May
15
2001

Show Day: Chicago - United Center, 3rd night

After Sunday's show, and indeed during Sunday's show, I realised again the enormous benefit that a well placed dose of chaos can bring to a gig. When you're playing gigs night after night, one off the hardest things on any tour is to stop a show from settling down. It's always the case; on any tour with any artist, no matter how much you talk about spontaneity and looseness, a show seems to project an enormous gravitational force, pulling everyone involved towards a fixed, repeatable course. There are some benefits to regularity, of course, (like everybody knowing what the hell's going on) but with it comes the biggest threat to any live show - the danger of slipping into a comfortable routine.

Well, whether it was by chance or by design, tonight's gig not only bucked this trend, but also let us discover some new things. About 30 minutes before show time, the band decided to add '11 O'clock Tick Tock' which would, of course, be completely unrehearsed, but what could possibly go wrong? In the event, I guess The Edge's guitar tech, Dallas, hadn't got the message because he handed Edge a guitar in a completely different tuning, designed for some other number entirely. When the band rocked into the song, some of us did think it a little brave that they appeared to be attempting to cover a Sonic Youth number mid-show, then the whole thing ground to a halt. A quick guitar switch sorted this out and they just ripped into '11 O'clock', followed by spontaneously tearing into 'Out of Control', and straight into 'Sunday'. It was a fifteen minute punk rock interlude which left this former northern punk breathless. Everything was more edgy tonight and I was loving it, feeling that after a long run of extremely good, technically very proficient shows, we had at last recaptured the abandoned spirit of some of the early gigs like Atlanta and San Jose.

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