22 June 2001
Show Day: New Jersey - Continental Airlines Arena, Show 2
I have a very early departure from the hotel tomorrow, so I did all my packing this morning. As things stand I could well be one of the USA's leading exporters of dirty laundry. The drive out to the venue-formerly-known-as-the-Meadowlands was brutal, being Friday afternoon traffic and all. Still nothing could dampen the enthusiasm in the air - half term is upon us, so spirits and silly jokes were high.
I received a mild reprimand from Polly Harvey, as at Madison Square Garden, in a fit of spontaneous creative lunacy I cut out a six foot long cardboard fish and waved it about in the mosh pit during her set in the song "Down By The Water". She burst out laughing, which was less than entirely appropriate during a song about (I think) somebody's wayward daughter who becomes a hooker and drowns herself. I don't think she was really cross, but it would perhaps be best not to repeat the exercise.
After dinner I was privileged to experience the most surreal moment of my year to date. I was making a cup of tea, grumbling to myself that I was having to utilise the tea-bag-in-polystyrene-cup method, the Limoges china having been packed away. Just as I was giving the bag that final squeeze and manoeuvering it onto a plastic spoon and into the rubbish bin by the doorway, I looked up and saw Bill Clinton, standing right there in the corridor just outside. Our eyes met momentarily then he beamed and pumped my arm warmly before moving on. 'Gobsmacked' doesn't even come close. Turns out he was just one name on a spectacular guest list. At various points during the show, Bono welcomed various guests when appropriate and I did wonder if the audience would eventually start to think he was just having them on - the Beastie Boys and two thirds of R.E.M. may have sounded believable, but when we got to Kofi Annan and William Jefferson Clinton plausibility might understandably begin to wane. It was probably just as well he didn't mention Caroline Kennedy. They were all there though, jammed onto the guest platform in front of me at the mix position, along with more secret service agents than you could shake a stick at. Bill and Chelsea Clinton stayed for the whole show. It was indescribably bizarre to look at this extraordinary man, with a face so absurdly familiar. It was hard to comprehend that this was happening live.
We had a lot of fun tonight with a few surprises thrown in. Danny Lanois made a guest appearance on a couple of songs and the band even played "Wild Honey" for the first time, closing this first leg of the Elevation Tour on a real high. Its been, in short, fantastic. Fifty shows without a single dud.
Are we feeling just a teeny bit proud of ourselves? You bet we are.