Extract from the road diaries of Willie Williams, exclusive to U2.Com.
Willie has been putting his road diaries together for U2 fans for more than a decade. For many years it was available to subscribers of U2's fan magazine Propaganda. With the 'Vertigo '05' tour underway, Willie's unique insider take on life on the road is available in our U2.Com Subscribers area. Get a feel for the Willie Diaries with this extract, from the video shoot in Chicago last week - ending up at Bono's birthday party!
Chicago United Center III
Another long day in the service of the Big Video Shoot. The day ran much as
yesterday, spending time on camera and lighting rehearsals first with stand-ins, then with the band at soundcheck. Soundcheck was a little tense, to be honest, all feeling the pressure of this being the last chance to nail it. Plus it¹s Bono's birthday and I am sure he would have preferred to be almost anywhere other than standing on stage all afternoon playing Zoo Station ten times. My 'gang of four' image was deemed a success, but there had also been a request for some single large heads (one of each band member, Big Brother style) which I had made but just didn¹t work. This was the first thing we looked at when the band arrived, and now really feeling the pressure, I took it upon myself to make a new replacement video sequence before the end of soundcheck. When I think back to how tortuous a process this would have been in Zoo TV days when everything ran from 12-inch laser disk players which had to be shipped to Wisconsin to be mastered, it's pretty jaw dropping to see what you can do with a G5 and a bit of attitude.
The show was, in short, a triumph. Knowing how much work they (and we) put into it, sometimes I almost hate this band for making it look so effortless. In truth, when all the elements come together, perhaps it is effortless for them. It was a great show and looked spectacular on the TV monitors so I have high hopes for the video. Man of the match, though, was Jeff, operator of the in-house LED advertising signs. After a couple of days of pain, he really took the ball and ran with it. We had made some video sequences to complement the LED circles of the Vertigo stage and despite the ancient in-house control gear he hit all his cues and made it happen. During Vertigo itself (which the band played twice for reasons yet to become apparent), the red vortex lines jetted round the whole building. It was pretty awesome for an effect which cost nothing but the sweat of a Belgian to produce.
After the show there were beers in catering and general backslapping, before Smasher (said Belgian), Bruce (lighting) and Allen (more lighting) took up an invitation to go back to the hotel bar for 'a few drinks for Bono's birthday'. There's a restaurant at the Hotel which doubles as a function room and having been there before, I led the way. I was expecting 'a few drinks' but I looked in through the door at what can only be described as a total scene. It was, in fact, the missing scene from the Tales of the Arabian Nights, with what appeared to be a harem of 'I Dream of Genie' look-alikes and belly dancers in a sea of spangles and chiffon. Women up on tables, dancers all over the show. The doorman was the genie of the lamp - though from the chin up he did bear something of a resemblance to one of our security chaps.
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