POPMART Leg 1: 1997, North America


Show Day, Santiago

26 February 2006
Show Day, Santiago
The alarm went off a little earlier than I would have liked and I got up to face my commute to work. Bit of an odd one today as my commute was from Argentina to Chile and back, including the most picturesque view of the Andes, with a stadium gig thrown in. I cant imagine I'll ever have another time in my life when Ill fly over the Andes twice in one day. Commendably rock & roll if not terribly eco-friendly.

I would have liked to have spent more time in Santiago, but circumstances conspired for me to only have the briefest of visits this time round, being in the country for slightly less than 11 hours. The band had had a busy old day, what with meeting the outgoing president Ricardo Lagos in the morning then receiving an award from the incoming president, Michelle Bachelet, in the afternoon.

This venue brings with it an enormous amount of baggage, having been used extensively as a torture prison by Pinochet in the 70s & 80s: imagine playing a show at Guantanamo Bay and youre somewhere close. The promoters do a sterling job of brightening the place up, but the ghosts are still there. Ive been here a few times and being short of time today the buildings history was the furthest thing from my mind. All the same, I involuntarily found myself extremely and uncharacteristically tense - I didnt even notice till Frances felt it coming off me and asked what was up. Hopefully someday soon Chile will get its own new national stadium and put this place to rest.

The gig, however, was stupendous, one of the best of the tour. We pulled the sides off the mix position again so we could be amongst the people and I loved it. Earlier, at about 7pm, The Edge was handed a charango, a small, lute-like ten stringed instrument which is native to these parts. The fact he didnt even know how to tune it, even less play it, didnt stop him from noodling around on it, in the way that he does. By show-time he had something figured out, then he and Bono came out after the encore break and performed 'Mothers of the Disappeared' on charango and vocal. Most impressive, very moving and it brought the house down, so any ancient bad vibe was undoubtedly conquered, at least temporarily.

After the show we did a runner back to Buenos Aires. Getting from the mix position to backstage was an adventure as the place was absolutely heaving. In the end, the best route involved leaving the stadium entirely through a side tunnel then running around the outside of the building. Late flight, late night.

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