Sunday, 17 August 2008

1997 May - PopMart Salt Lake City Part 2, Mudslides and Bomb Threats

May 3rd. We had breakfast in the hotel, I had my favourite American breakfast, hash browns and fried eggs. Later we headed for the stadium which wasn't far away, we parked the car and, as the weather was pleasantly warm, sat on some grass near the stadium.

We listened to the soundcheck, Bono did a wonderful ballad, accompanied by acoustic guitar, which had a very Irish feel to it. They also did another new song, more uptempo, no vocals and they tried various versions of it.

We got talking to Mike who was from Las Vegas who said he was a millionaire. He had a large cigar in his hand that he never lit. He was quite a character and his favourite phrase was, "Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you might be in Utah". He said that Salt Lake City "Would be ok if it wasn't for the Mormons". I was hoping none of the local was eavesdropping on the conversation! He was supping Jack Daniels liberally, he was taking a risk because drinking in public is against the law in Salt Lake City and the place was swarming with police!

Mike then got out a bottle of thick brown liquid that he called a Mudslide and insisted that we try it. We tried it while glancing around for the police, it was quite nice really, God knows what it was!

The gates opened and we nervously went in hoping our tickets were genuine - they were, huge sighs of relief! Sharon was stopped by security who asked, "Have you got anything in your fanny bag?" Sharon, Jane and I fell about laughing, it was one of those situations where the Brits and Americans are divided by a common language, "fanny" having very different meanings in those countries!

The stadium was small by US standards, 39000, well organised, lots of women's toilets and polite well-behaved fans - there's something to be said for Mormons, Mudslide Mike!

Eventually the moment came and Pop Muzik blasted out - and went on and on and no U2. Pop Muzik stopped and the screen showed the male belly dancer whilst playing Lemon. The audience got a bit restless and wondered what was going on and so did we. After around ten minutes Pop Muzik came on again and this time the band appeared on cue. Later we found out that a woman had run the stadium to say there was a bomb under the stage. As that area had been secure for a few days it was unlikely to be true but police had insisted on checking the area before the show could go on. Of course it spoiled the effect of the start of the show but they had to be sure everything was safe.

Bono thanks the crowd for their patience and then added, "For fourteen years" which was how long since U2 had played Salt Lake City. The set list again was almost the same as at Las Vegas. The sound was not 100%, it was a little muffled. Edge, Adam and Larry seemed to be really enjoying themselves, smiling a lot and Adam applauded Edge after his rendition of Daydream Believer. Bono however seemed a bit under the weather, lacking energy and often got the lyrics wrong. We found out later that he had been suffering from throat problems.
I still enjoyed the concert, Please was wonderful and this time at the end of the song flags of different countries came up on the screen. Miami to was excellent, for me it works a lot better live than on the album. One was stunning. People closer to the band said Bono was crying as he sang it, I couldn't tell, but from the emotion he put into it I'm not surprised.

I was surprised there were no songs from Zooropa so far in the tour, maybe some of them will come later. In my view some of the songs from Pop such as If God Will Send His Angels and If You Wear That Velvet Dress do not transfer well to the live situation and usually the opposite is true of U2 songs. But that could change as the tour progresses and the songs develop.

We had a bout of tour madness and travelled 750 miles to see this show and it was worth it. On our way we also saw amazing scenery we would never had seen had we kept to our original schedule. Our next show was in Phoenix and our travels there from Utah (which I'll write about in the next blog) saw us passing through some of the most stunning countryside I'd seen in the US - so our madness paid off in more ways than one!

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