Tour visual design and setlist creation? Does anybody have any info on the following: - U2 Feedback

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Old 04-26-2002, 03:21 PM   #1
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Tour visual design and setlist creation? Does anybody have any info on the following:

Do you think that only Mark Fisher (the designer) and Willie Williams (the one in charge of putting the show on stage) create the tour or does the band contribute their own ideas? (you know, like the screens&Trabants on Zoo tv, the giant screen&the lemon on Popmart, the heart on Elevation)

What is the criteria for creating the general setlist (at the rehearsals) when preparing for a tour?
Obviously, songs off the latest album dominate the setlist on every tour, but how do they choose for everything else?
Is it only based on the shape of Bono's voice any given night? Or is it more like they split it up between their 4 personal favorites so everyone is satisfied?

ps: especially helpful would be any possible quote from the band on this subject.

[This message has been edited by U2girl (edited 04-26-2002).]

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Old 04-26-2002, 06:06 PM   #2
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To learn more about how the concepts for ZOO TV came together, check out the Bill Flanagan book, "U2 at the End of the World." I think there's a few chapters that deal with it.
If I remember correctly, the designers and several friends of U2 presented a series of ideas that the band either vetoed or accepted. In some cases, those ideas led to new ideas from U2. It was all a very creative collaboration and it's interesting to hear how it developed into a larger cohesive them, one the reflected the ideas carried from "Actung Baby."

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Old 04-26-2002, 06:44 PM   #3
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The first part of your post is something I am very interested in too.

So interested I decided to find Mark Fisher in London when I was there the summer before the Popmart tour. He asked me into his flat and we had a nice chat.

From all the info I gathered I understand the relationship as follows. Willie Williams (who has been with the group much longer than Fisher) is the "creative director" and Mark Fisher is more of the technology specialist. Not technology in the means of screens, lights, or sound, but that of stage and set architecture. He is the one who designs the stage and its implications.

He designed the stage for all the tours dating back to ZOOTV and when looked at they each have their own structural identities that had to be designed. Fisher has the contacts for all these things from Tait Towers in the US to the Belgian firm who builds a lot of the bands "moving parts."

He designed things such as the radio tower and scaffolding for ZOOTV, the Arch and Stage for POPMART, and the Heart for Elevation. WHat many consider no brainer work, Fisher has to deal with the guts of the thing.

As an example, fire codes, sight lines, and other details had to be ironed out for the heart alone. For the red pieces to be constructed, the lighting had to be built into the modular pieces of the heart. For anyone to see the band, the heart had to be designed at certain "elevations" for the people on the floor to see. As for the bright rede "Exit" signs on the front of the stage, I am sure this was not something the band wanted, but due to fire codes for each city, a well defined exit route in case of fire has to be visual.

A good resource for this type of stuff is the book mentioned before, as well as the back of the tour books the band produces, and more specifically Mark Fisher's website @:

Mark Fisher used to have a partner Jonathan Park, and I am not sure why they split, but they had worked on everything from Pink Floyd to U2 to the Stones. Fisher really is the only one (in the world?) who does this type of work for such big name bands on a global scale.

I find it amazing (if you have not been able to teel yet) that his designs are not only awe-inspiring, but have to be taken apart and put together sometimes more than a hundred times, as well as packed into trucks and shipped off. I have tried int the past to try to find some of the set pieces after the tours, but have been told thay because they are so beat up, they are just destroyed.

As far as the band's input, I know that they (at least some of them) have thier own take on things, but usually have control of most of the design down to the tour T-shirts. This really is amazinig, but when you think about it, there is no way the band would have gotten into a moving mirrorball lemon without knowing about, and approving of it first.

I think it is a synthesis of Williams' tech (lighting, video, etc.) Joe's sound, and Fishers architectural knowlede and creativity that drive the show. If you have not noticed, they are all involved in almost every performance the band puts on and they take the quality of their work very seriously.

For the past couple of tours many of the lights and sound equipment used have been manufactured to the specifations of U2's crew to make the show the best. That says something. The band usually does not put the creativity into the hands of others (for TV shows etc.) unless they have to. Clearly Fisher and Williams had a hand in even the band's halftime show, and I know that Fisher did last year's show.

OK - I think I am rambling now, and do not think I am such a tech geek, but I am an architect and am very interested in the set designs for the band.

Again, I recommend going to Fisher's website and checking out some of the images there...

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Old 04-27-2002, 03:22 AM   #4
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I'd understood that the whole hollowed out heart for closer fan participation was Adam's idea.

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