29 March 2001
Show day: Charlotte, North Carolina - Coliseum
A couple of days later we re-emerge from our beds, blinking in the sunlight. There has been a Dance Music Convention in Miami Beach this past long weekend, which explains the ludicrous level of party-going which has surrounded us. We've been staying in the Delano, which is always a scene beyond scenes anyway, so the arrival of the whole of London has pushed it to caricature proportions. I hate to sound like somebody's dad, but I was staggered by the 24 hour volume of noise coming from inside and outside the hotel. I did retaliate to some extent, though, having found this fantastic CD called 'Stroboscopica' which is from some mad Italian record label and sounds like a groovy Peter Sellars movie soundtrack remixed in Twin Peaks. We had that cranking a few times.
I was feeling slightly blurred this morning, having been forced to stay up late and drink alcohol by Catherine Owens our video & projection artist who heads home today. Her current favourite tipple is a 'Side Car' (look it up) and by 3am we were feeling particularly 'Side-Carred', I have to say. Catherine has been involved with creating U2 visuals since Zoo TV and her role has gradually expanded with each tour. This time she has made / found / commissioned / discovered some very interesting work for the show. Most of it is abstract textural material which really becomes part of the lighting.
Obviously we spent a lot of time in discussion with the band about the nature of the visual content for this show. With the visual track record that U2 shows have it was a real challenge to find a way of pushing forward rather than repeating what they've done in the past. This is particularly important in 2001 because every other concert you go to now uses big video screens full of meaningless imagery - basically ZOO TV has annexed the entire live music industry. The equipment is far more affordable these days and every singer has a mate with a DV cam who'll go and shoot a bunch of footage to baffle the audience. But its time to move on. Given that this U2 album is so generous and art-concept-free, looking toward texture and abstraction seemed to make a lot of sense to us.
The flight from Miami to Charlotte was a bit of a trauma. It was our maiden voyage on the tour plane - a 727 with a very spiffy paint job, 'Elevation Air' with the heart in a suitcase logo on the tail plane. We were delayed forever and the weather was extremely rough which made take off pretty interesting. I was sitting next to Amanda, our tour press co-ordinator and just as we hit maximum G force I felt this curious falling sensation. For reasons beyond comprehension the pair of seats we were sitting in wasn't bolted to the floor of the plane, so as the plane banked higher we very gently keeled over backwards and landed on top of Daniel Lanois who was sitting behind us. The G force kept us pinned to the floor and in any case we were strapped into the now horizontal seats, so none of us could move. It was more than a little frightening, but our security guys came to the rescue and mercifully no one was hurt. It did give a man cause to wonder if there were any other bits of the plane not bolted down and that was before Gavin Friday pulled the toilet door off its hinges... "Carry On Touring" here we come.
We did finally arrive in Charlotte and got to the venue about ten minutes before doors opened so it was all a bit of a mad panic. However, despite all of the above I really enjoyed the show. The crowd had a really peaceful vibe... I mean they made loads of noise and jumped up and down and all that good stuff, but there was a great spirit in the place. And I had four cameras again which made me very happy. The show is starting to develop a personality of its own now, I look forward to watching it develop.
We did a runner after the show (i.e. the band went straight from the stage into cars to the airfield and back onto the plane) and headed for Atlanta. It's amazing really - it took us six hours to get to Charlotte and we only stayed there for five hours in total. Yes, we're moving now. Arrived in Atlanta in the wee small hours...