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Irish rock band U2 walks over Bosphorus Bridge

Members of the legendary Irish rock band U2 walked from Europe to Asia on Sunday, via İstanbul’s iconic Bosporus Bridge.

The band was accompanied for the walk over the bridge by State Minister and European Union chief negotiator Egemen Bağış, his wife, Beyhan Bağış, and State Minister Hayati Yazıcı.

Bono, the band’s 50-year-old front man, said he met with Bağış in New York in September 2009 where Bağış asked him to play an İstanbul concert — while mentioning the possibility of a walk, from Europe to Asia, over the bridge.

Bono said that Turkey was a bridge between East and West and added that the band felt ashamed it had not previously performed in Turkey.

Bono had earlier said that he wanted to walk over the bridge, which was closed to pedestrian traffic prior to the concert. Turkish officials obtained the necessary permission and U2 walked over the Bosporus Bridge — going from one continent to another — Sunday night.

One lane on the bridge was closed to traffic during the walk. While some people protested the closing of the lane, others got autographs from the band members. At the end of the walk, Yazıcı gifted Bono with a replica of the letter of thanks that Irish authorities sent to Sultan Abdulmecid after the Ottoman Empire sent aid to Ireland during 1845-1852 Great Potato Famine.

The band performed in İstanbul last night as part of İstanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture events at Atatürk Olympic Stadium. The U2 İstanbul concert was organized by LiveNation in cooperation with the İstanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV).

The band’s 360 Degree Tour features a 360-degree stage, with the stage being placed closer to the center of the stadium than usual. The stage has no defined front or back and is surrounded on all sides by the audience.

The stage design also includes a cylindrical video screen that increases a venue’s capacity by around 15 to 20 percent. However, only tiered football stadiums can be used for this scheme, on flat fields and in baseball stadiums the set-up would be impossible.

Bono underwent emergency back surgery in May after injuring himself. His subsequent rehabilitation forced the band to delay the North American leg of their tour until 2011. U2 began the tour in Barcelona in June 2009.

- TODAY’S ZAMAN İSTANBUL