14 June 2005
Manchester Stadium of Light.
I was very deeply asleep and miles away dreaming when a nostalgically familiar sound penetrated my consciousness and gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling. It was an air siren which sounded exactly like the noise a British Rail train used to make at speed, a low-high sort of 'Haaa-Pheeeep' sound which, unknown to me until this moment when I was climbing mount Kilimanjaro in my dream, has a powerful emotional nostalgic link to growing up in the north of England. As I continued toward the surface of consciousness, flipping through my mental Roladex to figure out where in the world I could be, it was a wonderful moment to remember that I was in Manchester and that really was a British Rail train (or whatever they are called now, after the unforgivable debacle of privatization.)
So, first gig in the UK. Never a small day on a U2 tour. I headed down to the stadium as soon as I could and was pleased to see all was well. The crew had worked flat out but most had managed a modicum of sleep last night so morale was high. The band did a lengthy sound check in order to get comfortable and run through a couple of new things including seeing how I Will Follow sounded coming out of Vertigo. We had a meeting in catering afterwards as Bono had watched a show tape this morning so had some comments. He was also full of praise for the production and for the crew which was most encouraging. I left with quite a lot of new things to try to get into the tonights show (or more to the point Smasher would have to try to get into the show) which was going to be tricky but not impossible, I thought. I had, however, completely forgotten that all this would have to be done whilst the two opening acts were on stage going for it at full tilt. Trying to hear a U2 song in your head whilst The Bravery or Snow Patrol as coming at you at a million decibels is a challenge even for the most musically inclined amongst us. We made it though, and as I type this its ten minutes to show time and Morrisey is singing 'Irish Blood, English Heart', stand by, were going in.