25 April 1997
Las Vegas show - PopMart premier.
Las Vegas show - PopMart premier. Mix position jumping with celebs. The atmosphereís buzzing, first 45 minutes are a triumph, but then the wheels falls off. The band stumbles, the Edge gets lost in the fog and has a moment of pure Spinal Tap, but they recover.
PopMart's premiere, Las Vegas. Well...the day was a circus of course, we would have been disappointed if it had been any other way. By the time the doors opened there was a major buzz in the place and by show time it was explosive. The backstage hospitality zone was awash with celebs - Wynnona, Sigourney Weaver, Christian Slater and to my great joy R.E.M. Mike Mills, Michael Stipe, Jim Mckay, Bertis Downs and all. So good to see them and they all seemed on great form. Stipe had on a large purple wig & shades and was carrying a chalkware Chihuahua which was perfect. Still they came, Trent Reznor, Dr. Dre, Quincy Jones, Dennis Hopper.....the mix position was just jumping. There's nothing like a discreet, low key opening to a tour...and this was NOTHING like a discreet, low key opening. Trying to find a backstage toilet for a pre-show visit, I head for a locker room which has been empty all week. Now its full of Vegas showgirls wearing giant feather plumes on their heads and not much else besides. "What the hell.......?
At last show time came and "Pop Muzik" blared from the orange speaker ball. This is it. Here we go. A memory of Stateline's roller coaster came to mind for a second. I've spent 15 months slowly, slowly climbing up this huge steep hill and any second now gravity will kick in and we'll start the free fall. The entry through the crowd worked well, MoFo, Follow, Real Thing, Do You Feel Loved, then Pride & Still Haven't Found brought the house down. Even the 'brown' section worked OK, Last Night on Earth, Gone, End of the World. The first 45 minutes was a triumph. I kept just looking at everything and going, "its still working, it hasn't fallen over, it hasn't blown up.....".
It couldn't last of course, it wouldn't have been just, given how shockingly under rehearsed we were, but it was enough. Out on the b-stage God's Angels and Staring at the Sun took a nose dive - the latter to the point of having to stop mid-song and start again, having taken off in a sort of oompah-flamenco direction on its first attempt. Edge stepped into the breech with his karaoke version of Daydream Believer, which the crowd loved, then a rather tentative Miami into Bullet, which I think was the visual high point. Please was good and Streets a home run, so we have a moment to regroup. Enter the Lemon, which did its thing without a hitch so all breathe again. Moments later, however, came the Spinal Tap moment of the night. I had been so paranoid about there not being enough fog for the Lemon entry that I was really leaning heavily on the smoke button. It was a beautifully still night, so the resulting clouds didnít disperse right away and as the band descended from the Lemon to the b-stage, they couldn't see a thing. Edge put on his guitar, strummed it and found it didn't work. He needed to step on a switch on his footpedal which was......somewhere down there on the floor. Later he told us that he was completely blind in the fog, so sank to his hands and knees to try to find it by touch. Finding himself at the world premiere of his new show, on his knees feeling about the floor he started to laugh. A little voice came into his head "it has finally happened.......I am Derek Smalls - this is Spinal Tap".
He did get his guitar working so Discotheque happened, followed by Velvet Dress and With or Without You. The relief of being almost home got us through, then Hold Me Thrill Me was great and kicked things back into gear.. Mysterious Ways & One was a strong finish and whilst the audience cried over the Keith Haring animation, we cried tears of relief. Finito, we made it, its done, weíre launched, we got away with opening in Vegas. Backstage the lig was in full swing by the time I got there having done my round of thank yous to all concerned. Everyone just gushed about what an extraordinary show it is and I could see that it was more than just the polite "darling you were wonderful". We have agonised over this for so long, but to the first time observer, even in its ragged state, it is an incredible thing that we have built. We made it through the highest pressure opening night imaginable. In the words of Mother Theresa, "thank fuck for that".
By default many of us ended up at the Hard Rock Casino and it was fun circling the gambling floor running into friends all the while - Stipe, Mills, Grant Phillips, Martin Wroe, Simon Mayo, Catherine, Walter Van Bierendonck & Derk. Paul McGuinness telling me in no uncertain terms that we had won, that it had worked. To bed everso late but happy as hell. "Man, youíre fucking awesome!" says Stipe. These are the good moments.