26 March 2001
Show day: Fort Lauderdale - National Car Rental Center
Second show days are traditionally pretty tough, as the tsunami of adrenaline that got everyone through opening night has ebbed and the gigantic flaws in the production start to become apparent. That's the usual way of things at least but today had only the slightest flavour of it. The reviews of Saturday's show have been gushing and wildly positive, which certainly helps any day go with a swing, so the mood was still well up when everyone regrouped at the venue for soundcheck and further run throughs. The Corrs opened again and there were still a lot of guests and friends at the gig which is always nice. Simon Mayo came in from London and Martin Wroe has been here helping to launch the next phase of U2.COM. It's been fun to have them all here.
The show was great, apparently, the general feeling being that the band's performance was, if anything, superior to opening night. I, however, had a complete dog of a gig as right before show time one of the video cameras ceased to function leaving me with a blank screen. The concept for the camera coverage of the band on this tour is somewhat radical in its own quiet way. I have become really tired of the standard rock show method of having video screens showing close ups of the band which are cut, edited and switched like a VH-1 music special. It's such a distraction, because, as with any situation where a human being is in the presence of a television set, it's impossible keep your eyes off the screen for any length of time. (This of course was the entire premise of the Zoo TV tour, but that was 1992 and it was a different world back then).
For the Elevation tour I proposed that we make the camera coverage (or 'I-Mag' as its known in the biz being short for 'image magnification') as simple and unobtrusive as possible. The idea is to have four screens above the stage - good old fashioned video rear-projection - then have four cameras in the house. Each camera is dedicated to one band member and the picture goes directly to one of the screens for the whole night. That's it. This removes the presence of a 'director' between the band and the audience - I'm talking to the camera operators and keeping them vaguely in check, but essentially there's no-one in the way making decisions as to what the audience should see at any given moment. All four close ups are there all the time if you want them, but you can be confident that if you do something as bold as watch the show on stage for a while, you won't be missing anything vital on TV. There's a minimum of fuss and certainly no video art going on up there. I have been extremely pleased with the way it worked out during rehearsals and on the opening night, so you'll understand why it was such a blow to lose a camera for the whole show.....the embarrassing blank screen.
I did what I could to make sure the band members all got fair coverage on the remaining screens, but this then became the focus of my whole night which made it really hard work and no fun at all. Of course, 90% of the audience probably didn't notice anything wrong and 90% of those that did probably didn't realise it was a mistake, so in global terms it was, I suppose, a relatively minor catastrophe. But I was not a happy camper I have to tell you. The audience clearly loved the show though, which is arguably the point of coming here, so we remain unbroken and ready to fight another day.
Back at the Hotel Delano on Miami Beach there was yet another full-on event happening out by the pool bar with the night air pounding from a string of extraordinarily loud parties up and down the beach. There really should be an upper limit put on how many DJs are allowed to occupy any given amount of square footage...