Elevation Leg 2: 2001, Europe

Dec
01
1997

Mexico City pre-show - Covering every angle.

Mexico City pre-show - Covering every angle. In Mexico City you need to watch the pollution levels. Oxygen can help. A long day wrestles the TV show logistics into submission, despite becoming locked in the stadium.

December already. Advent and all. Down here in Mexico City the rather lo-tech but utterly charming Christmas decorations are going up at a pace. On the way to the gig today I drove past a huge market packed with people, buying up fir trees, tinsel and assorted electric flashing objects. This is such a huge city. At 24 million inhabitants I think that makes it the most densely populated spot on the earth's crust - it certainly feels like it. The pollution here is quite literally breath-taking, which combined with the extremely high altitude makes a man realise how much he takes oxygen for granted much of the time. In our hotel there's a charming note which says "we recommend you stay indoors when the pollution index level is too high. Please contact the concierge for todays pollution index reading." Amongst the street billboards advertising local and international products, there are ones advertising oxygen. A stylishly dressed model with flowing hair and that post-produced flawless dental smile has a demeanor of rapturous joy as she holds up her "industrial chic" plastic oxygen mask, connected to a rather scientific looking green cylinder. William Gibson where are you?

It was a long day at the gig. The band came in to sound check both for the live sound and the recorded sound going to the broadcast truck. They then rehearsed for a couple of hours to allow us to view all the new camera positions and re-light them accordingly. Our only major problem was that our colossal video screen proved to be way too bright for the new cameras. With a regular screen "turning down the brightness" would be simple enough, but this being the first of its kind it was a little tricky. By midnight most of the crew had left, leaving the lighting and video teams to work through the night, looking at the show cue by cue, re-lighting, balancing, changing, adapting, re-adapting. Its a slow process (though still done at lightning speed compared to shooting a movie) but fortunately we really have the "A" team here. All too often in these situations, when a tour has been up and running all year the arrival of the "film crew" can seem like an invasion. Making a show look good on TV is an entirely different discipline to making it great for the stadium viewer, so some compromises to the existing show are inevitable. Fortunately all the players involved here have been around the block so many times now that we all understand the common goal.

Myself and Allen were in the truck looking at sixteen video monitors - one for each of the TV cameras, whilst Bruce and the lighting team and Monica and the video screen team were out in the field making it happen. It was exciting to see the show from all of these new angles. At 5.30am we called it a night and sleep-walked onto our Mexican shuttle bus to take us back to the hotel. Our driver was an enthusiastic non-English speaking chap who got very excited when we reached the stadium gates and found them chained up, with the night watchman long gone. ("...and then depression set in...") Fortunately no major tour ever travels without a sturdy pair of oversized industrial bolt-cutters, so we were soon on our way home...

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