Turin. Production rehearsals
Rabbits. Spent the morning working on sound sequences with Declan, which is my new favourite thing to do. We're still working on opening sequences and in the past have found it's useful to have three options to look at (we love a three-cornered contest). There was a suggestion last night that 'Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me' might be a contender for a radical new opening to the show, so Dec had sent for the original multi-track recording of the piece. There are lots of mad violins hidden away in the recording that reminded me of a George Crumb composition called 'Black Angels', written (I think) in response to the Vietnam War. I have a recording of it being performed by the Kronos Quartet, so dug it out and gave it to Dec. The combination of the two crazed string-instrument attacks was absolutely startling, particularly when played over the giant 360 sound system and set up a wonderfully unhinged atmosphere for 'Hold Me, Thrill Me'.
This gave us our third option, the other two being Beautiful Day coming out of Elbow's 'One Day Like This' and the complete wildcard of opening with Moment of Surrender, coming out of 'Soon', the track formerly known as 'Kingdom of Your Love' that preceded Breathe in last year's show.
The band rolled in during the late afternoon and we tried each of these several times over. All three approaches worked, though in very different ways so, depending on what happens with the rest of the set list, we can keep them all in the can for the time being.
Given that we're in Italy it also seemed like a no-brainer to put Miss Sarajevo in the show, at least for opening night. The biggest challenge we have now is that the show is as long as it can comfortably be - beyond 2hrs 15mins it starts to become a bit of a marathon for both band and audience, plus the reality of noise curfews means that a longer show has to start earlier rather than end later. Consequently, for every new song that goes in, something has to come out and this has proved to be exceptionally difficult. There are other factors too, like the production elements and how they hang together. The opening of the screen is obviously the biggest production moment and it was strangely tough to find a song that could hold its own in the presence of such a jaw-dropping physical event. Unforgettable Fire has proven to be perfect for this moment, though we have tried it with other songs. I'd thought that the end of Until the End of the World would be a suitably cataclysmic moment to open the screen but in reality it just didn't feel right. Tonight we tried playing Miss Sarajevo with screen opening but again (to my mind) it felt wrong as the 'gag' for this song is Bono's extraordinary operatic moment. To do it whilst a great big machine is opening overhead just looked a bit silly. Tonight ended up being a little inconclusive, but we'll keep experimenting.
The fun event of the evening was the band playing Glastonbury on stage for the first time and it sounded humungous over the 360 sound system. I hadn't been 100per cent on board with this song before now, but tonight kicked it to touch quite convincingly.
Once everyone had gone home, Team Front-of-House stayed behind after school to do some more programming. Tonight we took on Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me, which turned out to be a lot of fun. Being the trashy glam thing that it is, we were able to pull out the stops a little with mirrorballs, yellow searchlight 'ballyhoo' and other suitably non-subtle effects.
Around midnight I checked YouTube, just out of interest, and there it was - already there was a recording of Glastonbury on line. The music was pretty muddy but the vocal, melody and lyric were absolutely crystal clear. What an awesomely insane world we live in. Big Brother could only dream of this level of surveillance.