Gothenburg. Show 1.
Woke up to a very unsettled day weather-wise. By show-time it was blowing a gale, freezing cold and not very dark. We decided to go with a set list including Mysterious Ways and Until the End of the World early on, to inject an extra bit of rock on a chilly night.
The band came on stage to a sea of white flags. The audience waving pieces of white fabric, by way of welcome, I assume. It looked great and clearly took the band by surprise and lifted the mood instantly. It turned out to be a great night which did not stop when the show ended. There were a couple of birthdays to be celebrated, on a party-crawl which began in the hotel and ended up in some techno-club at 4am. I sense there may be some 'wine-flu' hangovers in the morning...'
Saturday 1st August 2009. Gothenburg. Show 2.
What a difference a day makes. Gothenburg showed us a beautiful, sunny afternoon that segued into a calm and warm evening. I went into the stadium quite early, not that I had anything particularly pressing to do but I did want to spend a bit of time catching up with some of my key crew-members. In the rush of load-ins and load-outs finding time to just talk to people is often next to impossible, but I find it very helpful to get some perspective on the tour from viewpoints other than my own. Tour morale is very good, given the monumental nature of the task in hand. We have some remarkable people on board.
The Ullevi Stadium is 'saddle' shaped (or 'Pringle' shaped, for fans of potato-based snack-products), meaning that the grandstand seats at the sides of the pitch are very high, then sweep down almost to floor level behind the goalposts. This makes the ends of the stadium wide open so much of our stage structure is visible from outside the building. By show-time there were at least a thousand people settling in outside, along the bank of the river next to the stadium, around the big crossroads, up on top of bus shelters and tram stops. There were people flipping burgers, others pushing trolleys of cold drinks around - there was a whole street party going on out there.
During 'Walk On' I took my camera and headed out of the venue to have a look. Seeing our stage production in action, looming up over the wall of the stadium, made it look even more like it had just descended from space. The mirrorball on top of the pylon must have been visible from half of Gothenburg.
Rather than do the 'runner' with the band, I opted to hitch a ride on one of the crew buses to get to Gelsenkirchen. It's been a little while since I did a bus tour and I miss it. I appreciate that the idea of sleeping on a tour bus might not sound terribly appealing but, whilst it's not quite the lap of luxury, modern tour buses are basically mobile homes and there's something comforting and secure about crawling into your bunk and riding through the night...
Oh, and I made it through Sweden without needing any local currency.