Sunday, 4 January 2009

2001 August - Elevation Tour, Manchester 2, The Dark Energy

This was the gig that I had a photopass for. I had actually recently produced the last issue of my fanzine Eirinn - I'd always said I'd stop doing it when it became too much work and it had now got to that point. Also, the Internet was now the place for fansites and paper 'zines can't compete with that. But, luckily I was still able to get a photopass. I met up with Mick, who was the husband of Jackie who along with Debbi did a fanzine called The Real Thing, who was using their pass as Jackie was unable to do so for health reasons.

We went to the Box Office as we had been told to, no one knew anything about photopasses - here we go again! The staff there did call Amanda from RMP, U2's publicists, and we were told to go round to the backstage entrance. We got in surprisingly easily and were told to sit in a small waiting area. Time passed and passed and passed. It was surprisingly quiet in this area, we could faintly hear Kelis on stage, it was hard to believe there were 20,000 people only a few yards away. Kelis finished and eventually Amanda returned with our passes, she was very nice and helpful, told us where we could go where we couldn't when we were in the pit - basically we could wander anywhere within the gangway around between the catwalk and "heart" enclosure.

Amanda left and another Irish girl called Louise took her place, she was very sweet and chatted away to us, there were only two other photographers that night.

At 8.35pm she took us the short distance into the arena. As we left the peaceful sanctuary of the backstage waiting area the noise and heat increased and as walked under the catwalk into the arena proper and the gangway area the energy from the audience was a physical sensation, amazing. I have no wish to perform on a stage, but that experience of walking into an arena full of people gave me some idea of the buzz it must give the band.

We wandered around the gangway, I saw my friends Serena and Linda in the heart area. The heart looked a great place to be, close all the action and not too crowded. There was black material covering the area under the catwalk, this was attached by Velcro - as I found out when I got stuck to it! I saw the drum kit Larry used in Desire underneath there. I was surprised at how much the catwalk sloped, it was quite steep where it met the main stage. I stood at the tip of the heart and looked out over the crowd and up the steep banks of seats all around - what a marvellous sight it was!

Marvin Gaye, the Stevie Wonder came over the speakers - Next it would be U2 live! Elevation started with the house lights still on. It was wonderful to be able to wander freely and be so close to the band - I had to remind myself to take photos instead of just dancing and singing along!

Next it was Beautiful Day, then Until the End of the World. The "duel" between Bono and Edge happened right in front of me. Bono "fell" quite heavily and lay on his back, he was so close I could have easily touched him but I resisted! Edge looked menacing as he stood over Bono playing his guitar solo and Bono's kicked out at the guitar with real force, he seemed really angry. Finally he stopped the guitar by putting his hand and mic over the guitar strings, causing it to make a horrible noise. Edge tried to get him off, but he hung on, all very theatrical but effective. It felt almost like a private show for me as I was just beside them and I kind of forgot there was also an arena full of people there!

Unfortunately that was it and we had to leave. It was really dark after the song and we were led out following the beam of a torch to the backstage area - again it was so quiet there. I could hear New Years Day being played as Louise led us up some internal stairs and out onto the main concourse.

I found the seats where my friends were and settled for the rest of the gig. It soon became obvious that Bono was quite wound up. After Gone he kicked the mic stand and it flew into the crowd at the front of the heart. During an amazingly powerful Out of Control Bono's fingers were tapping the mic ferociously, he paced around like a caged animal seemingly ready to explode, never was a song more appropriate!

Wake up Dead Man was entirely sung with Bono lying on his back on the heart catwalk. He lay completely still as he sung, very moving and powerful in its simplicity.

Bono and Edge sang The Beatles' Rain very nicely, saying that it had been raining so much that we'd "Have to get the buckets out soon." Manchester is the wettest city in England and boy was it living up to that today!

Again there had been technical difficulties at times, during One, after singing for a short while Bono stopped, went to the side of the stage and shouted at one of the techs. The others played on and he eventually came back to the centre of the stage and sang more of the song, then said. "Thank you, goodnight" and almost ran off the stage. The others continued playing for a while before also saying goodnight. No Walk On, a very strange ending to the show that left you waiting for more.

It had been a strange show, driven by Bono's anger, it felt like he could explode at any moment, he was like a coiled spring. Wh yhe wa slike this who knows? Maybe because of teh technical problems, maybe the more personal stress of his father's terminal illness. All I know is that it gave the gig a dark energy and an almost scary power, that for me was fascinating to watch, yet at the same time also felt intrusive.

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