Johannesburg. Rehearsal day.
Spent the morning at Villa 1 preparing to leap back into 360 mode. It appears that some of my housemates were up til all hours, so I was happy to have dodged that bullet. All the same, my head is behaving quite strangely, itchy eyes and completely stuffed up. I can't figure out whether I've managed to get a cold or whether it's a hay fever allergies kind of thing. Either way I feel a little like I'm under water ("a head like a pudding", as my mother used to say, enigmatically.)
There is no room for illness on tour of course, so I joined a vanload of comrades to head to the stadium in the mid-afternoon. This was a bit of a mistake as a combination of a wreck on the freeway and the traditionally horrific rush-hour traffic (Friday, no less) made the journey a bit of a marathon. We amused ourselves taking pictures of the hand-made advertising bills that are stuck to many lampposts, offering all kinds of services from dog walking & computer maintenance to erection aid & penis enlargement.
The band had a slew of press commitments this afternoon so (aside from Edge, of course) didn't get on to the stage until after dinner. We managed a run-through of about two-thirds of a set-list, which helped everyone get back into the saddle. In the dressing room there was much conversation about what we might do to tailor these shows for Africa. One great idea was to revive a whole show intro we had made when the North American leg of 2010 was going to start during the opening of the world cup. There were several mixes of U2 songs recorded with Youssou N'Dour and the Soweto Gospel Choir for ESPN one of which (a mix of Get on Your Boots called Rainbow People) never saw the light of day, as Bono's surprise back surgery intervened. We listened back to the track and it sounded very strong so we'll explore that further tomorrow. Bono also remembered the opening of Streets on the Vertigo tour, which used the flags of Africa. That show never played here so it seems like a no-brainer to reinvent it for 360 in South Africa.
In the van on the way back to the hotel from the stadium I got a call from Bono to let me know that Mubarak has finally stepped down in Egypt. Perhaps then, he suggested, we should use photographs from the demonstrations and celebrations in the intro to Sunday Bloody Sunday in place of the Iranian ones that have been in the show for the past two years. He also had discovered that our show is on the 21st anniversary of Nelson Mandela making his post-release speech in the very same (albeit rebuilt) stadium that we're playing. This seemed like reason enough to also include some footage of said event in the show, perhaps during Rainbow People.
Back at the hotel, around 1am, I called my producer, Sam, to ask if he might be in the mood for finding and clearing all the imagery we'd need. It's late Friday night and the show's on Sunday so it'll be quite a challenging weekend. Rally the troops, then.