Members of U2 defended the Irish rock band’s tax strategy as the band kicked off its world tour.

Lead singer Bono told Sky News that the band pays “a fortune in tax” and explained that it was following “sensible” tax advice in moving some of its assets to the Netherlands, which like Ireland is considered to be a relatively low-tax country.

“It is just some smart people we have working for us trying to be sensible about the way we are taxed,” he said. “We pay a fortune in tax, a fortune, just so people know, and we’re happy to pay a fortune in tax. Because you’re good at philanthropy and because I am an activist people think you should be stupid in business and I don’t run with that.”

His band mate, the Edge, pointed out, “So much of our business is outside of Ireland so it is ridiculous to make a big deal out of it.”

Bono attracted some criticism last year when he remarked that Ireland’s corporate tax laws had brought his country “the only prosperity we’ve ever known” as Ireland continued to deal with a lingering recession.

The band is expected to profit handsomely on its 70-date “Innocence and Experience” tour, as its previous tour shattered prior box office records. The tour will be the first on which U2 will play songs from its album “Songs of Innocence,” which debuted last year as a free download for iTunes users that showed up unexpectedly in iTunes users’ library. Bono was forced to apologize last year to any iTunes users who were irate at getting the surprise addition to their music library. He was seriously injured in a bicycle accident last November that kept the band from touring to promote the new album until this month.

The new tour features a stage layout that will allow the musicians to get closer to the audience across vast stretches of the arena. However, the narrow catwalks proved to be perilous for the Edge, who fell off the platform at one point during their debut outing on Thursday night in Vancouver, B.C., but without injury. The Edge got back up right after slipping off the edge of the catwalk, returned to the stage and finished the concert.

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