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U2 The Virtual Road Live Thread - Stop 3: U2 POPmart: Live From Mexico City

Max Tsukino

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14 minutes ago, Madfl3a said:

Thanks for the ride guys. Always a pleasure. Good...whatever it is on your side of the world. Meet you in Paris ! (I am so not ready for that one)

pain au chocolat is of help to be ready for what's next...

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46 minutes ago, dmway said:

The same from me. 👍

You know, this is the one tour where we did see them in the same city. I saw the 3rd show at Soldier Field - did you catch one of the first two?


I don't remember. 

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17 hours ago, mich40 said:

Thanks to a conversation with another subscriber yesterday, I was doing some internet digging and found Willie's Popmart diaries. You can read all of them here: http://u2forums.com/topic/1114-willie-williams-diary-part-1-popmart/

But here are the entries from Mexico City for some preshow reading:

29.11.1997 Mexico City pre-show – Meetings, meetings.
Mexico City pre-show – Meetings, meetings. Preparations followed by a David Lynch style karaoke.

Mexico City. Slept late, then got up and headed in to see the venue. I’d seen photographs, so I had the general idea, but you never really know till you see it in the flesh. Its not ideal, but it’ll be OK. The place is extremely wide, and the stage is set back a long way from the grandstands, which makes for a lot of open space, which might look weird or just be a black hole on TV. Many meetings ensued, of course, and ended up having dinner in the crew hotel, before a nightcap in the hotel bar where there was an Mexican entertainment group, on a stage surrounded by illuminated reindeer, singing a Karaoke version of The Sound of Music, all done without a trace of irony. If you saw that in a David Lynch movie you’d say it was too far fetched...

30.11.1997 Mexico City pre-show – More meetings.
Mexico City pre-show – More meetings. More cameras, more lighting for more atmosphere.

Mexico City. Much of the day I spent with Allen Branton and Bruce Ramus, in further on-site discussions about how best to handle lighting the TV broadcast. Its an interesting process, in that the goals are somewhat different from doing a straight live show. When you watch a live show in a stadium, you can take in the whole show and feel what the event is about. When your only access point to the show is watching it on TV, its a different matter. Unless you make a point of showing the TV audience what’s going on and give them context, they’ll have no idea of what the big picture is - the show could be coming from anywhere. To achieve this goal we are adding about a dozen more cameras and a lot more lighting. Again, in a stadium if the staging or the building isn’t lit specifically, you still have a sense that its there - you can feel it. On TV if something doesn’t have a light pointed at it, you can’t see it. Much of the lighting is to make the audience visible to the TV cameras, so U2 appear to be playing to a heaving sold out stadium crowd, rather than in somebody’s basement. It takes a lot of effort and experience to make it work, but almost all of this team has worked together before on numerous occasions, so there’s a common direction and spirit to what we’re attempting. So far so good.

01.12.1997 Mexico City pre-show – Covering every angle.
Mexico City pre-show – Covering every angle. In Mexico City you need to watch the pollution levels. Oxygen can help. A long day wrestles the TV show logistics into submission, despite becoming locked in the stadium.

December already. Advent and all. Down here in Mexico City the rather lo-tech but utterly charming Christmas decorations are going up at a pace. On the way to the gig today I drove past a huge market packed with people, buying up fir trees, tinsel and assorted electric flashing objects. This is such a huge city. At 24 million inhabitants I think that makes it the most densely populated spot on the earth’s crust - it certainly feels like it. The pollution here is quite literally breath-taking, which combined with the extremely high altitude makes a man realise how much he takes oxygen for granted much of the time. In our hotel there’s a charming note which says \"we recommend you stay indoors when the pollution index level is too high. Please contact the concierge for todays pollution index reading.\" Amongst the street billboards advertising local and international products, there are ones advertising oxygen. A stylishly dressed model with flowing hair and that post-produced flawless dental smile has a demeanor of rapturous joy as she holds up her \"industrial chic\" plastic oxygen mask, connected to a rather scientific looking green cylinder. William Gibson where are you?

It was a long day at the gig. The band came in to sound check both for the live sound and the recorded sound going to the broadcast truck. They then rehearsed for a couple of hours to allow us to view all the new camera positions and re-light them accordingly. Our only major problem was that our colossal video screen proved to be way too bright for the new cameras. With a regular screen \"turning down the brightness\" would be simple enough, but this being the first of its kind it was a little tricky. By midnight most of the crew had left, leaving the lighting and video teams to work through the night, looking at the show cue by cue, re-lighting, balancing, changing, adapting, re-adapting. Its a slow process (though still done at lightning speed compared to shooting a movie) but fortunately we really have the \"A\" team here. All too often in these situations, when a tour has been up and running all year the arrival of the \"film crew\" can seem like an invasion. Making a show look good on TV is an entirely different discipline to making it great for the stadium viewer, so some compromises to the existing show are inevitable. Fortunately all the players involved here have been around the block so many times now that we all understand the common goal.

Myself and Allen were in the truck looking at sixteen video monitors - one for each of the TV cameras, whilst Bruce and the lighting team and Monica and the video screen team were out in the field making it happen. It was exciting to see the show from all of these new angles. At 5.30am we called it a night and sleep-walked onto our Mexican shuttle bus to take us back to the hotel. Our driver was an enthusiastic non-English speaking chap who got very excited when we reached the stadium gates and found them chained up, with the night watchman long gone. (\"...and then depression set in...\") Fortunately no major tour ever travels without a sturdy pair of oversized industrial bolt-cutters, so we were soon on our way home...

03.12.1997 Mexico City show – Looking good on TV.
Mexico City show – Looking good on TV. The show was great so was the shoot, phew!

Mexico City. Two nights at the Autodromo, the second of which (tonight) went out on live television to most of the planet. Mercifully, we won. The show was great and the shoot was great too. This stage production looks like it was made for television - I think its because despite being huge it is a very simple design - just an arch and a line, really. All were pleased and in which is now becoming a tradition, we all jammed into the band’s dressing room to watch the tape playback. We cheered at our favourite moments and pointed fingers and laughed at each other’s greatest mistakes of the night. Back to the crew hotel we watch the sun rise through the viscous pollution which hangs over Mexico City. So there it is, its printed, PopMart is on video tape and just two shows to go before our Christmas holidays. Any excuse for a party.
http://www.u2.com/images/diary/296.jpg http://www.u2.com/images/diary/297.jpg

04.12.1997 Mexico City/San Francisco – Sleepwalking back home.
Mexico City/San Francisco – Sleepwalking back home.

Went to bed at 9.30am, so the lobby call to meet Joe and go to the airport was more painful than I care to recall. We are both bound for San Francisco for the few days off we have whilst the tour equipment trundles the thousands of miles from Mexico City to Vancouver. I’ll sleep for most of them I think...

I really enjoyed reading this before the show, Mich.  Thanks.  

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Max Tsukino said:

ok... this one is funny...


Does a show like this cause a mess in a city as big as Mexico City?  What was getting around like for these shows? 

Edited by Manohlive
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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, dmway said:

You get extra "U2 credit" for staying up for these last two shows - they obviously didn't have Western Europe in mind when they chose the starting time for these premieres. 😄


Your right, I am afraid I don’t have the stamina anymore to stay up for these timings so will catch the show later. But I am enjoying reading all your comments, so really looking forwards to watching it, glad you all had a great time.

Edited by acrobat
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Posted (edited)

Happy belated birthday Mich! 

That was a real rollercoaster, a feast for the eyes, ears, heart & soul - and also peak '90s! 

I'd forgotten just how seamless the transitions from Pride to Still Haven't Found to All I Want were. Not to mention Edge's solo rendition of SBS. 

Last Night On Earth, Gone and Please ought to be returned to the setlist at least once each.

Edited by peterferris8
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