June 13, 1997



Journal Music Writer


Some facts about U2's PopMart tour, which hits Commonwealth Stadium Saturday and Sunday:

  • The tour features the world's largest television screen, about 50 metres by 16 metres, behind the stage. The screen weighs about 26,000 kg and sports 35 km of cable, 120,000 connectors, 21,000 circuit boards and 150,000 pixels. It cost $6 million.

  • The stage, about 60 metres by 23 metres, is dominated by a 30-metre high arch that supports sound and lighting systems. It also features an 11-metre-high mirrorball lemon and a four-metre-wide illuminated stuffed olive atop a 30-metre-tall toothpick.

  • The public address system uses more than one million watts of power. The lighting system uses more than 1,000 lights, including 100 strobe lights and 20 Xenon search lights.


    Environment Canada is forecasting a few clouds Saturday night, with temperatures around 20. On Sunday, the weather service is calling for clear skies and a temperature of 18.


    There are still tickets available - including floor seats - for both Saturday and Sunday shows. They can be purchased at all TicketMaster outlets or by phone at 451-8000. They're $45 and $60 plus service charges.

  • EDMONTON - When U2 takes the stage at Commonwealth Stadium Saturday between 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m., there'll still be a good half-hour of light left in the northern Alberta sky.

    For the first part of the show, the tour's much-hyped centrepieces - the world's biggest television screen, the spectacular light show - will likely be rendered nearly invisible by nature.

    All of which raises the question: isn't staging a pair of outdoor concerts on two of the longest nights of the year kind of a boneheaded move?

    "Oh, yes, the Canadian daylight thing," sighs Willie Williams, the man who has designed U2's current PopMart world tour, along with every other tour the Irish supergroup has staged in the past 15 years.

    "This is not just a Canadian problem, it's a European problem, as well. And because of that, I designed the first portion of the show so it works equally well in daylight.

    "We rely more on sound, on the songs and the performance."

    Williams said U2 is used to playing outdoor shows in cities much further north than Edmonton.

    The band plays Oslo and Helsinki in August. Those European cities are as far north as the Alberta/Northwest Territories border.

    "Often bands will come to these northerly cities without realizing that it's daylight a lot longer there than, say, in America. But it's something we take into consideration."

    Environment Canada says the sun will set at 10:04 p.m. Saturday and a minute later Sunday, the second date of U2's two-night Edmonton stop.

    It doesn't get dark, though, until well after that.

    Williams said he's unsure whether Commonwealth's fans will be able to see the images on the giant 50-metre-by-16-metre screen when the concert starts.

    "Maybe we're wiser to hold off on the screen for the first half hour until it really gets dark out. I'll have to see how dark it gets the night before the first show."

    Al Bodnar, an assistant manager with Commonwealth Stadium Enterprises, says PopMart's special effects will get better and more visible as the concert progresses.

    "A half-hour into the show, someone might say to the person next to him, 'I wish I could see the screen better.'

    "But the next time they think to mention it, it'll be that much darker and they won't even notice anymore."