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Old 06-12-2003, 07:36 PM   #1
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About U2 : Staging/Production - Joshua Tree Tour *

U2 Tours: The Joshua Tree Tour
By: David "ouizy" Yanks

U2’s tour for the Joshua Tree album can be thought of as U2’s first tour with a design intent. The tour pre-dated the spectacles that were ZooTV and PopMart, yet on a scale basis, the outdoor leg of this tour can be considered one of the band’s greatest successes. The indoor legs played to arenas, as the outdoor leg was U2’s first headlining tour of stadiums. What this meant was the U2 camp began to establish a crew that it would use for many tours to come. This camp included lighting contractors, sound contractors, and staging contractors that the band would use for tours that followed the Joshua Tree tour, and this tight knit group is still employed by the band on current tours. As this tour happened in 1987 (previous to the Internet’s explosion, and contractor record keeping) much of the information on the specifications of the equipment used is limited (compared to other tours.)


As the Joshua Tree tour had indoor and outdoor legs, different configurations were required for the stage setup. The indoor legs incorporated a stage that, for the band was a pretty toned down design, but one that lasted through the years. When asked whatever happened to this stage, one of the band members eluded to the fact that it was packed up and stored, and some pieces were re-used (this will be seen later during the construction of the Elevation stage.) Credits for all aspects of this tour will follow, but the indoor stage was conceived by Steve Iredale, Peter “Willie” Williams, and Tim Buckley, it was re-designed by the band, engineered by Jeremy Thom, and fabricated by Tait Towers Inc. out of Lititz, Pa. Dragan Kuzmanov constructed the stage and A.J. Rankin made sure Bono’s microphone cable did not get caught on anything during the shows.

The stage was 5’ high, 74’ wide, and 48’ deep. There were three risers onstage, one for the drums, one for the bass equipment, and one for the guitar equipment and keyboards. The drum riser was 10’x12’x2’, the keyboard and bass risers were both 8’x8’x6”. The stage looked like a basic rectangle with a riser running along the back behind Larry’s drum setup. On either side of the stage there was an elevated wing accessible from a ramp in which there was a hole cut out of each. Under the ramps and wings were the guitar and bass technician’s stations as well as an understage mix station on Adam’s side. The ramp was fabricated out of metal grate so the people working under the wings could see what was going on onstage, but people could not really see what was going on under the stage also known as the “Underworld.” It was these elements that were re-used on the Elevation stage. The front of the stage had a small projection for Bono to be closer to the audience and on the floor there were a couple of boxes that Bono used to access the crowd.

The outdoor stage was monstrous. The bounds of the stage were 200’ by 80’ and could be described as a rectangle with a projection into the crowd on both sides. John McHugh from Upfront Staging as well as Pat Murphy from European Grid Systems engineered the stage. It was erected by a number of permanent U2 crewmembers, as well as a local crew in each city the band visited. During this time, most outdoor tours relied heavily on scaffolding for construction purposes (versus the steel and water-ballast frames that are used today.) This stage was no different. It incorporated a huge number of members to build the platform of the stage, and even more for the two sound towers on each side of the stage. These towers were basically scaffold boxes that held the huge number of sound monitors inside of the frame. In front of the scaffold boxes were two sets of scrims used to hide all the scaffolding. This was U2’s first major move into set design.

The Edge sketched out these scrims (basically perforated curtains held taut on a frame) in a dressing room in Pontiac Michigan, while they were later finished by Jeremy Thom. Kimpton Walker in London fabricated the two designs for the scrims. While the opening bands were on stage warming up the crowd for U2, the scrims were white with a red U on the stage right side and a red 2 on the stage left side. The U and the 2 were on a slant on off-center so they were only seen partially. The scrim in the back of the center part of the stage was white. When U2 came onstage, those white scrims dropped on cables to reveal the Joshua Tree. The scrims were a sand color and the tree was black. The graphic of the tree was broken into three pieces with the center of the tree on the center scrim, and the branches on the side scrims.

Above the center of the stage hung the lighting rig that was suspended by the scaffold roof structure. Above the stage, the shape of the scaffold was that of a barrel vault and this effect was created using short pieces of tubular truss with a fabric skin placed on top to create a roof for the main part of the stage. All the sides of the scaffolding were also covered in white fabric so as to reduce wind forces blowing through the stage as well as to keep the weather out.

In the center of the stadium stood the lighting and sound control tower. As was typical of outdoor tours of this time, the tower was rather large and was multi-level to house the different disciplines needed to run the show. Again this was built out of scaffolding and as this tour was one of the biggest of the time, it was rather tall. It was during this tour that the idea of video screens was brought to the U2 camp. Although they were not used, Bono would ask the audience if they thought it would make the show better for them as many of the fans in the back of the house were so far away and had their view obstructed by the sound tower. The band seemed to have learned by this flaw as in all later stadium tours they used a single level, but spread out control center, and they located off center to the stadium to increase valued seats and views.

During this tour, the band was able to achieve huge audiences by having general admission on the floor of the stadium with no seats on a first come, first serve basis. During the stadium shows, the stadium was opened to those with seats first and after that the gates for the floor were opened. This was a sight to see as the people on the floor had a 100-yard dash to the stage to be close.


In Europe, Supermick as well as Nocturne Inc. supplied the lighting rig, while in the USA Nocturne Inc supplied it. The number and types of fixtures may be documented somewhere, but by now those papers have yellowed, some of the companies have gone out of business and this author could not find them. At this point in time, however, the moving light industry was getting started and the lights used on the Joshua Tree tour were traditional par can lights that did not move (i.e. were not automated). The lighting rig for the indoor stage was a traditional truss rig, with an arm that extended out in the front and hung down at an angle; so it was actually lower than the rig and in front of the stage. This tour incorporated followspots as both a major light source as well as a design move. The followspots were mounted off of the lighting rig on arms that hung below the rig, so it looked like the operator who sat in each chair was floating over the crowd. The followspots were used to illuminate the band members individually while they moved around the stage, but were also used in place of what today’s automated lights would be doing. They created environments on stage, especially during songs such as “Exit,” which had the operators moving the lights in patterns to create an effect. This meant that the operators who wore headsets had to take numerous cues throughout the show as to what to do with their individual light (change color, follow someone etc.)

These cues came from the lighting designer Peter “Willie” Williams who has been U2’s lighting designer ever since. Willie Williams was able to achieve lighting looks with the followspots and their operators that he is able to achieve today with a couple of automated lights and a computer (even though the band still incorporates followspots into all their shows.) For the general looks (color washes, environments) Williams used traditional lighting grouped in the trusses. For washing the audience, Molefays (aka audience blinders) were used especially during songs like “Pride.” The Molefays that were used had nine lights within each assembly and they were located throughout the rig and behind the drum riser. For the outdoor lighting rig, the lights were hung in trusses that were suspended from the “barrel vault” part of the roof of the stage. In the front of the stage the truss was hung at a trim so the followspots again looked like they were floating above the crowd, while in the back of the stage, the followspots were located on top of the trusses. This all translated to a large number of people climbing small rope ladders to take their places in the lighting rig - as many of the lights used were operated by actual humans.


As with almost every other U2 show, the sound engineer was Joe O’Herlihy, who used an Audio S4 system with sub-low bass by Clair Brothers Audio. For the indoor arena setup, there were 72 S4 cabinets, 12 sub-low cabinets, and a full 360-degree flying system. This is a lot of sound for an indoor show, yet by today’s standards was relatively conventional. For the outdoor stadium setup, there were 144 S4 cabinets, 24 sub-low cabinets and 12 R4 front fills. To control this monster sound system, O’Herlihy manned two Clair Bros. Consoles, a Clair Bros. crossover system, a Clark-Technics Graphics system, DBX 160 system protection and amplifier power came from Carver. At the end of this text, there is a list of all the inputs for the techies out there to better understand how a show is mic’ed and how the show is mixed. There is also a list of the equipment the band used onstage.


As the Joshua Tree tour had many interesting shows and one off performances, two of the most interesting were relatively small and free. One occurred on the rooftop of a liquor store in downtown Los Angeles when the band shot the video for “Where the Streets Have No Name.” The band played seven songs with “Where the Streets Have No Name” comprising four of them. The other free show was in Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco, California. The band played what they dubbed the “Free the Yuppies” concert to 6,000 screaming fans. The stage set comprised two flat bed trailer trucks parked next to each other, and for the sound system, the band actually borrowed some of the components from none other than The Grateful Dead.


One thing the Joshua Tree tour will be remembered for the most is the filming of the movie Rattle and Hum. The film was shot in black and white and color, and without getting into specifics of what it was about, it was basically a documentary which followed the band around the United States, and filmed its shows in Sun Devils Stadium in Tempe, Arizona (the color scenes), and in McNichols Arena in Denver, Colorado (the black and white scenes.) Technically the stages used were the same ones used on the rest of the tour, however each one had modifications made to them to facilitate shooting the film.

The color footage was filmed on December 19th and 20th 1987 during shows that cost the general public $5.00 for admission. It was filmed on 35mm Kodak 5294 high speed color negative film rated at 400ASA, using four Panaflex Gold cameras, three Arri BL IV’s, one Arri BL III, one Panaglide, one Steadicam, and one Panaglide mounted in a helicopter. The black and white footage was filmed on the 7th and 8th of November 1987, using 35 mm Kodak 5222 Double X high speed black and white negative film. There were eight cameras, all of which were Arri BL IV’s except for a Steadicam that was an Arri III. There was documentary footage shot on four cameras, all of which were Arri 16 SR’s. Otto Nemenz International custom built the zoom controls into the 16mm camera handles to make it easier to shoot the band. The film stock was 16mm Kodak 7231 Plus X medium speed black and white negative film and 16mm Kodak 7222 Double X high-speed negative film. The total amount of film used for the concert shoots was 210,000 feet of 35mm color film, and 125,000 feet of 35mm black and white film. The documentary portion used 250,000 feet of 16mm film, which after being transferred to 35mm film turned out to be 625,000 feet. The grand total came out to be 960,000 feet of film, and if run continuously the movie would last for 1 week, 9 hours, 46 minutes, and 40 seconds - enough to make 118 90-minute movies, and enough to make a whole lot of U2 fans very happy. Duart Laboratory in New York processed the black and white film, Deluxe in Hollywood processed the color and Technicolor in Universal City made the prints. The concert film editing was done using time coding and six VTR’s computer-synchronised in real-time so that up to six camera angles could be viewed at one time. It took 10 months to sync the film with the sound. Joe O’Herlihy coordinated the entire live sound recording and the concert soundtracks were recorded on the Manor Mobile, the Pumacest Advision Mobile, and Remote Recording Services mobile recording studios using overlapping 24 track machines with 48 track capability. All the people responsible for these tasks are located in a list at the end of this text as there were too many to list here.

What came from the Joshua Tree tour was U2’s emergence as one of the world’s premier touring rock bands as it is considered the tour in which the band conquered the United States, and for that matter, the world. For those of us lucky enough to have witnessed the shows firsthand, we understand the importance of the making of Rattle and Hum as each show was such an undertaking at the time, it seems amazing this tour was able to be shown to the number of people who actually saw it. U2’s loyalty to its crew can be seen in the fact that many of the people who worked on this tour are still with the band, and the vision of the crew can be seen in that starting with a bare bones show like the Joshua Tree tour, this group has emerged to be the forefront of stage and lighting design on rock tours today.


The Band:

The Edge
Adam Clayton
Larry Mullen Jr.

Paul McGuinness

Tour Manager:
Dennis Sheehan

Production Manager:
Steve Iredale

Stage Manager:
Tim Buckley

House Sound Engineer:
Joe O’Herlihy

Lighting Designer:
Peter “Willie” Williams

Electronics Technician:
Bob Loney

Keyboard Technician:
Des Broadberry

Guitar Technician:
Dallas Schoo

Guitar Technician:
Fraser McAllister

Drum Technician:
Sam O’Sullivan

Steve Witmer
Bill Spoon
Gary Courier

A.J. Rankin
Dragon Kuzmanov

Sound System:
Clair Brothers Audio

Lighting System (Europe):

Lighting System (Europe & USA):
Nocturne Inc.

Followspot Technician:
Geoff Dickey

Remote Douser Development:
Mark Jensen

Indoor Stage System:
Tait Towers Inc.

Outdoor Stage System:
European Grid Systems/Pat Murphy
Upfront/John McHugh
Technical Design - Jeremy Thom/U2

Lola Cashman
Fintan Fitzgerald

Trucking (Europe):

Trucking (USA):
Florida Custom Coach West
Aircruise Inc.

Rhythm and Food

Rock-it Cargo

Tour Communications:
IMC E. Mail

Computer Software:
Fox Productions


Executive Producer:
Paul McGuiness

Michael Hamlyn for Midnight Films

Phil Joanou

Directors of Photography:
Jordan Cronenweth A.S.C. (color)
Robert Brinkmann (black and white)

Documentary Sound:
William MacPherson
George Baetz

Film Editing:
Tom Seid
Ken Blackwell
Lori Eshler

Sound Effects:
Blue Light Sound

Sound Editors:
Scott Hecker

Music Editors:
Bob Badami
Bill Bernstein

Jimmy Iovine


Gibson Explorer
Gibson Les Paul (custom)
Fender Stratocaster (black)
Fender Stratocaster (sunburst)
Fender Telecaster (graphite)
Ibanex Modulus (graphite)
Danvel-Nelson Telecaster
Gibson 335
Squire Stratocaster
Squire Infinite Guitar
Fender Jazz Bass
Fender Precision Bass
Fender Telecaster Bass
Ibanez Musician Bass
Gibson Thunderbird Bass
Zon Legacy Bass
Yamaha FG 365 II Acoustic
Yamaha L20 A Acoustic
Gibson J160E Acoustic
Ibanez M-3421 V Acoustic

James Howe Industries

Vox AC30 (2)
Mesa Boogie
Roland JC120
BGW 750C Power Amp
BGW 250D Power Amp
Park Amplifier
Fender Deluxe Reverb (combo)
Yamaha P2201 Power Amp
Yamaha P2050 Power Amp

Speaker Cabinets:
Harbinger 516 (4)

Yamaha Turbo Tour Custom Kit:
Yamaha Bass Drum BD824T
Yamaha 14: Piccolo Snare SD493
Yamaha Tom Tom TT814T
Yamaha Floor Tom FT916C (2)
Yamaha Floor Tom FT 918C
Ludwig 13 Piccolo Snare
Latin Percussion Tito Puente Timbales

Paiste 2002 14” Sound Edge Hi Hats
Paiste 3000 18” Rude Crash/Ride (2)
Paiste 2002 18” Heavy Crash
Paiste 2002 18” Medium
Latin Percussion Cowbell
Latin Percussion Woodblock
Rhythm Tech Half Moon Tambourine (2)

Promark 5A ZX series

Yamaha Drum Stool (2)

Yamaha CP70 Midi Piano
Yamaha DX7-1 (2)
Yamaha DX7-2-FDR2
Yamaha RX5
Yamaha RX11
Roland SBX 10
Oberheim OB8

Yamaha SPX 90 (3)
Korg SDE 3000 (2)
Boss OD2 (2)
Memory Man Echo
Ibanez DM 1000
Ibanez VE 400
Brooks Infinite Sustain
Boss SCC 700
Boss SCC 700 C
ADA Digital Delay
Yamaha REV 7
Korg SDE 2000

Yamaha QX5 Sequencer (2)
Yamaha QX1 Sequencer
Yamaha QX7 Sequencer
Sycologic M16 Midi Patcher
TC Electronics TC 2290
AMS 1580S
Nady Transmitter/Receivers
Sony Transmitter/Receivers
Boss TU 12 Tuners
E Bow (2)
Infinite Guitar
Midi Patcher 360
Yamaha MCS2 Midi Controller

Moog Taurus Bass Pedals
Boss DD2
Boss FV 200
Boss DST
Korg DFS S/2
Vox Wah
Cry Baby Wah
Bass Turbo Overdrive
Ibanez C5 505
MXR Dyna Compressor
Poly Chorus
Boss DDS
Boss TOD 2
Boss FL1

Horner Blues Harp

Shure SM58 Microphone
Shure SM10 Microphone
Vega Samson Radio Microphone
GML 300 Headset Microphone


Indoor Arena System:
72 S4 cabinets
12 sub-sow cabinets
Full 360 degree flying system

Outdoor Stadium System:
144 S4 cabinets
24 sub-low cabinets
12 R4 front fills

PA Control System:
2 Clair Bros. Consoles
Clair Bros. Crossover System
Clark-Technic Graphics
System Protection DBX160
Speaker System JBL
Amplifier Power Carver

Mixing Consoles:
Amek G2520
Tac Scorpion Series 25

Front of House Effects Treatments:
Lexicon 224 XL Digital Reverb
Lexicon 200 Digital Reverb
Lexicon 97 Super Prime Time D.D.L.
Lexicon PCM 70 Multi Effects Processor (3)
A.M.S. DMX 1580S Digital Delay Harmonizer
Roland SDE 3000 D.D.L.
Raine 6-way Splitter (sub-low feed distribution)

Housed in 3xDBX 900 series racks:

DBX 904 Noise Gates (14)
DBX 903 Comp/Limiters (3)
DBX 902 DE/Essers (4)
DBX 905 Par/EQ (4)
DBX 165 Comp/Limiters (3)
DBX 160 2 Channel Comp/Limiters

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Old 06-13-2003, 01:11 AM   #2
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wowowow!! thanks for the info

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Old 06-13-2003, 01:22 AM   #3
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Another Excellent Article from Ouizy

The total amount of film used for the concert shoots was 210,000 feet of 35mm color film, and 125,000 feet of 35mm black and white film. The documentary portion used 250,000 feet of 16mm film, which after being transferred to 35mm film turned out to be 625,000 feet. The grand total came out to be 960,000 feet of film, and if run continuously the movie would last for 1 week, 9 hours, 46 minutes, and 40 seconds - enough to make 118 90-minute movies, and enough to make a whole lot of U2 fans very happy.
Holy ****face Batman! Ouizy! Another fantastic job! Does anyone know what happened to the footage that was cut out? I'm s'prised none of this "extra" footage has leaked out into the public by now.
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Old 06-13-2003, 02:41 AM   #4
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BTW.... another thing we have to thank David for is.... most of the images in the story, he shot directly off of his tv screen! Now THAT is dedication!!!

Thank you David, an excellent job!

...and may your dreams be realized...
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Old 06-13-2003, 03:06 AM   #5
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omig! How'd he get the resolution so clear??
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Old 06-13-2003, 01:36 PM   #6
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Holy shizzo.

It never ceases to amaze me how informative these pieces are, Ouizy.

It must take AGES to research for something like this, let alone type it up!

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Old 06-13-2003, 05:53 PM   #7
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Thanks guys

I do have to say that although some of the photos are taken directly off my TV screen from some old *footage* I had, some are also from some *other sources* that can be found if you look really really hard.

Anyway - thanks guys for posting this stuff - it is always fun to write it...

P.S. - if anyone is really that much of a technophile, I also have the complete input/output info on the soundboards if necessary, but that stuff was rightfully edited out...

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Old 06-13-2003, 05:55 PM   #8
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joshua tree

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