Turin. Production rehearsals.
I came in early to work with Dec on more of the sound elements. First up was the 'Questions' piece, which is going to be an audio-visual segue made from written and spoken questions submitted at our request by U2.com subscribers. We spent a while wading through the hundreds of questions which had been sent in. Many were banal beyond words but once we€™d filtered out the 'will you marry me' and deranged partisan rants, we were left with an interesting and eclectic selection that became strangely moving when edited together. Having got the sound bed made, I worked with Luke on re-editing the written questions, some in English and some in Italian, which will change with each country we visit. The written questions were far more abundant and they tended to be funnier than the spoken questions (there's probably a psychological reason for this, writing is more anonymous perhaps). As I'd hoped there's a wide selection from the deep and meaningful to the playful and mad, but in amongst the personal and poignant ones, I think my favourite question is 'Are we still on for Friday?' That someone would take the trouble to send that question renews my faith in humanity.
We had three band members by 6pm for another evening's work, with Bono arriving later, around 8, maybe. We had dinner in catering and went over all the new elements currently underway. He seems very well - not that I've seen him run around yet but mentally he's certainly on top of everything. It is a wonderful luxury to be at production rehearsals, already having a great show in the bag. Normally at times like this my two biggest concerns are whether the Big Idea will work and also the time it takes to get everything ready and programmed. This time around we know that the Big Idea is a winner, the band are very comfortable in the performance environment and they know how to use it. On top of this, 90% of the programming is done (aside from small tweaks and updates), so we can use the available time to work on new elements & new songs.
The show from last year developed into something so rock solid that it's hard to break it apart and fit new ideas in, but having captured that show on the Rosebowl DVD, it was clear that we have to refresh the show to some degree. We need a new opening certainly, then maybe three or four new songs to keep it interesting for us as much as everyone else. I've been keen to put in Mercy, for the novelty value of playing something unreleased, and then there's Trying to Throw Your Arms Around the World which will be a winner if we can make the production elements happen. Perhaps inspired by opening the tour in Italy, Bono suggested Miss Sarajevo. Looking through the set he then put his finger on Ultraviolet and wondered if there was another song we could put there which would still work with the hanging microphone and laser jacket. After a minute or two he suggested Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me, which hasn't seen the light of day since PopMart. In many ways Ultraviolet was the great stealth surprise of last year - a little known album track which came back and stole the show (like a modern day Bad) - but it's on the DVD and in the security of knowing we have it in the bag, it's good to be able to think about alternatives. To give ourselves a sense of how it might be, we watched the performance of Ultraviolet from the Rosebowl DVD, whilst listening to Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me. It's clearly not going to be a straight 'cut and paste' but it was a lot more promising than I'd thought. I love that song too - such a big, glam, bombastic thing. It used to sound so good on the PopMart tour.
After Bono had left, I headed for the mix position and spent a couple of hours with team lighting and video, programming the new opening to the show. I have high hopes for Beautiful Day as an opener and oddly it's not something we've done before, certainly not on a regular basis. Got out of there about 2 or so, taking a van home at high speed through the excessively pot-holed streets of Torino.