Friday 11 July 2008

1993 August - Wembley Zooropa 1 - What? Am I In Pain?

I had thought very carefully whether to bother going to the London Zooropa shows at Wembley Stadium. After the bad and very frustrating experience at Earl's Court the previous year, I was unsure whether I'd even enjoy another London gig. It was also a long way from my home. In the end I decided to give London another chance and go to two of the four Zooropa shows that were being played there.

So August 11th saw me on the train heading south. We had arranged to meet Caroline, a Canadian fan who some of us wrote to, at our hotel near the stadium. I was the first of our group to turn up and Caroline was already at the hotel. Unfortunately I found it very difficult to talk with her as she just didn't make much conversation and she talked unbelievably slowly and seemed to be in a kind of daze. I tried my best and was friendly while praying for Jane and Dianne to arrive. After what seemed like hours (but which was probably only about half an hour!) they did arrive and things were not so stilted, though they too had the same difficulty as I had with Caroline. We did try our best to make her welcome though.

After a longer than expected turnaround (due to Caroline being really slow in getting ready and nothing would make her speed up the slightest). The stadium was within walking distance and it was a pleasant walk in the summer sunshine. As we walked up Wembley Way and saw the two towers I was surprised to find there was a real buzz everywhere, good vibes. We met up with friends Karen and Serena and caught up on each other before Jane and I went one way and Dianne and Caroline another - we had seats in different areas.

The sound was a little off at times during this concert and the show was good, but not fantastic. It wasn't the audience, they were enthusiastic and got behind the band. As I wrote, the show was good but not mind-blowing, there was that extra spark from the band missing.

The main event during this concert was that Mr MacPhisto telephoned Salman Rushdie - who was in hiding because of the fatwa issued against him four years earlier for perceived blasphemy in his book The Satanic Verses. MacPhisto spoke to him on the phone and then suddenly Salman walked out on stage to a huge cheer from the crowd, phone still in his hand, and did a little repartee with MacPhisto finishing with, "Real devils don't wear horns". It made headline news in the papers the next day. I knew they would have something special lined up for the London shows but I don't think anyone expected anything like that!

After the show we went to the stage doors, met up with our friends and waited for the band to leave. After a while a man came out and said, "I'm a very rich man!" waving a wad of Zoo Ecu's in his hand (this was U2's take on the precursor of the Euro currency, but at this time the ECU was only used for internal EEC business, it wasn't a currency but it symbolised a united Europe). These ECU's were showered down over the stage during MacPhisto's set. This man cheerfully gave everyone a note and I still have mine.

There were quite a lot of people waiting for the band now and the weather was still being kind to us. I always enjoy the vibe at these times of waiting for the band to leave, chatting to other fans, having a good laugh, talking about the gig, all the camaraderie.

Then suddenly there were Larry and Adam coming out of the darkness. They went to opposite ends of the group of fans lined up behind the barrier and started signing autographs. Larry was in a good mood, full of smiles and looked very handsome! He got to Jane who had a pen ready for him to use, and seeing that he had a pen already said, "I see you're prepared."

Larry looked up at her with a puzzled look on his face, "What? Am I in pain?"

Jane looked back at him equally puzzled, "What? you've just been paid?" then both Larry and Jane and everyone within earshot burst out laughing - it was like an inadvertent double act, hilarious and it was good to see Larry saw the funny side of it. It was one of the funniest interactions I've seen between a fan and a member of U2.

Shortly afterwards Adam reached us and on seeing Jane said, "Hello Jane, how are you?" Jane was really chuffed that he recognised her and even remembered her name as he is her favourite band member. As usual Adam was his polite and friendly self with everyone.

Edge left next but he got straight into a car without even looking at the group of fans, obviously not in the mood for the meet and greet, and was whisked away.

Shortly after Bono came across to the fans and though there were a lot of people waiting but everyone was well behaved. He was out for quite a while, about 20 minutes, until everyone got something signed, most of the time he had a cigarillo in his mouth. He was very patient, softly spoken, didn't chat quite as much as he usually does, though he was still warm and friendly. I got my Zooropa CD cover signed by him. It was the first meeting for Caroline, yet afterwards she didn't say anything about it or show any emotion, I found that hard to understand as she wasn't shy. I think she just found it difficult to express her emotions.

So the first Wembley show was over and though it wasn't one of the best U2 shows I'd seen, I still had a ball and was looking forward to the next Zooropa the following night.

No comments: