U2’s Tour Man, Willie Williams, Goes Deep into the Innocence + Experience Tour

Willie Williams has been in charge of staging and executing U2’s tours for more than 30 years. The man has learned a thing or two since the days of War through to 360 and the current Innocence + Experience roadtrip. Like what? Let’s take a look.

U2 is full steam ahead on the iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Tour, playing arenas this time around, rather than the huge stadiums of past tours like 360° and continuing on after the blow of the band manager’s unexpected death last week.

We caught up with creative director Willie Williams for a multi-part interview on working with set designers Es Devlin and Ric Lipson (Stufish), sound designer Joe O’Herlihy, the evolution of this tour design, and designing U2 without the late Mark Fisher.

Live Design: So, given the propensity for you and the band to start early, how long ago did this one start?

Willie Williams: The first meeting of the band and creative team was in March 2013, so the design process was a little over two years. That said, the first conversation I had with Bono about “the next tour” was on the last tour, which tends to be where these things start. Even then, on the 360°  tour, Bono was asking where we should go next and suggested that, in contrast to the 200 trucks of steel, we should start the next show under a single, naked light bulb.

The tour was due to start in the spring of 2014, but, what with one thing and another, ended up being delayed for a year, so we had a very extended design period.

Read the rest of part one here.

Part two

Part three

Part four

Part five

(All via Larry)

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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