07 February 2011
'Are You Willie Williams?'Dublin. Day trip.
Happy new tour year, we perhaps should say to each other, as we embark on U2360: Year 3. I concede that there have been a good many lengthy breaks along the way but even so, aside from all the artistic, technological and logistical triumphs, the sheer duration of this tour would put it in the record books.
I got a call from Bono asking if I could come over to Dublin for the day so we could have a catch up before getting immersed in tour madness later this week. This seemed like a good idea so I took the CityJet shuttle from London City Airport this morning. The little known London City Airport is a bit of a secret weapon for capital-dwellers as it's very small and holds the unique distinction of actually being in London rather than an hour or more's drive away, like the other "London" airports. I was a little dismayed to see that the usually deserted terminal appears to have become a great deal more popular since I was here last - I guess the news has spread - but I did at least just beat the school party to the security screening line though, which was some compensation. They weren't a badly behaved lot but rowdy and excited, as you can imagine.
At the X-ray machines, I found myself opposite a guy who was clearly their teacher. We made eye contact and I said something like "good luck", and he laughed. "Where are you off to?" I asked. "Barcelona," he says, "it's an exchange trip. How about you?" "Just a day trip to Dublin," I reply. "Ah," he says, "are you Willie Williams?"
Gavin came to our lunch meeting and we had a look at the lie of the land. We were delighted with the shows in Australia & New Zealand and could quite happily charge through 2011 with exactly the same show. We are all aware however, that if a show doesn't continue to develop it will start to go stale and gradually die so, even just for our own sakes, we will keep pushing & experimenting.
In one sense, the great coup of 2010 was seeing a total of six unreleased new songs performed throughout the course of the year. I found it highly gratifying that almost without fail these new songs were received very well by the various audiences. Clearly they weren't going to be singing along but it was very interesting indeed to witness a crowd of 70,000 people actively listening to something new.
We talked over various ideas, new things, serious things, daft things, as well as having a wander through the back catalogue to see if there were any forgotten gems that might see the light of day. (Lets face it, if Scarlet made it into the show in 2010, then surely all bets are off for 2011.) There were no firm conclusions reached but that wasn't the purpose of the day, it was more about re-engaging and seeing what we have in the deck.
I headed home, managing to make it through Dublin Airport without being recognised which always helps me feel more comfortable.