POPMART Leg 5: 1998, Australia, Japan, South Africa


'The gypsy life'

Milan. Show 2.

Slightly odd morning in that I checked out of the hotel not knowing where I would sleep tonight. The band are doing a runner back to Nice right after the show, but I was planning to head straight to Paris as there are the last few staging pieces arriving, post-modification. However, word came through that my presence might be required at a creative meeting in Nice tomorrow, so perhaps I should go with the band tonight. In order to hedge my bets, I took all of my luggage with me giving me the freedom to head to Paris, Nice or back to the Milan hotel depending on how the day panned out. Ah, the gypsy life.

The band wanted to soundcheck today, so I headed in to San Siro about noon to make sure I beat them there. I was delighted to learn that the high pylon mirrorball had dried out and come back to life and that the weather was due to stay dry. They did their sound check, after which we had a dressing room huddle to go over a few parts of the show which require some work. The show is generally in very good shape (remarkably so this early in a tour) but like all U2 shows, it will grow and develop over the course of time, so I guess we're just getting on it early.

Tonight's show felt the best so far with everything feeling tighter somehow. It's a little odd to play across a stadium, so I imagine it was just more comfortable for the guys tonight, having had one show to get used to it. 'Stuck in a Moment' appeared for the first time - never an absolute favourite of mine on the Elevation Tour, if I'm brutally honest, but in a new acoustic arrangement I found myself really enjoying it. I find it really interesting how songs fare from tour to tour and how the way that I feel about them varies greatly depending on their context. I wasn't exactly campaigning to have Sunday Bloody Sunday in this show, not having particularly enjoyed that song live since about '83, but in it's new incarnation it's starting to become a highlight. During the show I got the word that there was no Nice meeting so I was cleared to go to Paris. It's a moment-by-moment thing out here...

Thursday 9th July 2009. Milan to Paris.

Took an afternoon flight to Paris and found the entire backline crew also on board. The tour buses were due to arrive in Milan, but apparently theirs didn't so they'll try again in Paris. As the tour is well underway now, I'll tell you a funny story concerning the chambermaids at one of the hotels. It had very nice rooms featuring marble bathrooms with extraordinarily large showers. In the oversized shower cubicle was a very large ceiling rose which discharged a satisfying amount of water, plus a hand-held shower thingy for rinsing yourself with. The hand-held part was parked in a clip on the wall facing the door, and the water flow between the two was controlled by a lever next to the tap, with which you could choose one or the other. Now, I never experienced this personally, but several of our touring party mentioned that they were consistently being assaulted by the hand-held shower. They'd open the glass shower door and turn on the tap, at which point a jet of freezing water would shoot out of the hand-held unit and hit them in the face. Consistently, the shower was being left with the water flow directed to the hand-held unit, which in turn was being left in its holder and aimed directly at the door. It was happening far too frequently to be coincidence and it seemed unlikely that it was hotel policy, but then we realised all the people who were experiencing the shower assault were on the same floor. Shivers descended our spines as we realised that they were facing the ultimate nightmare nemesis... the Rogue Chambermaid. Put me up against an army of Ninjas any day, rather than having to take on the faceless terror which is Housekeeping With A Grudge. They have your room key. They are amongst your belongings at their most vulnerable, with the casual ability to make your life subtly miserable at their leisure. Don't even think about what they could do with your toothbrush.

After three days of continual shower attacks, one member of our party, (who should best remain nameless) decided to fight back and on departure constructed a booby trap. The massive bathroom leading to a separate toilet, was to be the scene of the sting. Scattering some decoy items on the floor to distract the Rogue Maids attention, our hero balanced a rolled up sopping wet towel on top of the door, which was left ajar. The door is pushed open and... splat. Marvellously puerile entertainment for the weary traveller. There's no punchline of course, as we can't know what happened, but it does bring to mind all sorts of possibilities, not least a series of racy paperback novels along the lines of 'When Good Maids Go Bad', or 'Feral Housekeepers Take Manhattan'.

OK, OK, I'll stop. Just rambling, and anyway we've just started our descent into Paris Charles de Gaulle.

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