How U2’s ‘Claw’ Stage Became a Utah Tourist Attraction
Fans will undoubtedly remember the massive claw-shaped stage U2 performed on during the 360° tour. One audience member was so inspired by the unique design that he decided to give the structure a permanent home in the Utah desert.
U2 always hoped that this stage topper would to become a community gathering space after the tour ended, and the founder and CEO of the Salt Lake City's Loveland Living Planet Aquarium made it happen. "The first time that I saw it was at a concert in Spain," Brent Anderson said in 2021. "It was really a fascinating experience that a structure could have such an interplay with 100,000 people."
U2 played 44 stadiums over seven different tour legs in support of their album No Line on the Horizon between June 30, 2009 and July 30, 2011. Each show was performed in the round on a circular stage which was so massive that crews had to arrive at each venue three days in advance to set everything up. The worldwide trek brought in $736 million and attracted 7.2 million ticket holders over two years.
Transforming the 165-foot tall, 190-ton steel frame into a permanent art installation at the aquarium in Salt Lake City would take years. Following its 2019 unveiling, the former U2 set-piece quickly became a gathering point for people attending film screenings and farmer's markets. Of course, fans also make regular pilgrimages to catch a glimpse of the band's history.
Watch U2 Perform Under the Claw
The Claw was the biggest concert stage ever built when U2 took it on tour, and has since become the largest repurposed stage structure ever. It took 30 truckloads to move the pieces to Utah and the process took about a year to complete. "When the lights are on and you're underneath it," aquarium COO Heather Doggett said, "it's just magical."
The results are more than a conversation starter, too. Recycling the 16-story U2 venue, which is now called the Ecosystem Exploration Craft & Observatory, prevented 760,000 pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere – the equivalent of conserving 35,500 gallons of gasoline emission. The Claw has been a key component in the aquarium's sustainability efforts. "There is a permanent plan for a virtual reality experience underneath EECO that can take you on an adventure to learn about science," Doggett said.
Anderson added: "It's almost like an art piece that's never going to be finished. There's always one more thing to do on it. But that's also part of the excitement, is that it doesn't have to be done and over. It can always be growing and changing."
See Footage of the Repurposed Claw