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1,000 Days of Zoo TV Part Two

Propaganda, Issue 20, August 01, 1994
By: Willie Williams

 

4 February 93 - New York In a nightclub, I saw a woman at the bar write a question into a napkin. "What did the first punk rock girl wear to your school?" I'm definitely going to put that into the next edit of "The Fly" text.



22 March 93 - Dublin Eighteen months on and we're still in Windmill Lane editing "The Fly." The band have decided they'll try to release a whole new album. Why does nothing surprise me anymore?



8 April 93 - Dublin Foot to the floor. The band are recording non-stop. We are in Windmill Lane making video footage by the mile. We have all five edit suites going. Mark Neale is in a translation frenzy. Maurice Linnane is working with blood, the EBN guys are up in the Avid suite working with bombs and drummer boys, and I made a little singing astronaut today who's very sweet.



21 April 93 - Cardington Construction time again in a giant old airship hangar, somewhere in the middle of England. The stage is up and the new video walls are HUGE. They're like small buildings. We have replaced all last year's projection screens with video walls because of the daylight problems in Europe. They look so much cooler. Like Jake Kennedy said, "It's like the old screens ran on gas, but these are electric." The band are going to love it.



8 May 93 - Rotterdam We actually did (nearly) a full run-through this evening. Went pretty well. The star of the show was Bono's new encore character. It will replace the mirrorball man/preacher character from the American show. We spent the afternoon in the dressing room trying to suss out quite who this character is. He's called "Mr. Gold" on account of his tasteful gold suit and platforms. The voice is kind of doddery English eccentric, sort of Laurence Olivier meets Quentin Crisp, and there's a whole host of other feelings in there -- Joel Gray, A Clockwork Orange, the game show host from hell. He's the devil, basically. It's really very peculiar, funny and disturbing at the same time.



9 May 93 - Rotterdam Opening night. It went well too. The band did really well, and the technical end of things was quite astonishing really, given that most of this ridiculously enormous new video wall system was in cardboard boxes two weeks ago. Of course Bono's new character stole the show. He's been christened "MacPhisto" and there's been the addition of a little pair of red velvet horns, which appeared at the very last moment. White face and red lipstick. First encore, "Desire," was one of those great moments where you know something that the audience (and the enormous amount of press people) don't. Out he comes, and you can feel 50,000 people go "what the fuck?" The absolute crowning glory was that it stayed dry all night until the encore break when the heavens opened, so MacPhisto made his first entrance in a raging downpour under a sky full of thunder and lightning. It looked like Faust meets Apocalypse Now. Great first night. And there was much rejoicing.



18 May 93 - Oviedo It's in northern Spain. We arrived here yesterday after a 12-hour drive from Lisbon. It was a night off with no load-in the following day which, let's face it, is asking for trouble. Oviedo is a very small, picturesque, ancient town, so the arrival of 200 road crew with cabin fever was pretty scary. The crew practically filled the town so where you went you'd run into yet more well oiled people speaking English very loudly and wearing U2 gear. Legend has it that lighting crew member Andy Kitchen woke up at 9 o'clock this morning and found himself in the park wearing only a T-shirt. Another triumph for international diplomacy.



27 May 93 - Brussels On the way here the caterers' bus broke down, so we stopped to rescue them at about 5 a.m. on some autobahn somewhere. It's a glamorous life. The Edge gave me a copy of the Zooropa album today, which is finally complete. I slipped away and listened to it from cover to cover. Bono says, "It's not a rock album -- I don't know what it is," but they all seem very positive about it. I asked what they would do with their spare time now and Adam says, "we could always start on the next album."



30 May 93 - Frankfurt And so on to Germany. We have spent a lot of time discussing and considering whether some of the video sequences in the show might be a little too close to the bone here -- particularly the brief swastika sequence in "Bullet." As they appear, Bono shouts, "we must never let this happen again!" in the local language. We were concerned that it might be misunderstood, but oddly, the vibe I get from the German audiences is that after 50 years of foreigners muttering "don't mention the war" jokes, it's a relief to have someone come in and mention it very loudly, very directly, and say, "look, we don't blame you for this, but it happened and we must all make sure it doesn't happen again."



6 June 93 - Stuttgart Meeting with the band tonight. It's the first proper meeting we've had in ages, as finishing the album has taken up every spare moment. It was just the four band members, myself, Monica Caston and Maurice Linnane (Zooropa video directors). We took a few hours to go through a videotape, sort out any problems and talk about ideas for starting to work in some of the new material. Bono says, "we've been absent for the past month, but even so, this is already head and shoulders above the American show." Yes!!!



15 June 93 - Berlin So we're in Berlin. The gig -- the Olympic Stadium -- is so over the top it's hysterical. This is where Hitler did his "achtung baby," Leni Riefenstahl made movies, and Jesse Owens was snubbed and did his Black Power salute. This whole building reeks of megalomania. Just the architecture makes you want to rush out and annex a few small countries. Presenting Zoo TV in this setting may well prove to be the peak of the Zooropa tour.

As it happened, the biggest excitement of the night was the police coming to arrest Joe O'Herlihy, sound engineer, for breaching the very stringent local sound levels. The "Sound Police," who had surrounded the stadium with their decibel meters, decided that as soon as the show was over our Joe was bound for the slammer. Fortunately, a bit of fancy footwork and a few manoeuvres in the dark ensured that by the time the stadium lights came up, Mr. O. had already escaped from Colditz, and was happily drinking gin and tonics on the band's plane, bound for Dublin.



26 June 93 - Paris I took half an hour out of my daily routine to watch the Velvet Underground. It's an incredible thought that the last time they did a show, some of the U2 crew hadn't been born. They played all the hits: "Heroine," "Sweet Jane," "All Tomorrow's Parties." Sounded great.



3 July 93 - Verona Italy is such a wild place for U2 shows. The audiences are so, shall we say, enthusiastic. After the first of the two shows here was another "Riggers Arms" party. It's been a long haul since Rotterdam, so everybody was really ready to cut loose. Macnas from Galway did their own performance of "Mysterious Ways," complete with Youth (the 300-lb. truck driver) bellydancing. The riggers built a bar, a stage and a maze outside. Naturally, nobody left until it got light.



12 July 93 - Turin "There is no more disturbing a consequence of the electronic and graphic revolution than this: that the world as given to us through television seems natural, not bizarre." -- Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death.



18 July 93 - Bologna And it's hot. Tonight MacPhisto phoned Benito Craxi, one of Italy's most famous and most corrupt politicians. The whole crowd started to chant "Benito, Benito, Fuck You, Fuck You!"



24 July 93 - Budapest Monsoon. It rained so hard that the audience were doing synchronised swimming during "With or Without You." The saddest thing was watching a close-up of the Edge during "Ultraviolet" -- he was singing and playing guitar so he didn't have a free hand to wipe the drops of rainwater off the end of his nose. Talk about suffering for your art.



3 August 93 - Nijmegen We did the live link to Sarajevo during the show, which we've been doing every show for about a month now. It's so powerful, some nights it's hard to carry on afterwards, but going into "Bad" helps. What makes it so powerful it that essentially it's really bad television -- just a static headshot, none of the cuts, edits or theme tunes that make TV news easier to deal with. Tonight there was a Dutch woman in Sarajevo who knew her son was at the U2 gig here in Holland. She hadn't seen or heard from him for three years, but she got to speak to him from the video screens. Devastating really.



11 August 93 - London Wembley Stadium, and not wishing to be cowardly, the band out four new numbers in the set for the opening night: "Numb," "Babyface," "Zooropa" and "Stay." Let us say some worked better than others, but a lighter moment came in "Babyface." The audience member with the video camera jumped on top of Bono, pushed him to the floor, sat on him and shot close-ups of his crotch for the big screens. The crowd always loves a cheap thrill and Bono was laughing so hard he could hardly finish the song.



14 August 93 - Leeds Eighty-two thousand people came to tonight's show, which is a record for a non-festival U2 show. And they looked beautiful.



20 August 93 - London Salman Rushdie was at the show tonight. Onstage, with MacPhisto. A man in hiding standing in front of 72,000 people. Luckily there were no armed Muslim fundamentalists in the audience.



23 August 93 - Dublin To finish this leg of the tour here might have been asking for trouble, but this time it was great. The show went out live all over the world on radio, but still no major dramas. Next stop, Australia.



3 November 93 - Melbourne Two years later and we're still in production rehearsals. We had the whole band out at the mix position in the middle of the night, watching the new video sequences for "Crashed Car" and "Lemon." Just ten shows to go, and we're still putting new stuff in.



November 93 - Melbourne The Edge came out with a great one-liner this morning: "Zoo TV brings you the very best in hardware, software and men's wear." I've been laughing about that all day.



27 November 93 - Sydney The final hurdle, the last global telecast, and we won. It's been a very long day, but what went out on TV was spectacular. I spent half the day with Bono & Edge, working on final details, and the other half with Allen Branton (TV lighting consultant), looking at videotapes, angles, colours, etc. Adam made a triumphant return, after being too ill to perform last night, so everyone was much relieved. Adam's bass tech Stuart had to understudy last night, and in Bono's words was "pretty cool for a guy who's shitting himself." It was a great show tonight.

After the show, we sat in the dressing room all night looking at the videotapes, hooting and hollering. Laughing at each other's mistakes, but with an overall air of mutual backslapping. When we got into watching it for the second time, the various band guests began to leave, clearly bored senseless at our self-indulgent "home movies." Now we can got to New Zealand and have some fun.



4 December 93 - Auckland The gig here -- Western Springs -- is surrounded with houses. People had built little grandstands in their gardens and were charging admission for friends to come watch the gig. We sent Libby Wilson (promoter staff) up to one house with a mobile phone and MacPhisto telephoned them from the stage to congratulate them on their entrepreneurial spirit.



9 December 93 - Tokyo The Tokyo Dome has to the worst sounding building on the planet, and Japanese audiences are traditionally quite reserved, which didn't make for a great night. We survived.



10 August 93 - Tokyo So, the very last night of Zoo TV live. Hard to take in really. Great show, made more so by having about a million guests on the mix position. Madonna came, with her entire touring party, Terence Trent D'Arby came with all his people, plus this group of leather-clad mature gentlemen with big hair, who turned out to be Deep Purple.

Consequently, it was a real party, both onstage and out front, and really quite moving to think this is the last time we'd see this show, with all its great moments. The text overload of "The Fly," the endless buffaloes in "One," the apocalypse of "Bullet" into "Running to Stand Still" and that magical segue into the opening of "Streets," plus, of course, Mr. MacPhisto's last stand, although somehow I'm not sure we've seen the last of him.

After the show, there was much rejoicing of course, tinged with a mixture of sadness and relief. We are across the finish line, impossible to take in -- rather like the last day of school, where you know nothing will ever be the same again, but at the same time, this is just a day like any other, so it's hard to appreciate.

Lots of goodbyes and thank yous, and then the final splitting up of this massive ball of energy that was Zoo TV. Everyone goes home on aeroplanes literally all over the world. On to new places, new projects. I didn't go to bed; it would have seemed inappropriate.



© Propaganda, 1994. All rights reserved.



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