11 May 2011
'Dazzling'Mexico City. Show 1.
Having got to bed some time after 4am, I was deeply unhappy when, at 8am, the alarm spontaneously went off on my sodding Mexican Blackberry. Having traipsed across my massive suite in a complete blur in order to stamp on it, imagine my joy to discover it had put itself into snooze mode and continued to go off every five minutes until I flushed it down the toilet.
I managed to get back into some level of sleep, with dreams punctuated by incessant whistle blasts of a traffic cop on the gargantuan traffic intersection outside my window. One can only assume that the windows of the Hotel Fabulous are double-glazed and relatively sound-proofed, so with the constant traffic noise, horns and that bloody whistle I can’t imagine how local residents in less armoured buildings ever sleep at all.
It was a muggy day so our van ride was a tad sweaty but we had the happening driver who took a seemingly completely different route and got us there in record time. Maybe it was the heat but conversation was slow in the van so I spent much of the journey just watching Mexico City go by, the city of a million roads and many million vehicles. Between all the cars and concrete though, I began to notice the colour. In every direction, the houses, the stores, the billboards, the roadside stalls and the clothes of the people manning them. It’s a big, loud and sprawling city but extraordinarily colourful if you look in the cracks.
Around dinner time the weather broke and the heavens just opened. There was an hour-long deluge, which is always a chore to deal with, accompanied by inevitable technical glitches. Happily the rain stopped just as Snow Patrol took the stage but it was a soupy night throughout.
Azteca is a huge stadium with high, steep sides so the atmosphere was just electric, with something close to 100,000 people in there. The air was so thick that you could practically see the electricity. The exit route for me to get to the ‘runner’ was not easy, being directly across the stadium field and then ramping up through one of the grandstands. I left in plenty of time, making it to the top of said ramp just at the beginning of Moment of Surrender, where I met Paul McGuinness. We watched the last song from this vantage point, with the whole stadium laid out below us. As ever, Bono asked the crowd to take out their phones to create the electric Milky Way – this is always a fantastic moment but tonight with so many people crammed into such a high-sided building it was exceptionally intense. The light from the thousands of cellphone screens was dazzling – quite seriously I think you could have read a book by it. Paul commented that this moment of the show has got consistently brighter over the past two years as the tour has progressed. You could probably chart the release dates of each new generation of mobile phone technology by the brightness of Moment of Surrender.