18 September 1997
Rome show - Safety first.
Rome show - Safety first. Italian tours are great, but security is a nightmare.
O.K., here comes Italy, hold on to your hats. U2 shows in this country have always been extraordinary, as far back as I can remember. Playing tents or car-parks, they have the most intense atmospheres imaginable.
Today we get to play in Rome. (Not a tent, not a car park, but at an airport, which makes a change). There's only one road in and out of the venue, which makes for the kind of situations our security team have nightmares over. There are a total of five security people traveling with the PopMart tour. One travels with the advance crew party, liaising with the building management and giving instructions to the 200 - 250 local security people and stewards at the venue. The rules laid down are simple. No one gets hurt and the audience must be treated with respect. Sometimes firmly and with respect, but always remembering that 'these people pay our wages'. Without the ticket-buying audience, none of this would be possible.. This a fact which U2 have always been very aware of.
The remaining four security guys travel with the band. As well as overseeing crowd control during the show, their responsibilities include dealing with all the necessary vehicles to get the band and management personnel (about 25 people) into and out of the building. On days like today, this may take a good deal of strategy. Its not a question of the band wanting to avoid contact with the fans, in situations like today there's a real concern for safety - both the band's and the audience's. With an attendance of 60,000 today and only one way in and out of the area, things could get out of hand too easily. There will usually be a police escort laid on to help get the vehicles through, but given some of the legendary Italian police escorts of the Zoo TV tour, there's no guarantee that this will be any more of a help than it is a hindrance.