16 November 2005
Show day, Adelaide.
Bruce went in for his angiogram at 11am, then called me just as we were boarding the plane at Sydney Airport, to tell me the glorious news that his 'heart complaint' had turned out to be pericarditis - exactly the virus that Bono had talked about, which inflames the membrane around the heart to mimic the symptoms of a heart attack. So, aside from been wrecked with exhaustion, Bruce is absolutely fine and will be discharged either today or tomorrow. I made an announcement over the aeroplane tannoy to let everyone know, and there was much rejoicing.
Flying into a city and straight to the venue on show day is always a bit of a mad run around, but today took it to a whole new level. Bruce is AOK, but clearly wasnt going to make the show in Adelaide tonight, which meant we had about two hours to figure out how to run the lighting system without him. Enter Craig, one of our long-term lighting techs, who has a good knowledge of where everything is in the lighting console. He doesnt necessarily know the cues, however, as he spends most of the gigs behind the stage, which is arguably not the best vantage point from which to learn a show. C21st lighting desks are a riot of flexible software, which can be entirely reconfigured to suit the individual user. Consequently, running a show from a console set up and programmed by another person is much akin to wearing someone elses trousers. You may be able to squeeze into them but its bound to feel uncomfortable.
In order to spread the load, I volunteered to call the cues for the 18 followspot operators, whilst helping Craig with the lighting cue points. Smasher is pretty self-sufficient in terms of running the video content, though there are a couple of new pieces which he might need help with, so I arranged to be able to push the button with my left big toe when required.
The last time U2 did a show without Bruce was Mexico City in 1993, so this was going to be an interesting experiment. Consequently, I havent called followspot cues for a U2 show since then, but the riding-a-bike principle kicked in and it all came flooding back. Between us all we did a sterling job, I reckon, and its safe to say that the show ran pretty much to plan. By the end of the show, in the knowledge that Bruce was perfectly healthy, it actually became quite fun, even though we were all exhausted by the end of the show. The only real car crash was 'Stuck in a Moment' where Smasher had got through all his video cues by the time the rest of us were only on the second verse, but Im still saying no-one would have noticed.
The only real downer for me was at the end of Kite when some tosser in the audience grabbed hold of the kite string. As the band came to the end of the show and took their bows, said tosser slowly pulled the string in, so the kite sank slowly, humiliatingly and embarrassingly back to earth where its probably now on eBay. It only takes one to spoil it for the whole class.