Elevation Leg 1: 2001, North America


Gelsenkirchen Arena auf Schalke

12 June 2005
Gelsenkirchen Arena auf Schalke
Bit of an early start (comparatively) as the band wanted to sound check and doors were due to open at 3pm. Consequently those of us needing to get things done had to be in bright and early. I went through all the fixes from the first show with my team who swung into action, as ever. I sat at the mix position going through e.mail and trying to get on top of the backlog which has piled up this past week. I was seriously tempted to do another 'select all and delete' manouvre, as this was so incredibly liberating when I did it in New York, but much of this mail is now social and therefore welcome. Ive had a hard enough time keeping up with my show guests. In fact I have completely lost track of who is supposed to be coming to where, so therell probably be a complete train wreck at some show in the near future, with a crowd of angry Willie-guests stuck in the car park, but such is life without a brain.

You forget how big stadiums are. This venue is a covered stadium with an inflatable roof over it. The production office is off to the side of the pitch, the dressing rooms upstairs and catering outside, so its a bit of a hike to get from anywhere to anywhere. After sound check I went and chatted to the band for a while, deciding what we wanted to change in the set list from the Brussels show. They seemed in good form, a little tired perhaps, but very positive about the great start to the tour.

Traditionally second nights tend to be pretty awful. You get through the grand opening on a wing and a prayer fuelled by adrenaline, then when everyone calms down on the second night the wheels come off. Tonight, however, was a bit of an exception. I had a few technical issues, mainly due to the system having made its first move and all the crew guys being dog tired, but other than that it was a really great looking show. Its surprisingly, shockingly good, which sounds daft (not to mention conceited) for me to say, but I dont really know where this show came from. We put the pieces together, but the thing has taken of and developed a life of its own already. Its really fun too. When the steel wall turns into a video screen, half the audience cant believe what theyre seeing.

The band did a runner back to Cologne, but I stayed on to wait for Bruce as hes coming along to this TV show tomorrow. We left shortly after the show, just Bruce and me in a van with the same German driver whos been ferrying me back and forth these past two days, tactfully ignoring my snoring. We got away pretty promptly, but about half way back to Cologne hit a major traffic snarl and ground to a halt for a good hour or so. The cause turned out to be men putting sticky tape on the autobahn (or thats what it looked like) and so reducing it to one lane with a twenty-mile tail back of post concert traffic. We were also very low on petrol, so the fantasy nightmare stretched out before us. (World Famous Show Designers Eaten by Deutche Cannibals in Roadside Van Horror', etc.) We made it to the next gas station and pulled over, giving Bruce and I the chance to peruse the cuddly toys and hardcore porn mags which are the staple fare of kiosks at central European filling stations.

After what seemed an endless drive we did make it to the hotel and joined the happy throng in the bar for beer and chips. The rest of the party had clearly been there for some time, as evidenced by level of impassioned, semi-drunken conversations underway. I seem to recall an indignant argument with Steve Matthews (management) about which David Bowie album youd take to a desert island if you were only allowed to take one. This being part of a larger conversation about which five albums youd take and whether you can take more than one by one artist and if compilation albums are allowed. I think I settled on Ziggy Stardust, plus Electric Warrior, Automatic for the People, the Mark Hollis solo album and Boy. Though within five minutes I realised Id have to have some Dexter Gordon and some Nancy Wilson too, so very probably U2 and Bowie would get the heave-ho altogether, but rather than get into it all over again I just ordered another beer and went and talked to somebody else.

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