Coimbra. Show day.
Much to my surprise I woke up to a miserable grey day, pissing with rain. I confess I looked out at the monsoon and just thought 'oh must we...?€ I guess we€™re running out of summer all over Europe now. I ran into The Edge in the breakfast room and said to him, €œwhatever you do, don€™t look out of the window€, pulling the opulent drapes closed as I did so. He laughed but said he was still up for going in early so he could have a couple of hours before soundcheck to work on sounds. What a pro.
I went in early too, though quite why I can€™t imagine, as all we could do was watch it pour with rain. We zipped up all the flaps on the front-of-house mixer tower, sealing ourselves in. With all the machines and computers in there it soon gets quite toasty, which was welcome on a day like today.
Mercifully it eased off enough for the band to soundcheck later, the sole aim of which was to see if they could get Boy Falls From the Sky in good enough shape to be able to debut it at tonight€™s show. We€™ve all got rather used to this new, fearless experimentation by U2 but it is quite remarkable that with only one show left after today they are trying to premiere yet another unreleased song. That€™ll be six in all on this leg of the tour and it has done wonders for the mood of the show. There€™s a real psychological freedom in what they€™re doing just now.
There was one lovely moment in the show - well, there were no doubt loads of lovely moments but just this one I will record - we recently added a short piece of video going into Miss Sarajevo where the whole cylinder of the video screen becomes a slice of the revolving globe. It is a turning view of the earth at night, all dark, but then lights begin to come on, cities all over the planet lighting up like fireflies. It is very simple but quite beautiful and meditative (and also slightly double-edged when you look at it as carbon footprint). Possibly my least favourite audience activity is when you get some complete dickhead who brings a laser-pointer to the show and spends the entire gig waving his little red dot all over the stage structure. However, tonight, as the globe turned, someone whipped out a laser-pointer and was indicating Portugal€™s location on the map. Gradually the rest of the audience noticed their country being highlighted and a great cheer went up. This was probably slightly confusing for Bono who was on the bridge just winding up into the first verse of Miss Sarajevo, but it was a wonderful moment of genuine spontaneity. Please feel free to not repeat this at a U2 show near you.
The moment came and Bono announced €œthe next song we€™ve never played before€. Edge began a moody guitar intro and perhaps the audience might have imagined that something acoustic might be about to follow, but when the whole band launched into Boy Falls From the Sky it practically took the roof off the stadium. They had rehearsed the song at soundcheck just using their onstage monitors, so this was the first time that any of us had heard this gigantic sound over the P.A. system (including Joe mixing the front of house sound, bless him). It was shockingly mega €“ out at the mix position we were all looking at each other going €œ€¦wow€. I don€™t know where that song will go, but it€™s absolutely epic.
After the show it was back to Porto, my fifth go at this 90-minute journey in a couple of days, but at least my journey tonight didn€™t involve helicopters. Got back in the wee small hours to find the boutique hotel€™s single antique elevator was out of service, and me on the fifth floor, hey ho.