20 August 2010
'Flemish Culture'Helsinki. Show day.
It's very sad to learn that Michael Been died last night. He was the front man of the band The Call in the 80's and latterly was the sound engineer for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, his son Robert being the bass player. He's not someone I knew well, having only worked briefly with BRMC in 2003, but Michael was someone who was immediately and enormously likeable. Aside from his personal warmth and peacefully centred demeanour, my favourite thing about him was that he didn't have the standard sound engineer obsession with Steely Dan. It seems that every sound engineer on earth soundchecks the P.A. using a Steely Dan album, and when you're forced to hear this on tour, every day for hours on end, self-immolation quickly becomes an appealing alternative. None of this easy listening rubbish for Michael Been; he would soundcheck the PA with AC/DC's Back in Black and fuck the lot of you. It's a very sad loss.
Everyone's a bit knackered today and I confess that I didn't sleep especially well last night. Our group theory is that the air is too clean here and is upsetting our constitutions as a result. It's a decent enough stadium though, that has a very tall tower (with elevator, mercifully) affording sweeping views of the Finish landscape.
I had a side project today, in that tomorrow is Smasher's 40th birthday. In Flemish culture there is a tradition that when you have a birthday ending with a zero, your friends get together and give you a new front door. (Don't ask me to explain why, I'm just the messenger). Consequently, there's been a covert operation underway for the past couple of weeks to figure out what we might do along these lines. Bono suggested that we make a small replica door that everyone could sign but this was deemed insufficiently traditional by the Belgian jury. Eventually we decided that if we were going to do it, we might as well do it properly and set about sourcing a door from Belgium. We talked about shipping his actual front door from home out to the tour, but Smasher's wife felt obliged to point out that this would leave their house open to the public for at least a week. In the end a compromise was reached in having his office door removed from its hinges and freighted to Helsinki to become Finland€™s largest birthday card.
The door arrived at the stadium last night, so today I set it up in the production office with a pile of Sharpies next to it, for signing and decoration by the entire touring party. There had to be a certain amount of €˜Smasher-watch€™ going on to avoid him walking in at an awkward moment, but as somebody pointed out, he might not have noticed it anyway. It's fair to say that most people wouldn't be expecting to find a door from their house to suddenly appear in a production office in Finland. It's looking good so far, covered in signatures and witty remarks. I'm not quite sure what happens next but presumably we€™ll award it to him some time tomorrow.