U2 will play FNB Stadium in South Africa this weekend (Photo: WireImage)
U2 open the next leg of their massive 360° Tour this Sunday, Feb, 13, with what may be the biggest audience of the band's 30-year career.
The band's manager Paul McGuinness of Dublin-based Principal Management said Friday that with the release of a few more hundred seats at FNB Stadium in Soweto, the first U2 South African show since PopMart landed here in 1998, looks set to break through the 100,000 mark. This would end the band's biggest attendance record to date when 95,600 people filled Pasadena's Rose Bowl in Oct. 2009. It would also match the 100,000 people former South African President Nelson Mandela drew to the stadium on February 13th in 1990 for his first public appearance in Johannesburg after his release from 27 years in prison by the apartheid regime.
The Irish four-piece's Johannesburg show takes place in one of the stadiums that was significantly upgraded for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Known then as "Soccer City" and the site of the opening and closing matches of the football tournament last year, the stadium is close to the place where Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, still keeps a home.
Tutu has been making a regular appearance on the 360° Tour through a specially recorded message but won't be turning up in person for U2's Soweto show. "He's on a boat somewhere, lecturing students," Bono ruefully told a small group of reporters. Earlier Bono had confided that former SA President Nelson Mandela and "his partner Tutu are the reason I have two jobs".
"It was they who gave the orders for people like us," the singer said. "Now the band is working for (RED) and ONE [the band's anti-poverty organization]. These guys turned our lives upside down!"
The Edge, who'd flown in from New York that morning, confirmed that the band was working on demos with Dangermouse. He and Bono hinted that any new studio album was unlikely to be packed with songs. "We were trying to write an album with 'No Line On The Horizon' that had a kind of narrative and if I look back on it now, it's probably too long. Maybe just by one song or two," Bono said. "It's incredible that people think 'Oh gosh I can put 17 songs on this' … it's like more cornflakes in a better box."
Asked if the immense scale of the 360° Tour meant live was becoming U2's most consuming aspect, bassist, Adam Clayton, was adamant the band had many more albums in it. "There's a mythology within music is that you have to be young to create it. As musicians, I think we're getting better. As a band we are getting better. We're better at editing ourselves and performing so we're in a much better place than we were when we made those early records."
U2's 360° Tour moves to the coastal city of Cape Town on February 18th before heading to South America for a set of dates starting march 25th in Santiago.
Unusually U2 has two support acts for the two South African dates: Mali's Amadou & Mariam and long-serving South African rock band, Springbok Nude Girls. Bono is expected to undertake some work for One in the days between the two concerts.
U2's South African shows are produced by Live Nation Global Touring in association with its local partner, Big Concerts.