Elevation Leg 1: 2001, North America

Aug
21
2010

'Fearless looseness...'

6
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...

This article is tagged to:
Tours, U2 360° Tour, U2 360° Tour 2010
6  Comments
jschmitt20 - 17 September, 2010
Thank you!
A stunning live performance only happens when all of the pieces come together perfectly. A professional technical crew allows the performers the opportunity to do what they do best-create the electricity and magic that allows the audience to fully participate and connect. U2 has obviously surrounded themselves with a group of individuals who have the same goal for a concert-give the audiences the most amazing adventure of their lives. Salt Lake will be my very FIRST U2 concert and I know that my dream experience is in the capable hands of people who love what they do. Thank you, Willie, for showing us golden nuggets of what it's like living life on the road with U2: the greatest band in the world!!!
NickyK - 09 September, 2010
Every Breaking Wave
I really enjoy reading your diary; I check U2.com every day for a new diary entry! The "door story" is just hilarious! You could really publish a book w/ your collected diary entries ;) I attended both Helsinki shows & they were amazing! I couldn't believe that U2 played EBW- it felt so special to hear a song live that was never played before! Standing at the catwalk, it sometimes felt like an intimate club show, especially when the GA area was lit... Helsinki II was the last show of "my U2360 tour" but it definitely was a worthy ending! btw- you should try to persuade U2 to play Mercy live (since it was already soundchecked... ;))
xtraspicy62 - 08 September, 2010
mercy
Hi willie! thanks so much for all the work your doing. Im very excited to hear that Mercy was soundchecked recently in istanbul... your incredible production work with that song would be mindblowing im sure!! Oh, I pray, there will be a way for this song to work out with production and be played live in 2011 or sooner..
Cary - 06 September, 2010
EBW
No doubt best new tune of 2010! ...so far
ColinlYoung - 05 September, 2010
What a night.
Travelled from the U.K., and boy was it worth it. To see the band experimenting was pure Joy to watch. Loved 'Every Breaking Wave' with Bono guiding Edge through the chorus. 'No Line' busker style reminded us of the version on the BBC Culture show last year, which is still our favourite - please keep this in the set. Bono getting stuck out on the walkway and asking Willie for transport. 'I Will Follow' back in the line up. What a night. Willie's early Birthday in Sheffield, Smashers in Helsinki. Only questions remaining are whose Birthday will it be in Chicago next year, and how many set changes. Keep up the great work - Brilliant.
agt - 05 September, 2010
Every Breaking Wave
Really hoping this is played at Paris. U2 classic written all over it.
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