'And The Band Played On...'
Minneapolis. Show day.
Amy, Amy, Amy… how very sad to wake up to the news that Amy Winehouse has been found dead in her home. It’s such a waste of an astonishing, original talent and hard to comprehend that she had no-one to look after her. I appreciate that addiction is an impossibly difficult beast, aggravated a thousandfold by the addition of wealth, fame and press reporters camped outside the front door, but all the same… Her influence is everywhere (there’s barely a young woman singing now who hasn’t affected something of the Winehouse posture) so she will stay with us, but a legacy of just two records leaves us feeling more than a little short-changed.
Today’s Minneapolis trip was the longest show-day commute that we’ll face, with close to a three-hour flight each way. We’d heard rumours that this would be a wet one but on arrival the skies were clear, if a tad on the muggy side. By show time the sky was threatening but with no hint of the pyrotechnics to come.
A small sprinkle of rain during Until the End of the World preceded some impressive sheet lightning during Still Haven’t Found, with a mighty wind blowing up during Beautiful Day and the heavens finally opening during Elevation. By Zooropa there was ‘proper rain’, as they say where I come from. It came down so hard that the stadium seemed to be full of steam and boiling vapour, the air solid with water and massive drops smacking the stage then bouncing knee high. It was utterly apocalyptic and I have to tell you, it looked absolutely fantastic. The light bursting through the fully-open screen, the massive noise and the TV freak-out images all going full tilt whilst engulfed in this elemental carnage, turned Zooropa and City of Blinding Lights into a Sensurround meltdown, the like of which I’ve never seen. By Discotheque complete environmental chaos had descended. The band members were all out on the far runways in the torrential rain whilst about thirty people swarmed the stage, swabbing, bailing and battening down the hatches, as the crowd went nuts all around. A giant acid-rave going off during a stadium-wide shipwreck - and the band played on!
The monsoon abated somewhere around Walk On, so at least the volunteers carrying the Amnesty lights didn’t have to swim out to their positions. Some very impressive thunder and lightning accompanied One, which added a whole new dimension to the song (and is an effect I might consider for the next tour). From my position of comparative undercover comfort in the crow’s nest, I could see that band and audience alike were exhausted yet wildly exhilarated by Mother Nature’s contribution to the evening’s special effects. How to say thank you for such a thrilling display? Over the long intro to Streets Bono found himself singing “Purple Rain, Purple Rain… I only want to see you laughing in the Purple Rain…” And laugh we did, being Minneapolis and all.
Overall, we’ve not done too badly for rain-shows on this tour. Zurich night 2 holds the duration record, Moscow had the best lightning and Glastonbury the most insidious rising damp, but nothing comes close to the brief spectacle of the “Disco on the Titanic” that Minneapolis threw at us tonight. I won’t forget that one in a hurry.