U2 have already held concerts in Montreal’s largest spaces: Club Montreal, the Forum, the Bell Centre and The Olympic Stadium. How does the world’s largest rock band top that? By building a new 60,000 fan open-air stadum at the Montreal Hippodrome. It almost goes without saying (which won’t stop me from saying it), that on July 8 and 9, the U2 concert will be the biggest event happening in Montreal…
The Montreal Hippodrome (7440 Decarie) began as the Blue Bonnets Raceway, which was founded in 1872 and moved to its home on Decarie in 1907. It closed in 2009, which was a shame because going to bet on the ponies was a favourite activity of my friends and I. This massive space has sadly sat largely unused since then.
The massive rock renovation (rockavation?), funded in large part by U2’s own money, has already begun in earnest. Jacques Aubé, the Vice-president of the Gillett Entertainment Group, explains the undertaking: “U2 and Montreal are inseparable. We absolutely had to find a first-rate location to host them. Even if the project is uniquely complex, demanding, and bold, we are exceptionally happy to be offering fans an unrivalled concert that will forever leave its mark on the cultural history of Montreal.” What does that entail exactly?
A cylindrical video system of interlocking LED panels and a steel structure rising 150 feet from the floor over a massive stage with rotating bridges designed to give the titular 360 degree experience. And of course, with an event this large, the emphasis is on “experience” not just “concert”. There will be a designated tailgate zone that kicks off at noon, containing food, drink and, apparently, a giant foam-filled bath where concertgoers can simulate a stage-dive.
And what of this band called U2? In the midst of their global iconic status, of Bono’s ascendence into becoming one of the most recognized figures not just in music, but in global philanthropy and worldwide celebrity, it’s easy to forget that they were once a scrappy little rock band from Dublin. Most committed U2 fans haven’t forgotten this fact. While I haven’t stayed as closely connected to the band’s more recent releases, albums like War, The Joshua Tree and Rattle and Hum remain in steady rotation for me, containing some of the best rock songs ever written. I’ll be at this show, with or without you…
U2 in Montreal, July 8-9, 2011
8am: Fans with general admission tickets can line-up
Noon: Tailgate party begins
5pm: Doors open at concert site
7pm: Concert begins
11pm: The tailgate area will reopen to help facilitate fans’ departure