Feb
21
2006

Show Day, Sao Paulo

Bono announced in his best Portuguese that last night was a gig for the whole of Brazil, but tonights show was our private little party. It felt that way too. After the pressure of last night it was great to just do a show. (OK, so we did have one little camera crane with a 3D camera on it, but other than that). It was a warm night with no threat of rain, so just before the show Bruce, Smasher and I decided to pull the side coverings off our mix position so we could see the audience and feel like we were in amongst it all. This turned out to be a great call as the crowd was well up for it and sang their hearts out from the opening City of Bling all the way through to the closing All I Want is You.

Back at the hotel I faced something of a dilemma. It was half past midnight and I had to leave for the airport at 5am. Either I could go to my room and pack, catch maybe three hours sleep then get up feeling like death or I could go to the bar. On reflection it was a no-brainer. The bar was jumping. Bono arrived with Naomi Campbell and Quincy Jones in tow and the place was packed with the great and good of Sao Paulo. I felt pretty good and cruised through till 3.30am when I thought Id better go upstairs and pack. This I did, plus showered, got into my pyjamas and.went to the lobby. I was due to have two travelling companions but Ned bailed on me at about 3am and Bruces passport was still at the Japanese Embassy in Sao Paulo so he wasnt going anywhere.

Its quite a way to the airport, so there was light in the sky by the time I got there. Shades on. Continuing its performance from our arrival, Sao Paulo airports bedside manner was fairly traumatic, with lengthy check in procedure, security line and passport control. As if to outdo our entry, the passport control hall was filled with a huge queue but there was just one guy - really just one guy - in the booth to stamp everybody out. Understandably he wasnt in great humour and his mood plummeted further when he asked for my emigration form, given to me, apparently, on arrival. I didnt have one. Its fair to say I dont remember that much about our arrival, other than the huge queue and eventually getting swept off with our group through some side entrance, but being given a form to hand in when leaving the country? Not a breeze. I explained that Id arrived with a group and I didnt think Id filled in a form but he was having none of that. 'You must give me the form.' But Im sure I never had one. 'You mean you lost it?' No, I just dont think I ever had one, I arrived with a group and 'You had one and you wont get anywhere until you tell me you lost it.' OK, I lost it. 'I dont like your attitude.' Im sorry, but I am extremely tired and cant do anything about this. 'Stand there.' So I am duly sent to stand in Naughty Corner round the side of his booth, whilst he serves some other passengers. I then notice that I am not entirely alone, there are a few other people being put through various rituals of humiliation at the behest of the Brazilian control freak. After five minutes I make a return bid. I say Im sorry I have definitely lost it and could he let me know what I need to do. 'You need to have it or you will be fined and I can make you go to the back of the line and maybe you will miss your flight.' I went back to Naughty Corner for a further five minutes and came up with two possible last resort plans. Plan A, to make a run for it. Plan B, to go back the way I came in, check into the airport motel, sleep for about twelve hours then come back and have another go. Finally I went back to the counter, and without a word, Mr Congeniality grabbed my passport, furiously stamped it, flung it back at me and sent me on my way. Have a nice day.

The flight was pretty brutal. An hours delay on board before take off, endless circling holding patterns before landing, sitting on the tarmac waiting for a set of steps for an eternity then baggage-claim taking forever. But finally I emerged and found a friendly taxi driver to take me to my hotel.

Despite being a shell of a man at this point, I couldnt help but feel my spirits lifted at being in Buenos Aires. It looked so green, which sounds daft as we were screaming down a freeway in a little taxi which threatened to vibrate itself into spare parts at any moment, but the sky was wide open, the sun was hot and the air felt clear. I suppose some places just resonate for different people and this is one for me. A lot of people (including many in our touring party) rave about Brazil and I understand that its possible to have a good time there but somehow its never done it for me, though of course Ive only ever been on tour. If its any consolation, I think my experience has improved each time Ive visited since the first time with David Bowie in 1990 which was catastrophic. But personally I cant say its ever been what youd describe as fun.

My driver indicated via sign language that he needed to stop for petrol, so who was I to argue ? He asked me to get out of the car while he filled up and when I did so my phone rang. It was Bruce, 'Where are you, buddy?', Im in a gas station in Argentina...where are you? Mad life.

Logic tells me I must have arrived at the hotel, but I honestly dont remember checking in. Must have been about 2pm and never was I happier to go face down in the duvet.

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