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U2 wraps up largest tour in history in Heinz Field

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 27, 2011
By: Tony LaRussa

 

Tom and Kristen Lawrence of Ross had no qualms about bringing their grade-school-age children to the U2 concert on Tuesday in Heinz Field.  

"For me, it was a no-brainer for us to bring these guys to this show," said Tom, 39, as he pointed to his son, Brady, 6, and daughter, Grace, 8. "It's a family-oriented show; there's no worry about the kids hearing anything objectionable. Besides, they both like U2's music."  

The Lawrences have been fans of the Dublin, Ireland, quartet since each of them -- before they met -- attended the band's 1987 show in Three Rivers Stadium in support of its seminal album The Joshua Tree.  

Tuesday night's show in front of an estimated 60,000 fans was the last of the U.S. leg of the 360º tour. U2 made its entrance shortly after 9 p.m., opening with "Even Better Than the Real Thing" from 1991's Achtung Baby as the lights dimmed and the elaborate stage came to life.  

The stage was built in a 360-degree configuration featuring "The Claw," a four-pronged steel structure that forms the exoskeleton of the rotating stage with a 150-foot-tall center pylon covered in a fabric that changes colors depending on the light beamed onto it.  

U2's final concert on Saturday in New Brunswick, Canada, concludes a string of 109 concerts that began in June 2009 in Barcelona, Spain, and drew an estimated 7 million fans in 30 countries. 

Many of the fans at the Heinz Field show said U2's appeal -- and longevity -- is about more than just deftly played music and lyrics that speak to them on several levels.  

"I love U2 for their music and the messages they try to convey with their lyrics," said Krista Sammarone, 45, a mother of five who traveled to the show from Youngstown, Ohio, in a stretch limo with a group of friends. "But they've also done a lot for humanity, which I feel truly adds to their appeal."  

In the 35 years since U2 formed, the band has campaigned for a number of human rights groups, including Amnesty International. It has worked to help the needy by supporting events such as Make Poverty History and Live 8.  

Lead singer Bono is a co-founder of ONE, an advocacy group that fights extreme poverty and preventable disease.  

Guitarist The Edge is a co-founder of the Music Rising, a charity formed in late 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to raise money to buy instruments for musicians in New Orleans.  

Aaron Evans, 37, of Canonsburg, who began listening to U2 while in high school, said that the initial attraction was the band's "awesome lyrics" but that he has come to appreciate their efforts at promoting social justice.  

"They donate a lot of money to help the needy, especially in Africa, which is to be commended," he said.  

Evans' girlfriend, Jodi Brasso, 34, said their three children, ages 5, 6 and 8, have become second-generation fans.  

"Our kids are pretty heartfelt about music -- they listen to the lyrics, they know what's going on," she said. "I think it's great that they have picked up on the music and what the band is about."  

BY THE NUMBERS  

Some numbers that help tell the tale of U2's international success:

 • 360º is the largest tour in history, with receipts estimated at $700 million.

 • The band has 22 Grammy awards, more than any other.

 • U2 is No. 22 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

 • The band has sold 150 million records, the seventh-highest among rock bands.  

• It was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in its first year of eligibility. 

© Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 2011.

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