'What Are You Doing Next?'

07 July 2011
'What Are You Doing Next?'
Montreal.  Load in day.

The Olympic stadium in Montreal is in a bad way. Word is that it might actually be condemned and in any case the sound in there was horrifying for a rock gig. Consequently, in order for 360 to play in Montreal, the city had to construct an entire site for us.  I’m sure this was not an inexpensive venture but ticket demand here has been enormous so two nights at 82,000 made it worth the considerable.  The site is an old race track on the edge of the city. This is essentially a flat-field site but enormous temporary grandstand bleachers have been constructed all around, to give us our 360 set up.

We have a writer visiting the tour, whom I’d agreed to take in to observe a load-in and a load-out.  Dylan, the writer, and I headed to the site around 10am, where load-in had been happening for an hour or so.  I haven’t observed this part of the process for a while so it was good to see it one more time before we finish. The strange nature of the venue was actually helping, as the field is wide open, allowing trucks and cranes in from all directions, instead of having to negotiate the often limiting entrances and tunnels associated with stadium architecture.

We spent much of the day on site and it was very good to have the opportunity to chat to people, though I did have to endure the usual round of 'whatever brings you here at this time of day?', 'did the hotel burn down?' etc., comments.  It was wonderful to see the load in through the eyes of a civilian, as Dylan was completely amazed by the speed of construction, the sheer size of the P.A. speaker stacks when you see them at ground level, the quantity and nature of 16 channels of walkie-talkie dialogue, not to mention to magnificence and scale of the naked, unadorned Claw itself.

Today’s load-in happened at almost record speed with most people being finished by mid-afternoon.  Two factors were driving this, the first being the open access to the field, as described, but the other was the knowledge of the forthcoming crew party this evening.  This is the last time we’ll get the chance to all have a night off together so it was time for the 'beginning of the end of tour' party.

One of the semi-derelict buildings on site had been transformed into a party zone, complete with a bar (several, actually, there are Belgians, after all), food stands, a dance floor, a photo-booth and a casino.  The currency of the casino was '360-bucks', our own monopoly money bank notes. The reverse of each note carried a picture of the Claw, whilst the front carried a portrait. The 20s (four kinds) each bore a portrait of a band member. The 10s (two kinds) had a picture of Paul or Arthur, whilst the singles carried a portrait of a crew-member. There were as many different '$1' bills as there were crew-members (i.e. hundreds), with pictures culled from the file of digital tour-pass portraits. We were each issued with about $500, including about thirty different crew-$1 bills. Once everyone realised what was going on, the first hour of the party became a kind of swap-meet, like a baseball card convention, with grown men becoming increasingly enthusiastic about finding their own bills, or those of their department. It was hilarious and a fantastic way to get the evening going, especially with the addition of copious amounts of alcohol. It’s always interesting to look at tour laminate photos at the end of a tour. The pictures are all taken during production rehearsals (in this case over two long, hard years ago) so some people’s passes bear images that look like they could be their own children. And everyone looks so clean.  Having these on the countless faux-banknotes now circulating was enormous fun.

We had a great night, ate, drank, danced, crammed the photo booth, ‘gambled’, and talked to all and sundry. The question on the lips of the tour is 'what are you doing next…' and I'm surprised and delighted that my mixed feelings regarding this thing coming to an end are echoed throughout the whole crew (and if the lampies are wistful you know it’s exceptional). It’s extremely gratifying to know that we have built something that’s been as socially successful as it has been creatively successful.  I don’t remember coming home, so I’m assuming I had a top evening.

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18 July, 2011
Spaceship journeys
Hi Willie, thank you so much for all your wonderful diary entries!!! Your great stories truly give me so many impressions of the things that happen behind the scenes. From the very beginning the 360 Tour was such a huge success artistically and commercially. The breathtaking and gigantic construction of the claw provides the perfect surroundings where the music of U2 can shine in splendid colours. This stage is a monumental sculpture, which creates a sort of WOW-effect for everybody who sees it in real size. With all its stunning visuals and dazzling lights this stage always emphasizes and intensifies the big emotionality of the songs. Without your creativity and the excellent work of your crew all this would not have been possible. Thanks for taking us on long and unforgettable journeys with your spaceship! After the end of this exceptional tour all of you can celebrate! I am looking forward to reading about the very last days of the 360 Tour!
16 July, 2011
The photo
So what is the story on the photo? It is the videoscreen, but looks like you turned it into an amusement park ride.
16 July, 2011
Thanks to the whole U2 CREW
360 is a success in more than social, creative and artistic. It has been a mecca brought around the world. We know it takes hundreds of people to make it happen and mere thanks to the crew seems so basic when our gratitude is as big as the claw. Thanks for sharing your stories, and a huge giant hug to the whole U2 CREW.
16 July, 2011
U2 Crew #1
so what is next for WW?
16 July, 2011
Thank you so much Willie. Your diary entries are usually great treats to me and the photo today makes me smile a bit more. Would have loved to have seen a "load-in" - this TOUR has been truly facinating in so many ways leaving me speechless, scurring to research, trying to speak then speeechless again. Blessings to you as you continue your trip. :)
Newer comments    1 - 5 of 5    Older comments

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