14 August 2001
Show Day: Birmingham - N.E.C., Show One
There was a time when the N.E.C. was universally acknowledged as the best venue in Europe. Nowadays it seems incredibly tiny, at least by arena standards, so it was a hell of a squash to get all the gear in there. On the up side, it made for a genuinely intimate feeling for the show, prompting Bono to comment from stage that he was enjoying being able to see the audience even right at the back of the hall.
I had a bit of a wild night. I have four cameras set up in the venue which we use to convey the close up pictures of the band members onto the four video screens above the stage. It's something of a unique approach, having one screen dedicated to each band member for the whole show, but I have been very pleased with the way it has worked out. Tonight, however, we hit a bit of a snag which was undetectable until the show started. Two of the cameras were placed on flown platforms, kind of cradle-like things, suspended from the ceiling at the outside edges of the building. For stability (so we thought) the cradles had been lashed to the seating bleachers at the sides of the hall, which worked wonderfully well until thousands of people started jumping up and down. There's often a bit of movement in the building, but this was absurd and of course resulted in camera pictures which looked like they were being shot from a nearby roller coaster. The audience must have been baffled - two perfectly still images flanked by "pogostick cam". For a while I thought we were hooped, but our brave Belgian emergency rescue team leapt into the breach and managed to cut the cradles free from the seating and strap them to the wall. That was a little too exciting for my liking.