'North Star' Debuts

02 August 2010
'North Star' Debuts
Turin.  Production rehearsals.

Having got to bed at 5am after programming, I was more than a little dischuffed at being work by a yapping dog in the hotel corridor.  I staggered around for a while before settling into getting some paperwork done (Russian visas and more) before getting on a 1pm van to the stadium.  Much tail chasing ensued, getting ready to demonstrate Whole World Band €“ the crowd-sourced global band concept by our old pal Kevin Godley.  It€™s main incarnation will be  web-based but we had talked about the possibility of €˜performing€™ it live during the show - for the purposes of this rehearsal we asked crew members in the stadium to help out.  Given that there are over 400 of us, I figured I could rustle up at least a dozen people who could play an instrument or two.  This we did and recorded a series of different musical parts to the song.

The details of the next part of the process I will spare you as it all but put me in the grave, being a cat-herding exercise of the highest order.  I imagine this would be the case in any branch of theatre or performing arts, but it becomes clear that to create a successful stage event requires way more than just having the idea.  Given the number of people involved (and today seemed to involve almost every department of the tour) it requires a firmness of leadership in tandem with an ability to make people want to be part of it, even though it means taking on an additional task in their already busy day.  The final furlong had me sitting in the sound booth with Joe, trying to get these ropey-sounding video clips to sync together and sound like music.  At one point it came to such a chaotic cacophony that the pair of us just laughed until we cried, trying to make the gigantic machine which is the U2 360 show behave itself and come to order.  Joe and I have been with U2 since they were playing in buildings smaller than the 360 mix-position, so it would have been had to imagine back then that it could ever get this far out of hand.

After a dinner break, the band came back to the stage and tried another show opening - Soon into Beautiful Day. It seems clear to me that the Beautiful Day opening is a winner, but I don't think we've quite cracked the set up yet.  They also played North Star on stage for the first time, so that'll probably be available in Tower Records before bedtime.  We ran the middle chunk of the set, during which I dragged Declan up into the high seats to watch the City of Blinding Lights section.  After nine months away the sight of it was pretty arresting, even though I say so myself.  Good effort all round.

Each night after rehearsals we have a bit of a post-mortem to decide what worked and what didn't.  This is when most of the decisions get made and when the plan for the following day is mapped out as a result.   Tonight was a bit of a tough one as it became apparent that the Whole World Band idea isn't going to work for the show. Happily, it seems very likely that the  idea will re-emerge in its web-based capacity so all is not lost, but I'll confess to being sad that we can't follow through with the live event.  You can€™t win 'em all.

Team Visual stayed late again, as I'd arranged to retain some spot operators and cameras for the late-night session.  I wanted to revisit the light for camera, having had a bit of a revelation during the DVD filming in L.A. last year.  Given the strangely invisible nature of the production from the stage, some of the close ups look a little empty and I'd had a thought about how to fix it.  Once a tour is rolling there is never an opportunity to do this, so tonight was the night to get it done and I think it'lll make a big difference.

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