Mexico City. Rehearsal day.
As ever, these rehearsal days tend to blur into one. Staggering out of bed just in time to catch the end of breakfast, working with Team Content until mid-afternoon when we grab a bit of lunch and get into a van. The drive time to the venue seems to increase every time we do it so it’s little comfort to know that we have four more round-trips to come. I can only imagine what’ll be like on show day.
The work, however, goes extremely well. The new elements to freshen up the show for this last charge are fun and charming, most of which look like they’ll make it to completion. There are new visuals, new mixes, new mash-ups with a communal sense of creative energy that is becoming infectious amongst the whole team. The band are thriving on it and (in their usual contrary fashion) seem to be ramping up at a point on a tour where any other band would be completely and utterly on autopilot.
The fan encampment has begun to appear outside the Hotel Fabulous. Sitting in the front seat of a van awaiting departure this afternoon, I became aware of a little girl, maybe four years old, standing ten metres from the van and shouting something in our direction. I vaguely noticed that whatever she was shouting sounded kind of like my name and then I felt my brain fold itself in half and back again as I realised that this little girl was in fact shouting my name in the direction of our van, to the enormous amusement of its other occupants. Closer inspection revealed that it was her U2-fan dad who was putting her up to it, but it made for the most surreal moment of my year by far.
Arriving at the stadium I was heading towards the ‘content’ room we’ve set up and couldn’t help but notice that a live band appeared to be playing in what will become the large hospitality tent backstage. “It’s a little early for the cabaret to be sound checking,” I remarked to myself, also noting that this (I presumed) local bar band was playing a pretty impressive rendition of a Snow Patrol cover. Sticking my head into the tent I was much amused to see that it was in fact the actual Snow Patrol, having a quick warm up and rehearsal after some months in the studio. It was great to see them, as ever. They and their crew are such a fun bunch of people to have around.
When the other rock band arrived, we managed to get through quite a few of the new ideas, updates and changes. There’s a new working of Magnificent which incorporates out-takes from the Desmond Tutu footage we shot in 2009. Smasher worked up a really interesting camera treatment to go with it, which makes it a pleasantly trippy affair, with something of Primal Scream about it, which I like a lot. We also got to spend some more time with Zooropa. It was truly fantastic to see the band perform this in Brazil but we pretty much just chucked it at the stage, so now we have some time to refine it a little – particularly the production side of things.
We looked at 'Crazy' as well and had another go at an idea we tried out last year, which was to make it a bit of a mash-up with Discotheque. We did do this once or twice and I can’t quite remember why it didn’t last. I think there was a discussion as to whether this addition was making the song better or just making it longer, but either way it didn’t survive. Having now got a chance to revisit the idea, it has come storming back into the frame, so fingers crossed.