Vertigo Leg 1: 2005, US


Rio de Janeiro pre-show - Relocation all round

Rio de Janeiro pre-show - Relocation all round. The band has to move hotels because of fan siege and the gig relocates for technical reasons.

My journey from San Francisco took me through New York, where I had stopped off for a couple of days to watch Bill Clinton in the throes of scandal on CNN and a dozen other channels. Took a night flight from JFK (-1deg C) to Rio (+35deg C) arriving in the late morning. I met John Panaro, our merchandising guy, on the flight and on emerging through customs in Rio we were most surprised to meet our Italian promoter representative, Pamela Alvin. Turns out the Italian promoter, Fran Tomasi, is co-promoting these shows to bring some experience and sense of order to the proceedings (and when the Italians are the orderly and experienced players, you can only imagine the level of indigenous chaos).

Rio de Janeiro is a most beautiful city, and we are staying at Copacobana ("her name was Lola, she was a show girl", etc, etc) facing endless golden beaches. Not far below the surface, Rio also offers much in the way of crime and poverty, so swanning through with a bunch of rock stars, you can't help but feel the contradictions of the extraordinary life which we lead. The band came down here yesterday to get an extra day of soaking up the atmosphere. This was the theory at least, but by the time I arrived they'd already evacuated due to the hotel being under siege from fans. U2 are normally not afraid of a challenge, but this was clearly going to be unmanageable, so they bailed to a secret location on an island somewhere to try to calm the mob.

We were supposed to be playing at the Maracana - a colossal football stadium - but the show has been moved to a nearby racetrack, due to not being able to get a crane into the stadium, which we need to build the show. Elsewhere in the world this might constitute a crisis, but nobody here seems particularly bothered by this change of plan. Its hot. Very hot. Many of the crew guys are unrecognisable from their last appearance in Seattle, being rested and bright pink from the day's sun. Three people ended up being carted away suffering from sun stroke, so the lesson seems to be to take it steady.

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