BTW, great pics, Mr The Edge
After a while gawping at The Edge’s guitar Emporium, ducking into the belly of the Claw, feeding at the catering trough, striding the hallowed turf of Croke Park, (where The Bomber Liston, Henry Shefflin and Neil Diamond did tread), watching the ‘2 run through “I Will Follow”, we got to play in the sunshine for half an hour at half past six.
Gremlins out in force – acoustic guitar dead for the first 2 tunes, interference in the ears wrecking Rory’s buzz, flatuulent bass guitar…but we settled into it with 10 minutes to go…
Spanning a bit of the half-back line, we looked out onto the magnificence that is Croke Park, and kinda forgot to enjoy it, I think. I think I’m enjoying the memory of it more than the actual gig. Very surreal. They have umbrellas that cost $400000 that pop up out of the stage if it starts raining. The have 200 trucks between the 3 Claw stages that are bunnyhopping around the world.
And yet. Bono’s guitar was dead for most of “One”. Watching that from the start of the stage, him roaring at his tech to fetch him another…made me smile. Sure it happens the best of us.
“Unforgettable Fire”, “Streets”, “Ultra Violet Light”….glorious. Truly magical, as the sun went down and Croker was a sea of stars.
Special mention to U2’s crew, who were very helpful and interested, courteous and receptive to courtesy…
The band sent us a very sweet note, Guinness and champagne. Lovely lads, they’ll go far
Thirteen shows into the tour and the Dublin run just completed.
After our startlingly straightforward opening night, things have continued very well, perhaps even surprisingly well. The run of hurdles which begins any tour includes:
1) Building the thing for the first time
2) Making all the bits work
3) Getting through opening night and the first reviews
4) Getting through the first load out (19 hours)
5) Getting through the first move (four days)
6) Reducing load-out time (now 8 hours)
7) Reducing move time (recently achieved in one day)
Further challenges await, no doubt, but whatever lies ahead, it’s official that we got off to an astoundingly smooth start.
The greatest joy for me personally is to witness how well the basic idea works. As a configuration for U2 to play a stadium show, this feels like the one they were born to do. They have taken to it effortlessly and the audience completely gets it. I spent much of the second show in Paris wandering the Stade de France, spending a good amount of time round the back, up high, down low, then round to the sides and finally a brave half hour in the mosh pit. Much as it’s fair to say that given completely free choice there are obviously some vantage points you’d chose over others, it turns out that our press line about there being no bad seats in the house was based more in reality that artistic license.
The gear has held up remarkably well despite the killing schedule and the frequent inclement weather. Milan was our first move, punctuated by regular torrential downpours–proper rain, with thunder and lightning (we’ve had a lot of thunder and lightning now I come to think about it, which makes a man glad to be touring the world’s first lightning-conductor-mirror-ball). The rain caused some equipment casualties but not nearly as many as I’d expected. The LED element of the screen appears to be utterly robust so the nightmare of abseiling with hairdryers remains a PopMart memory. The PA has been fine and out of 200 PRG “Icon IIs” [that's Bad Boys to the rest of us--ed.] only two went down. The screen motors need a little love and attention but so far so good and the LED in the stage all fell out when the 92 sub-base cabinets under the runway kicked in, but really there’s been very little to complain about.
Speaking of which, I have also been amazed at the lack of crew whingeing. I had full expected, if not death threats, then certainly some terse comments in catering once the grueling schedule really kicked in. In Dublin on July 26, the crew had their first day off since load in at Nou Camp on June 7 so it has been a long haul thus far (we were due a day off in Barcelona on July 1, but somehow they managed to squeeze in a video shoot). Nonetheless, everybody (and I do mean everybody) involved, though clearly knackered on occasion, seems genuinely energized by the experience of being part of this extraordinary adventure.
I have completely lost track of how many crew we have now, or even how many trucks. I saw someone with the bag tag number 399 this week, so we must have hit 400 tour staff by now. More than half of these are drivers, of course, but the universal crew itself is now comfortably into three figures. I do know that we’re into a second bus of caterers, so you can work backwards from there to figure out the rest. The food is fabulous, by the way, which is doubtlessly another contributing factor to the tour’s morale.
And the shows? Well, they’re just stellar–especially when we’re in a good stadium, the look of the show being so heavily tied up with the architecture of the venue itself. Paris was the most beautiful, but the Berlin Olympic stadium would give it a run for its money. The volume of the audience is pretty startling too, being surrounded by them and having increased venue capacities to near 100,000 in the larger places. The band clearly thrives on all of the above and having shown up so well rehearsed are able to make the most of it. We’re up to a pool of about thirty-something songs ready to go now, so it’s fun to play with the set-list from night to night.
Next up is Sweden, then no sleep til Gelsenkirchen….
IT’S LIKE this: every four years, U2 return home from their travels, set up their inordinately large and mostly innovative tent, and sing for their supper. No more and no less, they are entertainers, a rock band of a certain mature age that have been schlepping around the globe for over 30 years.
You would think by this stage that we (by this, I mean the band’s die-hard fans, cynics, casual followers, staunchest critics, wry observers) would be weary of Adam Clayton’s studied stoicism, Edge’s adamant refusal to remove his skull cap, Larry’s cavalier, muscular way with a white T-shirt, Bono’s sincere humanistic nature. You would think that we would be tired of hearing, yet again, With or Without You, Where the Streets Have No Name, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Desire, Elevation and all the rest.
And you know what? Such is the nature of familiarity, we probably are fed up with U2. Yet still they continue to surprise and extend themselves. Cynics and arch critics of the band may start to yawn or laugh by this point yes, we’re giving you permission – but there remains at the core of U2 an obvious if not obsessive necessity to weave change in and out of the fabric of their music and performance. Whether you’re a fan or not, after 30 years on the go this type of resistance to stagnate is beyond admirable.
Once you get over the impressive presence of the veined ‘Claw’ (which, due to the spatial dynamics of Croke Park, is more 270- than 360-degree), what you’re left with is just four blokes, an excellent sound system, some very large hi-tech screens, subtle and effective visuals and rock music that ranges from heritage to extraordinary.
The band bookend Friday night’s set with two of the best tracks from their, comparatively speaking, underperforming latest album, No Line On The Horizon: Breathe and Moment of Surrender . The title track, Get On Your Boots (the weakest single U2 has released to date) and Magnificent (aptly titled) follow, the latter picking up slack before belting into a triple whammy of Beautiful Day, Elevation and Desire. They follow this with a stripped down version of Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of , wherein Edge strums acoustic guitar and Bono sings as if there’s 80 in the room, not 80,000. And then Bono and the crowd launch into a rugged rendition of The Auld Triangle , which is dedicated to Ronnie Drew. People, there was not a dry eye in the house.
These songs and more (including One , The End of the World, The Unforgettable Fire, City of Blinding Lights, Vertigo, Walk On, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Where the Streets have No Name , and Bad ) constitute a series of moments that result in a pin-sharp point of fact: there is no other rock band in the world capable of maintaining such a steady level of quality at such a high level of performance.
The downside to this is that we shall probably never again see U2 in venues small enough to see the whites of their eyes, a stance that seriously undermines their battle-cry ethos of ‘He Who Dares Wins’. On this particular grand, wham-bam-thank-you-maam scale, however – where four ordinary blokes perform in front of almost a quarter of a million people over three nights, where the music often matches the ambition, they are simply unbeatable.
U2_360Tour’s first Tweet was an out-of-focus self-portrait of guitarist the Edge. From there, the band posted a series of pictures showing the (literally) red carpet treatment they receive en route to the airport. There are out-of-focus shots of women dragging luggage, off-duty traffic cops, giant Ferris wheels, a dish full of pastries and a picture of what appears to be all of Edge’s onstage jewelry. The band hasn’t posted any live performance shots."
Edge´s house in Eze, France???