Spanish forum U2EastLink, to which we're still grateful!
As the official start for the tour came closer and the rehearsal time came to an end, U2 held their usual dress rehearsal. Before the show, and also during previous days, all band members would take some time to go out of the stadium to sign and chat with fans waiting outside. The dress rehearsal took place the night before of the tour opening, and there were just a few hundred people in attendance. Only some journalists, band friends, family members and a couple of fortunate fans. And they played the exact same setlist as they would play the night later for some 98.000 more fans.
So finally, on June 30th, the U2 360ºTour officially started with an amazing concert. After all the news, mixed reports and fan speculation, everything came to life in a mindblowing way. Almost a hundred thousand fans witnessed the first public performances of Unknown Caller and Moment Of Surrender, as well as the comebacks of The Unforgettable Fire (played for the first time since January 1990) and Ultraviolet (first time since August 1993). As every tour opening night, there was some rawness to it, some overwhelming energy from the band which resulted in a mess up of one of their signature songs: One! It was also one of the most covered U2 shows in history, with the rise of Twitter and instant online communication, and also with a lot of proficient tapers which provided some of the most downloaded bootlegs ever!
After the overwhelming opening night, the band took a day off and came back on July 2nd with another mindblowing concert. The nerves and overexcitement of the first night were gone, and the band played a flawless second show featuring the first live performance of Electrical Storm ever (which would be played only two more times!), and the tour debuts of Desire and Party Girl. But perhaps the most unique feature of the show was the performance of I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight in its original studio form, for the only time ever. It was first played on its standard position on the set, but the band played it again during the encore, and it was professionally filmed: that footage would appear later as the song's official videoclip. After that, U2's long residency in Barcelona ended, and they wouldn't come back to Spain for over 14 months...
After the band finished touring Europe and North America during most of 2009, they took a 6 months break. This would then become an almost-10-months break, after Bono had a serious back injury and the band had to postpone their second North American leg to 2011 (it was originally scheduled for June-July 2010). The second European leg -running from August to October 2010- didn't suffer any changes or postponements due to Bono's injury, but saw the band coming back with a fresh energy and many changes into the show which had hit Barcelona a year before.
The 360 Tour then landed in San Sebastian, the same Spanish city they played back in 1992 (which was only their second show ever in Spain) and in 2005's Vertigo Tour. The show was really special for many reasons, but specially due to the performance of Spanish Eyes. This song had only appeared twice before since the end of the Joshua Tree tour: at the mentioned San Sebastian '92 show, and at Edge's epic birthday in Barcelona 2001. Spanish Eyes performance, together with U2's band birthday the day before (U2 had their first meeting at Larry's kitchen on September 25th 1975), turned the whole show into a big party - widely regarded as one of their best 2010 concerts!
The tour then moved on to Sevilla or Seville, which became U2's first concert in any city in Andalusia. The Olympic Stadium of La Cartuja was the chosen venue, but the concert could not go ahead as scheduled - or at least, in the originally scheduled date. All Spain was called a general strike on September 29th, the planned date for the show, so it had to be postponed to September 30th, under the risk that a number of stage operators could have followed their right to quit work on 29th. Anyway, the show finally took place, with a special rendition of Happy Birthday (sung by the audience for Bono's brother Norman), and an enthusiastic audience waved goodbye to the band, which would not return to Spain until late 2015...
In October 2015, the band is playing their longest row of concerts in Spain ever. The Innocence&Experience tour is hitting Barcelona for 4 consecutive sold-out concerts at Palau St Jordi, which will mark a new point in the affair of the band with the city and country. Nevertheless, the 360ºTour strike, with two great shows in 2010 and specially with the take-off in Barcelona 2009 (and the prior weeks' rehearsals) will always hold a special place in the hearts of all Spanish fans.