Vertigo Leg 1: 2005, US


'Speeding on the Subway...'

30 August 2010
'Speeding on the Subway...'
Vienna.  Show day.

Oh dear.  I had a series of very strange dreams in the night (the details of which I'll spare you) but when I awoke around 6am, it was clear what was going on - last night's spaghetti frutti di mare was being summarily rejected by every part of my physical being.  I haven't had food poisoning for a long time and I am reminded why it is so named.  Aside from being sick, I really felt poisoned - debilitatingly so.

It was raining off and on and I was a complete zombie, so consequently it ended up feeling like a really long day.  We don't have any tour buses at present, as everyone is flying these very long distances, so there was just nowhere I could go to curl up and die for a while.  I made a few attempts to find places to hide and in the end Sarah from the security office (which for some reason is called 'Moose Lodge' on the 360 tour) took pity on me and basically made me a little nest in the corner where I could at least close my eyes.

As evening fell the rain eased off but the temperature plummeted, so in tandem with feeling like death warmed up it was also bloody freezing.  I'm sure we must have done colder shows at some point in the past, but it was the sudden extreme drop in temperature that took everyone by surprise, to such a degree that it was quite disorientating.  Out at front of house during the show, the lads were going through all the flight cases to try to find something - anything - warm to wear.  It must have been rough for the audience - first wet and now frozen - but once the gig started they rose to the occasion.  The place was packed (in fact we broke the house attendance record at the stadium, apparently) and despite the cold we definitely achieved lift off.

There were a couple of technical issues from the wet and cold (and in truth some were a hangover from the absolute deluge in Moscow) but it was quite gratifying to note the extent to which the bulk of the equipment just kept going.  Remembering PopMart where the giant LED screen would develop spontaneous Technicolor starfields when it got wet, this system seems to be in a different league altogether.  Of course the proposition of building one of the largest and most sophisticated 'son-et-lumiere' systems ever devised,  then standing it outside, without a roof, in the pouring rain is still completely insane, but at least it seems we€™re getting better at it.

By the time we reached the end of With or Without You I was seeing double, so I decided to do my own runner back to the hotel and go to bed.  It seemed that the path of least resistance would be to just take the U2 line train from outside the stadium, so I headed through the crowd to the nearest exit.  Some people were already leaving to beat the rush, to find the car, to relieve the babysitter, or whatever other reason.  As U2 played Moment of Surrender inside the stadium, everybody outside was singing along.  I walked alongside them, into the station, up the escalators, onto the platform, into the train...  I was speeding on the subway, through the stations of the cross... even as the train departed some people continued til the song was done and the energy of the show dissipated all over Vienna.

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12 September, 2010
You did notice the passers-by
Dear Willie, it must have been very difficult to work under such bad conditions due to this Austrian weather, but you did some amazing work. The whole 360 production including lights and video screens was gorgeous and all the visuals were perfectly suitable for the music of U2. As a fan I worried about the heavy rainfall in the morning, but when I started waiting in the queue it stopped raining and luckily nothing got wet during the show. A few days before the concert there was summer temperature, but on August 30th it was incredibly cold (like in late October). For me it was necessary to wear a shirt, a pullover, a vest and a jacket. But when U2 started playing I did not freeze anymore, because my favourite band always heats the atmosphere. And after the concert I went home by the U2 line of course!
10 September, 2010
Every eye looking every other way...
Aaaww poor Willie... you guys need to take better care of yourselves! You work with some amazing people, and sure the show could have gone on one night without you! And btw, that part of MOS is probably my favourite in the whole album, hits home big time.
09 September, 2010
Dear Willie, I already had a lot of respect for the work of all you guys, but your report of the show in my home country Austria just brought home again what you all go through on tour. I know how awful the condition you were in feels, but you had important work to do and didn't chicken out. You're a true hero, man! :-) Your mentioning of the crowd singing outside up to the U2 subway line (yeah, that's fun, isn't it?) just summs up the whole evening for me - pure joy (I stayed inside until the band left the stage). Keep your diary coming. I looooove it!!! :-)
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