Vertigo Leg 1: 2005, US


'Easy Like Sunday Morning'

'Easy Like Sunday Morning'

Friday, 20th February 2009
London/Berlin. Echo Awards Rehearsal.

An early alarm pulled me out of a deep dream, something to do with being on a boat with "the bad idea bears" from 'Avenue Q'. Got up and hailed a cab to take me to Paddington Station, then onto the Heathrow Express (train) to beat the rush hour traffic.

Found my way to the British Airways lounge and knowing that several of our party were on this flight, I figured I'd just wander about in a daze until somebody called my name. Within minutes Frances, our tour press person, did just that so I sat with her as we both futzed with our laptops trying to locate the free Wi-Fi.
The flight was pleasantly uneventful. I worked on the Herald Tribune crossword, dozed, vegged out. Frances informed me I was sitting behind Taylor Swift, a country-pop singer of some note in the U.S. Descending into Berlin, the city was covered in thick snow, which was still falling at an impressive rate. On arrival at the surprisingly miniature Tegel airport we did the bag scramble and found our way to the inevitable waiting van. Billy Bragg was at baggage claim. No, really.

We headed to the hotel for a while and as I was beginning to feel the effects of another early morning, I decided to take advantage of the amply sized bathtub. It only occurred to me when I was wallowing in the suds that the last time I had a bath in this hotel I got a text message telling me that London was being blown up (7th July 2005).
Down to the venue mid-afternoon where it was clear that things were running a very great distance behind schedule. I was tempted to go back to the hotel but having got here through the snow I figured this was as good a place to hang around as any. I went to find the relevant people to assure me that all was well with the technical side of our performance. I was temporarily unsettled by not being able to locate anyone who knew anything about U2 having a video playback piece and received increasingly blank looks when enquiring about the facility for the video running in sync, timecode, Protools, and so forth. I took my appeal to a higher court and eventually found the producer of the event whom I had met a couple of weeks ago when I came out here to recce the gig. Finally I was introduced to the right people and assured all was well. It’s all fine, just another factor in being part of an event of which we occupy such a small percentage of the whole. Not to mention doing so many of these in a row, where essentially you have to make up a stage production out of a different set of parts every day.

The long delay continued, so on hearing the strains of "Easy Like Sunday Morning", I wandered back out onto the arena floor to watch Lionel Ritchie's camera rehearsal. He was looking good, I thought, and in good humour. He was dueting on a love ballad with a German singer whom he had never met before but still made a pretty convincing job of it.
Eventually our moment came and U2 took the stage. The band got four runs at 'Boots', each time the whole thing coalescing more and more. As usual I was watching the TV monitors with the director and he seemed to be all over it. It always takes a few runs to get on top of the camera angles and lighting but there was good energy in his cutting right from the start, which was very promising.

Finally we were done; it was midnight and we'd been due to wrap up at 8pm. Back at the hotel a few of us gathered in the lobby bar and had a drink or two. Telling stories, unwinding, talking about what's ahead. It was all very pleasant and then it was all very 3am.

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