Well now. Who would have thought we'd ever need a second page for these?!
The 2018 Experience + Innocence Tour saw MacPhisto return to the stage at long last, which meant an unexpectedly busy year for me, transcribing a whole new set of speeches! Once again I've tried to provide any necessary context and bits of related trivia, and there are links to audio and video on YouTube where available, as well as MP3 downloads (the full set can be found here). As always, if you can help explain a reference or add something to a transcript, please get in touch!
If you're looking for information about the original ZooTV Tour, the page you want is here. :)
U2 rehearse a possible setlist for the Experience + Innocence Tour, complete with speech by a sleepy-sounding – and perhaps slightly drunken – MacPhisto. Topics covered include mass surveillance ("You're paying people to listen in on your conversations. How wonderful!"), Vladimir Putin ("Dear old Vladdy-Vlad, killing his enemies with all sorts of wonderful concoctions. Polonium up the bum!"), the USA ("I used to have to call the White House... now the White House calls me"), and the newly emboldened Ku Klux Klan ("They have a book that justifies pretty much all their bad behaviour – it's called the Bible!") The devil concludes his monologue with a message for the audience: "I'm inside all of you. That's my favourite place to be. It's good to laugh, isn't it? Just not at me!"
It seems the stars are aligning in mysterious ways: a quarter of a century after MacPhisto made his public debut in a raging thunderstorm, it's a stormy night in Tulsa and the devil is among us once again, this time beginning his first ever North American tour. (His only previous visit was in 2016, when he performed with The (RED) Pack on Jimmy Kimmel Live!) He initially appears as a comic strip character in the intermission video, set to a new remix of 'Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me' with vocals by Gavin Friday. Bono then takes to the stage in a "showman" outfit including a top hat, a jacket with sparkly lapels, and MacPhisto-esque whiteface with painted eyebrows.
After performing Desire in a similar style to that used on ZooTV, Bono lists a few sins that are essential for a showman "in all his forms", then decides to take a look in the nearby "mirror" (actually a tablet computer that is filming him for the screens). Through the magic of augmented reality, this mirror is able to reveal the showman's hidden dark side – it really is the old devil in one of his favourite disguises! The red horns are still in place, poking through the sides of his hat, but this animated avatar is far more grotesque and frightening in appearance than any previous incarnation. The sight of his alter-ego prompts Bono to remark "Oh, I haven't seen this guy in quite a while..."
"Oh!" exclaims a delightfully familiar voice, as MacPhisto admires his new reflection. "Age brings..." – more importantly than wisdom – "beauty!" The only "slight blemish" is an unsightly lesion on one side of his face; "Is there a dermatologist in the house?" He reviews the recent developments in the world with unconcealed glee: "The truth is dead, and the KKK are out on the streets of Charlottesville without their silly costumes! Ha ha – who'd have thought?!" His voice then takes on a quieter, more sinister tone. "Oh, Tulsa... when you don't believe that I exist, that's when I do my best work." As the menacing intro of 'Acrobat' starts up, heard in concert for the first time ever, there is no better character to recite its opening lines. "Don't believe what you hear. Don't believe what you see. If you just close your eyes, you can feel the enemy!" On that note, his nightmarish visage melts into the darkness with an evil cackle.
Welcome back, Mr MacPhisto. It's been far too long!
Tonight MacPhisto returns to St Louis, the site of his brief unscheduled appearance on the PopMart Tour. The AR filter behaves perfectly after some glitches on the previous night, resulting in a more confident and brilliantly chilling performance. He tells the crowd he's been "a busy little devil", but nevertheless he's been watching us all, as promised in his famous Sydney speech. And it's so much easier for him to keep an eye on us these days: "I told Stalin, all those years ago, people would be spying on themselves... with their telephones!" (No need to leave behind video cameras when almost everyone has a smartphone and is eager to document their whole life on social media.) His mirthful mood in Tulsa has been replaced by something altogether more creepy and threatening, and it's impossible not to feel shivers down one's spine as his speech reaches its dramatic conclusion.
"How the hell are you, California?" It's the 25th anniversary of MacPhisto's first ever appearance in front of fans at a dress rehearsal in Rotterdam, and he's spending his "birthday" at the first of four shows in the state. It's no surprise to learn that traffic jams are the Devil's handiwork, as he impishly remarks "I hear you're a little backed up on the 101. Who d'you think turned the 680 into the 280? Hello!" Expertly segueing into one of his regular topics, he declares that his "absolute favourite" highway is the information superhighway, since "I love information... on people". Vladimir Putin ("my old protégé") was today sworn in for a fourth term as Russian president after 18 years in power, and MacPhisto claims to have been present at the ceremony. "I remember telling him, back in his days in the KGB: 'Soon, people will actually spy on themselves!'"
"Ooh! Very revealing," says Bono as he takes his nightly gaze into the mirror. For anyone still puzzled as to the nature of his game, it's time for his alter-ego to formally introduce himself – and perhaps gain a bit of sympathy? The Devil's been making some updates to his theme song: "I was there in Charlottesville, when the KKK Sieg Heiled together! ...Made damn sure the President's hands were full with 'Stormy' weather." That gets the crowd laughing, and he chuckles wickedly along with them. "Pleased to meet you. Hope you guess my name," he continues, then clarifies after a pause: "My name's actually Mr MacPhisto, but sometimes I pretend to be Mick Jagger." He throws up his arms and struts a little, looking more like his old self than ever, and does it again even more theatrically as Acrobat begins.
Once upon a time in Basel, MacPhisto wanted a taxi to take him home to Vegas (though he didn't actually get round to ordering one). 25 years later, he finally makes it to his destination! There's no rest for the wicked, however; he's here for a pair of shows in his old stomping ground. "Age can bring a spot of bother, no?" he asks the audience. "Is there a dermatologist in the house? Tell them 'MacPhisto's on fire!' And so will everyone else, with the Iranians on hold to blow up the world." (In the past week, President Donald Trump has controversially announced the United States' withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, aimed at preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons.)
This show takes place on the anniversary of MacPhisto's final night in Rotterdam, when he phoned Queen Beatrix and claimed responsibility for the Windsor Castle fire!
This evening finds MacPhisto at his most unhinged so far. He gives a repeat performance of his topical 'Sympathy For The Devil' parody, referencing the Charlottesville rally and Stormy Daniels scandal, then adds "Who could make this shit up?! Seriously!" His speech is punctuated with fits of evil laughter, becoming increasingly hysterical. At last he manages to regain his composure, and there's "just one thing" he wants the audience to know: "When you think I don't exist – when you don't believe in me – that's when I do my best work."
If you enjoyed this, be sure to check out Bono's Joker-esque introduction to a rehearsal of Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me in August 2010!
Inglewood near LA becomes the third city to hear MacPhisto's pithy reworking of Sympathy For The Devil, which he laughs his way through, incredulously adding "I've so little to do these days!" His digital avatar has received an upgrade for this show, with more realistic detail on his hat, uneven teeth and inflamed gumlines.
The Zooropa concert in Lisbon took place 25 years ago today; MacPhisto tried to order a taxi and was disappointed when they hung up on him. Perhaps the city will treat him better when he returns there in four months' time?
On his second night in the City of Angels, MacPhisto seems to be getting the taste for show business once again. "I have always been with you, though it's nice when I get a chance to dress up," the devil tells us. "It feels like I'm making a comeback – d'you get that feeling?" And the once old-fashioned fellow is now embracing the new; he says we've made it all so much easier for him "with your telephones, and your zeroes and ones", and he likes the KKK going costume-free nowadays ("How very modern"). In fact, he thinks his old friend Putin needs to move with the times: "Get with it, Vladdy-Vlad! Polonium up the bum seems a little old-school!"
"Oh, it's you again," MacPhisto observes (a touch disdainfully) when Bono peers into the magic mirror. He goes on to deliver his now-familiar Sympathy For The Devil speech, again concluding "There's nothing for me to do!"
On this day in 1993, MacPhisto was in the Spanish city of Oviedo, trying in vain to get a comprehensible weather forecast. Please let me know if you can make out any of the recorded message in that phone call!
MacPhisto gives a shorter version of his Sympathy For The Devil speech tonight, omitting the chorus and subsequent reveal of his name.
Each night after Acrobat, Bono pretends to contact his wife Ali with updates on how the tour is going. The audience cheer when he mentions their patient response to some pre-show technical difficulties, and laugh when he adds "I think I scared them with the devil thing".
It's the anniversary of another Spanish ZooTV show, when U2 were refused accommodation at the Ritz Hotel in Madrid, resulting in a phone call from MacPhisto asking to speak to the manager!
Referencing the Frank Sinatra song (as he did at both Glasgow shows in 1993), MacPhisto tells the audience "I have always been with you, Chicago. You're 'my kind of town'!" – before dissolving into laughter and sneering "Oh, God almighty, who writes this shit?!" He says he's having "a kind of comeback", and once again praises the "Interweb" for making his job so much easier: "I'm kind of... all over you, in your telephones. Don't you love those ones and zeroes?"
There's a welcome new addition to MacPhisto's outfit at this show (sadly for one night only) – a splendid black ruffled shirt, similar to his old red one!
It appears that MacPhisto is finding Jagger & Richards' lyrics a little corny, as he can barely make it through his Sympathy For The Devil routine for cringe-laughing. He's still amused by people spying on themselves with their "telephones", too – "Myself and Comrade Putin had a real laugh about that!" His look on stage continues to evolve, with some ZooTV-style eyeshadow being worn this time.
In his nightly report home to Ali after Acrobat, Bono says "I hope I didn't freak them out with the MacPhisto thing here in Nashville – I think they were cool with it!" (to a loud cheer of confirmation from the crowd), before prompting laughter with the afterthought "Freaked ME out!"
It's now 25 years since the Nantes show and MacPhisto's conversation with a no-nonsense taxi operator, who refused to accept that his location was "everywhere"!
The Devil goes down to Georgia to play his last US show for a couple of weeks (but avoids any ill-judged bets). He sticks to introducing himself Stones-style, observing that there's "hardly anything" for him to do, and having a good laugh with Putin about our lack of data privacy. He cackles evilly and blows a kiss to the audience as Acrobat begins.
Having previously rehearsed in Quebec, MacPhisto returns to the province for his first ever Canadian shows. Away from the predominantly American audience, he takes the opportunity to really let rip on that country, delivering his rantiest rant since Condomgate in Cork. (It's also his sweariest speech to date, with one count of the S-word and two of the F-word – the latter used only once before.) In between roars of wicked laughter, he says he's having a comeback "especially south of the border", where "the American Dream has turned into an absolute nightmare!" He has a subtle dig at the President's infamous "tiny hands" and immaturity, and suggests that "The Americans have the same problem with guns as the Irish have with alcohol. Meaning... what problem?!" Finally he takes aim at the trade war sparked by Trump's controversial tariffs in the past week: "I mean, the G-string 7 was supposed to be sitting around talking about the 130 million girls who don't go to school 'cos they're girls – and now they're gonna be talking about steel and fucking maple syrup!" He speaks a little French at the end, as he did in Nantes, Paris and Marseille (and in his Naked City video message).
MacPhisto unveils a new version of his Sympathy For The Devil speech with a whole new set of lyrics: "I was there when Comrade Putin flushed the euro down the loo. Get the people to spy on themselves with their telephones, and there's nothing much for me to do!" He even sings part of the chorus, which now includes an extra line: "Turning neighbours into enemies is the nature of my game." He also shows off his French accent again for the locals, and tries to recall whether it was "gold toilets or gold hair" that Trump was granted in exchange for his soul.
Tonight is the anniversary of the Stuttgart phone call, one of several attempts to contact Chancellor Helmut Kohl in the wake of a horrifying neo-Nazi firebomb attack. The German concerts undoubtedly showed us MacPhisto at his most ominous – until the EI Tour!
At his first of four shows in the state of New York, MacPhisto boasts about how well things are going, especially with his efforts to reignite the Cold War. ("What about that? Couldn't believe my luck!") He then expresses his affection for "dear old Donny", whom he isn't afraid to mock even on US soil: "High confidence, low self-esteem – wonderful combination! He's like a child showing you a picture he's drawn. 'Yes, Donald – that does look like an elephant!'" The crowd fall about laughing, but MacPhisto adds that he and his colleagues have their favourites on both sides of the aisle. Reprising a line from his phone call in Nantes, he proudly reminds us that "I'm everywhere. I'm everywhere..."
MacPhisto was in Bremen 25 years ago, hoping to visit Chancellor Kohl in person to help him sleep at night. And he wasn't put off by the taxi fare!
After some general thoughts about the current state of the world ("Lunatics on the LEFT, lunatics on the RIGHT!"), MacPhisto comments on yesterday's unlikely summit meeting between former enemies Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. (A few months earlier, the North Korean leader had described Trump as "the mentally deranged US dotard" and been nicknamed "Little Rocket Man" in return, among other escalating threats and insults. They have now posed for photographs together and signed a joint statement committing to the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, though its vague wording left some observers skeptical.) Their playdate has got the old devil feeling all sentimental: "Oh, Donald... I almost choked up, seeing you out there with the rocket boy. Best of friends! You kids really do love your rockets, don't you? Children just don't like to give up their toys..."
There's another new verse to Sympathy For The Devil tonight, referring to local sporting heroes the Philadelphia Eagles, who were invited to a celebration at the White House after winning their first Super Bowl earlier this year. Many NFL players had taken to protesting police brutality and racism by refusing to stand for the national anthem – a practice vehemently criticised by President Trump – and several members of the team declined to attend the ceremony due to disagreement with his policies. Rather than accept a smaller delegation, Trump called off the visit entirely just hours before it was due to take place. MacPhisto naturally takes his side, shushing the crowd and snarling "I was there when your mighty Eagles got too big for their football boots!" The mention of their team gets a big cheer, and MacPhisto mischievously claims: "It was me that cancelled the invitation. People get so hung up on the truth!"
Tonight's show is filmed, perhaps for a future DVD release, and Sympathy For The Devil notably omits any topical references that might date too quickly. MacPhisto says it's so nice to be in the Capitol when everyone is fighting amongst themselves ("I love it, bravo!"), adding: "Now whatever happens, don't mention... the C-word." No, not that one – "Compromise! Excuse my French!" He loves "the extremities" and the demonisation of the opposite side; "Make it as personal as possible" is the devil's advice.
There has been widespread growing concern about the Trump administration's policy of separating children from their families when they are caught illegally crossing the Mexican border. Last week, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions was criticised for quoting the New Testament to support this practice, citing "the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order". (It's been noted that the same verse was historically used to defend slavery.) The whole situation has delighted MacPhisto, of course: "I especially love people using the Bible to justify anything they WANT!"
Earlier today, Melania Trump caused a storm on social media by wearing a coat with the graffiti-style slogan "I really don't care, do u?" on the back while travelling to visit a child migrant detention centre in Texas. Whether intended as a "hidden message" or simply a thoughtless choice of outfit, there was bafflement as to how this error was allowed to occur... but once again, MacPhisto sheds light on the incident. In the latest rewrite of his Sympathy For The Devil verse, he confesses: "I spray-painted the First Lady's coat, but she still wore it anyway!"
MacPhisto celebrates us "warming up the Cold War in a microwave!", and observes that "lunatics from a whole other category" are now in positions of power. "Warehousing children!" he laughs, in reference to the recent shocking images of detained migrant youngsters taken from their parents and made to sleep in crowded wire-mesh pens. It's a real-life fairy tale in his eyes: "I do love the sound of that. Putting children in cages – very Hansel and Gretel, no?"
"The antisocial media" is MacPhisto's new name for people spying on themselves with their own telephones. He tells the crowd about his recent trip to Washington, DC ("I love it there – I just LOVE it!"), and once again cautions against using the C-word, which rather sticks in his throat: "C-- C-- Compromise!" He enjoys seeing people pushed "right to the edge", and really puts the demon into "demonisation".
The New York crowd are treated to MacPhisto's singing voice on Sympathy For The Devil, before he tells them: "I sometimes dress up as Mick Jagger, but it's a wonderful time to be ME!" He's in a particularly trollish mood tonight, describing the fun he has pitting the left and right against each other. "Liberals offended by everything – ooh, sensitive little snowflakes! Conservatives offended by... nothing. Except, perhaps, the idea of giving up their assault weapons – that would be awful!"
It's the 25th anniversary of the Paris show on the Zooropa Tour, when the devil tried to find out National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen's phone number so he could say thank you for letting him back into the country.
MacPhisto is still claiming to be responsible for spray-painting Melania's jacket ("I told her it was all the rage!"). He repeats his comments about the lunacy of storing children in cages, Hansel and Gretel style – "Oh, I do like the sound of that!"
With the Fourth of July celebrations approaching, our old English devil speaks fondly of "the colonies", wondering aloud "What's all this 'Independence Day'?" He's very fired up this evening, remarking on all the fuss about detentions at the Mexican border and using the immortal words of Vanilla Ice to cheerlead the agency responsible: "ICE ICE baby!" He suggests it's a classic case of misdirection: "Mmmm, it's all Three-Card Monte! You lookin' at the border? And in the meantime... Harley-Davidson are moving to Europe! I do love a good trade war, don't you?! Nothing like it to disunite our nations!" (The US motorcycle giant recently announced plans to move production overseas, to avoid EU tariffs retaliating against those imposed by Donald Trump.) Having also seen America quit the UN Human Rights Council in the past fortnight, MacPhisto declares that it's been "a great year".
Guests attending the show include his old friend Sir Salman Rushdie, but alas, there is to be no on-stage reunion!
"What a wonderful year it has been," MacPhisto reflects again as the North American leg of the tour draws to a close (and for his most devoted followers, it's hard to disagree with that sentiment). He still likes the idea of warehousing children – "That sounds kind of nice!" With one last warning for the "fancy, clever liberals" of Connecticut, he signs off for the summer.
25 years ago today, the devil spent his second night in Verona attempting to phone the Pope. He'll be back in Europe when the EI Tour resumes in a couple of months' time!
The European leg of the tour kicks off in Berlin, a city MacPhisto has memorably visited before. There have been a few changes to the setlist and presentation, with Desire replaced by Even Better Than The Real Thing, and Bono's "sins of the showman" preamble disappearing along with it. MacPhisto now appears in character from the start, singing the wonderfully appropriate 'The Hall Of Mirrors' by German electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk: "Even the greatest star finds themself in the looking glass..."
He's on superb form tonight, sounding much like his 1993 self – and that's not the only thing that feels very familiar. Five days ago, a fatal stabbing occurred in the east German city of Chemnitz, and news that the suspects were a Syrian and an Iraqi sparked violent protests by thousands of right-wing extremists with anti-immigration placards. Some gave illegal Nazi salutes, and there were reports of people "who did not look German" being chased and attacked. This growing xenophobia in Germany is once again the subject of MacPhisto's speech: "Look at you, Berlin! You don't know what you've got, do you? This city – so old, so new, so wonderful. And it's yours. It's not anyone else's. You don't have to share it with people you don't know." It's the F-word that's sticking in his throat this time. No, not that one... "f-- f-- f-- foreigners!" He says he's just back from America which is full of foreigners, but fortunately "The Donald is on top of the situation". Who will come to the Germans' rescue? Not Chancellor Merkel, who let in a record number of asylum seekers in 2015; MacPhisto sees more promise in the far-right party AfD ("Alternative for Democracy!") who won 94 seats in last year's general election, entering parliament for the first time. (One of their MPs, Markus Frohnmaier, responded to the Chemnitz riots by tweeting that it's now the citizens' duty to stop the deadly "knife migration", since the state can no longer protect them.)
While on the subject of initials, "Mine's an 'M' – MacPhisto, not McDonald's". He mentions that he was once a handsome devil; "Some say I still am." Count me as one of them!
MacPhisto makes a return visit to Cologne, three days after severe vocal problems caused the second Berlin show to be cut short and rescheduled. As ever, the devil has little respect or sympathy for his "old friend Bo-no", ironically applauding his brief performance and opining that his very best moments are "with the sound turned down". He notes that the singer was absent from a free concert held in Chemnitz last night, where an estimated 65,000 people protested against racism and neo-Nazi violence with the hashtag #WirSindMehr ("we are more" – a response to the far-right slogan Wir sind das Volk, "we are the people"). "Must have broken his little Irish heart, not to stand there with what's-his-name... Bambino," MacPhisto sneers. (The show was headlined by German punk band Die Toten Hosen, who supported U2 at all the German dates on the Zooropa Tour.) He is unimpressed by the event's message of tolerance: "Peace, love and understanding – very funny! I've never been so bored. MacPhisto likes a good rumble! Politics with some muscle thrown in – some tattoos, some burning crosses. That's more like it!"
There are many who would prefer Bono to "shut up and sing", and it seems MacPhisto agrees with them. "So, my chum Bo-no gets his voice back – wunderbar! And what is he doing with it? Singing? No... he's giving speeches about Europe! But mostly about himself. Yawn!" He recommends that Germany listens to 'The Donald' instead – "There's a man who knows how to put his country first." The crowd are unconvinced, whistling loudly at each mention of the President's name, but the devil insists they can trust his advice. Not for the first time, he presents himself as the ideal candidate: "I'm your man – MacPhisto! MacPhisto for Europe! Put ME on the ticket!"
There's an unexpected ZooTV reference at the start of Vertigo, as Bono inserts a subtle snippet of Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car. It will reappear at many subsequent shows, with various combinations of uh-huh's, a-ha's, sha-la-la's and sometimes the title lyric.
MacPhisto returns to Paris on a particularly busy day for the city. Thousands of 'Rise For Climate' rallies have been held across the globe today, calling for an end to the use of fossil fuels, and the largest event in Europe took place here in Paris with the hashtag #MarchePourLeClimat. "You must be exhausted after all that protesting," MacPhisto remarks. "Thousands and thousands of you, spoiling a perfectly wonderful walk, waving your banners about." Unsurprisingly, he is bored by all the fuss about climate change, dismissing it as "the greatest piece of fake news ever". Besides, he likes hot weather. "I mean, Bangladesh might be about to fall into the sea... but the sun was shining on my terrace today at The Peninsula, and I thought: FUCK climate change!"
Our favourite devil says he's been in Sweden for today's general election, where the nationalist anti-immigration party Sweden Democrats are predicted to make gains. MacPhisto previously believed the Swedes to be "boring", but observes that they're "beginning to discover their Aryan potential". The country has long had a generous approach to asylum, but SD leader Jimmie Åkesson claims that the high number of migrants is driving up crime and putting the welfare system at risk. His party, which has its roots in neo-Nazism, has been described as racist and accused of extremism despite efforts to rebrand itself. "I like him!" declares MacPhisto. "I love elections, I love balloons... I love parties that get out of hand." In France, the right-wing National Rally – formerly known as the National Front – has been trying to soften its own image since Marine Le Pen took over as leader (replacing her father Jean-Marie Le Pen, whom MacPhisto attempted to contact in Strasbourg and Paris on the ZooTV Tour). Marine made it through to the second round of last year's presidential election, but was beaten in the run-off by Emmanuel Macron. "France, you disappointed my favourite," MacPhisto chides. "I'm like the father she never had. And now she's had to change the name of her party, so people don't know that they don't like Jews or blacks. I told her, you can hide in plain sight!"
His speech causes quite a stir in the Scandinavian press a couple of days later, with articles about it appearing in Aftonbladet, Göteborgs-Posten, The Local, SVT Nyheter, VG and more. SD's press chief issues a dismissive response, asserting that Swedish celebrities who urged people not to vote for them "obviously don't have any reality-based perception of us and our party", so it doesn't surprise him that "the situation is even worse with a person like Bono".
MacPhisto's old friend Ian Wachtmeister acted as an advisor to Jimmie Åkesson and was a guest speaker at SD's 2010 conference in Stockholm, saying he saw great similarities between their immigration policy and that of his 1990s New Democracy party.
MacPhisto takes aim once again at his "favourite little cabbage", Bono, and how he's been spending his time while in Paris. "The Eiffel Tower? Oh, no. The Mona Lisa? No. The pompous little prick went to the Élysée Palace to see the second most important man in France, Monsieur le Président!" The singer met with Emmanuel Macron on Monday evening to discuss development aid and the partnership between Europe and Africa – and MacPhisto does not approve. "Love thy neighbour(!) I can't stand it – makes me want to fucking retch," he growls. "Like it's a command, and not some optional advice. Well, let me set you right, Bo-no. We may be neighbours, but we're not going to share our garden. It's quiet, and tidy, and that is the way we like it. Wave across the wall, Africa!"
It's MacPhisto's final night in France, and time to bid the Parisians a sad farewell (in French, naturellement). The devil says his melancholy is tempered, however, "by the knowledge that my people are arriving all over Europe". As always, they go by different names: "In Sweden, they call themselves democrats. In France, they keep changing their names. In Italy, they have too many names. In Poland, they have names even I can't pronounce. But they all have one face... and it's mine."
Upon his return to Lisbon, MacPhisto is disappointed to find "Not a fascist in sight" – he loves them! "Oh, you don't?" he asks in surprise as the crowd boo and whistle. "You love ridiculous ideas like... Europe? Oh. I mean, what's the point in speaking different languages if you insist on understanding each other?" He boasts again that his people are "everywhere" on the continent, adding that "in Hungary, they're just... hungry for me!" (The country's right-wing government led by Viktor Orbán has faced criticism for its hardline stance against immigration, even making it a criminal offence for lawyers and activists to help asylum seekers. It has also been accused of attacks on the media, minorities and the rule of law, with the European Parliament last week voting to pursue disciplinary action over breaches of the EU's core values.)
MacPhisto complains about a "funny smell", before realising what it is: "Democrats! The place just stinks of democracy. Fucking Portugal!" He doesn't think much of their parliament, preferring the good old days "when one person used to take all the decisions" – namely his authoritarian friend Salazar. "Minister for the Navy, Minister for Finance, Minister for Agriculture, all at the same time! Now, if you're in the mood for another Minister of Everything, here's some breaking news. MacPhisto for Europe! That's the ticket – MacPhisto for Europe!"
A video clip of this speech later appears on U2's Instagram and Twitter accounts, captioned: "MacPhisto channels his inner dictator and launches a bombshell. He's going to run in the Elections for the European parliament! Watch this space!!"
This city provided one of MacPhisto's original influences, and it's also where he first hinted at his political ambitions during the Zooropa Tour. He didn't speak Spanish back then, but seems to have learnt the language in the past 25 years! The devil mentions that Bono went to see the Pope in Vatican City yesterday afternoon: "To kneel before him, I assume! I didn't kneel, when I lived in that place – back when the Borgias were my very best friends. Rodrigo, Cesare, Lucrezia... such fun!" (His own visit must have been quite the trip down memory lane...) But now he has new friends like Viktor, Jimmie and Marine, and a new game called Zooropa, which he intends to win. "Vote MacPhisto for Europe – or to hell with you!"
The shout-out to Viktor Orbán catches the attention of Hungarian journalists; an article published on Daily News Hungary includes a transcript and video of the speech, as well as describing his 1993 phone call to Gyula Thürmer.
MacPhisto detects the foul stench of democracy again. "Oh, Spain... I thought you'd be over that by now," he sighs. "It's been 39 years, 10 months and 15 days. You do know you're on the wrong side of history, my little madrileños?" He's all in favour of people power – that is, power to HIS people, such as "lovely man" Viktor Orbán and "that brilliant mind in Poland". As for everyone else, "You have the power... to do what you're fucking told! Vote MacPhisto – I'm your strong man for Europe!"
Last time MacPhisto was here, he was teasing the Danes about their reluctance to ratify the Treaty on European Union. He'd gone off them since then: "I had forgotten about your splendid colonial ways. But I see you're finding your old form. Forget Borgen. You're banning burkas, and confiscating jewellery from those awful asylum seekers. Bravo!" (Denmark has some of the strictest immigration laws in Europe due to the influence of the right-wing DPP, an anti-Muslim party favouring cultural assimilation of migrants. Last month the country introduced fines for anyone wearing a garment that hides their face in public, and a controversial law passed in 2016 allows police to seize refugees' cash and jewellery in order to pay for their accommodation.) MacPhisto once again namechecks some of his other friends in Europe, though Marine's last name is eluding him: "France. Little girl, big ideas. Daddy's little girl..."
"What's that smell? Something... rotten in the House of Denmark?" jokes MacPhisto, paraphrasing Shakespeare as he has been known to do in the past. He soon recognises the odour: "It's the stench of liberal democracy. But don't worry – it will soon be gone. Along with the European 'project'." He tells the crowd that his people are everywhere, and asks them how the DPP are doing ("They sound jolly promising to me").
Although MacPhisto performed in 6 German cities on the Zooropa Tour, this is his first visit to Hamburg, where Bono and Edge saw The Black Rider in January 1993. And he's here on German Unity Day, commemorating the anniversary of reunification – much to his disgust. "What a ridiculous concept. I loved this country when it was divided," he grumbles. "I love walls, I hate bridges; I LOATHE sappy songs of unity. All you need is love – what a load of bollocks. All you need is schadenfreude!" He is similarly dismissive of Bob Marley's 'Three Little Birds' ("Every little thing is going to be alright – grow up, Bob!"), and doesn't care for U2's 'One' either, referring to Bono as "that jumped-up little Jesus" and jeering "We're one, but we're not the same. Oh, fuck off!" The word they're looking for is "different", and he's all for people being different, as long as they don't mix: "Like, freckled people! I mean, they can have their own freckled country. Oh, there is one – Ireland. Well, they should fucking stay there." He compares migrants to vermin (as the Nazis once did with Jews), and concludes by asking "If you're different, why aren't you in some different place?"
MacPhisto revives his Sympathy For The Devil speech for the first time on the European leg, replacing the Charlottesville reference with a local equivalent: "I was down in Chemnitz town, when the vandals of hope were put right. Nazi salutes and fireworks, resplendent on a summer night." He reflects on 70 years of peace in Europe ("I've never been so bloody bored"), and says he's been thinking about relocating to London, no doubt enjoying the fierce arguments over 'Brexit'. "But actually, I might just stick around here."
U2 visited the Netherlands twice on the Zooropa Tour, with shows in Rotterdam and Nijmegen, but MacPhisto has not performed in Amsterdam before – though he did once sing the praises of its airport! The stench of democracy is strong here too: "Maybe The Hague? Is that what it is?" He observes that they have "so many bridges around here", and suggests that they need to build some walls instead, to keep out all the unwanted people – "You don't want to be a part of Europe, 'cos it's full of foreigners." (There has been growing support for controversial politician Geert Wilders and his anti-immigration Party for Freedom, which strongly advocates Dutch withdrawal from the EU.) He expresses his own dislike of foreigners, and brings back his "MacPhisto for Europe" campaign slogan.
U2 Fanclub Nederland organise a flashmob to surprise the band, providing fans with light-up devil horns to wear during Acrobat "in honour of the return of Mr MacPhisto". U2.com report that this "didn't go unnoticed" by Bono, who spoke to one fan while introducing Summer Of Love: "Looking good in the horns, dude. A little jealous here. The '90s are returning, don't you think? How old were you – 9?"
"Power to the people" is the theme again tonight – meaning power to "MacPhisto's kind of people" in countries across Europe. "So many places. So many names. But they all have one face," warns the devil with an ominous Nazi salute.
Having toured Verona, Rome, Naples, Turin and Bologna in 1993, MacPhisto finally makes an appearance in Milan. After charming the crowd with some Italian, he sarcastically applauds Bono's visit to the European Parliament yesterday, meeting President Antonio Tajani to discuss the EU's role in African economic development and the importance of voting in next year's European elections. "Brussels – the capital of the EU. Well, Bo-no, FEU2!" cackles MacPhisto, riffing on a certain T-shirt slogan. He complains again about people in Europe understanding each other despite their different languages ("Che schifo!"), and returns to his particular brand of nostalgia: "I miss the old days. Two world wars, fascists and communists fighting for the soul of the people... like we really cared for the people." He loves seeing families divided and demonising each other; "I do love a demon! I feel some demons are around to give me company again... I'm rather encouraged."
"Ohhh... I'm so sad tonight," sighs MacPhisto, who's still missing his close friend, fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. "Ohhh, Benny – Benny and his jets. I used to say, 'Il Duce, what's the use of the trains running on time, if you're not deporting people?'" That's a hot topic in Italy at the moment, with far-right Interior Minister and fellow Mussolini fan Matteo Salvini having pledged to repatriate 500,000 illegal immigrants during his election campaign, recently drafting a security decree that will abolish key protections for migrants and make it easier to deport them. MacPhisto remarks that his old pal "did have some excellent ideas", such as the Manifesto of Race which banned Jews from many professions ("So practical"). He draws a comparison with the latest amendment to Salvini's bill, which would force what he calls "little ethnic shops" to close by 9pm; the minister claims that late-night convenience stores, mostly run by Bangladeshi and Indian immigrants, are meeting places for drug dealers and "hell-raisers". MacPhisto approves of excluding people with very dark tans – "unless they're orange, if you know what I mean!" (Who could he be referring to...?)
There's another strange smell in the air, but this time it's one the Devil likes: "Oh, it's confusion – my favourite scent! When the truth is complex, and lies are so simple, it's great to be MacPhisto." He says that these uncertain times call for "strong men who get shit done", like his various right-wing chums; "I think you've a few to choose from in Italy." (This year's general election resulted in a hung parliament, followed by nearly three months of negotiations and failed attempts to form a cabinet. Two populist parties – the Five Star Movement and League – eventually formed a coalition government, with controversial plans including the mass deportation of migrants.) "Power to the people like me!" he adds, before urging his latest audience to "Vote MacPhisto".
It's time for MacPhisto to say "arrivederci" to Italy, but he remains comforted by the progress of his people, quite a few of them in this very country. He finally names his "hot tip", League leader Matteo Salvini, to a chorus of boos from the crowd – but MacPhisto refuses to hear a word against him. "He can't spell very well, or count... but who needs facts and figures, when you only want to look like you can solve a problem?"
Italy's Rolling Stone reports on the show's messages about the migration crisis, mentioning MacPhisto's speech and recalling his 1993 phone call to Alessandra Mussolini. Several Italian newspapers (including La Repubblica, Il Fatto Quotidiano and Il Messaggero) also publish articles about his speech or share video clips of the part about Salvini.
MacPhisto returns to the north of England for the first time since his Zooropa show in Leeds, this time making his Manchester debut. (He has a small cameo in Elevation, saying "How do you do?" with a theatrical bow at the end of the bridge.) The English devil seems glad to be home, announcing to the crowd: "I'm back! MacPhisto... is back! Although, in so many ways, I have always been with you." He mentions again that his job has rarely been easier, alluding to a number of recent events that have pleased him. Impishly addressing the Mancs as "Manky people", he makes reference to the Brexit referendum that has split the nation in two ("You've never been so interconnected, yet you've never been so divided, my little... Disunited Kingdom, have you?"), the alleged murder of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi who had been critical of his country's government and royal family ("It's an old magic trick, but making journalists disappear still seems to impress"), anxiety over terror attacks such as last year's bombing of this very arena ("Fear is a man's best friend... BOO!"), and the nerve agent poisonings carried out by Russian military intelligence officers in Wiltshire ("Another win for Novichok at Wimbledon!")
The devil playfully introduces himself with an Eminem snippet tonight: "Guess who's back? Back again? MacPhisto's back! Tell your friends!" In the city famous for influential venues such as the Twisted Wheel and The Haçienda, he describes this as his favourite club on the planet, and manages to reference a couple of local bands: "You sort of invented clubs, didn't you, my little Manky-pants. That's why your Mondays are not happy... they're blue!" It should come as no surprise that he was particularly fond of the Hellfire Club: "Now, that was my gaff. That was the place to be. I remember thinking, 'I don't want to be part of a club that I can't burn down.'" He says he's been busy burning down all kinds of clubs lately, including the United Nations (well, they never did help him...), NATO and the EU, as well as both the Labour and Conservative parties here in the UK. "All in flames!" he laughs gleefully. "Isn't that why you were all marching today? I've never felt like such a firestarter." (An estimated 700,000 protesters attended the People's Vote March for the Future in London this afternoon, demanding a referendum on the final Brexit deal.)
25 years after playing two pairs of shows in the British capital, MacPhisto returns for a couple more (finally granting this fan's wish of seeing him deliver a speech in person). "I do love Halloween, don't you?" he asks the crowd, with the spooky festival just over a week away. "Halloween in the Hellfire Club – those were the days. And they're coming back." He speaks again of his pyromaniac tendencies, burning down all the clubs and sending the main political parties up in flames.
MacPhisto has Guy Fawkes Night on his mind this evening – "Remember, remember, MacPhisto's November; gunpowder treason and plot" – and says he's "all fired up" for a giant bonfire. "So tell me, my little cockerneys, what vanities should we heap up on the bonfire? Shall we start with... facts? What about... journalists? Did you say... experts? Ohh, ohh. And how to set it all alight? Ohhh, that's easy. Just do nothing at all. Sit back, and watch it all spontaneously combust."
It's MacPhisto's first ever show in Northern Ireland (the only UK nation he didn't visit on the Zooropa Tour) – though he claims to have had other business there in the recent past. His latest Sympathy For The Devil verse reveals: "I was there in the chambers when those devils passed Ash to Cash. Made damn sure it was a party every party wanted to crash!" The RHI scheme encouraged non-domestic users to switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources for their heating systems, but it was open to abuse as the subsidy paid was more than the cost of the fuel, meaning claimants could make a profit by heating properties unnecessarily. The overspend is estimated to cost taxpayers almost £500 million, and First Minister Arlene Foster (who had overseen the scheme in her role as Enterprise Minister) faced calls to resign over the scandal, but refused. Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness then resigned in protest at the conduct of the DUP, resulting in the collapse of the Northern Ireland Executive in January last year; subsequent power-sharing talks have failed and the country remains without a devolved government. MacPhisto asks his little Lagansiders what fuel to use for his own fire: "Let's start with... trust, shall we? What about... respect? Did I hear... co-operation? Oh, oh oh oh – here's a good one. Stormont!" As before, he suggests that we simply "keep things ticking along the way they are" and it will burn all by itself.
"What are you looking at, Belfast? Haven't you ever seen a politician before?" cackles MacPhisto, triumphantly telling the crowd that his devils are taking over – not just in Europe, but "right across the globe". There's The Donald, of course ("Making America hate again!"), and "My little Filipino pretty boy, Rodrigo Duterte", who vocally supports the summary execution of drug users and criminals by vigilante death squads and has admitted to personally shooting dead criminal suspects while he was mayor of Davao. Today also brings another presidential election ("or as we call it in Brazil, Beelzebub Bossa Nova!"), expected to be won by the deeply divisive far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro. The former army captain, known for his racist, homophobic and misogynistic comments, has suggested that the country should return to the hardline law-and-order tactics of its old dictatorship. MacPhisto is delighted at the prospect: "200 million people about to have their carnival turned into a military parade!"
A video clip is posted on U2's Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr accounts with the caption: "MacPhisto announces the Brazil election results in advance. But is he right? You better believe it. Far right!"
MacPhisto returns to another of the cities he once called home, where he wrapped up the Zooropa Tour with a fine speech in 1993. He was proud to have "some Irish" in him back then, but nowadays the country is getting rather too progressive for his tastes. There's a particularly overpowering odour in this place, which he disgustedly identifies as tolerance and inclusiveness. "Is it the stench of marriage equality? Is it the smell of women's rights?" he demands, after 62% of voters approved the legalisation of same-sex marriage in 2015, and 66% approved the repeal of the Eighth Amendment earlier this year. "Is it the smell of Michael D. Higgins? My nemesis!" He's quite correct; the Irish president, praised as a "tireless advocate for social justice" and re-elected in a landslide victory the week before last, is in attendance at the show. MacPhisto's message to him? "Fee, fi, fo, fum. I smell the blood... of a two-term Limerick bum!" The devil is in quite a huff now, complaining that he's "never felt so unwelcome" in this city. "Dirty, dirty, dirty old Dublin. Well, you won't be seeing me for a while." There's one place he might still feel at home, though: "I'm off for a round of golf in Doonbeg!"
This concert takes place on the day of midterm elections in the US, and MacPhisto is eager to see if his protégé's Republican Party will retain control of Congress. "D'you know, we're that close, me and The Donald," he says with two fingers crossed, revealing that he calls the president Big Mac. "McDonald's, get it? But actually, now that I think about it, he's more... the Burger King. Gold seat and all. Plus, he's got America in a pickle, hasn't he!" Sticking with the burger theme, he announces that Trump is offering the American people "the Deluxe 'Make America Hate Again' Special" – and they're lapping it up. "He's mashed up the American Dream, smothered it in his white supreme sauce, with a taste of bigotry, some green shoots of racism... no tacos. Hold the tacos." To the audience's amusement, he demonstrates that he can still hit the high notes by singing the McDonald's jingle: "I'm loving it!"
Greeting the audience with "Hello, you lovely little leipreacháns", MacPhisto describes himself as Irish for the first time this year (though he did so frequently on the ZooTV Tour!), adding "Isn't everyone Irish, who wants to rule the world?" He says he has a message for the island's inhabitants, and imitates Donald Trump's famous "Build that wall!" chant, in this case referring to the deadlock over how to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland when the UK leaves the EU. Needless to say, MacPhisto is all in favour of division. "Call it a backstop, call it a peace wall, call it a border... whatever, just build it!" he urges. How best to do that? "Just let the passions flow. A little bit of distrust, some bigotry, some jealousy, and watch that wall emerge in people's hearts and minds. Brick by brick, prick by prick!"
The tears are flowing again as MacPhisto waves goodbye to Dublin, telling them he's disappearing for a while – "Not gone, mind. Just slipping out of sight, till the next time." We'll always know where he is, though: "Whenever you see a journalist being bullied, or children being separated from their parents, or old grudges resurfacing; whatever the lost and lonely, when they're washed up on beaches, exhausted on borders that are closed to them; wherever civic discourse has perished, never mind the value of human life... you'll find me there." He might go by different names – Trump, Bolsonaro, Putin, Le Pen, Orbán – and take different shapes, from "big bruiser" to "little despot". But "wherever you see those many names, remember this: there's just one face attached to them. MY face."
The EI Tour concludes with a show rescheduled from 1st September after Bono suddenly lost his voice. MacPhisto sadly says "auf Wiedersehen" to the German fans (with a little help from The Sound Of Music), and ends with a reflective monologue, in the grand tradition of his Dublin, Sydney and Tokyo farewell speeches. He again sums up his main themes from the past few months, adding Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and AfD leader Alexander Gauland to his list of fiendish aliases; "Where there is no value to human life, you will find me."
A heartfelt thank you, MacPhisto, for "betraying the age" in the most entertaining way possible – just when we needed it the most. It's been an absolute pleasure to have you back. Till the next time...
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