21 August 2010
'Fearless looseness...'Helsinki. Show day.
It's a grey day in Finland and at one point it looked like this might be the first show of the 360 tour to be performed under significant rainfall. We were saved in the end and got away with just a constant drizzle. It wasn't particularly pleasant, but could have been a great deal worse.
It turned out to be a busy day. The band came in to soundcheck and I was on a mission to change the set list as much as possible from last night. I found six potential opportunities for change, so was delighted that they went with five of them, including a 'busker' version of No Line on the Horizon.
My favourite was Every Breaking Wave, which was on the set list as an either/or with North Star, in what appears to be becoming the 'new song' slot. The world premiere performance of Every Breaking Wave depended, quite literally, on whether they could finish writing the song before show time. I left Bono and Edge in the dressing room working out various options for chorus, melodies on so forth and still didn't know whether they'd make it until the moment in the show arrived. I was just delighted that they went for it and, though clearly unfinished, it sounded beautiful.
I'm very much enjoying this kind of fearless looseness that the band seems to have acquired for this leg of the tour. Absolutely my favourite kind of performance is where a show can combine structure with abandon. There are periods that are a solid, known structure, in between which there are opportunities to just do something and see what happens. This opens the door to chance and spontaneity but with the safety net of knowing that if it all goes completely pear-shaped, in a couple of songs time we'll be back on track with everybody knowing what's supposed to be happening.
I'm sure the song writing will benefit enormously from this kind of experimentation and the audience doesn't seem to mind too much, either. It certainly keeps it interesting for us. Turns out that a bootleg video of the performance of Every Breaking Wave was up on YouTube before the gig was over.
At dinner-time, Smasher was presented with his door and you'd have to go a long way to find a more astonished human being. After the show, we all stayed the night in Helsinki, presumably because of the unfeasibility of doing a 'runner' and landing in Moscow in the middle of the night. This gave us a night at the hotel which turned into Smasher's birthday party. (The U2 crowd just love a birthday. Given how many of us there are on tour, it's a wonder we ever get any work done, squeezing the odd task in between birthday celebrations). Tonight was fun and by 3am I was thinking it was time to go to bed, when Bono arrived with his coat on, saying 'we€™re going to a place called 'Tiger'.' Exit stage left for me...