Party Going on in the Nosebleeds

17 September 2009
Party Going on in the Nosebleeds
Thursday 17th September 2009. Toronto. Show 2.

What a difference a day makes. It's funny, both the cities we've played on this leg have been two-night stands and on both occasions the first night audience has been dead and the second night riotous. A man could think of all kinds of reasons - heavy media presence on night one, the night of the week, the weather - but all these things are quite arbitrary when it comes down to it. Whatever the reason, tonight's crowd were well up for it and I spent much of the gig in and amongst them. I hadn't done a tour of the nosebleed seats for a while and it's always an extremely helpful and informative thing to do.

The high seats of the Rogers Centre (aka the SkyDome) are way up there and I had a few Spinal Tap 'Hello Cleveland' moments trying to navigate to them. On arrival though, there really was a party going on. The SkyDome has a retractable roof, which, fortunately, the good weather allowed us to open. The audio department always love this and even way up in the rafters it sounded great - very 'present', like the gig was happening right in front of you, rather than way off in the distance. (I guess Joe had actually 'Let them in the sound', ho ho).

I've noted before that there's a strange side-effect of the architecture of the stage which makes it seem bigger from further away. The closer you get to it, the more it disappears, but as you climb higher the presence of the thing becomes more apparent. I've been a little bit mix-position-centric for the past week or two, so it was a great joy to see the production from afar.

Another favourite pastime of mine is to watch a section of the audience when I know that there's a great moment about to happen. The intro to Streets is always a good one and tonight I'd noticed a group of lads who'd clearly come to rock. They'd been air-guitaring their way through City of Bling and Vertigo, then sat down during the dance remix of Crazy, presumably waiting for something more rock to occur. I purposely watched them when I knew the drum intro to Sunday Bloody Sunday was about to kick in and it was wonderful to watch them register it, realise what it was and what was about to happen. They leapt up, punching the air, whooping and leaping about before the vocal had even started. It really is a very great privilege to bring people so much happiness through relatively little effort.

I gradually made my way back down to the field and clearly it was a great night for all. Stuck in a Moment (never a huge favourite of mine, I have to confess) went off with the crowd singing it like it was Still Haven't Found. I love the differences that local culture brings to a show.

We did a 'runner' from the venue at the end of the show in order to beat the traffic. We had a police escort, which is not unusual, though usually it's because we are trying to make it to an airport to get off the ground before a midnight curfew or something. Tonight however, we were just going back to the Hotel Fabulous, twenty blocks uptown. I appreciate that if the band cars got stuck in traffic amongst a crowd of pedestrians who'd just been at the gig it could well create an unsafe situation, but when we were well clear of the venue the situation struck me as absolutely hilarious - particularly for our vehicle which contained not a single rock star. We were in the back of a van, with a police escort whisking us through the relatively empty streets of downtown Toronto on a Thursday night, so that we could get to the bar ten minutes sooner than would have been possible if we had had to wait at the occasional traffic light. 'Clear the streets!', we cried, 'We need cocktails!'

I tell you, sometimes we are just so rock and roll...

Related Topics


25 October, 2009
Local Culture
Hey Willie, Tell us more about local culture. What U2 related curiousities do you see in one town/country that you don't in another. On another note maybe presale tickets could be for either show, not just the first one. I presume the band can fairly accurately predict where they will sell out on put on a 2nd night. I bet the dead first show is related to a lot of older fans and a lot of free tickets to people like Blackberry.
24 September, 2009
Willie Rocks
I agree with Willie too. I was in section 539 for night one, and GA for night two. Not many people were rocking in my section, but my friend and I made sure we did! I felt bad standing and dancing...for a moment...then realized that I'm waching my fave band for the first time in 4 years and hell yeah, I'm going to stand and cheer!
23 September, 2009
My First U2 Show
Hi Willie - love your diary! I've been a fan for 25 years, but Toronto night 2 was my first U2 concert ever - and what a ride! Fabulous set list, great energy, the sound was a-may-zing -- didn't expect to actually *hear* the between song chat. We had top-notch seats and flew in from the east coast of Canada. It was a perfect night and has likely spoiled me for all the future U2 shows I will see (rumour has it Montreal for leg 3 next year ... ???)
23 September, 2009
i agree
Hey Willie i was rocking wednesday nite in Toronto but many werent, i have a feeling that maybe most of the six thousand tickets i heard that were given to employees of Research in Motion might have something to do with it. I think sometimes people who get free tickets just go to the concert because its free and its U2. Im a big fan i paid my money and i would gladly do it again. Great show , great stage, but not complaining mind you i think the stage takes away from the band. I feel that U2 excels in a smaller venue, when they are close to their fans, intimate you know. I hope the next tour returns to just that, more shows smaller venue and possibly a greatest hits tour. Willie i hope you read this, and i want to thank you and the rest of the staff for giving us many nights to remember, without all of you its not possible. Ps. Canada Loves U2 Please Come Back
23 September, 2009
Willie is right....
I agree with Willie that the crowd wasn't as lively during the first Toronto show, but I blame on the setlist, which never built sustained exhilaration. As soon as there was heart-pounding momentum, it was squandered. The setlist for the second Toronto show, with the inclusion of Mysterious Ways and New Year's Day, improved the pacing.
23 September, 2009
If I can Breathe I'm alive
Must agree with the previous comments. Most in my section stood and cheered from the begining of the major tom countdown right through to the end, and I was in the very TOP row of the "nosebleeds". It certainly was NOT THE CROWD that was flat for the 1st show
23 September, 2009
We waited...
Yeah Willie, you're absolutly right ! We came from france in T.O like canadians called their town. A fabulous town..a great mind ! You are right by saying that the first concert was soft and the second of a beautiful fervour! We met stuart, flore and AJ before the concert, what a team ! in the afternoon, we waited 2 hours in front of the hazelton hotel unsuccessfully, would be we madmen? this hotel was, we shall never know it! Not very important! Lived a big concert, with Lucas's rise on stage... Nice town, nice tour, nice crew, nice yonge street... Hope to see you next...when will be next? ;-)
23 September, 2009
Willie, modest as ever...
How can you say relatively little effort? It's a privilege for us all to come together and rejoice in the fruits of past and present labours. I know we were jiggered the day after with no voices and aching shoulders but totally elevated. We love your truly phenomenal efforts!
23 September, 2009
Stage size
Hey Willie, I always enjoy reading your daily happenings. I agree completely on what you wrote about the size of the stage. I watched 2 shows relatively close to the stage (in the expensive seats - mind you..); indeed it is overwhelming but the second time I was a bit disappointed; you're close; but not front row. The third show (Wembley on the 15th) I had bought the cheapest seats all the way up; I was utterly surprised and happy to notice the show was also a great pleasure to see and hear (very important) from above. Congrats on the design! Thomas
22 September, 2009
Good show, but...
...I'd have to disagree that the first night in Toronto was dead. It was certainly the most energy-filled atmosphere I've ever been in.
22 September, 2009
Refuting being "dead"
The audience was "dead" on the Wednesday night at Rogers you say? Really? I was there, along with my husband and son. As far as I recall I was very much alive (still am last time I checked) and so were the vast majority of the 60,000+ others attending that first evening. We did an entire walkabout of the outside of the Centre both before and after the show and to my knowledge there were no hearses lined up either time. Our "Fan" seats were in the 'nosebleeds'. No complaints whatsoever. Some pretty fair partying was happening there then, as well as the rest of the building...nice green going around, wobbly pops aplenty, a POWERFUL choir when we sang along with the band, or when we all sang on our own (Stand by Me), roaring applause and earsplitting whistles...although I must admit we were the only ones in our entire area that I could see that wore our Aung San Suu Kyi masks, but that was okay - we stood out quite well I thought (especially when I stood up and did a slow 360 of my own, both arms raised doing peace signs...some of the expressions and reactions - very cool!) Nothing "dead" about that night in my humble opinion. Perhaps you were mistakenly reporting from the Leafs home game that was taking place down the street???
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