'What Joy!'

30 July 2011
'What Joy!'
Moncton. Show day.

I didn’t sleep very well last night which is unlike me and not a little annoying.  I woke up at 6am and couldn’t nod off again, so lay there wondering what was up.  'Surely,' I thought, 'it can’t be just because I’m excited about going home?  I’m a seasoned professional and take this sort of thing in my stride – I can’t be lying here twitching with glee because this is the last day of school…'  I suspect, however, that this may have been the case.

Consequently, I went into our final show day feeling a little blurry and news that it was pissing with rain in Moncton didn’t do much to raise the enthusiasm level. However, by the time we piled into the vans to head to the airport, a certain excitement had filled the air. Being the kind of guy that I am, I had put together a CD of 'leaving' songs for an en route sing-a-long. I actually put the playlist together as a special selection of pre-show music for the Moncton gig but having done so realised it might also be fun to have it for our commute.

The playlist opens with The Final Countdown by an 80’s hair band called Europe, the air-guitar excess of which I thought would be hilarious to open the bidding once The Arcade Fire were done. The rest of the list you can imagine – This Could Be the Last Time, Leaving on a Jet Plane, Don’t Dream it’s Over, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, School’s Out for Summer and of course It’s the End of the World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine), etc., etc.
On landing in Moncton the heavy greyness of the day was a little depressing (the swamps of Glastonbury still being fresh in everybody’s mind) but mercifully the day brightened steadily from this point on. Magnetic Hill is a festival site with very little in the way of actual buildings, so the spectre of Glasto mud was certainly there but ultimately it wasn’t nearly as bad as we’d feared. Unsurprisingly, much of the afternoon was taken up in conversation with almost the entire tour staff, as it was practically a full day’s job to do the rounds and say all the thank yous and goodbyes that I wanted to.

In my final ‘director’s happy hour’ we decided to go with the set list that we have been enjoying so much of late and settle for a couple of bonus treats at the end. Out of Control was a must, being so utterly appropriate for the glorious excess of the 360 show and, fingers crossed, let’s have a go at '40' too, to wrap up the tour.

The Arcade Fire played and, having finished their set, we engaged the 360 show for the very last time.  The pre-show music was wonderful, The Final Countdown bringing much hilarity to the crew, though I concede that it might have been somewhat lost on the audience.

We had a great show, the vast audience being clearly aware that they were attending an event very significant for the band. On a tour like this some last night pranks are inevitable and there were a couple of lovely ones tonight.  Many of the volunteers who carry out the Amnesty lanterns during Walk On turned out to be crew-members (I’d feared it might turn into a Zeigfeld Follies style dancing lights routine, but mercifully respect prevailed). The highlight of the night though was I’ll Go Crazy where the film of the giant band faces appears on screen, ‘head-banging’ to the rhythm.  Tonight, the band’s faces appeared as usual, only to be replaced by a sequence of the faces of almost every crew-member on the tour, heads nodding, smiling, clapping, some even dancing about. It was such a joyful thing to see the faces of all these people up there, without whom this 360 structure would still be sitting in Barcelona.
I made my way to the back of the stage during With or Without You in order to give me some time to bid final farewells to as many of the remaining crew as I could find. After lots of hugs and handshakes I made my way into ‘underworld’ beneath the stage to say goodbye to the backline guys and monitor engineers.  I found them all except for Sam, Larry’s drum tech, who I knew would be sitting in his usual place up on the stage, tucked behind Adam’s bass rig. When Moment of Surrender was kicking off, I stuck my head up the staircase that emerges to the side of the drum kit and gave Sam a wave. He came over and we yelled our farewells into each other’s ears, just as Bono asked the crowd to take out their cell phones and turn out the stage lights.  Seeing the magic star field spread into the far distance, I looked all around and, without really thinking about it, took a seat on a little step next to the drum kit.  The band played on, unaware that they had just acquired a fifth Beatle, and I took a minute or two to just absorb this final moment of 360. How wonderful to end by seeing this great creation from its very heart, from the inside out. I looked at each of the band members and thanked them silently for allowing me the indulgence of this creative grand madness, before slipping back down the stairs to underworld and out into the crowd.

Out of Control followed, as I’d hoped it would, and the audience took this as a cue to celebrate the end of the end. Around the back of the stage the audience thins out dramatically and in an open area a crowd of crazies were doing some whacky pogo dancing, jumping up and down, goofing off and leaping about. Despite my wearing a raincoat and having my backpack on, I was so caught up in the moment that I joined them, giving it my best John Lydon and laughing my myself silly.  What joy.

The band even managed the proper version of '40' that we’d talked about, which was a beautiful way to close. The song was clearly unfamiliar to a lot of the audience which, talking about it later, Bono said he was greatly encouraged by because it meant that they were too young to remember the War album. The ever growing demographic of U2.

To the plane, back to New York and back to the Spotted Pig, even though we didn’t get there until four in the morning. Food and drinks followed, despite the lateness of the hour, and a chance for a final group hug.  All was very well with the world no doubt because, as Luisa said, 'there’s no much that can’t be sorted out by a blue cheese burger at 4am.'   It was great fun, all wallowing in the communal relief and excitement, but I didn’t stay for too long.  I noticed Smasher slipping away so decided to exercise my mantra of 'leave wanting more' and jumped in a van with him, getting back to the Hotel Fabulous as light was beginning to fill the sky and the CNN clock read 6am.

Related Topics


04 December, 2012
But for Grace
It seemed that I had waited my lifetime to hear this great Irish band. 'Grace' would have given me my joy.
22 August, 2011
Do the Willie
I think I saw that dance... nice! Awesome show! Go and dream it all up again Willie!
14 August, 2011
Pogo is where it all started. Best post punk band ever
13 August, 2011
Willie Dancing
Someone MUST post a video of Willie pogoing like a mad man. He deserves to have all the fun in the world after such an incredible job. We love you Willie. Don`t be a stranger
11 August, 2011
U2 = Joy!
Willie, thanks for your diary. I was only able to see two concerts but I feel like I experienced a lot of each thanks to your log. The one word that comes to my mind each and every time I see this incredible band and in looking around at the people is what you captured in this final posting... sheer, unadulterated, Joy! Thank you.
10 August, 2011
What a tour!
Thank you Willie, you did good work!
09 August, 2011
Back to earth...
Willie, I think I will miss your wonderful diaries almost as much as I will miss have a U2 show to look forward to. Thank you so much for all those glimpses into life on the road, and for your positivity and humour. I hope you and the band have an excellent and well-deserved rest, and return soon to surprise us with the next endeavour. Oh, and I might have known you were the one behind the pre-show playlist...I clued in when The Final Countdown came on, and my friends and I had a great time trying to predict the other numbers!
08 August, 2011
Thanks Willie
Willie Moncton thanks you and U2 for choosing this as the last stop of the 360o world tour it was special and it was a hoot reading your diary... Good job on developing the most memorable stage i have ever seen and I will be at more shows IF you do tour again!! Thanks again and U2 thanks..!!!
05 August, 2011
Well done sir
Thank you, Willie. Travelling with you these last few years was an amazing experience. I hope wherever you are right now, you are relaxing. You and everyone associated with the 360 tour have earned it. Take care, my friend.
05 August, 2011
Thank you Willie
Thank you! One of my favourite pleasures is reading your diary on this tour. Enjoy what ever time off you have now. Cheers!!
04 August, 2011
Thank you Willie.
Thank you. Cheers from Texas! ~Terri
04 August, 2011
Joy is real
Dear Willie, it was a very nice gesture that the faces of almost all crew-members were shown on the video screen. They worked really hard to create such a special and unforgettable experience for all fans. They truly deserve a lot of appreciation for all their great achievements. Yes, and "40" was such a wonderful way to finish this tour. Luckily many people from the young generation got to know this overwhelmingly beautiful song.
04 August, 2011
What joy!
I had the fortune of sitting immediately behind the stage, in one of the first rows of the rear grandstand. What a view of the underworld, backstage goings-on, the band, and Willie dancing like a madman! What a night!
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