U2 ready to grip Minnesotaby Rupa Shenoy, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — It's estimated 60,000 people plan to see the U2 concert Saturday at the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium. It'll be the stadium's first concert, and U officials chose to start with one of rock and roll's highest profile bands.
U2 was supposed to perform at TCF Bank Stadium last summer, but the show was postponed after then 50-year-old front man Bono slipped a disc in his back.
Minnesota fans were left with a sense of longing.
Now, Bono's feeling better.
"Let's face it: he's got the best doctors in the world, and he's come back a better man for it, but us Irish are pretty tough you know," said Rocko Reedy, who has been U2's tour manager for the last 20 years.
When Reedy shows up in a town, that means Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen, Jr. will soon follow.
Reedy sets the stage. For this tour, that means he's in charge of something the band calls "The Claw." It's a massive four-legged steel structure that's stands in the middle of TCF Bank stadium. It's about 2-stories tall, and blue with orange dots. The claw towers over the stage, giving the band access to all sides of the stadium.
Size is something Reedy is proud of.
"It's the biggest tour that's ever been produced —it's the largest sound system, largest video screen, largest stage, largest everything about it."
It's the biggest everything in a relatively new stadium that's never hosted a concert. But university officials said they are prepared for everything, including bad weather. There's a chance for severe thunderstorms Saturday evening.
Scott Ellison, the university's associate athletic director for facilities, said they have a plan for fans in the open air stadium.
"With the opening of the stadium we did a life safety plan in that is a evacuation for all scenarios -- weather, whatever might pop up," Ellison said. "If it's a thunderstorm and it's going to be lightning and hail, we'll probably try shelter in place, which is everybody into the concourse, into the bowels of the stadium, if it's worse than that, we'll probably evacuate out to outside buildings."
Whatever happens, Reedy said the band will keep playing.
"I have four Irishmen that are my bosses, but there's one boss above them, and he's up there and he calls the shots — especially when it comes to rain. "But I've seen these guy play in the driving rain, and the energy level just comes up."
And this concert will be worth the wait, Reedy said.
"When you're on a rollercoaster, the best part of the ride is right before you get to the end."
Minneapolis is the third-to-last stop on a two-and-a-half year tour. The band and crew are now like family, Reedy said, and that gives the performance an emotional charge.
"We have a staff of over 400 people out here with names like Bart and Rocko and Smasher, and all the rest of these guys that look like (professional wrestler) -type people," Reedy said. "But there's genuine love going on here, and it flows from the top."
"When you see guys hugging each other and saying 'I love you' and meaning it, there's a real family core going on here, and I'm going to miss it."
He may miss it, but this time, Minnesota U2 fans won't.
- Morning Edition, 07/22/2011, 8:45 a.m.