Willie Williams Diary part 1 - POPMART
Napisano 11 stycznia 2008 - 09:21
Las Vegas pre-production ? Hi-ho, Hi-ho, it?s off to work we go. The stage is revealed and the \"great pumpkin\" PA struts its stuff.??San Francisco to Las Vegas. Rush rush rush. Out the door and on a plane to Vegas with more luggage than is sane. Anyway, I?m off, setting out on this year long tour. Excited, hopeful, verging on hysteria - you know the routine. Thinking about home and wondering if I?ve remembered everything, turned off the gas, fed the cat, etc. Well, at least I?m not too far away for the first month. I wonder how it will be this time round.....I wonder how it will be....???Bruce Ramus, my chief lighting programmer, operator and design colaborator, met me at the airport in his styling rent-a-car and we headed for the stadium. It was dark, but even under stadium lights the scale of the stage and its graceful lines were a pleasure to behold. Of course there wasn?t that much of the stage actually there, but the vibe was evident. The P.A. is hilarious - this huge orange globe. \"The Great Pumpkin\" they?re calling it. Progress has been slow due to the extreme weather conditions. Rain, freezing cold, high winds and the first ever recorded April snow fall in Vegas. Perfectly U2.
07.04.1997 Las Vegas
Las Vegas pre-production - Big screen moment. The extraordinary giant screen is under construction and looks like it?s actually going to work!
Pre-production, Las Vegas. The weekend passes and building continues. By Friday they had got four columns of the screen working (kind of) and ran a tape of ZooTV from Tokyo on it. This screen is the most extraordinary thing you?ve ever seen. Legibility is generally much better than I had imagined it would be for camera pictures and yet surprisingly poor for some of the simple graphics. Strangely random at times. We watched from up close, we watched from the back row of the stadium, we watched from the mix position, we squealed, we jumped up and down and hugged each other. What a wonderful object, what an extraordinary thing we are making. There?s no doubt now that its going to work and it is going to be fantastic. Looking through all the video footage we have received so far, I?d guess that about 50% of it is usable which leaves us with a few holes, but much of it is really very good.. Seeing it on this scale brings home how very different the look is from what?s going on in mainstream TV, which is encouraging. The best footage is (we hope) yet to come, so with judicious restraint we should have a show.
Progress on the rest of the screen and staging is agonisingly slow, but with patience and the programming wigs we have survived so far. Our moving light programmer is Tom Thompson with whom I?ve never worked before, but he seems to be handling it all very well. When told we all had to wear bizarre wigs for programming, he took it in his stride. John Lobel, the account manager from the lighting company, supplied them and in addition to the trendy look they give us, they?re also quite cosy for cold nights at the mixing desk.
10.04.1997 Las Vegas
Las Vegas pre-production - Icon in the making. The huge golden arch arrives ? and looks awesome, visible from some distance beyond the stadium.
Pre-production, Vegas. The blur rolls on. Its going fine, no major disasters, but still agonisingly slow. Its like pulling teeth waiting for the disparate parts of the production to arrive from literally all over the world. Yesterday?s great and glorious victory was the installment of the upper arch - the (huge) top piece of the arch that sits above the P.A. It arrived on Tuesday and was assembled on the floor of the stadium, making quite a sizable and extremely yellow building, with ample room to wander round inside. After much muttering about wind loading and some rumbles of doom about not being able to use it everywhere, all of which I chose to ignore, the thing was hoisted aloft by crane and all was well. Its pretty magnificent, the scale and the colour are wonderful. Its visible from a long way away - outside the stadium - which of course it will be in many of the stadiums that we play. An icon is in the making. Last night under lights it looked fabulous and the ropelight chases are just out of this world. Mark Fisher, architect of the staging and another key collaborator, were just laughing ourselves silly. Should give the band a thrill to see it from outside the stadium when they get here. The stadium sits on the arrival flight path for the airport, so with a bit of luck they?ll see it from the air. A plane lands in Vegas every 90 seconds, bringing in the hordes of cash wielding hopefuls...
Video world continues to crawl along. There?s been much angst and concern over screen feeds, software control and many other things which are way out of my hands. However, the one third of the screen which is up and running has been tweaked and adjusted and looks very good. Clear, bright stable, so there?s enough encouragement to keep morale high, though Monica Caston, our show video director, has been firmly planted in hell for a good while now. I?m doing O.K., frustrated and encouraged. Its a waiting game and time is not on our side, so I am careful to chose my moments of direct involvement wisely. An amount of pessimism and nay-saying is coming from the usual quarters, - the endless angst and drama over the simplest tasks - but overall morale is high and whingeing is encouragingly low (certainly compared with the ZooTV pre-production experience). We have an extraordinary amount of great people on staff, who are are most keen and helpful in finding solutions, rather than pointing out how difficult all this is. Consequently much of the old battle ground has given way and my task is mainly to keep the vibe buoyant and firmly squash any negativity when it emerges. Still, we have very definitely won - getting through the early battles at the design stage has reaped huge benefits here.
We have got a good deal of lighting programming done, and a daily routine is emerging. We programme through the night, go to bed around 4 or 5am, get up at noon or 1pm, bagel with Bruce at 3, catch the shuttle bus to the venue at 5pm, dinner in catering and start all over again. Its looking good. People keep asking me how I feel now I can see how it looks after so long in the design process. The odd thing is, having looked at the models and CAD renderings for so long, when you see it in the flesh, you feel like you?ve seen it before. It looks EXACTLY like the CAD drawings, so as well as being new and exciting, it does also look terribly familiar. As they say, \"it?ll be nice when its finished\".
12.04.1997 Las Vegas
Las Vegas pre-production - Lemon lunacy. The infamous lemon is assembled and stands surreal against the Nevada desert backdrop. Willie tries it out for size and tries a roller coaster ride for comparison.
Pre-production, Vegas. By way of distraction and to clear our heads, we headed out to ride roller coasters this morning, but on the way stopped by the stadium to see the Lemon. Yes, it is here. It was assembled outside the venue against a fabulously surreal backdrop of the Nevada desert - every inch the UFO. Its a magnificent object - standing 40? off the ground, a ball of glass with Lemon-ish nipples top and bottom. It revolves, it travels down its track, it opens... this is sheer lunacy. Gorgeous it is. Of course I had to take a ride inside it, which feels a lot like being inside a cement mixer. You stand on a little platform within, which remains stationary, whilst the curved walls and ceiling revolve around you. Thing is, because you have no points of reference, there?s no way you can convince yourself that its not you that?s moving. You feel like you?re on a giant turntable until the thing opens up. All in all, its about the most barf inducing experience you can imagine.
Although, having said that, there may be a challenger for that title half an hour south of Vegas in a town called ?Stateline? which is home to the world?s tallest roller coaster. The thing I love about a roller coaster is that I always get really scared once I get on, before it takes off. This one is so tall that the upward journey seems to take forever. You sit there ascending and ascending, with the mechanical car going \"tick, tick, tick...\" and on and on it goes. Then you see the crest of the hill and the first few cars disappearing over the edge, then... boom, your seat back hits you like a car crash and you?re whipped over the summit and down, down, down, down, down... the absurd height of the drop creates a kind of swan dive motion in the train... you?re in free fall for a few moments as you look straight down... straight the way down, at planet earth getting bigger and bigger by the second, then... oof, the rail catches you, scoops you up and around and you?re on your way to the next whirlwind corner... Its a great ride and quite like my life at the moment. Nothing like a moment of blind terror to take your mind off work.
14.04.1997 Las Vegas
Las Vegas pre-production - Pop art history. Extreme excitement and extreme frustration coincide as video and stage progress slowly, but the animated Roy Lichtenstein plane crash is glorious.
Pre-production, Vegas. Slow, slow, slow. The combination of extreme frustration and extreme excitement continues. Everything which has arrived is fabulous - I just wish that there was more of it. Video is gradually coming together, though its a frightening thought that we have just ten days to get this thing finished. Or at least started. Staging hasn?t progressed to any great degree, though I am assured all missing pieces are now winging their way here from various parts of the planet. Overall I am doing well, taking hold of the old adage \"when there?s nothing you can do, do nothing\", so am not worrying or getting involved in the process too heavily. If I was to start worrying I?d be good for nothing, so I am concentrating on giving encouragement to people who need it, trying to help them see the big picture and have some understanding of what this will become. Funny, it almost feels like the project is coming to and end, with a sense of this endless labour, this giving birth...
Last night, after a fashion, we ran the Roy Lichtenstein plane crash animation on the full screen and it was so glorious. Looped it over and over. Its a beautiful piece of work, a little piece of art history. Roy will love it. It really cheered us all up no end and got us all excited again. There?s a good vibe amongst this crew and a good feeling about what we?re doing, that we are on the brink of something extraordinary. Its good. The band are due in tonight, so things could get very interesting. We left the video running and the ring of huge Xenon searchlights blazing for them to see on their approach to the airport. Here?s hoping they like what they see...
15.04.1997 Las Vegas
Las Vegas pre-production - Looking good. The screen, arch, the lemon are all in place. It all looks ?right?, but the finish line of pre-prod is just the starting line of the tour ? will it get the recognition it deserves?
Pre-production, Vegas. So, today is the big day when those who are paying for all this will see it for the first time. This is always a very big moment. I am confident enough, but they are capable, we know, of the most astonishing observations. May I never forget Bono?s first description of the ZooTV stadium stage - \"its fantastically impressive for all the wrong reasons...\".
Sitting high up in the stadium with Mark Fisher late last night, we looked at it all; the screen, the Arch, the Lemon spinning in all its absurd glory.. It was most gratifying. The screen alone, Mark says, is the most complex thing he?s ever built. I?m really proud of what we?ve done, it has been a very natural collaboration - fun too. What is pleasing that the whole stage doesn?t look super-massive sitting in the stadium. It just looks ?right?. It IS massive of course, but the proportions are such that it doesn?t look overly grandiose, it all seems pretty effortless. Be nicer when its finished, of course. Bruce and Monica are doing very well, taking charge of their respective departments and I wonder how soon it will be before I become entirely superfluous. And if anyone will notice.
I?ve got a headful of thoughts and a gutful of emotions all piling up. Such an emotional thing to give birth to something like this. All this effort, the whole journey that got us through the options, the battles, the victories, the despair, the route to building this thing. Another week the audience will arrive, we will charge out of the gate. The waiting will be done, the huge build up, the designing, the realisation, the whole massive task will be done and then... the tour starts. The finishing line is of course merely the starting line. There?s another long year to go once we get out of here. I wonder how it will be. It seems to me that PopMart will be head and shoulders above ZooTV as a show, but I can?t help wondering if it will get the same kind of recognition. Its much harder ?second time round?.
16.04.1997 Las Vegas
Las Vegas pre-production - Fabulous olive. This is the daftest set piece Willie has ever ordered ? sitting atop a 100? orange toothpick. A monument to lunacy?
Pre-production, Vegas. Things continue at a snail?s pace and, oddly, the band didn?t come to the stadium last night or today. Perhaps these two phenomena are not unconnected. I do find it extraordinary that we haven?t seen them yet - I guess confidence must high. Or something.
I arrived at the stadium this afternoon, as usual, under the blazing Nevada sun. I was thinking about a million things, and as I rounded the corner of the stage headed for the mix position I saw it in the middle of the field......this giant green object, like some kind of mutated undersea creature. It was the Olive. A 12? wide stuffed olive lying on its side. I just laughed out loud. It is fantastic - easily the daftest set piece I have ever had the pleasure of ordering. As it rose atop its 100? high orange toothpick I fair swelled with pride. This Olive - a symbol of how lunatic this project has become, or perhaps merely a monument to how out of hand my self-indulgence has become. Its fab.
17.04.1997 Las Vegas
Las Vegas pre-production - Band blown away. The band arrive and Bono says, \"There’s nothing I don’t like\". They seemed overwhelmed by the scale and struggle to \"board an already moving vehicle\". Pre-production, Vegas. And at last they came. The band arrived today, complete with a film crew to capture their reaction to seeing it for the first time. We fairly blew them away, too. \"I’m freaked\", says Bono, \"there’s nothing I don’t like\". Long may this reign. Adam was pretty chatty, but everyone else just seemed overwhelmed by the whole thing. Bruce said they looked like they were trying to board a moving vehicle, which pretty much summed it up. We showed them the screen, the Lichtenstein piece, the gorgeous Keith Haring animation which arrived yesterday - even the I-mag looks great, half dissolved with the Jennifer Steinkamp textured pieces. The close ups of people on stage are extraordinary, as the screen gives them a background of this electro-pixel mayhem. We have a long way to go, but the potential is massive.
18.04.1997 Las Vegas
Las Vegas pre-production - Will we get there? Stage near completion, scaffolding removed looking sleek and poppy. The opening show is a week away, the stage is ready but the band may not be.
Pre-production, Vegas. More of the pink cladding arrived today and it really helps the feeling that the stage is reaching its completion. All looking suitably sleek and poppy. Its so astonishing to see a stage of this scale without there being piles of scaffolding everywhere. The colours alone make it worth the price of admission.
We have one week until the first show, which becomes more terrifying with every hour that passes. The band entourage and Principle Management staff have arrived and there is much talk of guest list mania for the opening night. This is clearly not going to be a low key premiere. More?s the pity, because the the band themselves are admitting to being somewhat under-rehearsed. Riding close to the edge of the abyss has always been U2?s hallmark, but its nerve-wracking. Again, I am refusing to worry and being as encouraging as possible. We will get there, we always do, so maintaining confidence is probably the most helpful thing I can do right now, but there?s some work to do.
23.04.1997 Las Vegas - Pre Production
Las Vegas pre-production - Rehearsal debacle. The nightmare descends. The \"dress rehearsal goes pear shaped as the lemon breaks down, leaving the band stranded 20? in the air. Willie gets it in the ear. One more chance to get it right.
Las Vegas, rehearsals. So the nightmare descends at last. We always knew it would but at least its going to be brief this time. Tonight?s \"dress rehearsal\" was the customary debacle - stops and starts, odd departures, breakdowns, etc - and still we didn?t make it through the whole set. The all-eclipsing disaster, though, was the breakdown of the Lemon staircase. After a week of convincing the band that they all have to ride in the Lemon, that it will all be fine and fabulous, the fucking steps gave out, leaving the band stranded 20? up in the air. Consequently, Lemon confidence plummets into the dumper and we are plunged into a world of trauma. Post rehearsal I am duly summoned to the dressing room and given a royal dressing down. Fair enough - these things aren?t necessarily my fault but they are my responsibility and the band are understandably nervous as all hell. Pretty grim mind you. After the shouting we get to the practicalities and a lengthy creative meeting follows. Indeed, U2 do function best in crisis and this crisis ended up bringing great benefit. There were about 20 of us in this meeting, watching the rehearsal video tape. It was a long night, but we made some good progress. Catherine Owens, who has overseen the creatino of all the video and animated screen footage is here too, so I don?t feel entirely alone in my quest. Finally, after much deliberation and coaxing, Bono agreed to put ?Pride? & ?Still Haven?t Found? in the set, What a great and glorious victory that was. More than we could have hoped for - and needless to say a deeply wise decision. So we leave and go to bed, knowing we?ve just one more crack at this before the world gets to see it.
24.04.1997 Las Vegas pre-production - Rehearsal relief.
Las Vegas pre-production - Rehearsal relief. The addition of \"Pride? and \"Still Haven?t Found\" round out the set and everyone?s (sort of) ready for the big night.
Las Vegas, rehearsals. Our final rehearsal brought the relief we needed. The addition of ?Pride? & ?Still Haven?t Found? changes the mood of the show entirely and can only help us get through this opening night. You could feel the whole mood of the building change when the band played those songs. I know its hard for them to keep \"churning out the oldies\", but those songs were made for stadiums in a way that the \"Pop\" songs are not, being designed for night clubs. Anyway we can philosophise about this anon, but for now I am relieved and encouraged. The band?s confidence in their own performance is not exactly high, but with a heady mixture of prayer and adrenaline I think we can face tomorrow.
After the run-through I headed back stage to catering, to find there was a party going on - a Rigger?s Arms barbecue. Who?d have thought? After having effortlessly proved themselves the most qualified at the task, the riggers have traditionally thrown U2?s touring parties, so its encouraging to know that whilst we sweat over the show there are those amongst us who are keeping an eye on the social calendar.
25.04.1997 Las Vegas show - PopMart premier.
Las Vegas show - PopMart premier. Mix position jumping with celebs. The atmosphere?s buzzing, first 45 minutes are a triumph? but then the wheels falls off. The band stumbles, the Edge gets lost in the fog and has a moment of pure Spinal Tap, but they recover.
PopMart?s premiere, Las Vegas. Well...the day was a circus of course, we would have been disappointed if it had been any other way. By the time the doors opened there was a major buzz in the place and by show time it was explosive. The backstage hospitality zone was awash with celebs - Wynnona, Sigourney Weaver, Christian Slater and to my great joy R.E.M. Mike Mills, Michael Stipe, Jim Mckay, Bertis Downs and all. So good to see them and they all seemed on great form. Stipe had on a large purple wig & shades and was carrying a chalkware Chihuahua which was perfect. Still they came, Trent Reznor, Dr. Dre, Quincy Jones, Dennis Hopper.....the mix position was just jumping. There?s nothing like a discreet, low key opening to a tour...and this was NOTHING like a discreet, low key opening. Trying to find a backstage toilet for a pre-show visit, I head for a locker room which has been empty all week. Now its full of Vegas showgirls wearing giant feather plumes on their heads and not much else besides. \"What the hell.......?
At last show time came and \"Pop Muzik\" blared from the orange speaker ball. This is it. Here we go. A memory of Stateline?s roller coaster came to mind for a second. I?ve spent 15 months slowly, slowly climbing up this huge steep hill and any second now gravity will kick in and we?ll start the free fall. The entry through the crowd worked well, MoFo, Follow, Real Thing, Do You Feel Loved, then Pride & Still Haven?t Found brought the house down. Even the ?brown? section worked OK, Last Night on Earth, Gone, End of the World. The first 45 minutes was a triumph. I kept just looking at everything and going, \"its still working, it hasn?t fallen over, it hasn?t blown up.....\".
It couldn?t last of course, it wouldn?t have been just, given how shockingly under rehearsed we were, but it was enough. Out on the b-stage God?s Angels and Staring at the Sun took a nose dive - the latter to the point of having to stop mid-song and start again, having taken off in a sort of oompah-flamenco direction on its first attempt. Edge stepped into the breech with his karaoke version of Daydream Believer, which the crowd loved, then a rather tentative Miami into Bullet, which I think was the visual high point. Please was good and Streets a home run, so we have a moment to regroup. Enter the Lemon, which did its thing without a hitch so all breathe again. Moments later, however, came the Spinal Tap moment of the night. I had been so paranoid about there not being enough fog for the Lemon entry that I was really leaning heavily on the smoke button. It was a beautifully still night, so the resulting clouds didn?t disperse right away and as the band descended from the Lemon to the b-stage, they couldn?t see a thing. Edge put on his guitar, strummed it and found it didn?t work. He needed to step on a switch on his footpedal which was......somewhere down there on the floor. Later he told us that he was completely blind in the fog, so sank to his hands and knees to try to find it by touch. Finding himself at the world premiere of his new show, on his knees feeling about the floor he started to laugh. A little voice came into his head \"it has finally happened.......I am Derek Smalls - this is Spinal Tap\".
He did get his guitar working so Discotheque happened, followed by Velvet Dress and With or Without You. The relief of being almost home got us through, then Hold Me Thrill Me was great and kicked things back into gear.. Mysterious Ways & One was a strong finish and whilst the audience cried over the Keith Haring animation, we cried tears of relief. Finito, we made it, its done, we?re launched, we got away with opening in Vegas. Backstage the lig was in full swing by the time I got there having done my round of thank yous to all concerned. Everyone just gushed about what an extraordinary show it is and I could see that it was more than just the polite \"darling you were wonderful\". We have agonised over this for so long, but to the first time observer, even in its ragged state, it is an incredible thing that we have built. We made it through the highest pressure opening night imaginable. In the words of Mother Theresa, \"thank fuck for that\".
By default many of us ended up at the Hard Rock Casino and it was fun circling the gambling floor running into friends all the while - Stipe, Mills, Grant Phillips, Martin Wroe, Simon Mayo, Catherine, Walter Van Bierendonck & Derk. Paul McGuinness telling me in no uncertain terms that we had won, that it had worked. To bed everso late but happy as hell. \"Man, you?re fucking awesome!\" says Stipe. These are the good moments.
Napisano 11 stycznia 2008 - 16:11
San Diego pre-show - Change of climate. Arrive at the hotel featured in \"Some Like it Hot\", sea air, green grass - a world away from Vegas.
Leaving Las Vegas. Arriving in San Diego at the Hotel Del Coronado. This is the hotel that’s in the Marilyn Monroe movie ‘Some Like It Hot’ and I can’t tell you how fantastic it feels to be here. When we flew in today, we were coming through town looking at everything with new eyes. After a month in Las Vegas, it seemed so weird to see so much stuff that’s real and so many buildings that aren’t casinos. The grass is so soft and springy, the sunshine gentle. After so long in the desert, the sea air is intoxicating - I may soon be able to persuade the two Bedouin families to move out of my nose.
27.04.1997 San Diego pre-show – Paradise.
San Diego pre-show – Paradise. A rare moment of peace and tranquility before show number two.
I appear to have woken up in paradise. The air is moist, the sky blue and the ocean roars. Catherine is here, so we walked along the beach and generally relaxed after a long month. My friends Harold and Angela came down from San Francisco too, so its all very pleasant and gently social. Show number two to face tomorrow.
28.04.1997 San Diego show
San Diego show - Tough night. Encouraging reviews from Las Vegas, but second shows are tough and rough. This is no exception.
Show day, San Diego. \"After the Lord Mayor’s parade...\", as they used to say in Sheffield. Reviews of the Vegas were, in the main, good. The tabloids raved, the broadsheets were kind. A few wankers had a go, but really not bad overall, which is encouraging. Tonight’s show was a little rough - the stage was in a weird place in the stadium and we weren’t sold out, so it felt like there was a vast gaping space to one side of the stage.. Second shows are always tough - adrenaline and good will gets you through the first night, then the real work begins.
01.05.1997 Denver show - New venue, new government.
Denver show - New venue, new government. A musical stumble in a cold, non-packed stadium, but it’s getting there. Back home in the UK there’s a Labour lanslide in the General Election. The Tories are history.
Denver show. Cold! It was freezing here today, which comes as a bit of a shock after the desert. Another uphill show - bit of a stumble through musically and a non-packed stadium is tough on the vibe. Still, technically the lumps are starting to be ironed out and we have got many of the routines down now - the Lemon sequence is much slicker, and generally the segues, entrances and exits are becoming easier and more natural.
During the show election results were coming in from Britain. What a day for the home country as Labour wipe the smug complacent Tories off the map. It was an absolute landslide and getting the information in snippets it was quite magical, hearing these impossible statistics of Labour’s ongoing victories. Everyone was so vibed up and loving it - it was really beyond anyone’s hopes or expectations. Tony Blair has his work cut out for him, but what a joy to see the apple cart upset so spectacularly. There’ll be some good reading in the papers this week.
02.05.1997 Denver post-show
Denver post-show - Major autopsy. Bono’s not happy and the band admit to being under-rehearsed, but we’re further ahead than we were on Zoo TV.
Denver, day off. Big meeting to day, looking at show tapes and having a major autopsy of the shows so far. Bono’s not happy and fair enough. He feels he doesn’t look good for much of the show and the performance is not happening. Blame is apportioned and plans are made. Its an uncomfortable time and the band’s unspoken acknowledgment that they are still sorely under-rehearsed makes it difficult to get to the heart of some of the problems. Still, I comfort myself that most of the things we are dealing with (clothes, lighting for Bono’s close up, etc) are mere details compared to where we were at this point on the Zoo TV US outdoor leg. We were still experimenting with new roof structures on a daily basis until about three weeks into that tour. Ran into Paul McG., Regine and Sheila in a bar later. Conversely Paul seems very happy with everything which was encouraging. I wish some more of that would rub off on the band!
03.05.1997 Denver to Salt Lake City
Denver to Salt Lake City - Where’s the air? Willie yearns for San Francisco.
Denver. Breakfast. Off to Salt Lake City today, show tonight then straight out on a runner to San Francisco. Yahoo. I’ll be glad to be in a place where there’s more air. I’ve felt kind of asthmatic these past few days. Salt Lake will be brief... no bad thing.
06.05.1997 Eugene show - Damp home run.
Eugene show - Damp home run. Willie earns a break in his home town but the screen gets rain-soaked and falls apart. Help!
Eugene. Show day, after flying in from S.F. this morning. Great to have a couple of days in San Francisco and the weather was spectacular too. Spent the first night in the hotel, the second at home, the third back in the hotel. Gentle in, gentle out. I really enjoyed the time - severing the umbilical cord. I’m on tour for sure now.
The gig in Eugene was something of a technical disaster. The screen got its first good soaking in the early hours of the morning and quite simply fell apart. It was embarrassing. The crew did all they could and worked their asses off, but it looked awful. Thank God it was Eugene and not New York. Much pressure placed on Belgian screen crew who promise to make amends. Lets hope the promise holds true, or this is going to be a long year. Runner to Phoenix after the show. Get me out of here...
07.05.1997 Phoenix pre-show - Hot reception.
Phoenix pre-show - Hot reception. Nice hotel, shame about inhospitable heat.
Phoenix. Another Ritz Carlton, where we will live for six nights. The hotel’s ‘club floor’ concept is most acceptable - not least because it gives us a place to hang out and meet up. Its unbelievably bloody hot here. Well over 30 degrees. This place just isn’t meant for humans to live - there’s no water and the temperature’s ridiculous. Having pipes spraying mists of water into the air at cafes, etc., is pretty lunatic behaviour. They should just give the whole place over to lizards and have done with it.
10.05.1997 Phoenix show - Bono’s birthday blues
Phoenix show - Bono’s birthday blues. Show improving, but birthday boy Bono, despite a family visit, is finding it all a bit uphill.
Phoenix. Bono’s birthday. He’s 37 today and has high-tailed it into the desert with Ali & the kids for the day, which I hope will help to relax him at least a little. Did a show last night, the first half of which I thought was our best to date. Got a bit lumpy after that, but we were rocking for a while there. Did a set list shuffle which helped no end and continuing tweaks to the visuals are getting us into good shape. Highlight of the day was the arrival of Alice Cooper at the mix position - we are not worthy! He shook my hand later. What a veteran. He’s seen some mileage, but is still rocking. He loved it.
Sadly, (and unknown to us out front) Bono had a desperate show and was in a bit of a black hole. Confidence is low and we are very much on board the moving vehicle, but I know we will get to our destination. Its just a shame it’s so uphill at the moment.
Napisano 11 stycznia 2008 - 16:30
Wpisów Williego ze wszystkich tras jest kilkaset (!), także ani Tobie ani innym, którzy to czytają, lektury na długie zimowe wieczory nie zabraknie
Postaram się wrzucić jeszcze jedną porcję dziś wieczorem.
A resztę, sukcesywnie przez kolejne dni, tygodnie, miesiące..
Napisano 11 stycznia 2008 - 20:03
Phoenix/Dallas/Memphis - Mississippi musings. The schedulue’s tough for the roadcrew, but a routine is developing. A relaxing evening riverboat trip helps Bono wax lyrical on the nature of art.
Phoenix to Dallas to Memphis. Eight shows down now and some sort of routine is emerging. The tightness of the schedule means that the roadcrew are in hell, but there’s hope on the horizon in the shape of the New York multiple shows and more multiples beyond. We are also starting to see gigs disappear - 2nd Philly, 3rd Boston, 3rd London, etc., which is disappointing, but I shall not be brought down.. We’ll carry on regardless. Dallas pretty much came and went, then Memphis which was good. Steve and Debbie Taylor came over, and today we did some exploring - Civil Rights Museum & the Lorraine Motel - unrecognisable from when I saw it last in 1988.
Evening riverboat trip which was very pleasant. Drifting up and down the Mississippi as the sun set on us. Beautifully still night, which we watch from the top deck over a few drinks and some idle conversation. The touring party has a chance to relax a little at last. We needed this. Talking to Bono, he was chatting about an idea \"Art is the discovery of beauty\", i.e. finding beauty in non-obvious places. I like that idea a lot. Finding God in all things. Tarkovsky’s ‘the purpose of art is to prepare a person for death’. Consequently, your Bruce Weber photos, glamour spreads, etc., - these obvious things aren’t art because we already know that they are beautiful, there’s no revelation, no discovery. Hence Basquiat, Wojnarowicz - difficult beauty, revealed only by a dedicated search. Into the river of trash. On the boat, beer and sunset, evening musings.
16.05.1997 Clemson show - R.E.M road trip.
Clemson show - R.E.M road trip. Best show so far – experienced by the whole R.E.M organisation who came and brought a picnic.
Show day in Clemson, which is somewhere in the Carolinas. We did the one day jaunt - Memphis to Clemson, do the show, then bail for Kansas City right after the gig. What a show it was too - easily our best so far, which was welcome because the whole of the R.E.M. organisation showed up. They rented a bus and drove up from Athens in serious road-trip party mode. Highlight of the afternoon was about 6pm, seeing them sitting out the back of the stadium, all lined up on the grass eating their packed lunches, complete with a keg of beer. Great to see them all. They’re talking about touring in ‘99, which would be just fine by me. Sad we couldn’t stay to play afterwards, but Kansas City calls. We did a runner, and on to the plane - our own charter 747, complete with its Lemon logo painted on the tail plane. It’s the only way to travel...
17.05.1997 Kansas show - Less rage, more fun.
Kansas show - Less rage, more fun. Support band Rage Against the Machine leave, to be replaced by the Fun Loving Criminals.
Another big meeting today, looking at tapes, etc. It was a long one, but really what else would you do in Kansas City? Except of course go and look at Claes Oldenburg’s giant shuttlecocks. Some good things came out of the meeting, which was very much looking towards the New York shows. Things improve, slowly, slowly.
Our initial opening act ‘Rage Against the Machine’ left us after Clemson and we have been joined by the ‘Fun Loving Criminals’ who appear to be a great band and a very fun bunch of people. It’ll be good to have them around.
22.05.1997 Pittsburgh show - Terror drive
Pittsburgh show - Terror drive. High speed police escorts are fine unless you’re in the final minbus behind the limos, trying to keep up.
Show at Three Rivers Stadium. We stayed in Kansas City until this morning, as the band had been shooting a video for \"Last Night on Earth\". We were late leaving (as per....) so had a mad dash to get from Pittsburgh airport to the stadium. It was rush hour and the roads were jammed, so it was fortunate that we had a police escort. Kind of. Given the opportunity to drive at high speed through traffic with a bunch of rock stars, many police officers just go nuts. Particularly if they’re Italian. Now, if you are inside one of the sleek limousines amid the cluster of motorcycles all might well be hunky dory, but a really, really bad place to be would be in a minibus trying to follow in their wake. An even more unfortunate place to be would be in the second of two minibuses trying to follow the posse. And if fate dealt you the cruel blow of putting you in such a vehicle, the very worst place to be would have to be the very back seat. This is where Howie B. & I found ourselves for the most terrifying ride of my life. The drivers must have been out of their minds as we screamed down the hard shoulder of the freeways, dodging cars, large trucks, buses, oncoming traffic. To add to the mental thrill-ride atmosphere, the front passenger window next to Susie Smith spontaneously shattered, spraying glass everywhere and increasing the noise of traffic roar by about 1000%. It was truly insane and so dangerous. And for what... soundcheck? I’ll walk next time.
23.05.1997 Pittsburgh post-show - Inspirational Warhol
Pittsburgh post-show - Inspirational Warhol. The Andy Warhol Museum proves to be an inspiration for Wille and Howie B. Willie is voted Top 25 in the Millennium by Wired magazine.
Pittsburgh. Day off. Howie B. & I headed down to the Andy Warhol museum this morning. I didn’t even know it was here, but its fabulous. They’ve done such a great job on it. Home of Pop - it was totally inspiring. Made me want to posterise the entire show. The silver cloud room is fantastic. Howie & I lay on the floor for ages, watching the balloons float around above us, just tripping out on it all. Quite lovely. Warhol was all over it - quite the guy. It struck me that what we are really doing in our show is applying the principles of Pop Art to video - simplicity, colour, repetition. Andy would be proud. Or he’d sue us. Some great memorabilia in the museum too - including a letter from Mick Jagger about an album cover Warhol was going to do for them. It was sent 30 years ago - amazing to think Jagger’s still at it. Howie & I had our pictures taken in Warhol’s photo booth and left.
Got an e.mail from Wired magazine today saying they are doing an issue about the \"Top 25 minds behind entertainment in the next millennium\" and they want to include me as one of them. What a deal!
26.05.1997 Washinton show – Bono one, Technology nil.
Washington show – Bono one, Technology nil. The screen gets rained on and falls apart. Bono more than compensates with a bravura performance.
Show day, Washington D.C. And then depression set in. Last night was the night of the great monsoon. So much water came out of the sky it was ridiculous, coming down in sheets. The screen was out in it, and as we had previously learned, it does not enjoy getting wet. Today we learn the extent of the damage - 1000 pixel tubes down, its a nightmare. Lots of long faces and tension in the air that you could cut with a knife. Its clear tonight’s show is going to be very ‘deconstructed’. Much more Jackson Pollock than Andy Warhol. As a result though, Bono’s performance was the most animated to date. It really wasn’t a bad show and it made me realise how much an audience can be oblivious to. There were no complaints, in fact no one even seemed to notice, even less care. It was brutal mind you... bits missing and electro starfields splattered all over the face of the pictures. In one sense it was really quite beautiful - I just wish we’d had the option to turn them on and off.
27.05.1997 Washington post-show – Raleigh cancelled
Washington post-show – Raleigh cancelled. Screen goes of to be waterproofed.
Washington D.C. day off. The upshot of the screen disaster is that the Raleigh show is canceled. This reaps several benefits. The screen will go somewhere to be \"fixed and waterproofed\" (God help us) & U2 will spend four days in D.C. rehearsing for the New York shows. Good deal all round, so much good comes out of yesterday’s trauma.
I have my friends John & Jo in town, which is wonderful relief for me and a chance to empty my head of all the pressures of the past month. Good friends. Breakfast. Chat. That’s what its all about, really.
Napisano 12 stycznia 2008 - 13:00
New York pre-show – Art restoration. The screen is back and working for the art capital of the USA – there’s a new video piece for \"Hold Me Thrill Me\" and the Any Warhol animated Monroes comes into its own. New York. A month on the road and we arrive at the big New York shows. New York shows so big they had to have them in New Jersey. The first Giants Stadium show is tomorrow night, but I went out there this evening to make sure all was well. I had heard good reports of the screen’s restoration to full health after the Great Washington Monsoon took away many of its pixels, but I wanted to see it for myself. Indeed, all was well and I took a look at the new video piece for Hold Me Thrill Me - the \"PopMartyrs\" as we are calling it. A tasteful array of pop-colored corpses - people killed by fame. Its a good looking sequence and should add a sting to the end of the song. I put Ziggy Stardust in there as kind of an inside joke for those who might notice. Ziggy was after all the ultimate pop star. It also gets the animated Warhol Marilyns back in an interesting way. Catherine Owens (Curator of the Screen Imagery) had instructed me on pain of death to get the Marilyn Monroe piece back into the show, given that half of the staff of the Andy Warhol Foundation are coming to the opening night’s show at Giant’s Stadium. The other new arrivals of the evening were the four giant disco lights (\"periscope heads\") to go in the audience for Discotheque and perhaps a couple of other moments too. They really are spectacularly tacky, though having a complete package of control software to go with them wouldn’t have been a bad idea. This is the eternal problem with inventing new pieces of gear yourself - they don’t come with instructions. I’m sure we will get them doing something interesting though...
31.05.1997 New York show – Celebs celebrate.
New York show – Celebs celebrate. Technically, best show so far – the places is heaving with celebrities and artist Roy Lichtenstein sees his plane crash for the first time. And Bjork DJs at the aftershow.
Big New York rock show number one. And a good time was had by all. From a technical point of view tonight’s show was our best yet, despite the erratic and rather bizarre behavior of the periscope heads. The band certainly rose to the occasion - The Edge took the opportunity to find new, currently unexplored, areas of the stage. During the opening chords of I Will Follow he took off along the stage right runway with no warning, leaving a trail of scurrying cameramen in his wake. One way of finding out who’s asleep. I learned later that Bono had not had the easiest of gigs, but really you wouldn’t have known. Given that Roy Lichtenstein was in the audience, a nice touch was Bono’s shouting \"OK Roy, here it comes...\" at the pause during Bullet the Blue Sky, just before the Lichtenstein plane crash sequence appeared on the screen.
The celebrity count was, of course, on a par with Las Vegas. The guest platform in front of the mix position was absolutely jammed with people. Run Wrake, who is our star animator, came over from England to see his work in place for the first time. The Supermodels were present in force for the first time on the tour, dancing and having a great time as is their norm, which always makes for a good vibey gig - at least from where I’m sitting.
After the show everyone went off to find the disco tent, hidden somewhere in the backstage parking lot. It turned out to be easy enough to find (follow the bass sound) and was the scene of much partying into the wee small hours.. The band, being the devil-may-care wild rockers that they are rushed off to do a German TV interview right after the show, but did join us later. Highlight of the aftershow night was the arrival of Howie B and Bjork to do a joint DJ-ing session at the turntables in the party tent. As Howie himself would say... \"wicked\".
01.06.1997 New York show – Good time music.
New York show – Good time music. The band play the best set so far and bring the house down with Neil Diamond. BBC’s Chris Evans plays the fool with a small woodpecker.
Rabbits. New York number 2 and we all settle down a bit. My show wasn’t quite as slick as last night’s, but the band played a blinder. Great to see them having a good time up there. Edge chose to do \"Sweet Caroline\" for the Karaoke spot and it absolutely brought the house down. Neil Diamond seems to be a good deal more of a cult figure in these parts than he was in Kansas. Bill Flanagan turned up tonight and as ever had lots of interesting comments and insights. Of all the people who have written about U2, Bill must be the one at thesis level by now.
After the show the band did a TV shoot for the BBC, with Chris Evans who is apparently a terribly popular presenter back in the old country. They were shooting a gag which involved using the big screen as his personal TV monitor and running all sorts of inane video clips on it. I thought our video director, Monica Caston, was going to physically choke laughing when she found out that the co-presenter was a 3\" high toy woodpecker. It turned into a bit of a race against time, as it started raining and grown men were attempting to cover the screen up to stop it from going all Jackson Pollock on us again.
The second half of the BBC shoot was set in the \"Dressing Room From Hell\", which was pretty funny. The band were draped over ludicrously OTT furnishings in a shag-pile heaven 70’s rock-ist caricature dressing room, with ice sculptures, bunny girls and live peacocks strutting about the place. Looked a bit like a Rod Stewart video. Actually, quite a lot like a Rod Stewart video, now I come to think about it. The fridge jammed with Newcastle Brown Ale was a nice touch, mind.
03.06.1997 New York show – Vantage point
New York show – Vantage point. Relaxed performance from the band and Willie gets a punter’s eye view of the show.
Giants Stadium, number three. I was beginning to feel like I was doomed to spend the rest of my life commuting to fabulous East Rutherford, New Jersey, but today sees the end of that particular routine. I don’t know how people do that every day. Anyhow, it was a good relaxed gig to finish the run, with Edge actually having the balls to sing Karaoke \"New York New York\". The astonishing thing is not so much that he sings karaoke in public, but that he does it sober.
I took the opportunity to watch parts of the show from way, way up the back.. Given that Giants Stadium is such an huge and extraordinary building, I did the long, long walk right around the back row of the very top tier of seats.. Its such a different show from that vantage point, but has real magic to it.. The screen is so visible and so beautiful from up there, that its hard to understand how far away you are from the stage. All your perspective gets screwed up, which makes it a pretty surreal experience. Another surreal experience is to watch the audience up in that altitude. Talk about party zone, there’s a whole other existence going on up there - somewhere between a football match and Caligula’s Rome.
After the show, spirits were high and I retired to the lighting crew bus for a while, to celebrate in style, whilst the crew started the tear-down process. This stationary week has certainly been a very necessary shot in the arm for the crew as a whole. Starting the tour with fourteen one-nighters in a row (some of which were over a thousand miles apart) certainly separated the men (& women) from the boys, but all seems to be on its feet OK now.
04.06.1997 New York post-show – Day break.
New York post-show – Day break. Radiohead in town, the reviewers laugh or rave and Willie discovers rap tap.
New York. Almost a real day off. Radiohead are in town, staying down at the Paramount, so I dropped by to say hello. They are doing the Tibet gig too, and also a show of their own on Monday which is most exciting, as we will still be here. They are such a great band.
There was a hilarious PopMart review in the New York Daily News which described the transparent raincover over the band on stage as looking like a \"giant sneeze guard\". From the PopMart buffet section, one imagines. The New York Post just said \"this was one of the greatest stadium shows ever presented\". Well, you can’t have everything, I guess.
Evening trip to see \"Bring in da noise, bring in da funk\" on Broadway. I have to say I wasn’t overly enthused about seeing a tap dancing musical, but it turned out to be quite amazing. It is to regular tap dancing what Rap is to Shakespeare, and very moving too. Almost like a Rap Flamenco.
05.06.1997 New York post-show – U2 as museum objects.
New York post-show – U2 as museum objects. Discussions with the Guggenheim for a PopMart video installation.
Morning meeting with the Directors of the Guggenheim Gallery in SoHo, regarding a possible collaboration with them on a PopMart video installation. All the band present, bar Larry, plus myself, Catherine Owens & Bess. Much interesting discussion and as with all things U2, we went in with one idea and came out with twenty five, but hopefully something productive will come of it. They are installing a huge video wall in the gallery which will be the main feature - although it is Zoo TV style video cubes, so I am attempting to introduce them to LED screen technology. It could be a great opportunity to display the work of the animators we have been working with throughout the PopMart project.
08.06.1997 Philadelphia show – Gay old time.
High spirits and high jinks post-show with Radiohead, R.E.M and, finally the Puerto Rican Gay disco in NY.
The band party stayed on in New York after the Giants Stadium shows, so commuted out to today’s show in Philadelphia. Two large buses took the whole entourage on this 90 minute drive, so it turned into a bit of a Sunday school outing. Much larking about on the way and much reminiscing about the old days of touring by bus. Mind you, I don’t think the sense of nostalgia was quite strong enough to get anyone to volunteer going by bus on the 32 hour road journey to Winnipeg from here, but it was a fun trip all the same.. There’s never been a rock show at Franklin Field before, but it worked well as a venue. The guys from Radiohead came out to see us and laughed very loudly throughout the whole Lemon sequence. I think the more subtle nuances of the Spinal Tap aesthetic must be more apparent to English road crews. Radiohead joined us on the bus journey back to New York, so more juvenile behaviour followed.
On arrival back in New York everyone was way too wired to go to bed so headed out to party. The first stop was some Jazz club on 31st St., which appeared to be serving as the aftershow party from the Free Tibet show. The DJ was occasionally being interrupted by some dodgy karaoke singing, but otherwise there was a good enough vibe in the place. Michael Stipe and Mike Mills were present, Mike threatening to join in the karaoke at any minute, but common sense prevailed, at least for as long as we were there. The U2 party moved on to a club somewhere off Times Square called \"Expo\". It was Puerto Rican Gay Disco night, this being Puerto Rico day in Manhattan. The club is a converted theatre and was packed to the gills with people in wild costumes, doing every conceivable style of dancing. Incredibly loud music, drag acts......the place was just heaving in wild celebration - I tell you, these people know how to have fun. The uncontrollable energy and enthusiasm of the Puerto Rican dancers made the mainly white rock business crowd at the Jazz club look like a night out at the local lending library. Staggered back to the hotel around 5am.
09.06.1997 New York post-show.
New York post-show. Radiohead showcase. Radiohead play Irving Plaza brilliantly with a guest list worth framing, followed by a dodgy party hosted by an official \"Rock Chick\".
Summer arrived in New York today, with 85 degree heat & sunshine, which always improves the mood. Tonight Radiohead played their showcase gig at Irving Plaza, a small theatre gig downtown. Their single is out and their new album \"OK Computer\" is on the verge of release and they sit poised on the edge of being the Next Big Thing. High pressure gig for them but they really pulled it off. They played a lot of new material, plus plenty of what are fast becoming their classics - progressive rock! Who’d have thought it! And always \"Fake Plastic Trees\" to bring the house down. They even played \"Creep\". The place was jammed and the guest list was just stupid. Afterwards, Thom York told me he was going to have the guest list framed and hang it on his toilet wall; Madonna, Michael Jordan, U2, R.E.M., Liam Gallagher, Marilyn Manson +13, etc. They all thought it was hilarious, but its sweet how amazed they still seem to be by their own success. On to someone’s ‘loft party’ in the West Village afterwards. We nearly got killed on the way, as I took a cab with Ed O’Brien who told the driver West 3rd Street, but because of the accent problems, the driver heard it as 103rd St. Vibey though it is, 2am is not the best time for a couple of white English boys to head for Harlem. When we eventually got to the party and it turned out that the loft belonged to this dodgy babe who apparently gives parties professionally. She was giving out business cards citing her occupation as \"Rock Chick\" (I\'m not making this up). It was all, \"let’s listen to trippy music, smoke dope and sit on bean bags\", with strange substances on the draining board and of course yet more rock stars, Fun Loving Criminals, Radiohead & Damon Albarn hanging out the kitchen window. Really mad stuff. Felt like I’d been transported to the mid 70’s. U2 never showed up, mind you...
10.06.1997 New York post-show
New York post-show – Willie \"pops\" down the village with Warhol as companion.
Popism down the Village. Been reading Andy Warhol’s \"Popism\", because it seemed like the perfect time to do it - in New York after a week of mad parties. That 60’s NY era with all its ‘happenings’ all seems so fantastically silly now, but I bet you it was a lot of fun at the time. Warhol’s basic premise of Pop was that ‘anybody can do anything’, of which we would appear to be living proof. Evening movie - \"Kolya\" the Czech Oscar winner. Wonderful story and beautifully made film. Loved it.
11.06.1997 New York post-show – Talking heads.
New York post-show – Talking heads. Two ancient New York matrons talk about fur, bras, Saks and the loneliness of widowhood.
Overheard an extraordinary conversation in a Manhattan diner booth this morning. Two older women who both looked like a cross between Barbara Cartland and Lucille Ball, real New York ‘Old Money’, very well dressed, dyed red hair, very white foundation and one of them doing all the talking. I sat reading ‘Popism’ and it all just fitted together somehow. The woman’s monologue was extremely loud, oblivious to the fact that practically the whole place could hear her. She started with a long tirade about her investment broker, which I phased in and out of, then she talked a lot about broken blood vessels around her eyes and getting her neck \"done\", which sounded a little frightening, wandering through various medical items most of which I tried to blank, but then out of nowhere: \"I want to buy a new mink coat. I need a lift, I really do. I want to buy a new mink. It’ll be the last one I buy in my life and I need a lift. A light one, with dark trim and long. Like a sable, well, a mink, you know. A light one with a little collar, and long. And some beige shoes, some simple beige shoes, and a little CoCo dress. I need a lift and oh, just once I’d like to be dressed like that.\" Her older companion mutters off-handly ‘well, buy it then’, before the monologue resumes. \"Did you read about Zha Zha in the newspaper? Did you see her? Saying she was the last of her blood. Well, I’m the last of my blood and I have been all these years that Jack’s been gone. I’m on my own and if I’ve only got a little while left, then let me be happy. Last Sunday I got up early and do you know what I did? After I’d got up and dressed myself nicely, I took a cab up to Saks on Fifth Avenue. I took a cab to Saks. It was a lovely morning, so I got up and took a cab to Saks. I went into their bra department and they only had one of the kind that I wear, so I got that and then looked for a half slip, but really I couldn’t find anything, there’s something about the colours they do now. So I bought the bra, the one they had, and I went up to the restaurant. I went up to the restaurant and I sat by myself and the place was full of couples. Couples eating and drinking and talking to each other. And I ate very slowly and then I had three cups of coffee so I could stay and watch all these couples and some were drinking wine and you know, toasting each other with their glasses, lifting their glasses and laughing and talking and I watched them all for a long time and I watched and I watched and I couldn’t believe that once I had lived like that... then when I left, I walked right up the Avenue and through the park and I carried on walking, a long walk, and I walked until I just couldn’t walk any more...\"
12.06.1997 New York/Winnipeg – An audience to die for.
New York/Winnipeg – An audience to die for. PopMart becomes a huge community celebration.
After two weeks in New York we move on at last. Where better to head for than swinging Winnipeg way up in Canada? Standing by to \"Rock the ‘Peg\". This was U2’s first ever gig in Winnipeg and the Canadian debut for PopMart. It seems to be a city with more than its fair share of motorbikes and large hairy people riding them, but there is an extremely strong sense of community. The place was devastated recently by huge flooding when the Mighty Red River burst its banks and the place is only just back on its feet, so the gig served as some kind of community celebration. U2’s arrival was a city-wide event and the audience at the gig was incredible - never mind the stage and the production, we should take this audience on tour with us.
13.06.1997 Winnipeg post-show – Winnipeg goes wild.
Winnipeg post-show – Winnipeg goes wild. Spectacular press coverage – now off to Edmonton.
Turns out we should also tour the Winnipeg journalists too. The press coverage this morning was spectacular, as we left Winnipeg and boarded the Flying Lemon bound for Edmonton - another city which U2 has never visited before. Various meetings on the plane regarding all the on-going side projects - the Web site, videos, TV, European press... and so it goes on.
14.06.1997 Edmonton Show – Party on.
Edmonton Show – Party on. The Canadians start the party – band(s) and crew continue on in the same spirit until dawn and long after.
Edmonton (in Canada). Well, if we thought Winnipeg came out to see us in style, Edmonton just about declared a public holiday. The first of two shows here, with another sell out crowd full of Canadians determined to party their brains out. We were videotaping the show for possible use in Europe and had brought in extra cameras. The results look very promising.
After the show was the first Riggers Arms party of the tour. It is traditional on U2 tours for the riggers to give the parties and the night between two shows in the same venue is the appointed time. Our head rigger Pete The Greek had got the party situation entirely under control. Everyone on the tour chips in $15 to cover costs (even the band pay up) and Pete does the rest. Of course on the tour we already have sound gear, lights, even a D.J., and a large number of very resourceful and fun-loving people, so all we need is a stocked bar and some decor provided by the Steel crew and we are away. Often the Steel crew will build a venue out of bits and pieces of spare scaffolding, etc, but this time we used a room in the stadium with a huge glass window overlooking the back of the stage. It was an eerie and perfect backdrop, to look out into the gloom of the empty stadium, eye to eye with the biggest olive you’ve ever seen in your life.
First activity of the night (well, second after the copious drinking) was karaoke time. I was asked to host the proceedings, so I slipped into one of my finest wigs and got on with it. There were many and various (hilarious) karaoke turns, mostly done in groups to cover some of the wild and overwhelming embarrassment. The highlight though was the lighting crew plus sound engineer Joe O., who opted for going á cappella and performed, unaccompanied, the whole of Bohemian Rhapsody. Its the kind of noise that brings your mind to a complete halt.
Later the house band turned up and played. They claimed to be called \"Mysterious Ways\" but bore an uncanny resemblance to The Fun Lovin’ Criminals. Come to think of it they played quite a few \"lounge\" versions of Fun Lovin’ Criminals songs too. Wonderful stuff, then Howie B got on the decks and the party just hit lift off. We danced till dawn and beyond, till all the Vodka had gone. I guess I left about 6am and got back to the hotel to find not just a few, but about fifty punters outside the hotel who’d waited all night to see the band. These people were excited as most of the band had already been by but they had a further wait to see Bono, as he closed the party some time after 7am......quite a night.
15.06.1997 Edmonton show – Alien carnival.
Edmonton show – Alien carnival. The band and Willie do a runner to San Francisco from great gig. Bono and Edge still in stage gear stalk a deserted nocturnal airport.
Understandably today was a bit of a \"mellow\" day, but the show was, I think, our best to date. We were recording again, and Bono was unstoppable during the gig.
The band party did a runner right after the gig and flew straight on to San Francisco as a massive thunderstorm rolled in. The lighting was absolutely intense and I did wonder if we’d make it to the airport, let alone to San Francisco. We did, however, make the airport OK, and cleared U.S. immigration and customs here before getting on the plane. After the exhilarating reception by the City of Edmonton, two exceptional shows and a night of partying, it was gone midnight and I found myself in the queue for immigration behind Bono & Edge, still both in their stage gear. Edge was still the white cowboy and Bono in his long blue silk boxer’s gown, hood up, shades on with barely the energy to fill out his immigration form. I followed them through the deserted terminal, all polished floors and unforgiving fluorescent lights, as they were looking like alien visitors from some space carnival - a sight so surreal it prompted us to start yelling and then singing at the tops of our voices. \"Is this the real life...? Is this just fantasy...?\"
Napisano 14 stycznia 2008 - 19:10
San Francisco – pre-show - Domestic duties. Willie does the chores. Outside its America, its San Francisco and I for one am damn glad to be home. Spent much of the day dealing with domestic details, collecting mail, paying the rent, feeding the plants, watering the cat. Its been a couple of months after all...
18.06.1997 San Francisco show – Oasis moment.
San Francisco show – Oasis moment. Oasis joins the tour for two shows only.
San Francisco first show, in the newly extended and gloriously sold out Oakland Coliseum. Big news on the international circuit was the arrival of Oasis as the \"opening act\". For these two shows only Oasis came to play, and the lads were loving it. We had beautiful weather for them, so it couldn’t have been better - this being their first show for nine months after the \"spot of bother\" they got into last time they were in America. Everyone on the tour came out to watch Oasis, including the band in various disguises, and the initially sparse stadium filled up pretty quickly as their set progressed. They sounded great - some new material in there as well as their tried & tested. The road crew, some of whom toured with Oasis last year, were loving it and the California crowd responded pretty well, though I couldn’t help thinking how strange it all was seeing Oasis have to work so hard. They seem to really want to crack America this time round.
I seem to remember ending up in an all night diner at around 5am, but I can’t recall much else.
19.06.1997 San Francisco show – Flower power.
San Francisco show – Flower power. Edge goes all hippie on us in the home of the flower people.
San Fran 2. A totally sublime moment and a truly ridiculous one - at the end of Still Haven’t Found , Bono went into All I Want Is You and gradually the band followed along. I was getting shivers it was so beautiful. This followed a little later by Edge’s karaoke version of \"If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair\". One of the (many) extraordinary things about karaoke is that you get to read exactly what the words are to these songs you think you know so well. The words to that San Francisco song are hilarious \"it’s going to be a love-in there\". Way to go.. Someone who shall remain nameless stole all the flowers out of the catering room and distributed them to the front rows of the audience, who of course waved them and threw them around as Edge’s performance gained momentum. You kind of had to be there, but it was a supremely silly moment, with this vibe off the audience like \"yeah, we know, we know, San Francisco got pretty over-hippied back then... but its still kind of nice here, isn’t it?\"
20.06.1997 Los Angeles pre-show – getting ready for the madness.
Los Angeles pre-show – getting ready for the madness.
Los Angeles. Brace yourselves for the celebrity onslaught. Jason Keough, our ticketing master, has had to bring in reinforcements to deal with the guest list, which threatens to eclipse both New York and Vegas. I guess just being one show here it makes it all the more intense on the night. Spent much of the day recovering from arriving from San Francisco at 4am, but am looking forward to the fray tomorrow.
21.06.1997 Los Angeles show – PopMart goes Hollywood.
Los Angeles show – PopMart goes Hollywood. Celebrity onslaught at the aftershow glitterati party which rivals many gigs.
Los Angeles Olympic Coliseum is an enormous building. Magnificent, too and a glorious day for a big rock show. The whole of the Sports Arena (scene of U2’s first ever headline U.S. arena concert in 1983) had been given over to the aftershow party. It had been turned into this huge rave scene, with giant inflatable aeroplanes in the roof, huge spheres with projection images, rave graphics....and of course jammed to the walls with the glitterati of L.A. PopMart welcomes Hollywood... welcome Wynnona Ryder, Johnny Depp, Richard Gere, Michael Keaton, George Michael. Magnificent though all this was, I didn’t quite have the head space for it, so we started our own aftershow hangout inside a circle of golf carts on the lawn area outside the back of the stadium. So surreal seeing the Olive nestling between the glorious arches of this coliseum building.
24.06.1997 Montreal pre-show – Video futures.
Montreal pre-show – Video futures. Willie visits the PopMart screenmakers and envisions an architectural nightmare.
Headed to Montreal last night, and today went to see the SACO Smartvision people who built our magnificent LED video screen. The technology in this area is developing so quickly, that even since the beginning of Operation PopMart there have been whole new series of inventions which will allow us to do all kinds of extraordinary things. The possibilities for future developments are endless. The obvious next step after a screen the size of ours is to make entire video buildings. I have talked to the Smartvision folks about this before and it seems that ‘Bladerunner’ landscapes are only a moment away. Entire city skylines of video buildings. The trouble is of course, what do you put on the video screens? If you give the skylines over to Art it could be magnificent - if you give them over to Advertising, we’ll be living in a nightmare. Just imagine! The city skyline and the way our living environments look will no longer be in the hands of architects (which was dangerous enough) but they will be in the hands of cheesy graphics editors in low-budget video suites. You think Vegas is tacky - you ain’t seen nothing yet!
25.06.1997 Montreal/Detroit/Madison/Chicago – Will turns goes carrot-shaped.
Up at the crack of dawn to fly from Montreal to Detroit, Detroit to Madison. Played the show in Madison, then right after the show flew from Madison to Chicago & drove an hour from the airport to the hotel before falling into bed. I am a vegetable.
27.06.1997 Chicago show – Bono clone freaks out.
Chicago show – Bono clone freaks out. The lighting crew try out new effects post show with an epileptic Belgian road crew member as Bono stand in. The effects are dramatic.
Chicago, Soldier Field. We’re here for three nights, so we can all settle in. It also gave us an opportunity to work on the show after tonight’s concert. When a tour is up and running and moving so fast, its hard to find time to work on programming new lighting or video elements - let alone being able to do so in the dark. Tonight we all stayed behind after school and worked on ‘Please’ and a few other new looks. I wanted to turn the end of ‘Please’ into a really intense, claustrophobic visual blitz, so turned up the strobes then had Monica point all the cameras at a stand-in ‘Bono’ whilst cutting between the shots at an increasingly high rate. On the big screen this looked extremely arresting and utterly hypnotic. It was fun, working away in this huge empty stadium. The few of us out at the mix position, watching this amazing visual overload going on. Our Bono stand-in was one of the Belgian screen crew called \"Smasher\", who got right into his role. Standing at Bono’s microphone position amid the flashing lights and video chaos, he was dancing like Bono and generally larking about. When we were done, he came back to the mix position, said he felt ‘funny’ and proceeded to go into a seizure. It was terrifying to watch - he took a full epileptic fit and scared the shit out of us. Fortunately there were stadium paramedics on hand who came to our aid, as we held him, laid him down and tried to bring him back. Eventually he re-entered his own body, by which time a large female paramedic was holding him and asking him questions to focus his attention. She was disturbed by his replies as he seemed only able to make these weird gutteral noises, which got louder and louder as he came around. She looked to us for help, thinking perhaps that these disgusting noises meant the epileptic fit was increasing in intensity. \"Don’t worry, \" we said, \"he’s Belgian...and that noise is Flemmish....\". Smasher soon made a full recovery, but we’re not going to let him watch ‘Please’ again for a while.
28.06.1997 Chicago show – Show shuffle.
Chicago show – Show shuffle. A playing order change round sends the audience into orbit, followed by a night on the town.
Chicago second night, and by way of experiment, we shuffled the show’s playing order and added \"New Year’s Day\" and \"All I Want is You\". Bono took flight during \"Last Night on Earth\", jumped off the stage and headed for the b-stage, before jumping up on top of the barricade and letting the audience hit his guitar strings. Shortly afterwards, the PopMart debut of New Years Day achieved total lift off, putting the audience into orbit. Unbelievable vibe in the stadium, by the time we were through \"All I Want is You\" the place was breathless. A lot of flowers appeared for The Edge’s karaoke moment again - this seems to be becoming a new PopMart tradition, ever since San Francisco.
After the show, Fast from the Fun Lovin’ Criminals invited us all to a nightclub where he was DJing. A whole load of us headed for the Smart Bar, downstairs from the Metro Club. Much fun, dancing, hanging out in the Chill Out rooms above, with the \"Huey and Howie\" show going on - Huey from the Criminals and our very own Howie B. Both massively on form and being very funny. Most priceless moment being Huey’s impersonations of the audience response when they were out supporting ‘Live’ earlier this year. Night of the Living Dead.
From here I went to the beach with Bruce, our lighting director. Sitting on Lakeshore Boulevard watching the sun come up, when along strolls Scratch and Zed from the lighting crew. A little later, our head rigger Pete the Greek sails by on his bicycle, so we sit and watch the great golden sun rise above the pink and grey ripples of Lake Michigan. Chicago early Sunday joggers were passing by and a group of Marines and party girls who got naked and jumped in the lake, swimming and yelling and throwing each other’s clothes around. Magical moments. Breakfast at some diner then walked back to the hotel, crawled into bed about 8am.
29.06.1997 Chicago show – Bono turns a corner.
Chicago show – Bono turns a corner. Bono bicycles into a gay parade, the show hits a peak and pizza turns into a banquet.
Bono and Gavin headed out for a bicycle ride this morning. After a little while, they turned a corner and ended up headed the wrong way through the Chicago Gay Pride parade. Best part was that they didn’t know it was Pride weekend and at first they thought it was the ‘Taste of Chicago’ food festival. \"There’s some very stylish chefs in Chicago, Gavin\".
Third Chicago show, using the new set list once again, with the addition of a brief \"MLK\" after \"One\" to finish the evening. Another stellar show, making Chicago three for three. There’s a real sense of having turned a corner or being over the hump, or something. I’m not sure quite what it is - probably a combination of the show having reached a new peak and the fact that our first break is coming up any day now.
After the show we all ended up back in Bono’s hotel room. He’d ordered pizzas, but the hotel took it upon themselves to deliver a banquet that Louis the Fourteenth wouldn’t have been ashamed of. We were there till all hours, listening to the new Oasis album at maximum volume and dancing on the window sills, looking out over the Chicago skyline.
30.06.1997 Chicago/Boston – Blurred vision.
Chicago/Boston – Blurred vision. Stormy plane ride an dim memories of the night before
Morning after and a very blurred touring party is on its way from Chicago to Boston. Sitting on the plane, computer on lap, with vague memories of last night’s aftershow high jinks. I seem to recall doing Abba lip sync impersonations with Bono, Susie and Suzanne, but I couldn’t say for sure. Its raining like mad, thunder and lightning, which makes flying all the more exciting. Still, at least if I died in a plane crash with U2 I’d make the newspapers. My line would read \"several other members of the band’s entourage were also on board.\"
01.07.1997 Boston show – Undress rehearsal.
Boston show – Undress rehearsal. Rocking show and one audience member all but bares all.
Rabbits. Boston show - \"honey, we’re home\". We continue from strength to strength with another absolutely rocking show. It seemed to be punter stage invasion night in a major way which was, on the whole, very funny. One woman caused a minor sensation by getting on stage wearing a sequined mini-backless-frontless-gownless evening strap, which practically brought Bono to a standstill. Camera operator Mark O’Herlihy unconsciously followed his primal instinct and zoomed his camera shot into her heavily rhinestoned butt. This would have gone unnoticed, had his camera not been live to the screen at the time, so this special close-up moment was amplified to 50 feet high. Oh how we laughed. Mark was acutely embarrassed, not least because his own mother was in the audience at the time.
Rigger’s Arms party after the show. A more mellow affair than Edmonton, but extremely enjoyable. Howie and Fast sharing the DJing - Howie in a mode I’d never witnessed before, featuring 80’s chart hits mingled in with his endless groove sensation.
02.07.1997 Boston show – School’s out.
Boston show – School’s out. Last show of the US leg, satisfaction at a having seen the PopMart creation born, nurtured and on its two feet ready to take on Europe.
Boston show number two and the last day of school, so everyone is in a state of great excitement. I actually couldn’t get to sleep last night I was so excited. Getting to the end of the first leg of a tour is always particularly significant. You get to go home knowing that you have successfully given birth to this new creation, watched it develop, get up and walk. When we start in Europe, there will be so much we can take for granted - all the rehearsal and construction nightmares of Vegas can drift into a dim and distant memory. PopMart lives and its ready to bite your ears off.
Our own tour football team, \"PopMartyrs F.C.\" played their first game this morning, against a local over 35 team in Boston. We didn’t actually win, but we did come second, which I guess isn’t so bad.
Great show to finish on. The Fun Lovin’ Criminals wound up on stage, doing backing vocals for Edge on his karaoke version of \"Suspicious Minds\", until they were apprehended by security. Toward the very end of the show, a light rain started to fall, gradually increasing. After One/MLK, the band went into a rocked out \"When the rain comes\" to finish the show, to finish this leg of the tour.
03.07.1997 San Francisco – Home comforts.
San Francisco – Home comforts. A well-earned break.
Going home for ten days break before heading to Dublin. Everyone on the tour, all 270 of us, scatter all over the globe, with destinations from Dublin to Sydney and all points in between. Absolutely wrecked, but feeling great about having made it through the first leg of the tour. The show’s up and running, really finding its personality and growing, changing, developing every day. Europe here we come.
Napisano 15 stycznia 2008 - 06:53
Rotterdam pre-show – Europe live. The first European show goes live on TV to the whole of Europe. No pressure.
Rotterdam and we are back to work. It never ceases to amaze me how easy it becomes to switch back and forth between work mode and play mode. After a week off everyone is much rested, but now we are back together again its like we never left. Same faces, same environment – stage, catering, dressing room, production office, trucks, buses, mix position out in the field. Except of course that we are thousands of miles from our last gig and in a different continent, but such things are of little real consequence when you’re on a rock & roll tour.
The stage loaded in to the Feynoord Stadium in Rotterdam a couple of days ago. This is where we debuted the Zooropa tour, so it is very much home territory. Mr MacPhisto was born in the dressing room here. Not being a band to shy away from a high pressure challenge, U2 have opted to open the European tour with a live TV broadcast being fed to the whole of Europe. Consequently we are here with a whole pile of additional cameras, lights, mobile recording trucks, etc. Tonight was a full rehearsal run through, which was pretty uneventful. After the run through the band stayed to play ‘Please’ through a couple of times more, to shoot some close-ups which aren’t possible during an actual show. There may be a video clip to be had out of this.
So tomorrow we start again, giving PopMart to the Dutch. This European leg will be a wild ride - shows here have such a different vibe to America. Its all so civilised in the U.S., with rows of seats and popcorn stands. The Euro crowd are nowhere near as organised and the resulting energy level is way higher. The only potential set back is the weather looks like it could be pretty awful. Not that this has ever held U2 back before now. Say a couple of prayers and remember Red Rocks.
18.07.1997 Rotterdam show – Bouncing in the rain.
Rotterdam show – Bouncing in the rain. Despite the rain the audience get into the PopMart spirit and thanks to the site’s landfill foundations it’s a moving event.
So, it rained. It rained a lot, all day, but in the end it didn’t hurt us too much. The audience here in Rotterdam was so up for it that nothing was going to hold them back. From the minute Skunk Anansie opened the evening’s proceedings (in the rain) it was clear this was an unstoppable crowd. As mercy would have it, the rain stopped the minute U2 set foot on stage and the show took flight. The stadium in Rotterdam is built on landfill, so when many thousands of people jump up and down at the same time the pitch really starts to bounce, like a sprung dance floor. It was mighty exciting watching the entire massive construction swaying to and fro. Four songs from the show were broadcast on live television all over Europe - Please, Streets, the Lemon sequence, Discotheque, Velvet Dress and part of With or Without you. OK, that’s five and a half songs. Live broadcasting is always a nerve wracking affair, because any screw-ups go out on air, but then that’s the whole point. What you see on TV is genuinely what was happening in the stadium. Mercifully, tonight it all went very well. ‘Please’ I think was given its finest looking performance to date - I love it when that happens.
After the show much jumping up and down and a feeling of anticipation as to how great these European shows are going to be. There is something which is inherently so exciting about seeing a crowd of thousands upon thousands of people jumping up and down together. Even when they are all a little on the damp side.
19.07.1997 Rotterdam show – Radar rock.
Rotterdam show – Radar rock. Edge precipitates a uniquely Dutch moment of national unity.
Rotterdam show number two, which seemed a much more relaxed affair now that the whole BBC TV crew has left us. Its just the band and the audience, for a private show. Great show too, with an unforgettable karaoke moment. The most famous song, internationally, by any Dutch band ever has to be \"Radar Love\" by Golden Earing. Yesterday we had talked about getting The Edge to do a karaoke version by way of tribute, but there were a couple of potential problems with the song. For starters, it was recorded an awfully long time ago, so you have to wonder if the younger audience members would know it, and in any case the song is nearly six minutes long, doesn’t have a sing-a-long chorus, starts with a minute long guitar solo and has a three minute drum solo in the middle. It would be a brave man indeed who would attempt such a feat in public. Photographer Anton Corbijn, who is Dutch, assured us that this would be no problem and that the crowd would love it. This was encouraging, but all the same, you couldn’t help but wonder what would happen on the night. In short, it was a sensation. Bono and The Edge finished their beautiful, delicate rendition of ‘Staring at the Sun’, then up on screen it comes, with its Dutchly familiar opening guitar chords. The audience were stunned into silence for a moment then when they realised what was happening, quite simply, they went berserk. The entire stadium joined as one and sang every single note in unison. Very loudly. It was such a fantastic moment of national unity that think it was all Edge could do to not laugh out loud. The gig practically never recovered from it.
25.07.1997 Werchter show – Belgian homecoming.
Werchter show – Belgian homecoming. The big Belgian entourage on the tour enjoy being back despite the mud.
Belgium. Werchter festival site - the scene of many early U2 appearances. It was also a home coming for much of the PopMart production - \"Stage Co.\", the staging company providing all the tower technology holding the stage together, is from Belgium, our gigantic video screen was built here in Belgium and many of the band’s stage clothes were designed by Walter Van Beirendonck, another Belgian. Consequently we have more than a few Belgians on the tour with us, who were all enjoying being home. A good show too, despite being a bit of a mud-bath.
26.07.1997 Koln – pre-show – Toga distraction.
Koln – pre-show – Toga distraction. An impromptu toga party gets in the way of work.
Germany. Köln. Load in day. I went down to the venue to tweak some of the show’s video elements with video director Monica Caston. I wanted to try a couple of new ideas for the ‘Mysterious Ways’ visuals, and its always good to make the most of the available time. I got to the mix position booth on the field to find that the front-of-house crew were having a spontaneous toga party in there, utilising a consignment of large towels and red wine which had appeared from sources unknown. Suddenly this seemed like a far better idea than reassembling video sequences, so that particular task was put off for a couple of hours and I’m sure looks much better as a result. It certainly did at the time, anyway.
27.07.1997 Koln show – Please let the sun go down on me.
Koln show – Please let the sun go down on me. A late sunset almost plays havoc with the effects of the show, and how come the Germans like the Monkees?
The Köln show gave new meaning to the phrase \"Staring at the Sun\". The gig was at a disused airfield (the Germans have such romantic venues), facing directly West into a large patch of open ground. Consequently the sun shone straight onto the stage all day, including during the performance of our German opening band \"Der Fantastiche Vier\". I doubt that they could see anything past the first two rows.
The sun had just about crept below the horizon when U2 took the stage and PopMart made its German debut. My favourite moment came during \"End of the World\" where The Edge strolled way way out to the end of the stage right catwalk whilst Bono was heading right out to the end of the b-stage. This put the two of them about 150 feet apart, with a sea of audience in between them. Seeing Bono and Edge singing to each other, playing off each other over the heads of the crowd was oddly exhilarating and something I’d not seen before.
The Edge sang \"Daydream Believer\" for the Karaoke spot, which is the first time we’ve aired it in Europe. The German crowd seemed to know the song just as well as American audiences did, and one wonders if there are any countries at all in the world where The Monkees didn’t have hits... and why this should be.
29.07.1997 Leipzig show – Eastern flavour.
Leipzig show – Eastern flavour. The gig takes place in an old car lot instead of the stadium next door. Despite the ugly surroundings, the crowd’s beautiful.
Leipzig is a city in former East Germany, and despite the Wall being long down, it retains much of that character (for better and for worse). Over the past few years there has been a massive drive to turn Leipzig into a fully functional Western business city, so the joke is that its national bird is the Crane... because literally dozens and dozens of building cranes fill the horizon as more and more \"modern\" buildings are erected as fast as finance will allow. I have to say the result is (at best) weird, or (at worst) about as ugly as you can imagine. I’m sure life must have been pretty awful here under the old regime, but you can’t help but feel at least the city would have had some authenticity about it then, as opposed to this modern and convenient nothingness.
The ‘venue’ we were playing was a car park outside of an old stadium. One wonders why we weren’t playing the show inside the stadium, but ours is not to reason why; the parking-lot-as-music-venue tradition seems to have very deep roots in German live performance. Perhaps the phrase \"rock and roll\" inadvertently translates as \"pay and display\". Still, the audience was very warm and enthusiastic and clearly they had a good time, which is the main thing. Being in a car park didn’t seem to hamper their enjoyment too greatly. The only thing I can’t fathom is, where do they put all the cars whilst the gig is going on?
Napisano 16 stycznia 2008 - 07:04
Mannheim pre-show – Serendipity. Video images can come from anywhere. Travel day from Leipzig to Mannheim, so we go from one rock and roll capital to another. I went down to the gig in the evening to work on a couple of songs with Bruce Ramus (lighting director) and Monica Caston (video director). We are looking at the Last Night on Earth/End of the World section, as I think, visually, it needs some tidying up. Part of the solution came from Dave Neugebauer, PopMart’s chief video engineer, who was working on a test pattern. He had this extraordinary moving pattern up and running on the screen and before Monica could cover my eyes I spotted it and of course wanted to put it in the show.
31.07.1997 Mannheim show – Wet but happy
Mannheim show – Wet but happy. Another car park, in the rain, but no-one cares.
Spent the morning looking at some of the recent press clippings. The reviews from the European shows have been almost unanimous in their over-the-top praise, which is most heartening. Today was show day in Mannheim. Another German car park masquerading as a rock venue. Just a field, actually, with a great view of the stage from the nearby freeway. After a gorgeous day yesterday it rained all day. Despite rain on previous days on the PopMart tour, U2 had not actually played in the rain so far. Tonight it rained for every single moment of the show, start to finish, but it didn’t spoil the show. Great show, with another great crowd, brought together in unison by The Edge’s rendition of... ’Singing in the Rain’. Of course.
01.08.1997 Mannhiem/Sweden – From grey to blue.
Mannhiem/Sweden – From grey to blue. Gothenburg beckons, with blue skies and blonde people.
Travel day and we move on to Sweden. Having left Mannheim in the grey drizzle, it was glorious to arrive in Gothenburg and see rolling green hills drenched in sun shine. With blue skies, gentle breezes and wall-to-wall tall blonde people, it was like walking through a shampoo commercial. We’ll be here for a couple of days, so it looks most promising, especially with tonight being a night off, giving us a chance to explore the bars of \"Göteborg\".
02.08.1997 Gothenburg show – Blonde bombshells.
Gothenburg show – Blonde bombshells. Newly repaired stadium welcomes PopMart with an almost exclusively blonde audience.
Show day, Gothenburg. The first of four sold out shows in Scandinavia, which should be a fun run. Amazing shape, this stadium and a particularly attractive sight when completely full of punters, as it was tonight. This was the stadium we should have played in on the Joshua Tree tour, but it was out of commission, having been damaged by intense audience bouncing at a Bruce Springsteen gig. We ended up playing a ‘car park’ type site by the docks, so as the band played there were enormous freight vessels floating by in the background. Anyhow, the newly mended stadium can now withstand the shocks, which was just as well, as there was an enormous amount of audience bouncing at this show too. Amazing to see a stadium sized crowd almost solely composed of blonde heads!
03.08.1997 Gothenburg post-show – Paparazzi showdown.
Gothenburg post-show – Paparazzi showdown. Willie goes horticultural and Bono plus friends outwit a bunch of pesky snappers.
We stayed the night in Gothenburg, and will travel to Oslo tomorrow, so there was a free morning here. A few of us wandered into the Botanical Gardens, next door to the hotel and found ourselves in the most exquisite rose garden. Maybe a thousand varieties with such strong scents. It was a beautiful day too, so very relaxing to slow down enough to \"smell the flowers while you can\". Its extremely difficult to let yourself slow down at all on a tour, for fear of losing momentum and spiraling off into space. Consequently, being faced with ‘Nature’ is always a bit of a challenge, which really could go either way. Some days you just can’t handle it at all, its all so....well, so horrifyingly ‘Natural’, but today mercifully it proved to be an entirely untraumatic experience. Perhaps the Botanical Garden vibe is a good one to remember for future days off.
Later on a classic U2 moment occurred when Bono and a few other folks went out for the evening. The band had been pestered by a couple of paparazzi photographers all day, so for the evening’s outing we went by car to avoid any further hassle - after all, the gig was yesterday, so theoretically the fuss should have died down to some extent. Anyhow, our paparazzi friends were not to be deterred and jumped into their car to follow. The result was of course a car chase through the streets of Gothenburg, which got increasingly out of hand. Coming down a side street, Bono spotted a pile of red traffic cones by the side of the road. Without a word he pulled the car over and signaled everyone to assemble a road-block with them as the paparazzi car appeared around the corner. Mayhem ensued, with people running all over the place wielding traffic cones and the photographers taking aim as best they could. Then the fatal blow. As the photographers got out of their car to get a closer view, Howie B. circled round, ran past their car and in one graceful motion swooped in and stole the car keys. Everyone jumped back into our vehicle and sped off, leaving the photographers gutted to find their steed disabled. I can still hear Howie laughing now.
04.08.1997 Copenhagen show – Thank God for plastic.
Copenhagen show – Thank God for plastic. The Danes are inventive when the rain comes to town.
This morning’s headline in the Gothenburg daily paper was by a picture of the two photographers from last night and said (in Swedish) \"Can we have our car keys back?\". Actually, we’d already left the stolen keys at the reception of the hotel (where they knew we were staying), so they’d eventually find them. Besides which they did get a couple of classic snapshots of Bono wrestling with these giant red traffic cones, so they had got some kind of result. It was all very funny, but all the same it was probably a good time to leave town.
On to Denmark and a very wet show tonight, at Parken stadium in Copenhagen. I know its a cliché, but it really didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the audience - groups of people were being extremely creative with rolls of plastic sheeting, in ways I never seen before (cue for a song, \"There ain’t nothing like a Dane\").
06.08.1997 Oslo show – Lemon alert.
Oslo show – Lemon alert. The lemon goes pear shaped, but invention and cool heads win the day.
Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, for your rock and roll pleasure, may we present, live at Vallehovin Stadium, Oslo... Spinal Tap... Tonight it finally happened. The lurking spectre which has been somewhere at the back of everyone’s mind came about. There we were, having yet another fabulous Scandinavian show (almost entirely performed in broad daylight, due to our proximity to the North Pole) when it comes time for the Lemon moment.
It had, at last, got dark, so the journey of the Mighty Lemon into the crowd was every bit as spectacular as usual. The Lemon travels out into the audience, spinning and sparkling away. It comes to a halt, as planned. It opens about 18 inches. It stops. Four sets of Pop stars’ feet are visible, tapping anxiously within the mighty fruit. Nothing. Silence reigns. Say it ain’t so - its not going to open. Over the show intercom however, it was far from silent. Panic cries and howls of disbelief go off all over the place, and finally comes the voice of doom, \"there’s nothing we can do, it really won’t open... abandon ship\". Everyone goes into impromptu abort mode. Video director Monica Caston runs the Leigh Bowery dancing video on the screen all over again, Des Broadbery pumps up the audio volume with any sound effects and ‘Lemon’ samples he can lay his hands on, lighting guys Bruce Ramus and Tom Thompson dive into an improvised light show so absurdly over the top that Van Halen would have been proud of it.
The Lemon made its rather enigmatic retreat, then cool as you like, the band reappear, stroll to the b-stage and just carry on, launching into Discotheque and letting the music do the talking. Crisis? What crisis?
08.08.1997 Helsinki pre-show.
Helsinki pre-show. Soft Edge birthday. Songs, tales, food, wine.
The Edge’s birthday, and a gorgeous day it was too. We all were taken out for a boat ride through a set of waterways around a 12th century town, about an hour outside of Helsinki. It was a gloriously tranquil afternoon, which segued neatly into a mellow birthday dinner in this ancient little place. There was, to some extent, the taking of alcohol, so not entirely unpredictably the room turned to songs and speeches. People calling upon one another to tell their story of \"the first time I met The Edge...\".
This is pretty much a U2 custom, and given that most people have a birthday every year, you’d think that you’d hear the same stories over and over. Oddly though, there are always new tales, new songs and new laughs. Selective memory? Creative remembrance? Narrative embroidery? I don’t know what causes this phenomenon, but the results are inevitably hilarious.
09.08.1997 Helsinki show – The unstoppable beast.
Helsinki show – The unstoppable beast. Some shows just hit the highest of high note. Like this one.
Show Day Olympic Stadium, Helsinki. What a night this turned out to be. This past couple of weeks the show has hit a new peak, but tonight was the crowning glory. U2 have only played in Finland once before - 15 years ago at a festival - so the people here were more than ready for them. They were an absolutely spectacular audience and this could well have been the best show of the tour so far. Its sometimes hard to compare one show with another, because so much changes from night to night. Depending on the audience, the nature of the building and so forth different parts of each show have their own charm, so choosing one above another is a bit like choosing a favourite child. Some nights though, you just get on a 100% energy roll and the gig becomes a beast unstoppable, and tonight was one of those nights.
Napisano 17 stycznia 2008 - 08:32
Warsaw pre-show – Crew go batty in Poland. Warsaw is not as grim as predicted and the vodka works its magic.
From Finland to Poland, as we travel to Warsaw. Several people warned us that it might be ‘pretty grim’, but actually Warsaw was on its best behaviour for us. Seeing the river and the lush green parks in the city, crew member Firmin Moriarty commented that he was surprised to find that Warsaw was in colour, because he’d always imagined it would be in black & white.
Tonight was one those rare things - a complete night off for the road crew with a late load-in tomorrow - so the old city of Warsaw became the scene of much carnage and merry making. Various members of the lighting crew in particular (it always seems to be the lighting crew for some reason) experienced way too many brands of local vodka and ended up hanging out of trees in the town square, pretending to be bats. Fortunately there were no arrests (for once).
11.08.1997 Warsaw pre-show – In search of Polish cuisine.
Warsaw pre-show – In search of Polish cuisine. Willie heads for the botanical gardens again – in search of food.
Load-in day in Warsaw. We took the opportunity to look around the town this afternoon. Buoyed on by the Gothenburg experience a couple of us headed for the Botanical Gardens, not only because they are beautiful, but also because the hotel concierge had told us that house \"the best restaurant in Poland\". The gardens are massive and it proved quite tricky to find this restaurant. The name we were looking for was \"Belvedere\", and eventually Bruce and I come across this little eating place with an outdoor seating area. The name on the menu said \"Belvedere\", but they only served pizzas and sandwiches. Bruce was up for heading in but I was so convinced we were in the wrong place that I started making loud pronouncements. \"This cannot be the best restaurant in Poland\", I was going, then falling about at how utterly absurd a statement that was. We soldiered on and our persistence was rewarded. We found the real place and had dinner there. Now, it has to be said, if you’re in search of haute cuisine, you wouldn’t necessarily make Poland your first stop, but this restaurant (which is also called \"Belvedere\") really is exceptional. Its located in a huge glass house full of tropical plants and looks out over a lawn and trees, sun going down, piano player going at it - you get the picture. What a glorious night, with conversation turning to cyclic spirituality and astro physics, as it so often does where road crews are involved.
12.08.1997 Warsaw show – Solidarity.
Warsaw show – Solidarity. \"New Year’s Day\" with added polish imagery – especially of Lech Walesa and the Solidarity movement touches a major chord.
Show Day Hippodrome, Warsaw. Its hard to describe tonight’s show in any meaningful way as it was so emotional and so extraordinary. U2 have never been to Poland, so an enormous number of people came to this show. The band had to delay show time by fifteen or twenty minutes, as there was still such a high volume of people still entering the park. In the end an announcement was made asking everyone to move over to try and let more people in. It was jammed full of people, and a very loud and enthusiastic lot they were too. Once we got started, the show was like holding onto a firework. The high point of the show was New Year’s Day. Its a little know fact that the song was written about the Polish Solidarity movement, Lech Walesa & his wife, and a few other abstract angles. This has become a point in the show where we turn off our gigantic video screen to let the music do the talking, but for this show only Bono had asked if we could find some pictures of our man Lech, of the Solidarity banners, marches, etc. During the second verse of New Year’s Day, the pictures started to appear. The processions, demonstrations, banners (I always thought that \"Solidarnosc\" had a great looking logo), and finally pictures of Walesa being carried, making ‘victory signs’, etc.
Now, we’ve all heard crowds cheer, but there was a depth of emotion in the deafening roar that went up which was physically disabling. Looking around the mix-position where I was watching from, crew, management, tour staff, everyone was transfixed by this enormous moment of communal empathy, national pride, celebration and joy. The pictures on the screen dissolved one into the next, moments of this country’s victorious history, and deafening cheer after deafening cheer went up. It was moving almost to the point of tears, to think about what this country was like when that song was written, how much these people had seen, how much they were sharing in that field, in those pictures, in that song - and they didn’t come down for the rest of the night. I know its only rock and roll, but I’ll remember that one for the rest of my life.
13.08.1997 Prague pre-show – Culture contrast.
Prague pre-show – Culture contrast. Ancient beauty, modern tat, old values, new freedoms - a city in the throes of massive change.
And so to Prague, another city new to U2. Beautiful place too, one of the most exquisite cities in Europe and another place witnessing enormous change. These former Eastern Bloc capitals have a strange atmosphere to them in the summer, when they are groaning under the weight of so many tourists. Like Poland, its cheap here (for foreigners), so the floodgates open, producing a very weird cultural mix. Against a backdrop of archaic public transport and fantastically over the top architecture (the Catholic Church really never embraced minimalism as a design concept), you get this flourishing ‘freedom’ manifested in the form of tourism, alongside the invasion of every corporate multi-national company imaginable. (Local reaction seems to be divided between resentment and an odd kind of pride - in Poland I bought one of those ‘scenes of Warsaw’ type postcards, featuring eight sights of the city, which included pictures of the Cathedral, the Chopin monument, various museums and palaces - and their first McDonald’s!). As tourists and businesses arrive with cash, there’s an equal number of entrepreneurs, chancers, black marketeers (and of course the Mob) ready to rally round and take it off them. This is only to be expected, but being a perpetual traveler the thing I find most curious is that be it Auckland, Scotland or Prague the tourists are accompanied by exactly the same kind of tourist activities. There’s the portrait painters, scenic artists, hair braiders, boards of silver jewelry on black velvet, ‘human statue’ performance artists, those particularly stupid giant multicolored jester’s hats with bells on, ceramic flute sellers, pan handlers and always, always a fucking Peruvian pan-pipe-and-drums band. I’ve seen all this stuff in every capital city of the world and you wonder if someone’s franchising the stuff, or if there was just a memo put out a few years ago. There can’t be any musicians left in Peru at this stage.
Coming to a city as stunningly beautiful as Prague, you can’t help but wish you could have seen it before the flocks of handi-cams and Spice Girls t-shirts arrived. But then, lets not kid ourselves, even ten years ago it must have been pretty brutal here. Memories of East Germany in the 70’s are all it takes to make you drop the lofty nostalgia. Rather tourists than secret police. And after all, we are here to bring the good people of the Czech Republic our ‘sci-fi disco supermarket’, so who am I to whine about the consumer invasion?!
14.08.1997 Prague show – High energy.
Prague show – High energy. The enthusiasm of the Czechs and the wildness of the elements provoke a primal response.
Show Day Strahov, Prague. U2’s first live meeting with the good people of Prague turned out to be another great event. They turned up in droves and were most enthusiastic - I hadn’t seen that many bouncing Czechs since I worked with Beverley Craven. This venue is enormous, like a stadium, only bigger. Apparently it was used for a lot of military displays, as a make-shift prison camp, etc., which always gives a place a certain edge.
After the show, a thunderstorm broke. We were back at this hotel, close to the river and the wild energy of the storm brought out an extraordinarily primal response. Out we went, into the street, onto the bridge in rain so heavy it was like standing under a shower head. Every few seconds, lightning lit up the ancient buildings and statues with horror movie shadows as the deafening thunder made us jump & shriek with laughter. We ran about, jumping in puddles, kicking water at each other, hooting and hollering with the ecstatic release. Its a wonder we weren’t jailed.
The hotel staff were far from impressed when we eventually squelched our way back in across the marble floor of the lobby, but the raw elemental thrill of being out there was well worth the few dirty looks it cost us.
15.08.1997 Koln/Vienna – Miserable reading.
Koln/Vienna – Miserable reading. Willie takes time out to read Victor Hugo.
En route to Austria we find ourselves back in Köln. The band were dropping in on the Viva music TV awards, to pick up a gong for \"Best International Act\". I feel pretty international right now I have to say.
I slipped away for the evening to get a bit of peace and quiet. Sat in a cafe and continued reading \"Les Miserables\". I saw the musical, etc, but was recommended the Victor Hugo original novel, so having got over the intimidation of the size of the tome itself, I have waded in. Its an astonishing book. Talk about emotional roller coaster -obsessive detail and getting right inside the soul of the characters (most of whom are living in the most desperate straits imaginable). Its heavy going, but I can’t get it out of my head. The battle for the soul of all these people, in a time when such things were paramount.
16.08.1997 Vienna show – The Beuys done great
Vienna show – The Beuys done great. Picturesque city, small but perfect exhibition.
Vienna. Or somewhere near to it. Gig at a disused airfield in ‘Wiener Neustadt’, which is way out of the city itself. Fortunately we stayed in the centre of Vienna, so could enjoy this picturesque city. There was a Warhol / Joseph Beuys exhibition on, which was inspiring. Good to be able to absorb some art now and then. The exhibition was small, but had some great pieces in it. Bought postcards. Always buy loads of postcards.
18.08.1997 Nuremburg show – Rally the thoughts.
Nuremburg show – Rally the thoughts. The gig is on the site of Hitlers famous rallies, loaded with memories and the contrast with PopMart is very strange.
Gig in Nurnburg in Germany, on the very field where Hitler held his rallies.. The whole stone tribune where he made his speeches is still there - live from ‘Triumph of the Will’, straight out of every photo you ever saw. Chilling. Talk about vibe off the place - the stone is alive with it. In front and to one side of this hideous monument sits the PopMart stage. A giant Lemon now stands in front of where Hitler stirred a nation to violence. Here, right here where I’m standing, is where it all went on. To watch ‘Bullet the Blue Sky’ with its ‘cathedral of light’ searchlight beams heading off into the night sky - the original of which happened in this very field... thoughts run wild. A giant stuffed olive stands proudly above where tanks and troops once saluted Nazi leaders. Thank God the world turned out this way. Surrealism may not be much of a weapon, but in this instance it became part of a celebration. Very heavy place. Apparently, they don’t know what to do with it, given its enormous historical significance. You can understand the hesitation to destroy it, but on the other hand what could it ever become, other than a shrine for shaven headed morons? One suggestion was to turn it into a shopping mall. Can you imagine? I’m saying they should just level the place and have done with it.
20.08.1997 Hanover show – German connection
Hanover show – German connection. Bono reflects on a new emotional connection made with the German audience as they head for Rngland and bacon and eggs.
Show day in Hannover, at the Expo site. We flew in from Nurnburg this afternoon, arrived late at the venue and flew straight on to London after the gig. Consequently, our feet barely touched the ground. Good gig though. Bono said he felt like U2 had connected with the German audience (at all of the German shows on this leg) in a much more emotional way than they ever had before. He seemed very encouraged, and rightly so. There was something of a knees-up on the plane going back to London. The flying lemon was rocking. Much as we’ve had a good time in continental Europe, there is always an indescribable thrill (and relief) about going back to a country where you speak the language. It was a long journey, as we landed at Luton airport, an hour’s drive from London. However, patience was rewarded, as we arrived at the Savoy Hotel to find they had laid on trayfuls of bacon and egg sandwiches. Now you know you’re in England.
Napisano 18 stycznia 2008 - 07:50
Wembley show – London swings. \"Cool\" Londoners go through warm to hot in their welcome of PopMart. Wembley stadium, in swinging London. Not unreasonably, some shows on a tour are seen as the ‘big’ shows. Not to belittle any of the other cities involved, but some places just have that vibe. Wembley is one of them. The other side of this coin is that it’s rare that a band (any band) will pull off their greatest performances under this kind of pressure. If you want to see a band play a truly stellar gig, its usually best to see them somewhere like the Civic Centre in Vladivostok. The other thing about London, particularly Wembley, is that its audiences tend to be somewhat cooler and more reserved than places which see fewer shows. At best you might call it the \"come on impress me\" syndrome, at worst its quite simply the band verses the audience. U2 have always done well in the past, but Wembley certainly hasn’t been the scene of any of the greatest U2 shows in history. The past two nights have changed all that. London took PopMart to its heart with absolutely no holds barred. Larry said of the first night that the audience reaction was so warm, so enthusiastic and so energetic that it took him half the gig to get over the amazement of it. For reasons best known to themselves, the majority of the British press have been consistently mean towards U2 all year, but these gigs just rocked. Two sold out Wembleys and we all just loved it. Might even come back one day!
26.08.1997 Belfast show – Irish eyes smiling.
Belfast show – Irish eyes smiling. Memorable, poignant show just six-weeks into the paramilitary cease-fire.
U2 play Belfast for the first time in ten years, its the biggest concert ever held in Northern Ireland, and the IRA cease-fire is six weeks old. Its hard to know what to say, as much of the poignancy of the evening is better left unspoken. Suffice it to say that this was a very rowdy gig, with a boisterous audience composed of people from all sides of the political debate. For two hours, politics were put aside and music ruled. As Bono said at the airport on arrival, \"we haven’t come to bring peace, we’ve come to make a lot of noise\". Mind you, The Edge couldn’t help but introduce his karaoke moment thus... \"This song is not a rebel song...\" (much audience cheering) \"...actually, its an Elvis Presley song\" and dedicated it to all involved in the Peace process. The song? \"We can’t go on together, with suspicious minds...\"
28.08.1997 Leeds show – Baffled Beatle.
Leeds show – Baffled Beatle. George Harrison vents his grandpa-like spleen on U2, but Bono gets his own back while Yorkshire has its own video moment.
So we open the papers this morning to find this rather baffling assault on U2 from George Harrison of all people. Speaking, one can only presume, from the ‘Sunshine Home For The Bewildered’, our George denounced U2 as talentless, having carved out their career solely on the strength of \"ego, money and big hats\". It was such a bizarre thing to read that you couldn’t really be annoyed. It was just... well, sad, really. The Edge was heard to say it sounded like something his dad would have said many moons ago. Tonight was a show at Roundhay Park in Leeds, up in Yorkshire in the North of England. Always a great crowd, always a great show. ‘Cast’ supported and faced the Yorkshire fans in the absolute pouring rain, who responded by making mud slides and keeping warm by means of human pyramids and communal hugs. Fortunately (for us, anyway) the rain stopped before U2 went on, and the celebration commenced. The natural bowl shape of this venue makes for an implausibly intimate atmosphere - I remember the same on the Zoo TV tour - and it gave the show a lovely feeling.
One of the animated sequences in the show’s screen footage had its homecoming tonight. The bizarre and naively violent shopping cartoon, which we call \"MultiMart\", features characters who speak with deep Yorkshire accents. Having seen this in stadiums all over America and Europe it was very funny to see it ‘at home’. I thought the audience would love it, but apparently most of them thought we’d made it specially for that night. After several good natured, if pointed, comments to the audience about George Harrison throughout the show, Bono has us all rolling laughing during Mysterious Ways. He managed to intertwine with the melody of the song snatches of \"My Sweet Lord\" and \"Something in the way she moves\". I still can’t imagine what brought on the George Harrison attack, but with a good dose of humour the band certainly got their own back.
29.08.1997 Dublin pre-show - Togetherness.
Dublin pre-show - Togetherness. Willie celebrates the diversity and skill of the crew.
Dublin. Day off. Lay in the bath for several hours and finished ‘Les Miserables’. Trip down to Lansdowne Road stadium to make sure all is well. At this point in the tour, the crew are so together that the stage production moves from place to place like the proverbial well oiled machine. All the same, its good to go down early and see it - not least to spend some time with the extraordinary and diverse group of people that make it all happen. Their combination of skill, stamina, stability under stress and surreal humour makes a road crew extremely stimulating to be around.
30.08.1997 Dublin show – The Great homecoming.
Dublin show – The Great homecoming. Enormous senses of sense of pride from the Irish for \"Our Lads\".
Dublin Show One. The great homecoming, and if there was ever any doubt as to how U2 would be received in Dublin, it was laid to rest tonight. The show was like having a bath in the communal spirit of this city. All inside the venue were there for the party, almost wallowing in the occassion, the uplifting celebration and not a little pride on the part of the audience that their lads had conquered the world yet again, and brought it home on a silver platter. The audience sang, they roared, they laughed. Great great vibe. Even a private joke, as The Edge sings \"what could be the Irish national anthem come November\" - a song called \"All Kinds of Everything\", which won the kitsch-fest Eurovision Song Contest in the mid-eighteenth century, sung by a child star called Dana, who is now a grown woman and running for the presidency of Ireland.
After the show, what else but a ‘Rigger’s Arms’ party down at the ‘Kitchen’ club in town, where we laugh, dance and celebrate some more. Bed late, hearing unsettling rumours of Princess Diana in a car crash.
31.08.1997 Dublin show – Diana’s death.
Dublin show – Diana’s death. Dublin wakes in disbelief. Everyone shocked and shocked at how shocked. The band pays tribute, to audience relief.
Dublin, second showday. Woke up with a hangover to find a world in shock at the news of the death of Princess Diana after the car crash in Paris. Disbelief & non-comprehension. Dead? How could that be possible. Thoughts run all over the place. Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, what now for the Royals, the end of the 20th century, the most famous woman in the world dead in the hands of those who made her famous, kiss me kill me, am I going to wake up out of this, a million dollars for a kiss and a nickel for your soul, surely this isn’t happening...
It was happening all right. Our group meet up at various points during the day and the biggest shock of all is how shocked we are. I don’t know what’s going on, but its certainly greater than the sum of its parts. Lots of phone calls. Universal disbelief. Even in Ireland, hardly a Royalist stronghold, this woman was loved because she was the robin hood, she took on the Great British Establishment and won. Ireland is in mourning and Britain just doesn’t know what to do with itself.
The night’s show was equally great as yesterday’s, with a tribute to Diana in the form of \"MLK\" coming almost at the end of the performance. The audience was clearly relieved to acknowledge communally that this has been a day unlike any other. This is going to be a very strange week.
02.09.1997 Edinburgh show – Five countries in one day
Edinburgh show – Five countries in one day. Diana spectre continues to haunt proceedings while the band head for New York for the MTV awards.
Edinburgh showday, and the longest day in living memory. The spectre of Diana permeates all things, with anger and blame surfacing and being variously apportioned to the paparazzi, the royal family, the driver, the hotel, etc, etc. Britain is setting up camp in central London, abandoning its routines, leaving normal life behind to make pilgrimages to the books of condolence and makeshift shines at various sites. The volume of flowers outside Kensington Palace is humbling to the point of tears.
Rock and roll is full of long days, but this was unique even for us, in that we landed in FIVE countries in the space of one day. Lunch in Dublin, by plane to Edinburgh for the show, leaving immediately after to head for the MTV awards. We leave Scotland on Air-Lemon, stopping twice to refuel in Iceland and Canada, before landing in New York. Met at Newark airport by a fleet of cars, though a dust-pan-and-brush might have been more appropriate. The private plane is comfortable, but doesn’t have the fuel capacity of a 747, so it takes a while to cross the Atlantic.
Evening rehearsal for the MTV awards at Radio City Music Hall. Dog tired. To bed in New York City. Didn’t we wake up in Dublin and do a show in Scotland? Princess Diana looks at us from every direction, in every country we go to. I think it must be Wednesday now.
04.09.1997 MTV Awards – Hit and run.
MTV Awards – Hit and run. In, out, play, leave and head for Paris.
Waking in New York, on the day of the MTV video music awards. U2 are to perform ‘Please’ live on the show. Now, U2 have never performed at an awards show like this before, so it was something of a new challenge. The ‘game show’ aesthetic of the staging and the lack of time due to high number of bands makes it more of a hit and run affair than one would like, but we were treated very well. It helped that many of the technical people involved are old friends (the lighting designer for the show is Allen Branton who worked with us on the ZooTV Sydney shoot) so they already had a good sense of what will and won’t work for U2. We had just a few hours to try to turn a game show into a suitably atmospheric performance setting for ‘Please’, so it was all hands on deck. By the end of rehearsal, it was looking vaguely promising, but come the appointed hour, it is live live live, so you can never be sure.
Camera, action, and off we go. U2 perform, it seems to have gone well, the Radio City audience are surprisingly responsive, the song ends and... yes... we head for the cars, head for the airport and get back on the plane, bound for France. Can’t stop to chat, we’ve got a show to do in Paris.
Napisano 19 stycznia 2008 - 18:00
New York/Paris – Shoot the director. Review MTV tape on plane. Appalling direction, but for a live scramble, pretty good. Friday? I guess it is. Depends which time zone you’re looking at. Back on the plane, another overnight flight, but this one is a time for partying. We managed to grab a tape of the MTV awards performance as we fled from Radio City, and have been watching it on the plane. Unbelievably, it seems to be OK - actually pretty damn good. I mean if it was a video clip of your own that you were making, you’d bin it and shoot the director, but for live live TV, in a multiple band awards show, its verging on the miraculous. So, to Paris. Again, via Canada and Rekjavic, but hey, I haven’t been to Iceland in over 24 hours, so I was long overdue a visit. Into the Paris hotel, not sure what time it is or who I am. It might even be tomorrow, and I might even be you, but as long there’s a hot bath and clean sheets I’ll fake it till show time.
06.09.1997 Paris show – Homage to Diana.
Paris show – Homage to Diana. A moving visit to the site of the Princess’s demise.
Paris, Parc des Princes. This morning a few of us made the pilgrimage down to the Pont de l’Alma, where Princess Diana’s car crash happened. Across the English Channel, London had come to a standstill for the funeral so it seemed the least we could do. There’s a grassy slope by the underpass, and a convenient ‘eternal flame’ monument, which had become a shrine to the princess. There were a lot of people there and the piles of floral tributes had reached shoulder height. The oddest thing of all though was to see a large crowd be so silent, so quiet. Just milling about, reading the notes and cards. Very moving.
Consequently, a lot of mixed feelings at the show, but it was a very good night none the less. We played \"MLK\" tribute again, before ‘One’ and here too you could feel the appreciation of the audience. Diana certainly crossed boundaries.
08.09.1997 Paris post-show – Happy birthday Willie.
Paris post-show – Happy birthday Willie. Bono treats our hero to a river trip.
Its my birthday, so Bono bought me a bunch of flowers and a midnight river trip with a couple of dozen of my closest friends. Floating up and down the River Seine after midnight, on a boat that used to belong to Winston Churchill, the moon above, the great illuminated buildings of Paris to either side... Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, Ile de la Cité... touring’s hell, I tell you.
09.09.1997 Madrid show – Siesta and fiesta.
Madrid show – Siesta and fiesta. The Spanish have the key to fun and relaxation.
Madrid showday. And so on to Sangria country. The good people of Spain have really got a lot of things sussed. The whole concept of ‘siesta’ is highly commendable - this ‘sleep now, party later’ attitude. To be recommended. It makes such a refreshing change to finish a show and then go out on the town to find the place still buzzing, food and drink still available, the night air warm and the people friendly. Beautiful place this, and a relaxed pace to go with it. What more could you ask for?
11.09.1997 Lisbon show – Waves of joy.
Lisbon show – Waves of joy. Fantastic crowd, so Willie joins them to soak up the atmosphere.
Lisbon showday. Audiences in this part of the world are notoriously rowdy, so this run of great gigs continues unabated. This stadium - the Alvalade - has been refurbished somewhat since U2’s last visit. Its a large, enclosed bowl-like structure with wonderful acoustics, which enhance the already deafening singing of the audience. Such a great feeling to hear an audience like this - you feel like you’re surfing on the waves of joy that they produce. Mid-show I was overcome by a desire to be out amongst it all, so made my way up to the back row, the top of the highest bleacher seats in the whole place. It was such a fun journey - not easy to make fast progress, but being surrounded by such a jubilant pack of people you weren’t bothered about getting anywhere in a hurry, it was enough to just soak it up. I managed to soak up a good deal of other things too - beer, sweat and probably more besides - but crowds like this are what its all about. Such a high.
13.09.1997 Barcelona show – Wedding cake on acid.
Barcelona show – Wedding cake on acid. Off on the Gaudi trail, God meets the surreallists.
Barcelona Olympic Stadium. Another beautiful stadium, in a city of beautiful buildings. I’ve been off on the Gaudi trail for the past couple of days. Park Guell, Sagrada Familiar and various houses. Gaudi was such an extraordinary architect, made all the more remarkable given the period of time when he was working. With Picasso, Miro and all, Bono remarked that there’s a sense of surrealism built into the bones of this culture. Its a fabulous looking city.
The Sagrada Familiar - Gaudi’s Cathedral - is the most remarkable of all. Like a huge Gothic edifice busy morphing into a surrealist birthday cake. Pop coloured ceramics, giant statues of assorted sea creatures hanging off the exterior faces, broken wine bottle mosaics, text woven into the walls,columns topped with baskets of fruit. And its a house of God! The photographs in the museum show Gaudi explaining what he was doing to the various bishops, etc. The other men in the pictures are wearing straw boaters and blazers and the women are in floor length black dresses with bussles, (it was 1896).
I’d love to have been at that meeting. Can you imagine?...\"so, Your Excellency, what I’m going for is this kind of wedding-cake-on-acid feel, with big stone frogs and there’s going to be these giant pink bobbly bits on the top...\"
15.09.1997 Montpelier show – Chill out.
Montpelier show – Chill out. Two days in the south of France and breathing space.
Montpellier, in the glorious South of France. There was a time many years ago, when U2 tours appeared to be organised specifically in order to follow the Winter around the planet. We’d do Scandinavia in January, Canada in November, etc. Even the videos in those days seemed to require either a monsoon or a snow storm.
Fortunately those days seem to be behind us, and we find ourselves in the middle of a run of gorgeous climates. We’ll have a couple of days here, so all are hoping to chill out for a while. The end of this leg of the tour is now firmly in our sights, and once you can see a break coming, an odd kind of tiredness begins to set in. Like your body knows there may be a chance to slow down, so starts making early appointments.
18.09.1997 Rome show – Safety first.
Rome show – Safety first. Italian tours are great, but security is a nightmare.
O.K., here comes Italy, hold on to your hats. U2 shows in this country have always been extraordinary, as far back as I can remember. Playing tents or car-parks, they have the most intense atmospheres imaginable.
Today we get to play in Rome. (Not a tent, not a car park, but at an airport, which makes a change). There’s only one road in and out of the venue, which makes for the kind of situations our security team have nightmares over. There are a total of five security people traveling with the PopMart tour. One travels with the advance crew party, liaising with the building management and giving instructions to the 200 - 250 local security people and stewards at the venue. The rules laid down are simple. No one gets hurt and the audience must be treated with respect. Sometimes firmly and with respect, but always remembering that ‘these people pay our wages’. Without the ticket-buying audience, none of this would be possible.. This a fact which U2 have always been very aware of.
The remaining four security guys travel with the band. As well as overseeing crowd control during the show, their responsibilities include dealing with all the necessary vehicles to get the band and management personnel (about 25 people) into and out of the building. On days like today, this may take a good deal of strategy. Its not a question of the band wanting to avoid contact with the fans, in situations like today there’s a real concern for safety - both the band’s and the audience’s. With an attendance of 60,000 today and only one way in and out of the area, things could get out of hand too easily. There will usually be a police escort laid on to help get the vehicles through, but given some of the legendary Italian police escorts of the Zoo TV tour, there’s no guarantee that this will be any more of a help than it is a hindrance.
20.09.1997 Reggio Emilia – Biggest audience ever.
Reggio Emilia – Biggest audience ever. 170,000 heaving Italians turn out for U2. \"Not bad for a bunch of Paddies.\" Reggio Emilia, Italy. The show in Rome turned out to be a great event, but compared today it was just a warm up. A totally accurate figure remains unconfirmed, but it seems certain that in excess of 170,000 people attended tonight’s U2 concert in Reggio Emilia. This, according to our rock trivia experts, puts it in the record books as the highest ever attendance for a paying audience at a one-act concert - i.e. if you don’t count festivals and free gigs, this was the largest one night stand in the history of rock. As Larry would say, \"not bad for a bunch of Paddies\". Flying into Reggio that afternoon, Rob the pilot of the Air Lemon plane had obtained permission to fly over the concert site. This he did (circling three times!) at the astonishingly low altitude of 900 feet. The audience (already vast at 4pm) guessed it was the band’s plane - not least on account of the lemon & shopping trolley logo painted on the tail fin - and there was much mutual rejoicing. The view from the cockpit was one to remember. This was a BIG venue. By show time, the people were packed in so solidly it required a team of sherpas with pack-mules to get to the mixing desk booth out in the field. However, the crowd was extremely good natured despite its vast proportions, and we prepared to rock. As night fell the scale of the event could only be judged by the sea of lighters held aloft (the singular benefit of playing in cultures where smoking is compulsory by law). It was the most beautiful sight... the endless sea of dancing flames. Quite a night... and the parking lot traffic was still thick by the time we left at 4am!!
Napisano 21 stycznia 2008 - 12:51
Italy/Sarajevo – Dark night of the soul. Pre-show night in Sarajevo, which still bears the scars of war. Willie and crew discover, warmth, humour and a bouyant determination to survive.
Slept late and got up just in time to make the lobby call for our flight to Sarajevo. Only knowing the place by hearing its name on news bulletins makes the whole episode a tad surreal - seeing an airport TV monitor bearing the words \"check in for flight 284 - Sarajevo\" only strikes you as odd when you see it and realise you’ve never see the word Sarajevo in an airport before. We flew at 8pm, so we made our descent into Bosnia after nightfall.. This added even more gravitas to the situation - being struck by just simple things, like seeing the lack of streetlights and how many illuminated windows had no curtains. The whole crew was on board the aeroplane and the communal mood was taking on an increasingly nervous edge. Sombre, almost. Arrival at Sarajevo airport was chaos, of course. Immigration, passport control and especially baggage claim were like mad caricatures of regular airport life, but we got through it and boarded three large buses to take us all into the city.
As you leave the airport the first thing you pass is a huge cemetery. By night, the light of many candles could be seen flickering in the surrounding darkness - a reminder of how very recent so many of the grave are. Our journey continued, and gradually a silence fell over the bus, as we all looked out of the windows at the passing landscape. Close to the airport many of the buildings are residential tower blocks. The (again mostly uncurtained) windows lit up the night, but every other tower block was entirely dark, blacked out. Peering through the window you could see why - they were just burned out shells of buildings.
I’ve never heard a road crew so quiet in my life as we rolled on into town. This juxtaposition of normal life and devastation became the ongoing motif as we drove on. Domesticity meets CNN live. Even arriving at our destination - the newly refurbished Holiday Inn - you couldn’t fail to be moved by seeing, right across the street, a huge burned out tower block with a gigantic hole in its side, clearly made by something substantially larger than a bullet. Even the Holiday Inn is pock marked with bullet holes. Out front, in the lobby and most noticeably right above the bed head in the room of one of our camera operators. We certainly ain’t in Kansas anymore. By the time we got in and settled it was approaching midnight on a Sunday night, but we had to go out. You couldn’t arrive in a place as disturbing and exhilarating as this and just go to bed. So a few of us set out and walk along the street towards the old town. Its cold compared to where we have just come from, and the darkness adds to the Wintery vibe. Despite the day and the hour, there were a lot of people on the streets and the mood seemed very buoyant. Young people, well dressed, out and about. We followed the main stream and ended up in the old town. Again the visual contradictions are massive to the point of disorientation. A completely blown out shop unit sits next door to a shop selling vacuum cleaners and TVs. People sit drinking in a bar on an alleyway where all else lies in charred ruins. You recognise streets and buildings from news reports, and just a little way away you can make out the hills which were alive with snipers only a year or so ago.
Reminders of this recent history are everywhere, of course - bullet holes in every wall, mortar craters in every sidewalk. But not all of the monuments are so destructive. It seems local artists are making reminders of their own, even if they seem a little macabre to us newcomers. Around the city are these 3’ high sculptures of a ‘flash’, like a Roy Lichtenstein PopArt explosion. Also, I saw some mortar craters filled in with a kind of red plastic or vinyl, permanently set into the pavement like a blood splatter. I’m not sure what these represent exactly, but clearly they are tributes or monuments of some kind.
Myself and Bruce and Lynno from the lighting crew found a little snack bar place which seemed pretty lively and entertained the locals by trying to order food. We’d been tipped off that Deutschmarks is the currency of favour, so armed with a good few DMs we carried on fearlessly. As it happened, we got beer and sandwiches, which really weren’t so bad, for after midnight. Come to think of it, you couldn’t buy a beer and a sandwich at that hour of the night in London. We sat looking out at the street, remarking how friendly and warm and... well, safe... the city seemed. Just as we were about to bite into our food, all the lights went out. Major power failure. The whole street went black and silent, only interrupted by the odd passing car. Ah, well. Candles came out and we carried on. The owner of the snack bar came to talk to us, he guessed we were here with U2 and had and important question. \"In English is ‘DuckTrade’ one word or two words?\". How’s that for bizarre question of the year. We looked around and saw that this was the name of the establishment. Oh... one’s fine, we said, sympathetically.
Moving on we found a basement bar which was just jumping. Having been frisked for weapons on the door, we went on in, to find some of our tour crew in there - notably Kurt, Smasher, Chris and Klass from the Belgian video screen crew. It was great - a simple basement room with a bar and very loud music, so it was beer and eventually talking to the locals. The place was close to closing, but the Belgians had made friends with some of the clientele who were headed on elsewhere, so I tagged along.
The next bar (another basement) was a quarter of the size, but equally loud, playing James Brown, R&B & more, with a young crowd who were pleased to talk to us. A guy called Dan was telling me that he grew up here, but in ‘92 moved away to London and then to Croatia because of the war. He had come back to Sarajevo because he wanted to see U2 and today was the first day he had been here in five years. He was constantly being greeted with delight by people who were obviously old friends, and a real party atmosphere took over the place. I met another guy who said he was the singer in the band \"Protest\", who were on the bill at the U2 show. He was really excited about the whole thing too - everybody was - and you begin to understand what this show represents for the city.
In search of food, we took to the street again, and it really seemed that the whole city was so upbeat. Dan was telling us that this is like the atmosphere was in Sarajevo before the war, and he was clearly quite emotional about it all. We walked across an area of open ground and he told us this was where many people died & pointed out the hills where the snipers used to be. We walked along the streets past the functioning shops with the blackened shells of devastated buildings in between. Dan was giving a running commentary as we walked, though I’m not sure if he was really talking to me, or to himself. \"The house I grew up in was right there. That building used to be a shoe factory, this was an expensive restaurant, that one was a supermarket... and I can’t remember what used to be just here...\" The look on his face told his story more poignantly than the words coming out of his mouth. Its beyond my comprehension, what regular people in this city have been through. Yet for those that remain, life goes on, in all its glorious ordinariness.
Our hopes of further food were dashed when, arriving at the all night hamburger stand the guy inside tells us he has no food. All he has is soft drinks. Quite why, even here, a man would stay in a small booth at 4am with only Coca Cola to sell remains a mystery, but it became clear it was time for us to head home. The Holiday Inn was a ghost town too, so we gave up and turned in for the night.
Wild night. Heaven knows what the next couple of days are going to bring, but already I’ve taken a definite liking to Sarajevo and to its citizens.
22.09.1997 Sarajevo pre-show – Convoy!
Sarajevo pre-show – Convoy! The eerie experience of waking to a city used for target practice. Drivers of U2’s 40 truck convoy have their own war zone stories to tell.
Sarajevo, set up day.
It might have been the mind-expanding evening I had last night, or it might just have been the combination of junk food, espresso & Bosnian beer, but despite going to bed at 5am, I found myself awake at 8.30 with ‘Zooropa’ going round my head. I haven’t thought about that song for ages, but this is the city of Zooropa if ever there was one. Zoo-nited Nations.
Opening the curtains was revelation number one for the day. It was a clear, crisp, blue sky morning, and now I could see clearly what was hidden by the darkness last night. A ring of hills circles the city, and sitting within this bowl, the cityscape is devastated. Tower blocks which looked reasonably intact last night were now seen to be blown apart - the lower floors often still functioning and inhabited whilst the floors above were in ruins, or just not there at all. The tower block opposite the Holiday Inn, which had seemed so shocking with its large hole in the side, was just a ruin. If we thought our side was bad, the side facing away from our hotel was facing the hills, and looked like a piece of Swiss cheese. The ring of hills made the city so vulnerable, and everywhere you look you can see the results of months and months of shells, mortars, bombs and bullets. Buildings like this one just look like they’ve been used for target practice.
We had word that the trucks would be delayed in their arrival by several hours, so I strolled out into the town and spent much of the day taking it all in. It would take a more proficient writer than I to describe in any meaningful way what the place is like, but I hope this sketch conveys something. In short, it looks like there was a war here, which one day stopped and then everyone just carried on with their lives.
Wandering the streets, shops & markets, you see people rebuilding their lives some with more success than others, but the city is clean, and there is remarkably little evidence of poverty. Hiking up into the hills a little way and looking down over the city provided a moment which was sobering and amusing. Near to us were the old hillside cottages, all very rustic and overgrown (though often still badly damaged), then the modern cityscape stretch wide, with its half ruined buildings and then more green hills behind. In the middle of all of this, just peeping up into view you could see the top of our yellow arch - the PopMart stage, sticking out above the top of the stadium. It was so funny to see it there, so alien, so out of place. A symbol of hope? An omen of an impending capitalist invasion? The sign of a good time tomorrow night? Who knows? But one thing is certain, despite the countless buildings which are entirely gone, or reduced to rubble, the people of Sarajevo are working hard to get back to some kind of normality, and in many ways it seems to be working. The streets are full of people, the cafes and bars are packed and the mood is up. You begin to understand why this U2 show is such an important event for them - this isn’t a charity show, this isn’t a benefit gig, its just a regular ‘big rock show’, like they have in ordinary cities in countries where there aren’t wars. Cities like the one Sarajevo is attempting to become once again. In a way we could never have imagined, the arrival of our arch is one tiny sign that the return to normality is underway.
Around midnight I walked up to the stadium, where load-in was well under way. I spent a while chatting to the crew, and it was clear that our truck drivers had arrived here changed men. All the crew flew here, but of course the trucks had to come by road. The 16 advance trucks arrived on Saturday to load in the base steel of the stage, and the support frame for the screen & arch (there’s three sets of this part of the staging, which leapfrog), then the remaining 24 ‘universal’ trucks arrived yesterday. These carry the video screen, sound system, lighting, catering, office set ups, etc., and of course the Lemon. Due to their enormous cost, there’s only one of each of these items, so all these trucks come to every show.
Both the advance and the universal trucks came the same route, each with an army convoy to escort them, providing increased safety, if not increased speed. Their route had been to come from Italy, to the town of Trieste, the meeting point of the borders of Italy, Slovenia & Croatia. They came past Rijeka and staying in Croatia took the coast road as far as the town of Split, before heading East over the border of Bosnia. One of our drivers, a fine Englishman known for some reason as ‘Hazel’, was describing to me how beautiful the coastal scenery had been, saying it had contained some of the most beautiful views he’d seen in his life, \"and then, fifty miles later, we’re driving through Hell.\" The border crossing into Bosnia had been a little rough, due not to military uprisings or anything quite that exciting, but rather to never ending red tape. The border official, clearly recognising that this moment would be the peak of his document-stamping career, was determined to make the most of it. Five hours later, with a great many pieces of paper stamped, signed and stapled, the trucks rolled on.
The highlight (or low light) of the drive, Hazel said, was passing through Mostar. There is still some unrest in Mostar, so the team had been a little wary (a bomb went off there just this Saturday). However, the army convoy gave assurance enough that they’d pass safely, but nothing prepared them for the state the town was in. \"You think Sarajevo’s a mess,\" says Hazel, \"at least there’s rebuilding and there’s life here, most of Mostar is just gone. Its a demolition derby.\"
All of the drivers talked like this about their journey. They were clearly relieved to have arrived after a 27 hour trek, but there was an emotion in their manner and in their eyes which told you they’d seen things yesterday that they wouldn’t forget in a long time. \"You know what?\" says Hazel, \"all those times when you think you’ve had a rough day? We don’t even know what a rough day is. Any day when there’s no missiles raining down on you can’t be all bad...\"
Napisano 22 stycznia 2008 - 08:53
Sarajevo show ? Difference set aside. A historic day for Sarajevo, the trains run for the first time since the war and U2 fans from every ethinic community head for the same stadium, as do UN troops. A rare moment of unity.??Sarajevo, showday. Sarajevo hosted the Winter Olympics in 1984, and one of the sporting venues was this stadium in which U2 are playing. The stadium itself is in remarkably good condition - nice curving grandstands, lush green playing field and so forth. The same cannot be said of the Zetra Ice Arena next door, which we are using for dressing rooms, offices, catering and so forth. This is the arena where Torville and Dean won their gold medal skating to ?Bolero?, but now it looks like... well it looks like a bomb?s hit it. The top half of its modern tubular metal structure is twisted into a surreal crow?s nest of girders and practically all the windows are missing or covered with plastic. However, inside its reasonably functional, if a tad Spartan. The offices were used by the army until one month ago, and all the walls are covered in the graffiti of their farewell notes and poems. Another surprising use for the arena was to house around 3,000 fans for the night after the show. clearly a good many of the audience were not going to be able to get home after the show, so the battered arena?s basement was to be used as a huge dormitory.??Other unique events of the day included the running of the first passenger trains since the war. A train full of U2 fans came to Sarajevo from Mostar, and another from Maglaj. The railway system has been potentially functional since last year, but no trains have run because the Muslims and Croats haven?t been able to agree on who?s going to run them. People came from all over Bosnia and other former Yugoslav republics, in the greatest movement of civilians across this country in years. Special buses brought fans from Zagreb, Ljubljana and even Bosnia\'s Serb Republic, from where at least 500 fans made a rare journey across the ethnic boundary line into the Moslem-Croat Federation. Even the requirement of Slovenian visas was suspended for the day - one might have expected some cynicism toward the concert from some quarters, but you really felt that the whole country was responding positively to our being there.??Come show time, the atmosphere in the stadium was like the Cup Final meets Christmas morning. One entire grandstand was filled with uniformed troops - not there as a safety measure, but there because they wanted to have a good time. They were singing, dancing and having a high old time, it was quite touching. Like old newsreel footage of the troops coming home and dancing in the street. The show included the first (and probably last) live appearance of all five \"Passengers\" for the tour?s first performance of ?Miss Sarajevo?. Brian Eno was at the show and joined the band on the b-stage to provide some backing vocals and operate the antique wind-up gramophone which was substituting for Luciano Pavarotti. The Edge plyed a solo version of Sunday Bloody Sunday instead of the karaoke, which was another spine tingler.??After the show, as the crowd was leaving a rather curious but very moving scenario occurred. The troops were waiting in the grandstand whilst the bulk of the audience filed out, and somehow spontaneously the crowd began to applaud the troops. This turned into a big cheering standing ovation, and when it was over the soldiers applauded the crowd in return. Beautiful moment.
24.09.1997 Sarajevo post-show ? I?ll be back.
Sarajevo post-show ? I?ll be back. Sarajevo grows on you -Willie plans to return.
Leaving Sarajevo. One of the oddest things about touring is how attached you can get to a place in such a short space of time. Often you just breeze through a city without seeing much more than the gig, the hotel and anything else visible from the bus window. However, touring is good for getting an overview of a lot of places and a feel for which ones you?d like to come back to. Sarajevo seems like an odd holiday destination, but I?d definitely put it on the list. They have a major film festival in September, so perhaps that would be the go.
We have just a week left on the tour now, with two shows - Greece and Israel - and a good few days off. The crew have headed for Thessaloniki, whilst the band party is basing itself in Crete for the week, being roughly between the two places.
25.09.1997 Crete ? Greek Aqua disco
Crete ? Greek Aqua disco. Edge hosts a pool side Bonanza. Bamboozled Willie has to phone California to find his way back to his room.
Day off. Crete, the morning after. Last night got completely out of hand, and I?m just now trying to piece together the various shreds of memory I have left. We arrived in Crete and found ourselves staying in what is basically paradise - a large coastal resort hotel with chalets by the clearest blue sea you ever saw, with beaches, palm trees, hills, little rocky paths everywhere, the whole bit. Clearly, its going to be a great few days here. Today was also the birthday of Bess from Principle Management, so later in the evening, The Edge invited us all over to his place to celebrate, because he was so amused to find that his chalet/room had not one, but two swimming pools. It had an outdoor pool and, yes, a fair sized indoor pool and whole spa set up, making it, he said, the most over-the-top accommodation of his entire career.
Now, I don?t know whether it was the beauty of the place, or the realisation that the end of this leg of the tour is so close, or some psychological reaction to the massive contrast between here and Bosnia, or maybe it was just the moonlight and the moment with a birthday thrown in, but something in us ignited and we declared ?party time? of the highest order. The bar was raided, the tunes were cranked up and into the pool(s) everyone went in various states of dress and undress. The Edge found himself hosting Crete?s very first Aqua-Disco and we made the most of it. In the pool, singing, yelling, dancing. We did Go West, we did YMCA and birthday girl Bess performed the whole of ?Born Slippy? on the side of the pool. Everyone piled in. Madness. Dancing on the treadmill. Ice-cube fights in the steam room. Building a make-shift bar on the edge of the pool. Making candle sculptures to float in the water. Aching from hours of water aerobics, and laughing, laughing, laughing. Couldn?t find the way back to my room. After an hour wandering about little paths, peering at chalet numbers, hopping fences and climbing over rocks I knew I was utterly, hopelessly lost. Nice night for it, mind. Still had the mobile phone, so called a friend in California who had a tour itinerary, so he could give me the hotel reception number here. I called reception and they sent out a little Greek porter to find me and lead me to my room. I?ve no idea how anyone else got home.
26.09.1997 Thessaloniki show ? Dockside culture
Thessaloniki show ? Dockside culture. Everyone joins in and truck driver have the shortest post show drive ever.
The town of Thessaloniki in Greece is having a cultural festival and today?s PopMart show is part of it. The venue was on the docks, with a row of huge industrial cranes making a fabulous additional backdrop behind the stage. The gig was sold out and absolutely jammed, so the city had decided to up video screens in parks and squares around the town to relay the gig to the people who couldn?t get in.
The truck drivers made me laugh. They?ve spent the past week driving through war zones to get from Italy to Sarajevo then out and around to the middle of Greece. From here the trucks are going by ferry to Israel, and the ferry leaves from this very dock, so they were talking about the grueling 500 yard drive they were facing tonight. They certainly deserve the break.
30.09.1997 Israel show ? Perfect end.
Israel show ? Perfect end. Bono?s enthusiasm for Israel ends this leg of the tour on a positive note.
After three whole days off in our Cretan paradise, going back to work comes as something of a shock to the system, but Bono?s excitement about going to Israel was infectious enough to provide the required energy for all of us. He said that Israel is a place he has always wanted to visit, ever since he was a kid, so to come for the first time with this show was a perfect way to finish this part of the tour. It was a complete and utter fly-past, of course, as we (in the band party) spent a total of about six hours in the country, but we had a good show and there was a very positive vibe in the place, despite the armed and uniformed teenagers which make up part of the Israeli scenery.
So, we conclude this European leg and we certainly finished on a high. One of the greatest things about this section of the tour has been seeing U2 play in countries they haven?t visited before. The crowds have been so big and so receptive. Going back to North America will be a change of pace as Europe is certainly a more difficult place to tour, less predictable, not to mention all the language and currency issues. It has to be said that this past leg has had about as tough a touring schedule as the music industry has yet managed to devise, but you know, there have been some extraordinary moments. This tour and the energy of these crowds I won?t forget for a long time yet.
Do not disturb.
Napisano 24 stycznia 2008 - 11:00
Toronto pre-show – Dome from home. Back to work and the luxury of indoor shows and north American services.
Toronto. Load in day. So back to school. Everyone returns, having just had an experience in practical relativity - three weeks on tour seems like forever, whereas three weeks off seems like a long weekend. Still, everyone’s back and in fantastic form. The crew all look so clean - fresh haircuts and laundered clothes. Some time off has helped everyone get back on their feet.
This North American leg consists of shows in what the Americans call \"Domes\", which are 50,000+ seater stadiums covered by a big inflatable roof.. This huge white barrage balloon-like thing covers the entire building, and is inflated by a constant flow of air. This means that all the doorways to the outside world have to be either revolving doors or airlocks, otherwise the roof would deflate and collapse. Bit of a weird concept, but it means sporting events can carry on year round. As it happens, the SkyDome in Toronto is a bit of an exception in that it has a solid, retractable roof, but the principle of it being a covered stadium remains the same.
Having just come from months of shows in open air stadiums, airports, ploughed fields and German car parks, the experience of putting up the stage indoors was ecstatic - if a little disorientating. It was a bit like the feeling you get when you come home after a fortnight’s camping. Suddenly you notice all the little home comforts you took for granted before you went away, but now they suddenly seem utterly luxurious - carpet under your feet, a roof over your head, solid walls and running water. We were practically skipping around the place. The crew were loving it - English speaking local crew, prompt Fed Ex delivery, 24 hour stores. Western decadence certainly has its practical applications.
The only slight hitch was that due to plagues of frogs in the Atlantic, the shipping of all the touring equipment was delayed 24 hours. The band were due to spend today rehearsing (not having played a note in three weeks), but were denied the opportunity as the stage wasn’t ready. Let’s hope they haven’t forgotten too much.
26.10.1997 Toronto show – On yer bike.
Toronto show – On yer bike. Back in business and inside the noise is deafening.
Toronto SkyDome show #1. Hee hee... I guess its like riding a bike. When you do a show like this often enough, you never really forget how it goes. Except sometimes you remember the cue or the chord just a split second after it should have happened.
This made for a very loose show all round, but that was no bad thing - it was a good deal more spontaneous and actually more fun than a lot of shows we’ve done. We all had a good time. I’d been a little concerned that the seated venues and non-Italian audiences would mean that the energy-level of the crowd would be lower than we’d got used to in Europe. However, I hadn’t taken into account the effect of having a roof over our heads, which made the crowd noise deafening. It was all really very exciting, and in a moment it was like we’d never been away. Edge played Sunday Bloody Sunday again, as he did in Sarajevo. It was very well received, as you’d expect, so I hope it becomes a regular item.
27.10.1997 Toronto show – Hir and flowers.
Toronto show – Hir and flowers. Nice loose show, audiences are flinging flowers and road crew wearing wigs!
Toronto SkyDome show #2. Second shows are such a luxury for everybody, because there’s time to get a lot more things done than during a set-up-and-do-a-show day. Consequently the day was useful for general maintenance and getting back on our feet. I even had time to watch ‘Third Eye Blind’ who are our opening act at the moment. They’ve got some good songs, I enjoyed them. Sounded good too, which is commendable given how disorientating it must be for a band playing to such a vast building for the first time.
Later, U2 seemed to have retained some of the looseness of yesterday, which is making these shows very enjoyable to watch. I notice that the b-stage audience flower-flinging ritual for Staring at the Sun still seems to be in full swing. I also notice that a lot of wigs seem to be appearing amongst the road crew. There was some evidence of this on the first American leg of the tour, but sightings of grown roadies sporting curious hairpieces are definitely on the increase. I can only imagine what state they’ll be in by the time we get to Mexico.
29.10.1997 Toronto post-show – Haring hip pop.
Toronto post-show – Haring hip pop. Willie and Bono visit a Keith Haring exhibit and discover strange religious roots.
Managed to get out to see a great Keith Haring exhibition at the art museum in Toronto this morning, before getting on the plane to Minneapolis. It was exceptional in that it included a lot of his personal artifacts, notes, sketches, trash. He had such strong direction so early in life, and being exactly of our generation his teenage influences were very similar to ours. On the way into the museum, Bono, half jokingly, had said that one key influence picked up in his \"Jesus Freak\" period must have been the simple line-drawing illustrations from the (then very hip and alternative) \"Good News Bible\". Sure enough, in one of the case of Haring’s personal stuff, was a pile of 70’s hip-religious material made into collages, including ‘One Way’ stickers, including the line drawings, ‘Chick’ cartoon booklets, etc. There was some great work in the show - so vibrant, so instant and so totally Pop. Joy and anger in equal measure.
Aftershow runner on to Detroit.
31.10.1997 Detroit show – Larry’s birthday.
Detroit show – Larry’s birthday. Detroit provokes video memories and a cake is delivered for Larry.
Pontiac Silverdome. This is the third time U2 have played this venue - and also the next one, Montreal Olympic Stadium. We did these places on the Joshua Tree with a one-armed singer. All seems lost in the mists of time at this point. I shot some of the show using a \"PXL-2000\" camera, which is the fully functioning kiddies’ toy video camera made by Fisher Price at the end of the 80’s. They record onto a regular audio cassette and make fantastically grainy black & white pictures. They don’t make them any more, which has elevated these little cameras to cult status, with their own web pages, etc. They have about 40 lines of resolution (less than 10% of TV quality), but it makes for interesting pictures. Our screen is so pixilated anyway, that the two seemed made for each other. Some of what I shot was beautiful, in an abstract art kind of a way, but unless you knew what the pictures were supposed to be you’d never guess. It was fun, but not remotely usable.
Larry’s birthday today, so he was ceremonially toasted and caked, as one would expect, including a cake delivery to the b-stage at the beginning of Discotheque. Frankly, I was amazed that the cake didn’t end up in the audience, but through a miracle of self restraint the thing survived to be eaten later
01.11.1997 Detroit post-show - R.E.M Drummer leaves.
Detroit post-show- R.E.M Drummer leaves. Billy Berry announces his departure and gives everyone pause for reflection.
Surprise news of the day was to learn that Bill Berry, R.E.M.’s drummer, is leaving the band. Its funny, because on the plane only yesterday we were talking about bands splitting up and what a tragedy it is that The Smiths and The Clash no longer exist. The Edge was saying that people wouldn’t believe how hard it becomes to keep a band together. U2 have survived, but it would only have taken a different set of circumstances and they might not have. Who was it that said being in a band is like being married but you don’t get to have sex? Steve Tyler? I forget.
Today we hear about Bill leaving R.E.M. - an event in their camp with equal significance to Larry leaving U2 - and you see how right Edge is. Bill’s departure is a great surprise, but understandable given his near-death experience with a brain hemorrhage on their ‘95 tour. That would certainly give a man cause to reflect.
Whilst U2 spent half the night in a diner in downtown Detroit, I had an early one in preparation for what looks like being a particularly full on week. They were shooting a video for \"God’s Angels\" with Phil Joanou. Nice to see him again, he always adds a rush of positive energy to any situation.. As for me, it was cocoa in bed with a good book and lights out early. Rock & Roll, eh?
02.11.1997 Montreal/Netherlands – MTV calls.
Montreal/Netherlands – MTV calls. A post-gig runner for Rotterdam and MTV in the lap of luxury.
Montreal Olympic Stadium... and back to Europe. Everyone was a bit blurred this morning, having been shooting in the diner till 5 or 6am. Still, everyone said it had gone well, so all were happy. We went on to Montreal, which is the home of the PopMart screen. The Montreal based ‘Smartvision’ built all of the electronics for the screen and developed the LED video technology which made it possible. The gig was sold out and packed to the rafters with extremely noisy people. It was a good night, after which we did a runner from the gig straight onto a plane bound for The Netherlands. The reason for this eccentric behaviour was that the band are to appear live on the European MTV awards in Rotterdam on Thursday. A curse of itineraries had us flying from Europe to New York to play the US MTV awards, and now we do the reverse journey.
Fortunately we managed to score a fantastic plane for the trip - a full sized 747, decked out in shockingly decadent oil-company-executive comfort. There were only about 30 of us on the thing, so we had plenty of room to sprawl and crash out. Big fuel tanks. No stops en route. Who’d have imagined how grateful one could become for such seemingly trivial things? It’ll be tomorrow night by the time we get there.
04.11.1997 Rotterdam - The View Master clicks on.
Rotterdam - The View Master clicks on. Another day, another country, another rehearsal, another TV show.
Click. The View Master wheel turns again. Do you remember those \"View Master\" toys? A set of binocular-type lenses, with a cardboard wheel of ‘stereo’ visual images that slips in. You click the lever on the side and the picture changes. The starter wheel that came with the machine would always be a ‘scenes of the world’ kind of deal, showing famous landmarks of our planet. I’ve long thought that my life is much the same. Day by day you hear the click of the wheel. Click. The Eiffel Tower. Click. St. Peter’s in Rome. Click. 170,000 Italians. Click. Blown up buildings in Sarajevo. Click. A Greek Island. Click. The Holy Land. Click. The Golden Gate Bridge. Click. Downtown Detroit. Click. French speaking Canada. Click. Crowds of unruly Manchester United supporters in Holland. Click... and so it goes on. View Master life, showing this series of seemingly random images - except you’re actually in them. Little wonder we’re all becoming very strange people.
Click... the European MTV awards rehearsal, at the Ahoy in Rotterdam. Haven’t been here since LoveTown, which was a staggering eight years ago. How many clicks of the View Master wheel must that be? The stage set is hilarious - kind of a Jacques Cousteau in Space vibe, including giant clubs of day-glo sea weed behind the drum kit - but it takes colours well and looks great on the TV. U2 arrived to sound check & rehearse, and it was all surprisingly straight forward. Highlight of the day was seeing the Spice Girls rehearsal, which took the concept of post-modern entertainment to dizzying new heights. We’re well into Morcambe and Wise territory here. There’s another rehearsal day tomorrow, for all the other bands, but fortunately we don’t need to be here, so may get some sleep.
05.11.1997 Rotterdam – Style discovery.
Rotterdam – Style discovery. Willie unearths an art deco barber.
Day off in Rotterdam. Very pleasant, despite bizarre sleeping patterns. Went for a long walk on the islands in the port area of the city and discovered the extraordinary \"Hotel New York\" - the former HQ of the Holland-America shipping line, responsible for much of the transporting of migrants to the US in the early part of this century. Now its a hotel, and an art deco event. Its just the most beautiful place, with a fabulous restaurant, barbers shop, great rooms. Loved it. Stayed all afternoon. Guy Fawkes and not a single banger is heard.
06.11.1997 Rotterdam/St Louis - Mistaken identity.
Rotterdam/St Louis - Mistaken identity. The band wins MTV Best live band award among a dizzying array of artists. An attempt to join the Spice Girls goes embarrassingly wrong.
Going live. The European MTV awards. These events are so surreal, not least because in the backstage compound every other person you see has a famous face. The place is just crawling with celebrities, and dozens of other people you know from previous tours and previous lifetimes. U2 had the dubious honour of opening this show - first performance of the night, and actually it was the perfect thing to do, playing Pop Muzik / MoFo which is the opening of the PopMart show. We’d spent much of the day hanging around at the venue waiting to do the final run-through, so by the time show time came around we were more than ready to get on with it. The band did pretty much their regular entrance - the walk in through the crowd, and it translated well on the TV. Into the song and it really looked OK, and the TV sound was stunning. Before you know it, its all over and you’re left wondering what hit you. Everyone was happy with the performance and after that, the advantage of going first becomes apparent - you can sit and watch everybody else knowing your part is over. There were a lot of great acts on the bill - Bjork, Skunk Anansie, Aerosmith, the bizarre combination of Blackstreet and Slash, and of course the Spice Girls, who excelled. Not quite sure what at, but they certainly made their mark. Baby Spice actually fell over during the performance on live television - a feat I don’t even recall Bananarama managing. Not that often, anyway. Fun Loving Criminals were around too, and it was great to see them again. They’re really on a roll now, having just scored \"Best New Band\" at the Q awards this week. U2 won the MTV award for \"Best Live Band\" which was gratifying. \"Live is where we live\" says Larry. Well, that’s certainly true in 1997.
Once cleared we did a runner to the airport, to get back on our stupidly big aeroplane to fly back to St. Louis to carry on with the North American tour (where am I again). When we were leaving the venue we saw the Spice Girls leaving at the same time. On the way to the airport we were being followed by a fleet of limos full of people with big hair, which we assumed must be them. At the airport, across the tarmac from our 747 was a small jet. We headed for our plane and the fleet of limos went to the jet. The members of U2 hadn’t arrived yet, so the crew thought how funny it would be to invite the Spice Girls over for a pre-take off party. We thought it would be a laugh to have U2 arrive and find the Spice Girls on their plane. So, in the absence of a volunteer from the studio audience, I ran across the tarmac to invite the Spicers over. Having composed a good opening one-liner, I heroically sprinted up the stairs of their aeroplane... and found myself looking at Aerosmith. \"Ah... erm... doors armed and cross-checked\", I mutter, before fleeing in a fit of embarrassment. Nice try. So, all aboard we head for St. Louis. This really is an experiment to see just how jet lagged a group of humans can become in a 5 day period. Were we on tour in America? Yeah, that was it... \"Click\".
07.11.1997 Do Not Disturb
Do not disturb
Napisano 25 stycznia 2008 - 08:39
St Louis show – Two arches beat as one. The Trans World Dome dwarfs even the giant U2 stage.
Woke up to discover that it is show day in St. Louis, home of another famous arch, the \"Gateway to the West\". And what an arch it is - a huge silver job, spanning the Mississippi River, glistening in the early morning sunshine. Meanwhile, our own arch (the \"Gateway to the Mall\") was spanning Larry’s drum kit, as ever. The new venue here, the Trans World Dome, is truly colossal. You only realise how big these places are when you see how they dwarf our stage, which is not a small item itself.
Triumph of the day was finally sorting out the video sequences for \"Last Night on Earth\". The song starts with the rather strange and naively violent cartoon sequence, \"MultiMart\", but thereafter I had never been 100% happy with the structure of the visuals. After months of occasional tweaking, we finally nailed it this afternoon. Only took us 67 shows - not bad!
After the show we did a runner back on to the plane (ah, more flying, what joy) arriving at our hotel in the wee small hours. At this point the View Master kicks into overdrive, showing waving palms, moonlit surf and art deco buildings. Weather chopping and changing, surgery in the air... must be Miami.
09.11.1997 Miami pre-show – Starck white
Miami pre-show – Starck white. A ghostly interior desgin moment in Miami’s redesigned Delano Hotel.
After the week we’ve had, and given the state we were in, its hard to describe quite how surreal it was to arrive at the Delano Hotel on Miami beach in the middle of the night, last night. This hotel was refurbished a couple of years ago, with interiors designed by Phillipe Starck, the well known architect, lemon squeezer designer and mad man. The lobby area alone is an exercise in grand theatre, perspective play, elemental interaction and scenic fantasy. Floaty white drapes drift in the evening breezes, monstrously large lamps sway and candles glow, gigantic chairs and tiny sofas, in arresting colours and tactile fabrics are artfully strewn around the place. Its Alice in Wonderland on acid. Quite enchanting, but a little overwhelming when all you really want to do is locate your room key and go to bed. The rooms themselves are decked entirely in white, everything, even the T.V. remote control is white. You feel like any minute now John Lennon’s going to appear and burst into \"Imagine there’s no heaven...\".
Strolled out and found a great bookshop, which was having a sale in its Art Books department (always a dangerous combination), so that was me sorted for the afternoon. Amongst other things, I picked up a huge pictorial tome on Christo’s extraordinary \"Wrapped Reichtag\" project in Berlin. What an incredible event that was - there’ a man with balls bigger than King Kong. Got the Phillipe Starck book too, whilst I was at it. Hey it was a sale. My bags will weigh a ton after this.
10.11.1997 Tampa show – Rain dampens ardour.
Tampa show – Rain dampens ardour. Florida rainfall gives significant problems to the giant screen.
We commuted to Tampa to do the show there today. We play outdoors for the first time on this leg and of course it rains. To do November shows outdoors, even in Florida, certainly wasn’t the brightest idea of the year.. The video screen suffers the most. Our screen is the first of its type in the world. We conceived it, designed it and built it, and are in effect touring a giant prototype. As with all such prototypes there is an element of experimentation and some risk involved. In almost all respects, the screen has performed far better than we dared hope. Its resolution, clarity, brightness, its ease of deployment, its colour and quite simply its beauty have way surpassed our expectations. Overall, there’s no question of the magnitude of the screen’s triumph, but some elements were bound to prove problematic, and the Achilles heel has been moisture. Oddly, one of its great benefits - the fact that the screen emits no heat and requires no cooling system like other video systems - makes the moisture problem worse, as heat would help the moisture evaporate. Consequently, it takes a lot of work from our Belgian screen crew to keep up the level of required maintenance. In the past they have even resorted to scaling the back of it with hair dryers to help it dry out. At this point in the tour, most of these problems are solved, but the rain / humidity combo of a day like today will still bring on Belgian headaches.
11.11.1997 Miami post-show – Intense Morrissey.
Miami post-show – Intense Morrissey. Former Smith’s leader bares his dark soul.
Day off, Miami. Went to see Morrissey play this evening, at the Jackie Gleason theatre in Miami Beach. I was such a huge fan of The Smiths that I never really took to Morrissey’s solo stuff, but I thought I’d go & see him all the same. The venue was small and rather plush and Mozzer showed up with a small but very nice looking stage set, from which he delivered a brief 59 minutes of very intense music. No hits, of course, how could you expect it from him, but after a while I began to get into it. Its dark, but it certainly has soul. The audience was mostly your catalogue-angst disenfranchised youth-poet crowd, who were going with it, but seemed a little left out by the obscurity of it all. Our Moz leaves the stage, then for his brief encore launches into \"Shoplifters of the World\" (a Smiths classic) and the place goes mental from top to bottom. It sounded so good and you can’t help think the world would be a finer place if The Smiths could have held it together. Its a little like when Big Audio Dynamite opened for U2 (for years!). They were a great band and would always go down well with the U2 crowd, but when they played the one Clash song the house would just lift off and you felt sad for what might have been. I know nostalgia isn’t what it used to be, but you can’t help feel there’s a lot of great live music going to waste.
12.11.1997 Jacksonville show – Wet and wild.
Jacksonville show – Wet and wild. The band cover up in local gear against the rain to residents delight.
Jacksonville show. So we play outdoors again and the rain comes down again.. No matter, the band played on and as usual turned adversity in to a virtue. Whether it was a moment of madness, or a gesture to the increasingly moist crowd I don’t know, but the band emerged from the Lemon wearing \"Panthers\" sports shirts, in honour of the local team. The shirts were huge, untucked and came down to the guys’ knees, which looked pleasantly daft. The audience loved it, and really the whole show was quite fun in a damp sort of way, but none of us were sad to get back to the warmer climes of Miami after the show.
14.11.1997 Miami show – Miami puddings.
Miami show – Miami puddings. Humidity makes Floridans low key.
Show day Miami. U2’s meteorological curse continued true to form today, after a week of glorious weather in Miami, the storm broke and deluged over Joe Robbie Stadium. Fortunately this was prior to the show, but even so it makes it a hard day’s work for all involved. The Belgians are hating life again.
Tonight’s show was an odd one. Despite being in the home of a U2 song, the audience seemed a little reserved. Might have just seemed that way with us not having a roof, after a couple of weeks indoors, or perhaps the fact it was still 85 degrees and 100% humidity when the band went on, but the crowd did seem a bit puddingy.
Party afterwards at the Marlin Hotel, owned by Chris Blackwell. Chris founded Island Records many moons ago and has been with U2 for their entire recording career. This month he’s decided to leave the company, so its very much the end of an era and the party was a nice way for the band to acknowledge his part in U2’s life. A good night, but not an early one...
15.11.1997 Miami post-show – Get ready for Mexico.
Miami post-show – Get ready for Mexico. Prepare for Mexico live Tv show.
Morning meeting before we all launch into a few days off. Our second show in Mexico City is going to be broadcast live live live on television, so the preparations need to be thorough. It looks like the shoot will be at least on the same scale at Zoo TV from Sydney, so adequate preparation is paramount. Extra cameras, extra lighting, extra people, extra extras. This should keep us off the streets for the next few weeks...
21.11.1997 New Orleans show – Sound downer.
New Orleans show – Sound downer. The worst acoustics ever.
New Orleans show day. The SuperDome in New Orleans was the first of the ‘Dome’ venues to be built and bears the distinction of being the worst sounding building in America. We survived and had a good show, but Joe O. wasn’t sorry to see the back of the place. Headed to Texas right after the show.
Napisano 26 stycznia 2008 - 09:06
San Antoinio pre-show - Cart chase. Willie and Bruce take on the local ranger in a multi-media golf cart duel.
Today was a day off in San Antonio. We are staying in a resort hotel surrounded by a major golf course. Quite why this is, I can’t imagine, but it does seem a brave, if not foolhardy place to park a rock band for a few days. The weather was nice, so some of our number ventured out to play golf. I have long been distressed by this golfing tendency, being a firm believer that golf is absolutely the least rock and roll activity yet invented by the human race. Instead, I opted for a stroll with our lighting director, Bruce Ramus. We tried to rent a couple of bicycles, but the contract you were required to sign before taking one out was so terrifying, we passed on the idea. Strolling further, we came to the golf club house. Outside were parked a row of rather nice looking golf carts. And they had keys in the ignition. There was no one about. Well. It’d be rude not to, really. Off we sped, at a giddy 3 miles per hour, hooting and hollering over the manicured lawns of the resort. After ten minutes of joy riding, we discovered to our disbelief, that these golf carts have computer screens on board with a global positioning device in them. The screen was showing us, not only our own position on the golf course, but also the position of other golf carts nearby. Really! Our first goal was to see what happened if you drove off the map entirely, so we headed for the rough. A beeping sound greeted us, with a flashing notice on the monitor \"Please return to the path\". This is too much! Up hill and down dale we roared, having a high old time, until we realised that if this computer knew where we were, then you could be sure there was one in the club house which also knew. Sure enough, before long we spy the Ranger’s golf cart pursuing us, so we drive into the off-map bushes to shake him off. By now the sun was setting and it was a truly idyllic moment, green fields, sunshine, pink fluffy clouds, swaying trees, etc. We were loving it. Whilst we were giving the Ranger a few minutes to move on, we turned our attention to the on board computer. What else would this thing do? Much hilarity erupted when we discovered you could order room service right out there on the course. Punch in the order, and in 20 minutes a waiter will arrive with food on another cart (he knows where you are, remember...). The golf cart would also keep score for you, as you went along. The high point of this discovery was that if you get a hole in one (or if you at least tell it you got a hole in one) a speaker inside the cart blares the sound of an audience applauding. Well, now we were really having fun. Coming out of hiding, we must have taken a wrong turn, because we found ourselves cruising through the swimming pool area on paths way too small for the cart. Happy families looked on bewildered as our vehicle sped by, with the sound of canned applause trailing off into the distance.
Eventually, of course, we came to grief as our cart battery began to die, and we ran into the arms of the Ranger and the golf course manager, who were most keen to reclaim their vehicle. \"I tell you what\", says the Ranger in his Texan drawl, \"you folks mightn’t play golf, but y’all can sure drive a golf cart...\"
23.11.1997 San Antonio show – Hutchence dies.
San Antonio show – Hutchence dies. An emotional day, Bono pays tribute to a friend.
San Antonio show day. Tonight’s show was an emotional one, due to the news of Michael Hutchence’s suicide in Australia. It was hard to take in as it seemed so unlikely and so pointless. During the show, Bono paid tribute to him a couple of times. It was particularly hard for Bono as they’d been friends, and he was clearly upset by the whole ordeal.
25.11.1997 Athens, Georgia - R.E.M. hospitality.
Athens, Georgia - R.E.M. hospitality. Wining, dining and dodgy home videos provide a warm welcome for Willie and Joe.
Joe & I took a flight from San Antonio to Atlanta, where Bruce met us in a rented car. We headed out to Athens, Georgia, home of R.E.M., where we planned to stay the night. Bertis Downs, the band’s manager, had invited us for dinner which sounded like a great plan. On arrival at the picturesque little Bed & Breakfast place where we were staying, we got a call from Bertis saying that Michael Stipe and a few friends were in town and keen to see us, so could we meet at his house first. So, over to Bertis’s house, where he & his wife Katherine proudly showed us their new baby daughter before we descended into the wine cellar. The Downs wine cellar is a) very large and very well stocked with fabulous wines. Not wishing to waste any time we ploughed in and sampled some very fine vintages. And then some more. And then some more. Michael arrived with three friends and we settled into the living room, as Bert continued to bring in more bottles. We were all loving life by the time we finally left to eat.
Dinner was at \"The Grit\", an Athens landmark low-key veggie place. Whilst we were there, Lance Bangs, one of the R.E.M. film makers arrived, and we ended up going back to his place. Lance lives in a converted schoolhouse, which looks like a scene from the Young Ones. The place is jammed with video tapes, arcade games, ping pong table, strange art installations, pictures, papers and Polaroids everywhere.
Lance entertained us with stories about a local Nubian religious order who were building pyramids out in the Georgia wilderness, and with highlights from his alternative movie collection, including the epic \"Heavy Metal Parking Lot\" and the legendary bootlegged home video of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee’s honeymoon, which was pretty horrifying. I’d heard rumour that this tape existed - Pam & Tommy’s home movie of themselves consummating their marriage. Let me tell you, it leaves absolutely nothing to the imagination.
Rolled back to our B&B in the wee small hours, feeling restored into the heart of Athens life. What wonderful, mad, inspiring and utterly nice people they all are.
26.11.1997 Atlanta show day – More R.E.M. hospitality.
Atlanta show day – More R.E.M. hospitality. Stipe and Mills come to the gig and Stipe throws a party after. Celebrations are subdued because of Michael Hutchence’s funeral that day.
Atlanta show day. Swung by the R.E.M. office in the morning, as Joe & Bruce had never seen the place. Bertis Downs met us there and we left laden with swag and product. Such generous folks. Breakfast at \"Guaranteed\", Stipe’s veggie diner, then on to the Georgia Dome. It was a pretty straightforward day. Catherine Owens was in from New York which was a treat, and by nightfall our many guests began to arrive. Stipe came, with Mike Mills and Bertis (Bono entwined a snatch of \"Shiny Happy People\" into Discotheque, by way of tribute). Howard Finster - a local folk artist, who’s angel appears in the show - had some people come down, though Howard himself declined the invitation. He’s 81 years old now, so road trips are tough, but his grandson Michael came along, who’s also a folk artist producing a good quantity of work.
Today was Michael Hutchence’s funeral, so Bono paid tribute again, noting that given the time difference the funeral was happening at the same time as the gig. Its been hard for him, but the audience’s warm response to Bono’s words has been helpful.
After the show, Michael Stipe threw a party at an Athens restaurant, \"Mumbo Jumbo\" which was a lot of fun. I’ll be sorry to leave here, but I get the feeling we’ll see these people again soon enough.
27.11.1997 Atlanta post-show – Talking turkey.
Atlanta post-show – Talking turkey. Thanksgiving in the land of the free and Joe finds a friend.
Thanksgiving. Atlanta. Thanksgiving has no resonance for the Europeans on the tour, but \"being the day that’s in it\", as the Irish say, we decided to have a dinner anyway. The U.S. citizens amongst us appreciated it, and hey, any excuse for a party.
After a nice Turkey dinner we all headed to a local Irish bar. Sitting with Joe O’Herlihy, the bar tender comes over and in a broad Cork accent says \"are you Joe?\", \"er...yes\", \"I used to work for your cousin...\" It’s a global mafia, I tell you.
28.11.1997 Atlanta/Houston/Mexico city – Travel day
Atlanta/Houston/Mexico city – Travel day culmination in an enthusiastic Mexican welcome.
A long, long day today. We got up in Atlanta & boarded a plane for Houston, where we did a show at the Alamo Dome. All the T.V. crew arrived too, director David Mallet, lighting consultant Allen Branton, and their team. After the show we all boarded the Lemon Air plane and headed for Mexico City, which is where this TV broadcast is going to be. It was a lengthy flight to do in the middle of the night, and we got in to Mexico City about 3 or 4am.
Despite the lateness of our arrival, there were fans waiting at the airport, who’d brought flags, banners, T-shirts etc. We got into our cars and buses, and set off into town. These kids proceeded to chase us down the freeway, hanging out of the windows, waving banners, screaming, taking photographs... it looks like this is going to be quite a week.
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