Last night (October 25), U2 took the stage at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, for the latest stop on their U2 360 tour (in support of their latest album No Line on the Horizon). But the crowd wasn’t limited to the 96,000 or so who filled the home of the University of Southern California football team last night, as they streamed the show live on YouTube. It was an unprecedented event for both the band and the video hosting site, and it allowed millions of people on all seven continents to watch the show live. (The show will also be archived at the site, so if you missed it live you can still experience it.) The band’s 24 song set included hits like “Vertigo,” “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” “One” and an absolutely stunning rendition of the Achtung Baby track “Ultraviolet (Light My Way).” During the show, Bono often played directly to the cameras capturing the concert for the Web, turning a long-distance stream into an intimate experience.
Though No Line on the Horizon represents U2’s least successful album (both based on sales figures and critical reaction) since their experimental 1993 album Zooropa, the 360 tour is being touted as perhaps one of the biggest concert events of all time. They’ve spent a huge amount of money on constructing the “claw” stage (full figures have not been disclosed), which allowed them to bring in record crowds at stadiums across the world. The tour wraps up Wednesday night in Vancouver before the group goes on hiatus to launch again next June.
It wouldn’t be shocking if the group managed to grind out another release during that time, as they’ve openly expressed disappointment with the performance of No Line on the Horizon. Though it has sold over a million copies (making it one of the more successful albums of the year), it has not had a breakout hit like “Mysterious Ways” or “Beautiful Day.” However, Bono says the band wasn’t “in that mindset” when they crafted the record. “We felt that the album was a kind of an almost extinct species, and we should approach it in totality and create a mood and a feeling, and a beginning, middle and an end,” he told the Associated Press. “And I suppose we’ve made a work that is a bit challenging for people who have grown up on a diet of pop stars.”