POPMART Leg 2: 1997, Europe


'Judicious Approach to Video'

12 August 2010
'Judicious Approach to Video'
Hannover. Show day.

Commuting to Germany once again, starting with a van ride to the private aviation part of Nice Airport.  This is a small area but still has one or two shops, one of which is a jewellers.  I had a brief once-round just to pass the time and noted that in a display case of sparkly watches there was not a single item under ‚¬20,000.  I guess we're not their usual kind of clientele.

On arrival we sped into the venue under the calm, efficient supervision of a German police escort.  It's a pretty good stadium but (presumably through lack of rooms inside) most of the production offices were in portakabins up a ramp, outside, through the public, round a corner and under a barbed-wire fence.  The dressing rooms were conveniently located in actual rooms indoors so I spent much of the first couple of hours on site sprinting back and forth between the two, plus beating my way through the crowd out to the mix position at front of house.  A man could get fit doing this, if he wasn't careful.

Having got through all my requisite tasks I took a moment to inhale dinner and then it was show time.  These commute days can be a little full on. It was a good show though and a top crowd.  The little set list tweak seemed to help the flow of Act 1, so it was time well spent and before we knew it, it was time to fight our way back through the crowd and make the 'runner' back to the airport.

Heading back to Nice, the British video artist and film-maker Sam Taylor-Wood was on the plane with her partner Aaron and their tiny five-week old baby.  They'd been at the show and it was very interesting to talk to her about video art in the very specific context of a rock show.  It's a very difficult thing to get right and a great many people do it very badly.  In a way, for U2, working with video gets harder every tour. This is partly because some of their previous work in this vein is so hard to top, and also because the world is now utterly saturated with 'video content' of such a banal nature that it really does spoil it for the whole class.  With PopMart and ZooTV we were practically alone in the field so could happily run riot, but now every form of entertainment from heavy metal to the Eurovision Song Contest is one huge video-fest.  A vastly more judicious approach is required if you want to stand out from the swamp of mediocrity.

I decided I'd also take the judicious approach towards drinking on the flight home, so simply didn't.  My body is still adjusting from the 'graveyard shift' of the Turin rehearsal schedule and these commute days are tough on the constitution.  On the plane it's easy to let a glass of wine turn into two or six, then with the flying and landing at 4am, mornings are not always a joy.  Tonight, at least, I thought I'd give myself a break.

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28 August, 2010
That is the question
That's the question, how to keep afloat in the sea of the images. You already were speaking about this in the Zoo TV and the PopMart, and now the problem has become bigger in the world of the "real time". But don't worry Willie, till now you have done it very well!! ;)
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