'This Is Our Moment'
More from the band and manager Paul McGuinness on the eve of the first show.
Inside the cavernous Los Angeles Sports Arena, U2 and their production team have been putting the finishing touches to 'Vertigo//2005'.
This weekend a crowd of competition winners invited into a rehearsal performance picked up plenty of clues, about what songs are under consideration. But everything could change.
After the rehearsal on Saturday night,for example, the band got their breath back and, deciding that they needed more rehearsal, went back out on stage for another extended performance. This time they played four or five songs that had not featured in the earlier performance. With Gavin Friday and Steve Lillywhite taking notes and making suggestions as new material was performed, the band didn't leave the building until the small hours of Sunday morning.
'I'm baffled by how they do it,' says Paul McGuinness, their manager since the beginning. 'They are very ambitious. They don't just want to be the best band with the most relevant record, they also want to be the best live act.'
But some things, he tells us, are reasonably safe to predict.
'The tour set list will definitely be about half of the new album. We're not about cabaret or greatest hits. People are expecting the new songs because they are on the radio and at the top of the charts.'
On its 'current trajectory', he says, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb is set to be U2's most succesful album yet. The tour, he adds, has broken records for the number of tickets sold in a single year. As for the production itself, he predicts it will be amazing. But even now, with less than a day until showtime, it is still being worked on.
'It is deceptively simple, particularly the new video curtain, but there is still a lot that can go wrong.'
It is in playing live that U2 really find themselves, says Edge, it is about who they are and where they come from. 'We started out as a live band and it's still in many ways a proving ground for us.'
And when the four members walk out on stage tomorrow night, they will be
reminded immediately of why they do what they do.
'It's an amazingly affirming feeling that so many people who show up like what you do. And then you see people who know every word to every song,
who know more about your music than you do, it's amazing!'
'This is our moment right now, ' adds Bono. 'People are playing our songs on the radio, people can't get in to our shows so what are we going to do with this moment? We don't want to choke, we don't want to blow it, let's see what a rock band can do when they are right at their prime...'
Roll on Monday night and San Diego and don't forget that with the start of the tour we will be launching a brand new Vertigo Tour area on U2.Com.
Featuring up to date set lists, reports and live photos, it's also where U2.Com Subscribers will find our unique insider guide to life on the road, Willie's Diary. Watch this space.