Vertigo Leg 1: 2005, US


Berlin Olympiastadion

Text messages this morning told me about bombs going off in London, which was not good news. The tour mobile phones are UK based and suddenly none of them could make voice calls any more which was also very worrying. News filtered through little by little, in the way that it does at times like this, rumour and the internet being the primary sources of updates. It does look like a co-ordinated bombing which is so dull. Like shoulder pads and platform shoes, terrorism is something from the 70s and 80s which we got used to at the time but hoped that wed never see again.

Todays venue is the extraordinary Olympic stadium. Ive been here a few times (U2 played here on Zoo TV) but it has recently been renovated in anticipation of the World Cup. They have done an incredible job, keeping the integrity of the building entirely intact but bringing it into the 21st century. From outside it still has all the iconic mad architecture of power and obsession, whilst, very sympathetically, a partial roof has been added over the grandstands in the most elegant sweeping curve. The interior has been restored, all the seating replaced, access improved, etc., and it just looks beautiful. Absolutely stunning.

It took me most of the day to notice that probably the most striking thing about the place is that someone somewhere took the decision to not have any advertising. There are absolutely no advertising signs anywhere in or around the place, which is a great rarity and puts the building in a class of its own. Very stylish indeed.

A lighting crew tradition exists, dictating that at some point in the afternoon we must go for 'Noggers up the Tower'. When playing either this stadium or the Waldebuhn next door, it is a pleasant outing to take the elevator to the top of the bell tower outside the stadium and survey the vista. At the base of the tower is a little gift shop selling postcards and ice cream from where you can purchase a gourmet German ice cream bar enigmatically called 'Nogger'. Put the two together and youve got yourself an exciting afternoon, I can tell you.

It rained on and off, but managed to hold off from being a downpour. I watched the show from way up the back in one of the grandstands. Its very valuable to see the show from the middle of the crowd and important to understand how it works from different vantage points. There are three different Vertigo experiences; from the field which is the closest to what we see from the mix position, from way up the back where you can take in the whole production more easily and from inside the enclosure in front of the stage which is simply about energy and proximity.

After the show everyone headed for Paris but I stayed on here in Berlin as a couple of us have a special mission tomorrow.

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