Monday, October 12, 2009

Tampa; Center of the U2niverse (for a night)

"Over 70,000 people are getting together in Tampa tonight to hear a group speak on behalf of God. Did Randy & Paula get back together?" - Me, last Friday

I made that joke on the morning of the U2 concert here in Tampa. People were not amused. I think I've finally learned my lesson; you simply can not poke even a little bit of fun at people's favorite musicians without backlash (even though I actually thought it was more of a joke at the expense of people who follow and support charlatans like Randy & Paula White, and a pretty good one at that, than it was about U2 and/or their fans, but what do I know?). One of the notes I received said, "I really think they speak more on behalf of humanity", a declaration that to me was far funnier than the original joke. Mostly because I thought that was KC and the Sunshine Band's job.
And once again, I demonstrate that I have failed to learn my lesson. *

Anyway, I was there to work the show (band will call, and if a certain statuesque brunette with a charming Spanish lilt is reading this, I'm still sincerely sorry that the guy you hooked up with the night before who claimed to be The Edge's personal assistant that nobody with the tour had ever heard of before didn't leave you the post show meet & greet passes he promised you, but I think we all learned a couple of valuable lessons; a) I can't give you what I don't have and b) that's rock & roll baby!) and I thought I'd share some pictures for those who were unable to attend. All taken by me unless otherwise credited, such as the one above which was taken by Kathleen Flynn of the St. Pete Times.

One of the most remarkable aspects of this show was the stage set-up the band played on. That pale green thing with the tower sticking out of it is part of it. This is the view from where I parked my car. The gray thing on the left corner curling under the canopy is an enormous cluster of speakers. By the way, when I left, they were playing "Vertigo" and the sound was absolutely crystal clear in the parking lot. I hope there were people on a budget who paid to park, tailgate and enjoy the music from there. If so, they saved themselves as much as $225 each.

Here's a better shot, taken by local traffic reporter Al Taylor. It looks like a toy, doesn't it? If you need help grasping the scale of this thing, keep in mind that this is set up on a football field. The mix position at the back is bigger than a house.

Another photo by Al Taylor. Here you can see the support trucks used to haul all this stuff around the country. Somebody could make a snarky comment about a band that is as outspoken about things like the environment as U2 is to have 50 tractor trailers lugging their gear around, keeping in mind that there were another 50 trucks somewhere else setting up for the next show. Somebody could..but not me.

Here's the view from inside the stadium, about two hours before show time (photo by K)...

...and here it is in action... (photo by K)

...and here it is just seconds before blasting off on a collision course with the moon. (photo by K)
This is the view from my window inside the box office. Here are some people calling attention to a cause. I don't know what it is. Too far away. Sorry. The lady on the poster looks like a nice person.

Here is a volunteer from Amnesty International. I think she was trying to get signatures on a petition to make it legal for people to wear any size wicker sun visors they so choose, regardless of how cartoonishly enormous they are.

Apparently, the show was nothing short of spectacular. Every single report I've heard has said so. Well, I can tell you one area in which it absolutely sucked: People watching. Normally, it's a lot of fun to work concerts because people make some really...interesting....sartorial decisions when they go to concerts. The general rule is if there are outfits that certain people should never wear, those people will wear those outfits to a concert. Not this show, though. It was like being at the mall. All normal people. I've seen more flakes and weirdos at the library. Total snoozefest. Except for this guy...
Thank you, sir. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

* Listen, for what it's worth, I don't dislike U2. I wouldn't say I'm a fan ("fan" being short for "fanatic") but they're a fine band, really. To tell the truth, I actually don't dislike that many bands or artists at all. In all but a very few extreme cases, I'm too lazy and tired to expel that much effort. Please don't take my disinterest as a criticism against them or you for liking them. If anything, remember that I am old, jaded, not smart, unsophisticated and have questionable tastes. Okay?


Gail said...

I felt like I was there! Thanks, Clark!

Anonymous said...

You got one thing incorrect; it's 120 trucks (per Rolling Stone magazine), most of which sit idling for two or three days while set-up takes place. Bono is full of ####.