Barcelona. Production rehearsals.
The days begin to blur into one, whilst I plough a furrow between the hotel and the stadium and back. Getting up mid afternoon, spending an hour surfacing and catching up on email and civilian life before heading back to Camp Nou. Lots of meetings in the early part of the evening. Some last minute decisions still to be made and some others which have dragged on. Rain protection, green issues, budgets... all that good stuff.
When attention turned again to the show, we sat in the stifling dressing room for another hour talking about a couple of areas of the show which still don't feel finished. We had a couple of breakthroughs, but in the main went round and round in circles. I could see everyone was flagging a little so suggested that we just go out and spend some time on the stage with the band not playing. Just go out and explore the playground, walk about, get a feel for how it might function. We played with the screen, the bridges, the various performance areas and I could see everyone waking up and starting to enjoy embracing their new home. Ironically, this week has been so music-focussed that perhaps they hadn't quite had time to take in their surroundings.
Chuck Hoberman was present, visiting for a few days, so was finally able to meet everyone. He's the mastermind behind our extraordinary video screen but has gone through the whole process without ever meeting the band (not an intentional sleight, just a matter of time and space.) It turned into a fun night and a welcome break from the very intense days of late. It turned out to be very productive, though somehow I ended up riding a bicycle round the b-stage with Bono riding pillion on the back, which rather wigged out some of the crew (and it's a very good job that the tour insurers weren't present.) Mind you, if we'd plummeted to our deaths, at least I would have made the papers ('A roadie was also killed in the tragic accident...').
Another night's programming for me and my team, ploughing that furrow back to the hotel at 7am, with early morning Barcelona waking up and heading to the office. Had some breakfast in the club lounge before I went to bed (which will save so much time in the morning.) The sun is rising over a hazy ocean and through the large square windows of the room the view exactly resembles a row of giant U2 album cover, which feels a little Kafkaesque at this hour. Coming over the hotel speakers is a lounge version of 'Come on baby light my fire' performed by a vocalist for whom English is clearly not their first language. Or their second, I'd hazard a guess. I can't decide which was the more curious decision - to have spent the time making the recording, or to play it to an empty room at half past seven in the morning.
Thursday, 25th June 2009. Barcelona. Production rehearsals.
Groundhog day starts to bite and the days blur into one. Tonight was booked to be a full run-through: we are alternating between that one night and just rehearsing specific show elements on the next night. It's a great luxury to have this amount of time and it makes me realise that, with U2, we don't usually 'rehearse' as such, we just do run-throughs. It has been very helpful to spend time working on individual parts of the show and to be able to go over them several times to figure them out.
It was a late night as we delayed starting the run-through till 10pm. We were planning on a 9.30pm showtime on Tuesday but recently discovered that, bizarrely, 10pm is printed on the tickets, so I guess that's what we're doing. We'd heard that Farrah Fawcett had died today, which was sad, but right before the run-through I picked up a voicemail from my brother telling me that he'd heard Michael Jackson might also have died. I looked on the interweb, but could only find confirmation of his having been rushed to hospital, other than one gossip blog which was asserting he hadn't made it.
Needless to say, word went out all over the stadium, not least because we know a great number of people involved in the Michael Jackson shows at the Dome in London. By the time we'd finished our rehearsal, it seemed pretty clear that the rumour was true, which was startling. If he'd died a year ago it wouldn't have been quite such a shock, but having heard first hand reports from friends as to MJ being in great form, working hard, dancing well and so on, it makes the news much more present. Stand by, then, for the media avalanche.