NORMAN — While the Sooners battled against their Red River rivals on OU-Texas weekend, a massive superstructure seemingly aimed at space dominated the team’s home turf Saturday afternoon. The central peak of "the claw” towered beyond the north and south bleachers at Gaylord Family — Oklahoma Memorial Stadium as crews put finishing touches on the stage colossus for today’s U2 concert in Norman.
The massive "U2 360” stage is, as the name implies, designed so that the tens of thousands of attendees at tonight’s concert can all see the Irish rock band from every angle. At the center of the stage, a cylindrical video screen will magnify every move as the band members move around a circular runway. Thanks to the screen, if lead singer Bono is performing to one side of stadium, the other side will still have an unobstructed view of the singer. The concept first wasdeveloped in the last days of the band’s previous string of arena dates, said Jake Berry, tour production manager for the tour. "We were all sitting down at the load-in just before the last show, and I was there with Willie Williams, who is the art director, the lighting designer and the show designer, and Bono came in for the last sound check and said to the two of us, ‘Can we play a show in the round?’” Berry said during a Saturday tour of the stage construction. "And we looked at each other and told him, ‘You can do anything you want.’” The final result consists of three separate stage superstructures, allowing the band to play at one venue while the previous stage is being torn down and a new one is built for the next stop. While the center of "the claw” is 150 feet above the ground and creates an imposing image, Berry said the band wanted to create an illusion of intimacy for fans — no mean feat in a football stadium. "They could make the stadium look small, therefore making the show more intimate,” said Berry, who also oversaw the Rolling Stones’ "Bridges to Babylon” show at the stadium in 1997.