Donal Murphy, one of @U2′s forum moderators, is on his own sort of “U2 tour” these days, which started with a visit to Nice for U2′s concert there last week. He’s sending in occasional updates from the road. This is the fourth.
BERLIN GIG SATURDAY JULY 18TH
The setlist is well out there, but there were some very good reasons why this gig hit a high mark for me.
There were no more than a few drops of rain before Snow Patrol and up came the three umbrellas, first time used on the tour, I think. They rise up out of the floor electrically, the covers around them are taken off, and then it electrically opens up. They took them down again before Snow Patrol, but after Snow Patrol they put them up again. There was a risk of rain, but it never happened.
During the pre-show sound checks, Dallas came around the outer circle, doing his usual pre show testing of Edge’s guitars from every spot. As we were at the barrier at the rear of the inner circle, Joe roared “Dallas, whe hey!” as he came towards us. Dallas stopped momentarily and threw a guitar pick down toward Joe — one of the security guys saw this and picked it up and gave it to Joe. It’s a “U2 360″ logo guitar pick, one that Joe (a learned guitar player) will probably get framed.
Our spot was perfect, leaning on the barrier at the back of the inner circle, right of centre, on Edge’s side. As the gig started, I could see some large signs held up high up near the front. Just before “Angel Of Harlem,” Bono gestured to the signs, and then went over to Adam and had a quick word, then three guys were pulled up on stage. Bono said, “We are doing an experiment!” Each of the guys played an instrument. All played perfectly. I don’t know for sure who these guys were, but it’s highly probable that they might be a U2 tribute band. Another reason I think this is the guitarist moved around the stage a lot, even as far over as the bridges. Bono shouted “can we get a guitar for this man”, Edge played his normal guitar and Larry stood next to the drum kit and seemed to be helping out a little. One of the guys said after they finished – thank you for making our dream come true. It seems a big risk to me for a band like U2 to bring three musicians onstage and allow them to play their instruments in front of 90,000 plus, so I suspect it was prearranged, but it was fantastic as it worked perfectly, the guys were so excited – and who wouldn’t be. As they left stage he said, “There’s one thing you need to know about rock stars: Rock stars are small guys”.
Then into “Stay” with just Bono & Edge onstage … superb, superb, superb! As they started the next song, “Unknown Caller”, the crowd was still singing the Oh, Oh OOOOh‘s of Stay, and they had not finished as “Unknown Caller” started. This was typical of the show, the crowd soaked it up and continued singing chorusses after the song had finished. The band had to push on.
At the start of “I Still Haven’t Found…”, Bono stopped singing. There was some problem, I think, as he took out his ear plugs, he looked like he was about to call a restart of the song, but the crowd came in very swiftly and continued the verse. He picked it up again on the third verse. I always have a saying, it’s not about getting into sh**, it’s about getting out of it! That’s what counts.
At one stage Bono came to the front and the “girls” – some of whom we had met earlier in the queue were at the tip of the outer area. He reached down and touched one of their hands. I think it was the Bronx girl — the one who said she would kick my ass if I queue jumped! He then gave what I call an ass shimmy in front of them to acknowledge. He has seen these girls many times before as he said right at the end of the show “good night LA” — a definite reference to them.
For “Walk On,” they started the song and then Bono shouted to stop, but the band were playing in full flow, and he just improvised – he got out of the sh**, yet again.
As the gig was coming to the end, it was very clear that Bono was seriously impressed with the crowd. There was a very special atmosphere here. He had to rush the familiar thank yous, as on the last gig he said them periodically, now he had gotten distracted by a seriously enthuastic crowd, and he responded. It’s like seeing a DJ feed off the crowd reactions, and they do — the direct response of the crowd and Bono’s reaction. It’s a special thing to see, and it happened a lot on this night.
BERLIN – AFTER SHOW
With the gig over, we all expected a serious delay in getting onto public transport. We were wrong. The Germans are known for their organisation and efficiency skills, and it was incredibly well organised. No massive delays getting out. A security guard at the rail told one of our group that there was just under 100,000 people there. And to disperse this number so quickly and efficiently is some achievement.
Got back into town, had some beers. We went back into Tachales which I mentioned before, there is a small bar upstairs, we went up and they were playing Michael Jackson, so we did what I call our dancing homage to him! Got back to our room, and set the alarm early as we had a train to Amsterdam leaving at 8:30.
SUNDAY JULY 19TH
Got up, and made the train. It’s a six-hour journey across Germany, some lovely countryside en route, and I was glad we got the train. You can go for a sleep, walk around easily and it’s a welcome break from flying, which has become energy sapping in recent years with all the stop, go, security, stop, go, etc.
Got into Amsterdam around 4pm, an hour later than the timetable said. Rather than look around, we went straight down to the venue to scope it out. There were two GA entrances and we found our one. There were about 30 people already in place for overnight camping at around 6pm.
Got back into town, went for a lovely Thai dinner, and had a few beers. Quite a lot of Americans around, but they didn’t look like they were here for the gig, perhaps more interested in the many other distractions that can be found in Amsterdam!
Had an early night – for once.
MONDAY JULY 20TH – AMSTERDAM ARENA QUEUE
Got to the queue at 11am, our bodies were not able to any earlier. Both queue’s were busy. A numbering system started shortly after that and we were number 648 and 649. So, doubling that for the other queue – totaling 1400 or so. Probably won’t get our ideal spot, but still a reasonably good one. 95% Dutch crowd. Joe met Barbara, who was in the other queue, who is still doing the fan surveys and was in great form. She will be there for Dublin 1, 2 and 3 but not at the front for all three.
Next report after Amsterdam.