Named for the circular stage setup used to allow the audience to view the performance from every angle, the U2 360 Tour supports the bands 2009 album No Line on the Horizon.
U2 claims this is the first time a band has every toured stadiums with such a configuration, complete with interlocking LED panels, rotating bridges, and even 150 foot tall steel staging. It even features a large, record-breaking, four-legged supporting fittingly nicknamed The Claw. Having already been on tour for over a year, this unique stage setup has proven itself to be quite an effective crowd pleaser.
Sponsored by BlackBerry, the U2 360 Tour is the bands first under their agreement with Live Nation. This move marks a breakaway from U2s past partnership with Apple Inc., most due to the bands desire to have greater access to music technology and human resources.
The BlackBerry sponsorship also marks the bands first tour to ever be explicitly sponsored by a corporation. The decision to have corporate backing was mostly done to cover the production costs which have been more than any previous U2 tour. BlackBerry has developed a new BlackBerry application named U2 Mobile App allowing fans to listen to the bands No Line on the Horzion album.
The application also allows fans to review news about the band as well as tour updates. It includes other novel features like image sharing and the ability to display and share their location within the bands concerts.
U2 began their tour in Barcelona on June 30, 2009, and continued playing throughout Europe until the end of August. The European segment was followed up by an extended tour throughout North America that began September 12, 2009, in Chicago and ended October 28, 2009, in Vancouver.
The North American tour was followed up by a second round in Europe, which began in Turin, Italy on August 6, 2010. The second European leg is scheduled to finish in Rome on October 8, 2010.
In general, the U2 360 Tour has received fairly positive reviews, with The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and NBC News all providing praise and acceptance for the bands performances so far.
Many critics are happy with the fact that the band chose to make music a priority over politics. Other critics identified the stage as an ideal design for improving the bands visibility to their audiences. The Washington Post, however, claimed the stages visual display made U2s performance appear more to be an orgy of light and sound and less of a rock concert.
The Boston Glob simply found the stage to be too big for U2s performance, dwarfing the band and reducing their connection with the audience.
Tickets became available September 2010, with prices starting as low as $39.90 per seat. General admission tickets started at $99.90 per seat.
These prices are rather low for a band of U2s notoriety. These low prices have been attributed to the extra capacity U2s unique 360 stadium setup provides. On the opposite end of the spectrum are seats located in The Red Zone, an area near the stage that was designed for sale by auction, with prices estimated to top 1,000 per seat.
In an era where CD sales continues to decline on a daily basis, ticket sales prove more and more critical to the bands bottom line.
Proceeds for tickets in The Red Zone, however, are planned for donation to charity. Regardless of ticket pricing, U2 has done quite well dollar-wise, having grossed over $311 million for all of its performances in 2009. As a result, the U2 360 Tour became the highest grossing tour of the year for 2009.