POPMART Leg 4: 1998, South America


The Grammys, Los Angeles

The 7am start was shockingly unrockandroll, but its generally regarded as a good idea to arrive at the venue prior to the band. (The Edge was coming in early as he had an extracurricular activity for his Music Rising charity which had a feature slot on the Grammy show.) My van companions were equally underwhelmed by the early start but putting a brave face on it, though it did require an emergency coffee stop en route. I was most amused to find I could sit in the van outside and get online via the coffeeshops WiFi, whilst Steve conducted an international conference call. It was all a bit 21st century.

On arrival at Staples Center the madness was in full swing. Security was a circus, metal detectors, bag searches and large men with ear pieces. We waited in the queue, then once I got to bag-search the security automaton found my little pocket camera. 'Im sorry sir, theres no cameras allowed.' Err..Im with U2. 'Sir, youre going to have to put this in your car.' Err...I dont have a car. 'Well sir, you cant come in with this, there are no cameras allowed.' Err..but what about every cell phone in the building? 'Im sorry sir, Im going to have to ask you to stand over here.' There were now three of them going at me and they were starting to get quite large. I explain Im with U2, I have no intention of photographing anybody and my band is about to do their rehearsal so Id better be there. 'Im sorry sir.etc., etc.' Ive learned the hard way that there is absolutely no point in reasoning with this breed, so was just thinking Id have to go to plan B when I saw Bono arriving with his security guy, coming through the crowd, right past me, about to enter the building. I gave his shoulder a squeeze and slipped the camera into his pocket as he breezed through the metal detector and disappeared inside unharrassed. Trying to keep a straight face I turned back to the wall of grumpy security guys whod witnessed the whole thing. 'Thank you gentlemen, I no longer have a camera.'

The technical rehearsal - a full run through of the whole show - was a vast improvement on yesterday, as wed hoped and expected. We then only had four hours to kill before the show went live on air. I hung out, met lots of people I knew, caught up with friends and even managed to slip out for a bite to eat. There are 108 Grammy awards but only a dozen or so are televised. The rest, including such fabulous categories as 'Best Polka album' and 'Best Spanish Language Spoken Word Spoken Word Album', are given out at another ceremony preceding the main one. The TV show got underway at 5pm by which time U2 had already picked up Grammys for 'Sometimes' and 'City of Blinding Lights. U2s performance went well, so all were pleased and relieved and we even started to relax just a little. Bruce and I sat on chairs in the backstage corridor for a while to watch the melee, which was highly entertaining. So many famous faces passed back and forth, it was really quite surreal. One that I recognised was Rolan Bolan, son of Marc Bolan. Id never met him before but felt compelled to shake his hand and say hello, as T.Rex were my number one teen idols. Rolan was extremely nice and was wearing a T.Rex t-shirt to bring a little of his dad to the ceremony. It was a big moment for me.

As you will already know, by the end of the night U2 had picked up five Grammy Awards including Best Album which is the big one. It sounds predictable and unlikely to say so, but the band genuinely didnt expect to win. The competition was so strong and the Atomic Bomb album has been out for over a year so it seemed unlikely that theyd get it, which made the winning all the sweeter. It was great to watch them. There was much rejoicing (though sadly U2 was overlooked yet again in the Best Polka category.)

Everyone went out to party the night away, but I bailed. By the time I got back to the hotel I was the living dead. I havent stopped running since I landed at LAX on Monday. Im still punch drunk with jet lag and Im going to Mexico tomorrow. But other than that...

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