Monday, September 14, 2015

Big John writes on from Amsterdam

I’m On The Other Side Of The Barricade Computer Screen Now.

I have a real home - what might be seen as a traditional home - a house, a family, with all the comforts of home.
I am fortunate to be able to work from home. And there's my other home, my online residence, Zootopia. @U2Community. Some of you may call it a kind of home too.

You may be a regular visitor to our home. Some have you have left home. Some of you we have not yet wandered up that street yet… but you may have heard of it.

#RefugeesWelcome is a sign that we just recently put above our door.

I was nervous to say the least about leaving my house-home to finally come out to visit this thing called #U2ieTour.
Nervous. Excited. Apprehensive.
Would it live up to expectations? I (like many many other fans) have followed every show so far this tour, online. We kind of ‘know’ things inside out… back to front… or so we think...
I made the leap of faith. I could not make it to the North America leg, but Amsterdam kept shouting out at me… ‘come on… have courage, we are ready for you…’

So I booked it.. pretty last minute, (as it turns out its darn easy to get here from where I live AND easy to get around here.. and most people seem to speak English.. better than I do actually!)
I asked the good folk from the u2comteam if it would be ok to do some of the online things we do from inside the building (Ziggo Dome) and they gave me a thumbs up. Cool. No excuse now.

So, I am here. A short bus ride from my little hotel home for the weekend and I am standing outside next to the Amsterdam 3 fan GA queue, waiting for someone to come let me in…
No fuss. I knocked. The door was opened, and a friendly face ushered me into the U2 home.

Its a beautiful place they have here. It may be a temporary, wandering home for this band of brothers and sisters, but from the off, it is quite apparent they have some great interior designers in the family.
U2 (and by U2 I mean the whole U2 crew) also work from home, this, their own extraordinary travelling home.
There are lots of workspaces set up and I just happened to call at quite an active working time when there was a lot going on. With that in mind I was quite conscious not to be the noisy cousin who lands, half-expected, disrupting the work-flow… and then wonders later on why every time I try to call, the family is out… hmmm...

Lots of familiar face here. My guide introduces me to a few of them. ‘We love what you guys do..’ Thats not me speaking. Thats people saying it to me. I have to quickly re-process these words… You love what WE do? I don’t say that of course. I just thank people and tell them, *'Well we also love what you do'.
(* Under-fucking-statement of the century!)

The Show… (Act 1)
The floor was rammed. Much more noticeable in Europe, especially tonight.. No seats behind stage maybe a contributing factor.
The staging and lighting fit hand in glove in to the Ziggo Dome.. everything just seems so in proportion.. Any seat is a great seat.
Fans who had queued all night were rewarded with their flag raised by the whole band at the end of the night. ’The Dutch (heart) U2’.
Powerhouse 4 -song old school club set to kick off. Bouncing, Miracle, Electric Co, Vertigo, I Will Follow. A show within a show.
Some welcomes & thank-you’s...

Got lost in the cold universe surrounding ‘Iris’ - maybe the song I had wanted to witness live, most. It being the first use of the giant screen (so hard to describe the screen.. to do it justice), old cine images mixed with the latest tech-created fabulous-yet-tenderly used LED’s, the next show within a show begins..
You may have seen it a hundred times on Youtube. Nothing will stop your jaw from dropping when you see in person Bono walk down Cedarwood Road.

And the sound. Oh jeez. the sound. I been to a few gigs in my time. The sound at this show is as near perfect as you will hear anytime soon. Joe & his team. None better.
The lighting. Oh jeez again. It is sublime. The crowd lighting in particular, how we, the audience are lit, as part of the show… masterful. Willie & the lampies. You are from the future dudes.

I realised as the chords of ‘Song For Someone’ rang out, and that lone image of the singer as a young lad strumming his guitar sitting in his bedroom… (what, you did that too young Bono???)

Hang on.. wasn't I actually here partly to do some social media updating!! Quick jog to a quiet spot to log in, check things, I need not have worried… the zoo mods had it covered, updating, sharing, ‘communitising’
Someone shouted me back to the show.. ‘you gotta see this’… Mini show-within-a-show part 3 was underway - Larry cracking that snare drum like he meant it… a different version this tour than ever heard before, attached, with the next song, Raised By Wolves’ to another time another place, a darker time and place in Ireland’s history that still runs unresolved…
Until The End OF The World completes this trilogy. Waves onscreen.  

Comfort me… COMFORT ME!!.
Books are thrown, confetti rains down…

I need a fecking smoke!!! (Not the local variety BTW .. ahem!…)

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(What Do You Want? A Place Called Home)

There is this blinding flash of reality early into Act 2, near the end of ‘Invisible’ when Bono shouts ‘I am HERE’ that fuses every person present in the room. You need to be there to experience it to appreciate it full effect (of course that pretty much applies to all the show, but there are moments like this you must be present in to ‘feel’)
Even Better Than The Real Thing - who’s bright idea was it to put that next? Nothing else in this spot would work any better. The band are in the screen. On the screen. Twirling and swirling, larger than life, real time.. another headspin time… And the crowd really got into EBTTRT at Amsterdam 3.

Down come the mirrorballs and the groove of Mysterious Ways sets the hips in motion. Best hips of the night belonged to Laura, free-spirited, smiling, groovy, graceful, bouncy Laura, a local girl, who also got the job to Meerkat a super-bouncy version of Elevation, from the e-stage. I am told it looked fab on the web stream, although a tech glitch meant we did not get the Meerkat on the big screen in the venue, instead we were treated to Laura’s dance with the band. Hire her.
Volcano. That was pretty special, I can tell you. This is great live. One of the highlights of the night for me.

High energy moments, twist & turns, at least a half a dozen completely different segments of the show show far, then things mellow down… a piano emerges through (yes, through) the e-stage.. Every Breaking Wave begins the part of the show that has been totally reworked from the North America leg.
October, Zooropa, Streets, Pride, With Or Without You…

When I first heard this new segment, as the mood washed over me, I was not actually looking at the screens. I was in a  moment, daydreaming.. music entering my ears, mind elsewhere… then I looked up and saw devastation. Stark, cruel effects of war. Refugees walking up a rail track. A line of military police end to end kitted out like a modern day Roman legion. Then I saw red. Streets of it. Bounce bounce bounce bounce to coin a phrase some friends use on the socials every time Streets plays…
I bounced. The floor shook (big boned)..

Ashamed to say the end of the show was missed by me pretty much.. as goodbyes had to be said and some work done…
Every cloud, as they say… I think I have left myself some room to go in again, and maybe see Amsterdam 4 from some different angles. I have the feeling (backed up by some friends who have seen the show numerous times themselves) that it might take more than 1 or 2 visits to this new ‘home’ to truly appreciate it.

* I got more swirling round about this whole ‘home’ thing connected up with the Zooropa time of the show - not yet processed… more on that after Amsterdam 4