23 July 2009
Load-Out Like No OtherWednesday, 1st July 2009. Barcelona. 'Day off'.
Mollie Sugden! Another one bites the dust.
A day off only slightly interrupted by having to do a video shoot, hey ho. Most people didn't surface until mid-afternoon, then wandered back to the stadium to spend the evening shooting close ups for the forthcoming 'Crazy' video. It felt oddly comforting to have our stadium back after last night's invasion, but I suppose we shouldn't get too used to it.
It all went smoothly enough and we also had time to do some fixes and housekeeping to the show itself. I had a brief chat to Bono and commented on the look I'd seen on his face three songs in. He said he had gone on stage with a complete sense of calm and no anxiety at all. After three songs he said he'd looked around and thought 'It's even better than I thought it would be...'
We got out of there about midnight and returned to the Hotel Trauma. In a last ditch attempt to feel like I was in Barcelona, I went out for a stroll. It was 1am and still about 29 degrees as we wandered through the Olympic Port area opposite the hotel. It really is the epicentre of Eurotrash with a string of raging discos lined up under the promenade, with names like 'Celebrity' and 'Australian', interspersed with (I kid you not) a kebab shop and a McDonalds. The city's trademark Very Pushy Hookers were out in force, bringing the finishing touch to this particular vision of hell. It's a shame really. There's a wonderful city somewhere, buried underneath all this stuff.
Thursday, 2nd July 2009. Barcelona. Show 2.
I'm still struggling to get back onto day shift. Last night was the first time I'd been to bed during the hours of darkness for about three weeks. It's very much like having jet-lag without travelling and I've got very comfortable with going to bed at 7am and getting up mid-afternoon. I'm not quite sure how I can break the cycle - I feel like I've slipped into some parallel universe and can't get back.
We also had to pack and check out of the hotel which was a little disorientating, having been so sedentary for so long. The familiar routine soon came back to me though. I'm travelling with the band so have to fit into their routine -pack your bag and leave it just inside your hotel room door to be picked up and taken to the airport. After the show, we do a 'runner' and head for the next city where, if the fates are kind, your bag will magically appear in your new hotel room. That's the theory, anyway, underscoring my generally sceptical approach to checked baggage which is to always hold clearly in your mind the incontrovertible truth that once your bag disappears down that silver chute there's a slight but real possibility that you might never see it again. Pack accordingly.
Back to the stadium around lunchtime to witness a scene of great activity. Never mind packing luggage, these people have a considerably larger feat of packing to achieve as soon as the last chords of the last song cease ringing in the air. The first load out of any large production is usually a fraught affair, but this one promises to be like no other. There's a very great deal of stuff to get from here to Milan. The second 'Quad Pod' steel structure is already being assembled at San Siro stadium in Milan, but the bulk of the staging items will be going to every city, including the central 'pylon', the entire sound and lighting systems and the almighty expanding video screen. The choreography required to make this happen will be a sight to behold.
Second shows are usually an anticlimax. You sail through the first one in a white fog of adrenaline but land at show two with a clearer eye that sees all the flaws in a nascent production. Tonight proved to be something of an exception as the show equalled, if not surpassed, night one. There was a very different feel to it, oddly. It felt more rock, somehow and the audience was well up for it. It's not a surprise but it's still extraordinary to hear how loud the audience is. Being completely surrounded by 90,000 people singing their hearts out is a new experience and creates an enormously focussed energy. It's pretty fantastic, it has to be said.
After the show we did a 'runner' to Nice. This involved leaving the last song in the hands of my trusty deputies and beating my way through the crowd to get backstage in time to leap into a van that followed the police escort to the airport. This police escort was interesting in that at one junction it was stopped and held up by... the police. Perhaps a rival faction, who knows? We did get there in the end though and as we took off I watched the lights of Barcelona disappear behind us. Thank you Barcelona, that was quite a month. Next stop Nice.