Sydney. Show 1.
The Olympic stadium is a bit of a schlep from downtown Sydney, so I took an early bus in with the lampies to give myself plenty of time. The band came in for a soundcheck and to run through a couple of new (or rather, a couple of old) songs, with a view to getting them into the show at some point. I€™ve been wanting them to work up All I Want is You for a while, as it€™s a song often €˜snippeted€™ (to use the fan-site parlance) but rarely played in full since the LoveTown tour, where it was first performed.
The Edge arrived first and, as usual, spent some time on stage getting his sounds together. This is a very real additional element for him when playing a song that hasn€™t been aired for a while. I guess most musicians would reconstruct a song by recalling the words and the music, but with Edge it€™s the words, the musical structure and the sounds themselves that have to be recalled, or even completely remade in some cases.
They ran All I Want is You a couple of times, figuring out an arrangement and a structure. There is something absolutely magical about those empty, opening guitar chords and it was extremely uplifting to hear the song being played, being rebuilt. Towards the end of the second run, Bono went off at a bit of a tangent and out of nowhere started singing Love Rescue Me over the final chords, still hanging in the air. The other guys joined in and carried on, building to a full rendition of this song also €“ a song that certainly hasn€™t seen the light of day since LoveTown.
I confess that I got quite excited about this and, instead of moving on to run through Boy Falls From the Sky as had been the plan, I asked them to play the whole thing a second time, both songs and the segue. I think I felt that if they did it a second time it would solidify it in some way, so it would be easier to recapture it later.
By the time they€™d done this, 5.30pm had come and gone. The building managers were straining at the leash to open the doors and let the punters in, so all the musicians left the stage except for Bono who was still noodling with something. I could feel the security guys starting to twitch a little. €œDon€™t worry,€ I joked, €œthe audience won€™t see him because they would never imagine he€™d be standing on the stage when they come in.€ Bono did leave the stage, but walking across the field to the exit tunnel he ran into Toby, the 360 site co-ordinator, and stopped to talk to his little girl. At this point the doors opened and the first members of the audience came stampeding in (actually, briskly walking, as they€™re asked not to run for obvious safety reasons). I always love watching the audience arrive, watching their faces as they see the massive stage structure for the first time in the flesh (in the steel?) The people come in utterly focussed on making a bee-line for the stage, the inner circle, the favoured places. Utterly focussed - so focussed in fact, that they€™ll pretty much ignore anything in their path - even if it happens to be the singer of the band they€™ve come to see. I kid you not, about two hundred people ran straight past me, Toby, his daughter and Bono as we stood at the edge of the field. We exchanged glances and then, cool as you like, Bono €“ the invisible man €“ strolled off down the tunnel and headed to the dressing room.
It was a great show tonight with a roll call of celebrity guests and friends... Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban, Cate Blanchett, Baz Luhrmann, even Oprah Winfrey and the 300 members of her TV audience. A top night was had by all.