A month on tour with U2
When a new U2 tour was announced I, like many others started dreaming up some plans. Which cities to go to? How many shows? How will I get tickets for them all? My original plan was to try to match my 360 tour journey and get to around 10 shows but as shows went on sale I kept buying more and more tickets. I was like an addict who couldn’t get his fix.
This journal tells my personal story of October 2015 and the 8 shows I attended that month. These 8 shows included a run of 6 consecutive shows!
3 October - Barcelona: holidays & summer shows
Barcelona always evokes fond memories, especially when U2 is concerned. I have always wanted to come back after attending the first two shows of the 360 tour. With help from our very own Sergio, I was able to get tickets to the first two shows. I ended up staying in Barcelona for an extra week to take advantage of the great late summer weather. My girlfriend isn’t really a big U2 fan so a weeks holiday in Barcelona hopefully kept me in the good books!
4 October - AchtungBabies live in the Music Hall
Wow, just wow. I've seen my share of U2 tribute bands over the years but this one blew me away. The AchtungBabies played in the Music Hall in Barcelona as a warm-up party to the real thing, and warm us up they did! The band did a Innocence & Experience tour set where they imitated U2, U2's setlist and U2's visuals of the current tour (even the lightbulb was present). After the I&E set, the band continued into an early days setlist (with 11 O'Clock and other early songs) and rounded off the night with a ZooTV set living up to their name. I was so happy to hear songs like Wild Horses live again. This band also proved that playing Acrobat live is possible, it was amazing.
PS - The night also had another special moment for me as my dear friend Sergio (who I mentioned earlier) was pulled on stage for Desire to sing. And a great job he did, even singing the famous '1969 / So You Wanna Be A Rock'n'Roll Star' snippet as done by U2 in 1990. Watch the performance back here:
Besides enjoying myself I also Periscoped quite a bunch of songs, very worthwhile watching back on our Katch Channel.
5 October - Uno, dos, tres and catorce at Barcelona 1
Finally the day was here, the first show in Barcelona. My first Barcelona show since July 2009. I was familiar with the Sant Jordi neighbourhood as I visited the area last year on a trip to a football match. I knew how beautiful it was and couldn't wait to go there again.
We (myself and Sergio) decided not to queue and just headed to the venue before the show. We can’t recommend queueing on this tour unless you absolutely must be on the rail. This proved to be true as the GA area was enormous in the Sant Jordi, with lots of space to move around. I was able to walk around from the main stage to the e-stage.
The show itself was amazing. As always, the Spanish crowd was really into it. I never heard 'uno dos tres catorce' so loud as I did that night. That was only part of the crowd though as there were also lots of people around me smoking and taking photos with their iPads (really, who brings a tablet to a show? and then zooming in with it, really?). Other fans were arguing with each other for more than 15 minutes. Some people's behaviour at concerts never surprises eh??
After the show, myself and Sergio met up with Dutch fan Anita to broadcast another episode of U2start’s post-show video chats. This is something we started in Amsterdam and proved to be a lot of fun. Fans can ask questions about the show and we answer them live from the venue. If you want to view back the post-show chat of the first Barcelona show, click here.
6 October - A different experience at Barcelona 2
The ninth show of the year brought something different as I had seats for the very first time this tour. For me a U2 show is experienced best from GA. I am a fan who sings along to every tune while jumping and dancing around. I also like to be surrounded by people who do the same. However, when you are as lucky as I am to be able to witness this many shows it can be nice for a change so that the show can be experienced from a different perspective. Also, being in the seats is generally a good for taping the show (something I never did before). The sound is a bit better and it's a way for me to say thanks to all those other tapers who dedicated their U2 show visits to taping and sharing.
Two things to note though. One is that when you tape you cannot really sing along as that could ruin the recording. So what I did was singing along without making noise (a bit weird, but no one notices anyway). Second is that while I had a good seat on paper, my seat was actually quite far from the e-stage due to the enormity of the arena floor. Another benefit of being in the seats is that I could go for a drink, which in this case resulted in my buying some of these nice branded cups. Exclusive and useful merchandise. Very nice!
I found the first show a bit better than the second one (more spontaneous moments, more energy) but overall I truly enjoyed my two Barcelona shows. We also ended night 2 with another post-show chat.
7 October - Being close to The Edge
I neither had, or wanted tickets for the third and fourth shows so 7 October could become the first true day of my holiday. One of the things about running a U2 website is that going to a show is also a bit of work (albeit a hobby). Before the show I’m busy tweeting and posting pictures on our forums. During the days and shows I add content to our U2start Snapchat to document the more personal side of the U2 journey. During the show I always shoot some pictures to share on the website and in some cases even record the show with a voice recorder and external microphone. After the show my focus is on post-processing photos (selecting photos, sometimes editing them as well), writing reviews and process other recorded material. All of this can take me into the next morning so only after this could my holiday really begin. The weather was still great and there were some sights we wanted to see.
One of the sights was the Parc de la Ciutadella. While we were enjoying some Paella close by, I got a notification U2 posted a new Instagram photo. It was The Edge posting a selfie with some fountain in the background. When we walked towards the Parc I suddenly recognised the fountain in the Parc was was the same where The Edge was earlier! I was at the same spot as The Edge was 20 minutes or so after he was there. I couldn't help but take a similar photo.
9 October - Queuing without a show
Whilst I wasn’t attending the third show myself, a few of my good friends were so we decided to spend the day on the Mount Montjuic and took a walk to the Sant Jordi late afternoon. After working with him for about 8 months, I was honoured to meet Félix (who some of you may know as the designer of the Shirts of Innocence. I gave him a copy of the book U2 en Espãna as a thank-you gift on behalf of myself and U2start, signed by the author Xavier Balart (thanks for that Xavier!). For the Spanish readers among you, I can really recommend this book. What a beautiful piece of work with such beautiful photographs and memorabilia.
10 October - Packing and unpacking
The 10th of October marked the day of the final Barcelona show, but it also marked the day where I headed for home. This brought to an end to an amazing week in Barcelona. What is there not to love about Barcelona? Everything is great about it and I cannot wait to return again soon. At home I unpacked my suitcase and began packing for my next journey to Antwerp while listening & watching fragments from U2's final show in Barcelona. What a night that was and how convenient it can be to watch parts of U2's show live on video while lying on your couch. Times really have changed.
12 October - Working
Yes, I do have a regular job. Sympathies to my boss who has to deal with me taking up almost all of my holidays within a short period of time. I am very fortunate to have a job that allows me to do this and I can't count the number of times colleagues have asked me that all too familiar question: why do you go to the same show so many times?
13 October - Antwerp 1
The Antwerp & Cologne shows were all within driving range, which is great as I love to drive. Me and two friends had the idea of queuing early for Antwerp 1 then taking it easy for Antwerp 2. So there I was on my day off sitting in my car at 6:30 in the morning setting off to pick up my friends for the drive to Antwerp. After a few stop we arrived at the arena at around 10 in the morning.
It was more crowded than I expected with some 100 fans in front of us. Most of them were Dutch. More than ever I asked myself the question during queuing: why am I doing this again? It was freezing cold. Good thing we had a football. The most exciting part of the pre-show experience is the run. Running through the queue inside the arena and finding a spot. For some reason I keep coming back to the e-stage. It's where I’ve had my greatest experiences.
We managed to get first row at the tip of the e-stage in the corner and we were blown away. Where you stand, and those around you really shape your experience of the show.
I shot some incredible pics, did some Periscoping, updated the Snapchat, recorded the show and enjoyed it too while singing & jumping along. Who says men can't multitask?
14 October - Antwerp 2
Ouch. The worst thing about the morning after? Getting out of bed. Everything hurts. Got to sleep around 3 after filtering 600 photos down to 43, as well as working on my audio recording then woke up again at 8. Finished the post-show processing around 11 and then we checked out of the hotel. Drove to the city center and got to enjoy several bars, cafes and restaurants. Met some other great U2 fans (thanks for the U2-post stamps!).
Showtime. We got in the arena an hour before showtime and positioned ourselves at the North Side on the end. I love the small things you can spot during a U2 show.
* Larry could be seen as a big shadow on the corner of the arena, awesome view.
* Someone fully dressed as Mister MacPhisto and was sitting on the second ring.
* Random fans scream random song names in between songs ('New Year's Day!', 'Elevation!')
* Belgian fans drink a lot of beer. A lot. Who goes to fetch beer four times during a show?
* Adam waving to the fans from inside the screen at the end of Invisible.
Two great nights in Antwerp came to an end. Loved both shows. Despite the 100% predictable setlist these were two great experiences. We did a post-show chat from inside the merchandising stand and then got to drive home. Got home around 2am ready for a day of work and then it’s time to head to Cologne. Another drive, another show.
16 October - Travel to Cologne
With one workday in between, October 16th marked the start of another journey. or actually, multiple journeys. The plan was to attend the first Cologne show with my girlfriend then make the 3 hour drive home after only to repeat the same process the day after with a friend. A perfect arrangement for a U2 fan who likes to drive!
17 October - Chocolate and U2
The Cologne shows were the last U2 shows this year within driving distance. The Cologne shows also were the last where I had seats instead of standing tickets. For the first show I was on the long side and for the second show I thought I would be behind the stage but since the production was turned around I ended up on the side of the e-stage.
Being seated means a very "mainstream fan" experience as I got to enjoy the beautiful city of Cologne during the day then went to the show in the evening. We went to the chocolate museum for instance, where we met some fellow U2start-ers!
The show was great, it was amazing to see it from such a good spot. You could see everything up close with a great view of the audience. You don't miss anything from that spot.
18 October - Legendary show with an amazing after-party
At 3 in the afternoon me and my friend set out for a drive to what would become one of the best U2 shows this year. I bought my first merchandising item of the year (a wonderful tour book) and prepared myself for what I thought would become a copy of the second Antwerp show, setlist and show-wise.
How wrong I was. Party Girl, @bonojour playing on stage for two songs and an epic performance of my all time favourite U2 song, Bad. I can't believe how lucky I am with my fifth live performance of Bad ever (in 24 shows, not a bad record in the post-Vertigo era). This song makes a show for me, regardless of the rest. I enjoyed every second of it to the fullest. The show also sets the record for U2’s longest ever set with 27 songs. Wow!
After the show I prepared myself for yet another post-show chat and it turned out to be a special One. It was a party. I met so many great people after the show (staff from U2tour, U2Achtung, U2gigs along with many friends and other familiar faces or names). During the chat @bonojour came to join us with a brand-new guitar, a gift from U2 for such an awesome performance on stage that night. The guitar was unpacked and tested out while fans gathered around our spot near the arena. tt wasn’t long before everyone started to sing along to the music: Party Girl and Angel of Harlem were sang along. A great ending to a memorable night. Watch it back here.
24 October - Party night in London
After five days of rest (and my only full work week this month) it was time to travel to London to join the U2 train again. Me and a friend departed a day early for two reasons. We wanted to see a football match (which we did, in awesome Craven Cottage) and we had a party to attend in the evening. Tribute band U2tribe played at the U2start.com warm-up party in The Pipeline. It was a great night if only for the fact that I got to meet so many amazing fans, familiar faces and old friends. I almost forgot about the fact that England is one of the countries in the world where most U2start traffic comes from. A sort of homecoming!
25 October - The O2 becomes The U2
As much as I sometimes regret not buying tickets for all final shows in all cities, I genuinely enjoy all the first nights in a city. Excitement about the arena, the queuing, the merchandise. Everything is new and you can feel that in the city. The band also wants to put on their best show as the first show usually is attended by all local press. It's much different than a night 2, 3 or 4 for that matter. London was one of my best pre-show experiences. We had indoor queuing in the O2 Campus with access to lots of restaurants & bars. The atmosphere was really good and I got to meet and talk to many amazing fans.
We queued from 8 in the morning for the first show. It was the earliest I queued so far this tour and for the first time I ended up having choice inside the venue where to stand. This is actually more difficult than when there is just one spot left. We ended up positioning ourselves in the corner of the e-stage and the catwalk. It turned out to be one of my best show experiences. Everything was perfect: the sound, the band, the energy, my photos, making connection with the band, it was perfect.
Sunday also marked the day when U2start was announced as U2.com/Zootopia's fansite of the week, for which we submitted a story about our origins and to introduce our wonderful crew. What an honour!
26 October - Six out of six
Six shows in 13 days. London 2 marked the sixth show in a row and the last one for a few weeks. It was probably also the last show for which I could queue up as I probably won't do that for any of my last five shows this year. We joined the queue around noon and it was another great experience. We once again could position ourselves front row e-stage, this time at the outer ring so we could see the main stage too. Plus I went with my fellow handsome crew member Gerard. This was his first show of the tour and the e-stage was a great spot to allow him to see as much of the show as possible.
The show was another great one. I really enjoyed it. Two great fans on stage playing Angel of Harlem and Noel Gallagher to close the night with an I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For/All You Need Is Love medley. It's still playing in my head. As a snippet lover it was an absolute pleasure to hear!
photo with four of our crew taken after London 2: Tim, myself, Gerard & Marta
27 October - Finishing touches
Travel & post-processing day. I edited my audio recording of London 2, sorted & edited all my London 2 photos and finally got to sort & edit all of my London 1 photos. I filtered 500 photos down to 93 which I then had to edit one by one so I was happy to be done at the end of the day. Really proud of the work. It feels amazing to contribute to the U2 community whilst still enjoying a show as much as I did.
behind the scenes picture of one of our post-show chats, taken after London 2, for a change I am being interviewed instead of being the interviewer here (which is our iTim)
Can't wait for the next two hours when I can just let life for what it is, just me & my band!
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The article A month on tour with U2 was first published on U2start.com by Remy.
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Great stuff, great performance by Sergio and that pic of Tim interviewing me down at the end ... Gerard looks facinated ;-)
Amazing journey!! Thank you for all your work Remy.