20 July 2011
'Tailgate'Giants Stadium. Show day.
The Meadowlands is an area of New Jersey, just across the Hudson river from Manhattan, that is home to two venues, one indoor, one outdoor. Between these two buildings U2 have done 24 shows at the Meadowlands, which must make it one of the most played areas in their history (rock anoraks of the world, feel free to speak up). Giants Stadium is here and, even though in New Jersey, for rock and roll purposes it usually functions as the New York gig. The stadium has been completely rebuilt since we were here in 2009 and they’ve done a good job with it. It’s high, with a complete wrap of seating that suits our show very well. Not too much intrusion from corporate boxes and suites, it looks good.
Getting to and from Meadowlands from Manhattan is a nightmare. There’s really no pleasant way to do it, so I decided to beat the rush and head over there very early. Also, I’d agreed to meet with some people from ‘PRG’ the company that has supplied the lighting equipment for the U2360 tour. Their HQ is close to the stadium and they have a new lighting fixture that they’re about to unleash so I said I’d take a look and give them some feedback, being the top-flight industry professional that I am.
It was brutally hot by noon so it was pleasant to sit in an air-conditioned, darkened room for an hour, watching this clever new stage light being put through its paces. (“But does it make tea?”, etc.) From there to the stadium and getting all my ducks in a row for the evening. The band members arrived in ones and twos, so I collared each of them to see what the feeling was on what they might want to put in the set list. There were some different opinions on what we might add or drop from the show so in the end the best compromise seemed to be to just play everything. This left us with the longest set list of the tour (possibly ever) but we won’t be in this neck of the woods again for a while, so why not?
A funny thing happened when I was sitting in the dressing room. Earlier in the day I took possession of a 'Jawbone' speaker which, if you haven’t seen one, is really worth checking out on line. It’s a very small, powerful speaker-amp made of rubber, all very minimally designed and completely wireless. It’ll run from your computer or your phone without any apparent connection to anything (it’s witchcraft!) and sounds great. I’d just taken it out of the box and had been having a look at it in the dressing room when Bono arrived. 'Don’t you love the 21st century?' I said, showing it to him, then (I thought) I switched it off and stuffed it into my bag. A few minutes later, as we’re getting into the set-list conversation, my bag starts making announcements. 'Power is now low!', it shouted, embarrassingly loudly. 'Please recharge battery!', it asked, firmly. I had a go at turning it off but it wasn’t having it. 'Just excuse me for a second,' I said sheepishly and tossed my bag down the hallway where it continued to bark at passers-by.
All duties executed, I headed out into the parking lot to see if I could locate some friends who were having a ‘tailgate’. For the non-Americans, this is a tradition of holding a pre-show barbecue out in the car park and is the staple of sport and entertainment events country-wide. They can be really fun, especially when a lot of people are doing it. Music systems are set up, sports and games are played and of course vast quantities of food and drink consumed. Rather astonishingly I actually managed to find my friends in the acres of car parking outside the stadium and enjoyed a brief break from the routine of the day.
The show itself went well and looked fantastic in the new stadium. This is the last stadium that we’ll play which has a complete, unbroken line of high seating surround the pitch, so I was very aware that this was the last time I’d see the Claw in absolutely ideal circumstances. It’s such a beautiful thing, especially With or Without You and the mirrorball moment to end all mirrorball moments…