Tuesday, 13 January 2009

2001 August - Elevation Tour, Birmingham, Deja Vu and Meetings

Immediately after the last Manchester show Dianne, Julie and me headed north to my home, as I had to work for one day. Then on the following day, 14th August, we got the train to Birmingham for the next show of the tour. It was hectic to say the least! But I love all the madness and travelling involved when on tour.

It was a lovely, warm summers day and, after dropping off our luggage, we headed to the NEC Arena close by. We wandered around the back to see if we could catch the band arriving, there were already quite a lot of people there. I got a touch of deja vu - nothing much had changed since we had last waited there, met the band and got into the sound check during Zoo TV in 1992. It was hard to believe that was nine years ago it didn't seem that long ago, how time flies.

Our timing was impeccable, we'd barely got settled and then the first band member arrived - Larry. He came across to the fans, he was very quiet and did not seem at ease, he also looked unhealthily thin. But he spent quite a long time signing things for fans.

Adam and Edge arrived in separate cars at the same time and they too came over to the fans. They started their meet and greet at opposite ends of the line of fans. Both were charming and patient, Edge sweet and gentle in his manner, Adam the perfect polite gentleman as ever. They signed things, chatted and posed for photos.

It was quite a while before Bono arrived. He must have just arrived in the UK from Ireland as he was going back home after every show and staying by his father's side in hospital. I didn't expect him to come across, but he did. The airport was only about three miles from the venue so that made it convenient for him.

Two excited Italian fans came around the barrier shouting. "Italy Bono, Italy."

Bono's security man smiled and said. "Italy, behind the barrier." The young men complied.

Bono started dealing with fans at one end of the line and worked his way along. He looked tired and had deep lines etched in his face and he was quieter than normal, he didn't look at people as much as he usually did. It amazed me that he had time for fans at this difficult time in his life. But as he moved along the line of clamouring fans he gradually became more effusive, it was as if he was taking on the energy from the fans and it was pumping him up. He started talking more and even chatted and joked to someone on a fan's mobile!

After dealing with the main group of fans he headed back towards the arena, he stopped by a small group of people that were beside a car park station pay point. He chatted to those people and paid special attention to a lady of very advanced years - who probably had no idea who he was. We could see her absolutely beaming as he chatted to her, his Irish charm obviously working. He kissed her on the cheek as he left leaving her with a huge smile on her face.

The show was a good one, but in all honesty not a great one. There's nothing special I remember about it, after all the heightened emotion of Manchester every one's senses needed a rest I think! I do remember Bono joking about Adam's legendary problems with wind!! I wasn't disappointed that the show was just "good", and it was still worth going to.

After the show Dianne, Julie and I went back to our hotel and had a drink in the bar which was full of other U2 fans so there was a good atmosphere. It was a good way to end the day.

Next morning it was back home for me, working for three days before picking up my suitcase once more heading south on the train to the next gigs in London - what a jet-setting life being a U2 fan on tour is!

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