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

Jun
13
2005

'Bono nailed it first time...'

Backstage and onstage with Show Designer Willie Williams, as the Vertigo Tour arrives in Europe.

Check out these snippets from the latest road-diaries of Willie Williams, U2's Show Designer.

Wednesday June 8th

'Programming began again after dinner and the five of us sealed ourselves in our little oxygen tent out in the field. It was a cold night and by 4am it was near freezing out there. Programming, editing, lighting, making new video sequences, we got a lot done, but the colder it got, the slower progress seemed to be. We cranked up some T.Rex to keep the mood up, but by 6am it was fully light so there wasn't a great deal more that could be achieved. With the night crew of lighting, video and power, there were ten of us crammed in the seven passenger van to take the half hour drive back to the hotel. About half way back Raff says 'This is the warmest I've been all night. You should do the programming in here tomorrow.'

Thursday June 9th

'After the run through we did a quick video shoot with Bono for a last minute spontaneous sequence. It's for the opening of Zoo Station, the idea being to recreate the iconic image of him as 'The Fly' in front of TV static. We didn¹t really know it till we did it, but the new character we shot tonight is essentially the same guy, but 15 years on, tired and cynical after a life of excess; some jaded Nazi in a bus conductor's hat who's been dragged out of retirement from some dodgy tango club in Buenos Aires to go through the motions one last time. It all came together in the moment and it was very funny. Bono nailed it first time, instantly getting right into character, pressed up against a huge video wall with Zoo Station playing on a boom box and me yelling instructions, whilst all present howled with laughter.'

Friday June 10th (Show Day)

'Ash, our programmer, had done a couple of software updates to the control system (which he single-handedly designed and wrote the computer code for) and some glitches had appeared as a result, which we didn¹t spot till odd things happened with the playback. The Julian Opie 'Walking Man' image made an odd jump-cut and walked off the screen early, and I realised that similar things would happen during the new Zoo Station visuals with more disastrous results. I got Ash on the case who figured out a new software update to solve the glitch which he wrote during the show and installed into the system computers during the first encore break. I'm pretty good at staying calm during show crises, but such full on mid-show brain surgery got a raised eyebrow even from me. Cutting edge? We are just making it up as we go along out here.'
This article is tagged to:
Vertigo Tour