The New York Times has a track record of revealing pertinent insights into U2's thinking in its profiles of the band, and this most recent article by Jon Pareles is no exception. It's a must-read to get a glimpse of how planning for the tour is progressing.
One point I found heartening and wanted to comment on was about the overall design of the flow of the show. As some may remember, I was a very big fan of No Line on the Horizon but not at all a fan of the live shows of the 360 tour. (Well, OK: The Claw! Montreal! But still.) I felt that for the first time the show was not a deliberate process through which we were led, but more of a series of songs; I also felt that the setlist did not feature the NLOTH songs enough to allow that album to find its voice and work out into the public whatever experience was latent within it.
So I was quite pleased to read this:
The band calls the walkway the divider stage because that’s what it does midway through the concert — turning into a barrier that separates the audience completely. The division is part of the concert’s underlying narrative, a passage from innocence to experience inflected by Irish memories....
The concert’s bleak midpoint — “the end of the innocence,” Bono calls it — is “Raised by Wolves,” a song from the album about a terrorist car bombing in Dublin that killed 33 people on May 17, 1974....At the intermission, Bono said, half-seriously, “people will walk out into the aisles not buying T-shirts but having counseling, and wondering, ‘Where did the fun go?’ ” The second half of the concert breaks down the divide and, true to U2’s past, promises healing and love.
Part of what U2 do best, in my mind, is design and preside at extended multisensory group experiences that mimic (or we might say give wider expression to) the kind of corporate spiritual process that happens in (good) liturgy. I missed being escorted through that process by them on the last tour, and am looking forward more to the concerts I'll be at in Chicago in June after reading this article. Lots of other interesting stuff in there too, if you don't mind the spoilers.