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

Jun
18
2005

Twickenham Rugby Stadium

Whilst we slept, the Summer has arrived in force. I love Summer in London, despite it being a sticky, uncomfortable shambles. Similarly with the first snowfall of the year, any mildly accentuated weather conditions here are greeted with amazement, as if such a thing had never happened before. At once, the entire infrastructure of the capital collapses. Traffic and public transport grind to a halt, shops sell out of ice cream by lunchtime, air-conditioning units break, refrigeration devices throw a sulk and malfunction whilst the parks are littered with office workers sprawled in their underwear. Amid the chaos however, an air of triumphant celebration hovers over the city. At last! Its here! The seemingly endless grey has relented and we shall turn pink in unison. Work? As if! Pub pavements are impassable, lidos overflow, trains to Brighton are packed to capacity. This is our time and theres no telling how soon it will be snatched away from us so nothing shall distract us from our leisure.

I nipped out this morning to pick up some baby clothes for Craig, one of my lampies who is leaving us to give birth (medical breakthrough). I have worked with him for years on U2, Stones, Bryan Adams, et al., so will miss him being around. I found some very nice baby combat gear which seems appropriate; camouflage romper suit, etc. And plenty of socks.

The journey to the venue was advertised as being a 40 minute run, but the traffic was horrifying. It took us two hours to get to as far as Hammersmith roundabout in a 16-seater. We were dying in there, our little mobile oven, but no matter. Ive waited all year to be reduced to a sweaty blob so Im not about to start complaining now.

U2 sound checked and tried out a couple of new things, including a run at Wild Horses. The doors were opened and the audience came in, preparing themselves to be thoroughly cooked for a couple of hours before much else would happen.

Doves were first on, I havent seen them in a while and they seemed in good form. Athlete followed, but by then I was mostly preoccupied with guest-wrangling. Theres only been one show at this venue before, so its still a new experience for people to get here, especially on a day like today when Britain has ground to a halt.

There is a very strict curfew at the Twickenham ground and we were warned that the consequences of running beyond 10.30 were dire (i.e. no show tomorrow). On the other hand we knew that the daylight would be an issue here so didnt want to start the show any earlier than was absolutely necessary, so we planned a dressing room strategy to play as many songs as possible whilst ending as close to 10.30 as we could. This was substantially the same set as Manchester night two, as particularly Still Havent Found worked so well. The band wanted to put Mysterious Ways back in, so we did the mathematics and worked out we needed to roll the intro tape at 8.18pm.

It was a great show and the audience were mad for it, despite having been microwaved within an inch of their lives. Many bands find London audiences intimidating, but U2 have always loved playing here and the audiences have responded in kind.

Obviously show times will vary depending on how the band plays, tempos, chats and so on, but Bruce and I smiled to notice that the final crash of Vertigo went down at 10.29pm. Nice one lads.Getting back to the hotel was another lengthy drama, but we made it unscathed and bottles of wine were opened in my room till all hours. I think I fell asleep before everyone had left.

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