This section brings you the details of MacPhisto's speeches and phone calls from every show on the 1993 ZooTV Tour. All of the audio files can be downloaded here (or in a single RAR file); if the links have expired or you want to request any additional clips, drop me an email. (Please include a meaningful subject line so I don't mistake it for spam!)
Below is a comprehensive list of the people and organisations whom MacPhisto phoned (or attempted to phone!) at each show. I've tried to explain some of the in-jokes, and there are Wikipedia links for more information on the relevant subjects. Where possible, you will also find full transcripts of exactly what was said. Your contributions are always welcome; please get in touch if you spot any factual errors, know anything of interest that I haven't mentioned, or can help with transcribing the foreign phrases and mumbly bits that I couldn't make out. My audio collection is also missing a couple of concerts and soundcheck / rehearsal clips, so if you happen to own any of these, I would love you forever if you'd be kind enough to send them my way. :)
Before we begin, allow me to clear up a couple of myths that persist in articles describing MacPhisto. Firstly, he never phoned the White House during any of the shows in which he appeared, despite claiming that he made calls "sometimes to the President of the United States"; this was in fact the Mirrorball Man's favourite prank on earlier legs of the tour in 1992. (If you want to learn more about that character's antics, I'm afraid you'll have to ask someone else! This may be a useful starting point.) MacPhisto was also not responsible for the well-known stunt of ordering 10,000 pizzas for the U2 audience, which again was before his time. It was The Fly who did this near the start of a US gig the previous year, with the pizzas arriving just before the encore.
If you're looking for transcripts of MacPhisto's 2018 speeches on the Experience + Innocence Tour, they can be found here!
Zoomerang / New Zooland / Zooshi
Bono invites a small group of fans inside the stadium for a semi-dress rehearsal, in which he wears a rarely seen red variant of the Fly costume. These lucky fans are the first to witness a prototype version of MacPhisto, not yet named and without his trademark horns. He makes them giggle when he observes that they're curiously silent tonight: "Could you be overcome by emotion, perhaps? Well, I don't blame you – I can see you're all in awe of my platform shoes. Indeed, so am I."
I'm not sure if a recording exists of the rehearsed phone call – let me know if you have a clip of it that you'd be willing to share! I appear to be missing some of the speech as well.
A now perfectly-formed MacPhisto makes his debut appearance in a thunderstorm. Putting a brilliant new twist on the Mirrorball Man's familiar cry of "I have a vision: television!", he instead reveals his fondness for the gloriously kitschy institution that is the Eurovision Song Contest, even singing a few lines of the Dutch winning entry from 1975, Teach-In's 'Ding-A-Dong'. (I am not sure why he thinks it's "the last Eurovision" this year, although the 1994 contest was introduced as "the show they couldn't kill". Can anyone can enlighten me?) He claims to have taught previous winners such as Lulu and Brotherhood of Man everything they knew. MacPhisto then tries to order a taxi to take him home, and confuses the girl on the phone by insisting that "You know me, you know me very well. But I know you probably even better than you know yourself!"
Tonight, MacPhisto announces he's going to call his travel agent because he's very tired and needs "a break from all this". He phones the reservation office for KLM Airlines, and sings along to the waiting music as he is put on hold. After the second "please hold the line" message, MacPhisto sarcastically asks the crowd: "We've got all night, really, haven't we? We don't mind paying a £100,000 fine, now, do we?!" (a reference to the penalty for the show overrunning). He eventually gets through to a helpful receptionist named Monique, who is unable to find a flight for him this evening but checks what's available the next day. "What have you got going? I don't really mind, as long as it's sunny," says MacPhisto, to which Monique replies that it's supposed to be sunny tomorrow here in Holland, earning a big cheer from the crowd! MacPhisto remarks that they said the same thing about yesterday, when the thunderstorm ruined his hair. By now Monique can barely disguise her laughter, and MacPhisto becomes suspicious that she may be "taking the mickey out of an old man". The term "mickey" is lost on Monique, but she assures him that she's very serious, and finds him a flight to Singapore which leaves the following afternoon. MacPhisto tells her she's a very nice lady, and offers to sing her a song. She replies "Oh, that would be nice!" and stays on the line to hear Ultra Violet.
MacPhisto reminisces about the birth of rock 'n' roll in the '50s (all his idea, of course), proudly declaring that "Everybody's into it now!" He attempts to find out whether or not Queen Beatrix is a fan, phoning the Government Information Service which handles media enquiries about the Royal House, but unfortunately the operator is unimpressed and hangs up without responding to the question. Insulted, MacPhisto exclaims: "Well, now – the last time a royal hung up on me, I sent the House of Windsor into flames!" This is a reference to the blaze that had devastated Windsor Castle six months earlier, "thought to have been started by a spotlight shining on a curtain"... now we now what really happened. ;)
Beatrix would go on to become the oldest reigning monarch in Dutch history. She abdicated in 2013 in favour of her son Prince Willem-Alexander.
After a hearty rendition of 'Moon River', MacPhisto praises the crowd's command of English, although he says he prefers Irish himself. He tries to order a taxi, but the woman on the phone puts him on hold and he is unable to get any further response. Having tried his best, MacPhisto sadly admits defeat: "I'm the last pop star, and they've hung up on me. Oh well."
The old U2 Portugal fansite uploaded an article from Blitz magazine, featuring an interview with the Teletáxis operator Ana Oliveira. She says she doesn't remember anyone speaking to her in English that night, but she works alone and has to take care of the radio and telephone simultaneously, so it is normal for her to say "Teletáxis, good evening" and ask the caller to wait without even hearing them. (However, I believe the real reason for her lack of recollection is that he actually dialled the number for Rádio Táxis de Lisboa!) MacPhisto is also mentioned in Portuguese reviews on the website from Blitz, Se7e, A Capital and Super Som.
Observing that it's raining again – "So nice of you all to make us feel at home!" – MacPhisto calls a weather report service (then available on 094) to find out what the forecast is like for tomorrow. He says he hopes to find a friendly voice at the other end, but only gets through to an automated recording which babbles on in Spanish.
MacPhisto complains that the local Ritz Hotel "wouldn't let your favourite rock 'n' roll band stay there" because of a problem with the dress code. (The establishment has historically refused accommodation to anyone deemed "Not Ritz Type", including movie stars, men without ties and women wearing trousers.) He phones the hotel and listens to several minutes of hold music whilst making small talk with the crowd – he asks how the country's general elections are going ("Vota MacPhisto, I'd say!"), and reminisces about "poor old Franco", the dictator who ruled for 36 years and had many thousands of political enemies killed or tortured. When he finally gets through to the manager, MacPhisto explains that he'd like to stay in the hotel now that he has the right suit: "I need a tie and a jacket? But I've got a very special jacket, and I have some horns. Would that be a problem?" He is assured that it's no problem at all. "Well, thank you very much," the devil replies sardonically. "You'll have MacPhisto, but you won't have the group of U2. That's fine; thank you!"
Returning to the city in 2018, MacPhisto would once again encourage the audience to vote for him in an upcoming election (with a new and improved campaign slogan!) and lament the end of the Franco era.
MacPhisto phones for a taxi to take him home, charming the audience with a few lines in French. Aware that he is at the stadium, the taxi operator asks him to specify an exit from which he can be picked up. MacPhisto insists that he is "everywhere", but the woman is having none of it, and repeatedly explains the need for a more precise location. She is also unimpressed by his claim that he knows her very well, scoffing "Oh, do you really?!", but she does allow him to sing a song for her.
Introducing his fellow band members, MacPhisto describes Adam Clayton as "a man with a ginormous willy", before smugly adding "But it's not as big as my one!" He tries to intimidate another taxi operator with his claims of omnipresence and close personal knowledge, and takes offence when he isn't treated with the appropriate degree of respect: "Do you know who you're talking to?!"
Another attempt to order a taxi is thwarted when the number seems to be engaged. (I think he tries to phone Taxi-Ruf on 230001 but dials one too many zeros.)
The Munich show takes place one week after a shocking xenophobic attack in the German city of Solingen, in which four neo-Nazi skinheads firebombed a Turkish family's home, killing two women and three young girls and seriously injuring three other children. It's the latest and most deadly in a series of attacks on "foreigners" over the past two years, part of a growing backlash against an influx of refugees and other immigrants. The murder sparks international outrage, with large demonstrations and widespread press coverage accusing the government of inaction in the face of rising extremist violence. (Only days before the attack, the German parliament had yielded to pressure from the far right by approving a constitutional amendment to limit the number of asylum seekers – a move which could be seen to appease and embolden those with dangerous racist views.) Chancellor Helmut Kohl responds by condemning violence in general, with specific warnings aimed at "Turkish fanatics" who have been rioting in protest, but dismisses the Solingen attack as an isolated incident and downplays the creeping threat of neo-fascism in Germany. He makes no public appearances in the days that follow, releasing written statements but declining to discuss the issue on television, and faces particular criticism for his refusal to visit Solingen (he disdains such gestures as mere "condolence tourism") or attend any of the funeral services (deeming it sufficient to send his Foreign and Interior Ministers as representatives). Some believe Kohl is pandering to conservative voters by avoiding overt displays of sympathy towards foreign victims of violence.
MacPhisto claims that Kohl is becoming "a very good friend of mine", and approves of the way he "stays asleep a lot". When he tries to give him a call, the Chancellor is not in his office and a rather confused gentleman advises phoning again after the weekend. Speaking in his capacity as evil incarnate, MacPhisto leaves a chilling message for Kohl instead: "I'd like to thank him for letting me back into the country. I haven't been here for a while, but I'm back!"
A quarter of a century later, MacPhisto would once again visit Germany in the wake of far-right violence against immigrants, with his Berlin, Cologne and Hamburg speeches focusing on the 2018 Chemnitz riots.
"It's so hot in Germany – just like at home," sighs MacPhisto. He tries again to phone his idle friend Helmut Kohl ("I'm not sure if it's just Sunday that he keeps as a day of rest"), but the Chancellor is still unavailable. He leaves another message despite the man on the phone protesting that he does not speak English.
Tonight sees a variation on the Helmut Kohl theme – this time MacPhisto decides to go and visit him, as "He needs me, I put him to sleep at night". The taxi operator is surprised by this request, pointing out that Kohl is about 600 kilometres away at the Federal Chancellery in Bonn. MacPhisto insists he doesn't mind travelling that far as it's important for Kohl to see him, prompting the man to enquire who he is. "My name is MacPhisto," he explains, "and I want to thank the Chancellor for letting me back into the country." The operator tries to talk him out of the trip, warning that it's very expensive. "I can afford it," MacPhisto boasts. "I'm a very rich pop star!"
MacPhisto again tries to phone Helmut Kohl: "He's an old friend of mine, becoming an even closer friend, and I'd like to speak to him, if that's alright." The man on the phone asks him incredulously if he knows what time it is. "Yes, I know the time," MacPhisto snaps irritably; "I know a lot of things!" Once more he settles for leaving a message.
The audience are given a thought to ponder during the bridge of Desire: "It's important to be nice... but it's nicer to be important." In the words of Bill Flanagan, MacPhisto is raving mad tonight. "I love this place. All the pomp and ceremony and marching, I love it," he declares, gesturing to the grand stadium around him (built by the Nazis for the 1936 Summer Olympics). This time his attempts to phone Helmut Kohl are thwarted by an engaged tone. "I think I might have offended the Chancellor!" he laughs. Putting on a more menacing voice, he begins to shout down the phone: "Can you hear me, Helmut Kohl? I don't need the telephone lines! You know who I am. And I want to thank you for letting me back into the country! I'm BAAACK!"
Kohl served as Chancellor until 1998 and retired from politics in 2002. He died in 2017 at the age of 87.
"You've got so many important people coming to the capital here – of Zooropa," says MacPhisto, as a number of European politicians have gathered for a summit. He phones the hotel where they are believed to be staying and asks for Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader of the French extremist National Front party, but the man on the phone denies they have anyone of that name. MacPhisto instead tries to get hold of Helmut Kohl or former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, but they are not available either. When he asks to leave a message in case Monsieur Le Pen should book in later, he is told that this won't happen as the hotel is fully booked tonight. "Oh, but it's never too full for me," declares MacPhisto, and the receptionist wisely humours him!
Please correct me if I'm wrong, but MacPhisto appears to be referring to the European Council summit of 21st–22nd June, which in fact took place in Copenhagen rather than Strasbourg! (As these meetings were attended by current heads of government and foreign ministers, I do not think Le Pen or Thatcher would have been there in any case. No wonder the hotel employee was confused.)
"Do you know who Monsieur Le Pen is?" asks MacPhisto. "I'm becoming even closer friends to him these days." Support for the xenophobic National Front has increased over the past decade; the party has 10 seats in the European Parliament, and would have won 64 seats in the recent legislative elections if proportional representation had been used. Le Pen (nicknamed the "Devil of the Republic") is known for making provocative statements, calling for the expulsion of Muslims from France and dismissing the Nazi gas chambers as a "detail" of history. Three years ago when a group of neo-Nazis desecrated a Jewish cemetery, toppling 34 tombstones and mutilating a recently buried body, then-Interior Minister Pierre Joxe blamed the likes of Le Pen for inspiring such acts with decades of antisemitic hate speech. MacPhisto wonders if Monsieur Mitterrand might have Le Pen's telephone number; the socialist President has been accused of encouraging the rise of the National Front with increased media coverage and a change of voting system, in order to divide the right. He phones the Élysée Palace, requesting "Parlez anglais, s'il vous plaît" in his upper-class English drawl when a man answers. He is told it's not possible to speak to Mr Mitterrand – he'll have to write instead. MacPhisto explains that he's looking for the number of Monsieur Le Pen, but the man says he's not there, and neither is right-wing current Interior Minister Charles Pasqua (who recently passed a series of hard-line anti-immigration laws that critics have attacked as racist and dangerous). The man on the phone doesn't seem to understand what MacPhisto wants, and insists he cannot take a message for Monsieur Le Pen. MacPhisto leaves one anyway: "I was just going to tell him thank you for letting me back in the country. I'm back, you know. Can't you feel it? I'm coming back!"
Jean-Marie Le Pen has been convicted multiple times for inciting racial hatred and denying crimes against humanity. In 2002 he unexpectedly reached the second round of the presidential election, sparking huge street protests before he was heavily defeated in the run-off. He remained leader of the National Front until 2011 when he was succeeded by his daughter Marine, who expelled him from the party four years later; he then founded the Jeanne Committees. MacPhisto would name Marine as his "favourite" when he returned to Paris on the EI Tour in 2018.
François Mitterrand served as President until 1995 and died of prostate cancer less than eight months later, aged 79. Charles Pasqua also left office in 1995, and later founded the Rally for France party; he died of a heart attack in 2015 at the age of 88.
A review in Le Matin quotes much of MacPhisto's speech:
Le Nouveau Quotidien mentions that MacPhisto wanted to deposit some "dirty money"; the Journal de Genève et Gazette de Lausanne reports that the phone rang 10 times without being answered, adding that Hentsch was "no doubt in the stadium" without his phone. If you can provide an audio clip or any further recollections of MacPhisto's speech at this show, please contact me!
Switzerland's famous banking secrecy laws, introduced to protect Jews and others from Nazi persecution, have ironically caused problems for the heirs of Holocaust victims seeking to reclaim their money, and have frequently been abused by tax cheats and other criminals. During World War II, Nazi Germany looted vast amounts of gold from the banks of occupied countries as well as stealing the assets of individuals, even extracting dental gold from the bodies of victims and moulding it into bars. This ill-gotten wealth was laundered through Swiss banks to finance the German war effort, or deposited in their vaults for safekeeping. Investigations such as the Bergier commission in the 1990s would estimate that the Swiss National Bank held $440 million of Nazi gold, of which $316 million was looted (a fact the bank had been aware of). Hitler maintained a secret account at the Union Bank of Switzerland. The banker François Genoud, who held the posthumous rights to Hitler and Goebbels' writings, has often been named as the post-war manager of the Nazis' hidden fortune.
Contrary to the statement in U2 Live, Bénédict Hentsch was born three years after Hitler's death and therefore could not have been his "personal banker" (I am unsure where this claim originated). He belongs to the seventh generation of a traditional banking family, and in 2004 founded Banque Bénédict Hentsch, which changed its name after his retirement from active private banking in 2013. He also redeveloped the site of the former Charmilles Stadium to create housing and a public park named after his grandfather and father, which he donated to the City of Geneva in 2015.
[ No transcript available ]
"You have a lovely country here in Switzerland," MacPhisto tells the audience, to appreciative cheers. "I and my friends were out on the lake yesterday on a boat, it was lovely. We could drink the water, but we couldn't swim in it." The crowd laugh. (His "friends" are thought to have included Naomi Campbell and support acts Macnas, Stereo MCs and The Velvet Underground.) MacPhisto says he has to take some time out to rest now, and goes to order a taxi, looking dismayed when the crowd start to boo. "Don't get me wrong, I love you! I love you! But I live in Las Vegas, and that's a long way from here." For some unknown reason he doesn't actually make the phone call, going straight into Ultra Violet instead.
"What a wonderful night. All the lights, all the special effects," says MacPhisto. "But do you know, sometimes... I feel quite lonely. And sad. Triste. And I think... of home." He pauses for sympathy before continuing in a fragile voice: "Would you mind awfully if I made a telephone call home? I have some friends there and they're having a party tonight. It's a birthday party – shall we ring them up and wish them happy birthday?" He tells the crowd he lives in Dublin "in a house called Telefís Éireann", and phones the RTÉ Television Centre where Irish folk group Clannad are special guests on the chat show Lifelines, celebrating their 20th anniversary. ("Their name is Clannad, a kind of a family. And this is a family show...") The phone call is answered by singer Máire Brennan, who recorded a duet with Bono in 1985. "Hello Máire, my old friend," he greets her, to which she responds "Hello, Mr MacPhisto!" with an affectionate chuckle. He leads the 45,000-strong crowd in a chorus of 'Happy Birthday', with Máire laughing hard throughout, and tells her "I love you, Máire!" as Ultra Violet begins.
Clannad are ending their 50-year career with a farewell tour in 2023, while Máire (who now spells her name Moya) will continue to record as a solo artist. Band members Pádraig and Noel Duggan died in 2016 and 2022 respectively.
The anniversary of Jim Morrison's death is marked with a snippet of Light My Fire in Desire, plus a shout-out to some other members of the 27 Club ("Brian Jones, Janis..."). MacPhisto enthuses about what a great idea show business was. "The President of the United States is off on a world tour... and I love the way the Mafia dress, they're so beautiful." The Pope has been on his own world tour; MacPhisto tries to ring him at the Vatican, but there seems to be no connection. "Oh my. And all I was going to ask him was, would he need some ZooTV equipment when we've finished our world tour, for his next? Maybe I'll call again!" (He does indeed try again at the next show.)
MacPhisto greets the Italian crowd with "Ciao, miei cari bambini" in his very English accent. Leading them in a chant of "Olé, olé olé olé!", he observes that football is like a religion to the people of Rome, and wonders how the Holy Father feels about that. The audience cheer when he suggests calling the Pope to find out which team he supports – Lazio or AS Roma? He mistakenly phones the Castel Sant'Angelo rather than Castel Gandolfo ("He's there for the summer, you know") and enquires as to the health of the Holy Father, but the woman thinks he's looking for a ticket. "Actually, I have a much more serious question," MacPhisto reveals: "I have a good friend of mine, who'd like to seek a personal confession from the Holy Father." The helpful lady tries to explain in faltering English that he needs to dial another number, and laughs apologetically when she can't find the right words. "You people of Roma, you're so very kind," MacPhisto tells her. "I'd just like to leave a message: my friend, Mr Andreotti, would like to seek the personal confession of the Holy Father. He's a lot to say..." The former Prime Minister, a devout Catholic who became the close confidant of six successive popes, has in recent months been accused of Mafia collusion, with informers claiming he had acted as their political protector in Rome and even ordered the 1979 murder of a journalist who was about to publish information that could have destroyed his career.
Judges did conclude that Andreotti was involved with the Mafia until 1980, but by then he could not be convicted due to Italy's 20-year statute of limitations. In his other trial, an appeals court sensationally found him guilty of ordering Pecorelli's murder, sentencing him to 24 years in prison, but this was overturned by the supreme court in 2003. Andreotti remained a senator and an influential political figure until his death in 2013 at the age of 94.
Bono would meet Pope John Paul II at Castel Gandolfo in 1999 as part of a Jubilee 2000 delegation calling for debt cancellation; the Pope famously tried on his trademark sunglasses, while MacPhisto found his way into a widely-shared photograph of the occasion! (Does anyone know who created that image?) The "funky pontiff" died aged 84 in 2005.
U2gigs.com report that MacPhisto's speech was rehearsed at a soundcheck the day before this show. I suspect this is actually a description of the Rotterdam rehearsal (perhaps mislabelled due to confusion over the date format), but if it does exist as a separate recording, I'd be extremely grateful if anyone can provide a clip of this – please get in touch!
"Do you know who I am?" MacPhisto asks the audience, and introduces himself: "My name is Signor MacPhisto. I also go by the name Andreotti." (The politician's "Machiavellian diplomatic skills" have earned him the nickname Belzebù, coined by his long-time ally and rival Bettino Craxi.) "I come disguised as many things, and I'm particularly fond of show business. I know you like your pop stars to be exciting – that's why I bought these. Do you think I look funky?" MacPhisto wants to call his "very good friend" Craxi, the former Prime Minister who has lately become an emblem of political corruption. For almost a year and a half Italy has been gripped by the "Tangentopoli" scandal, in which a nationwide investigation has seen hundreds of politicians accused of taking bribes in exchange for public works contracts. Craxi faces a number of allegations and does not deny that his party has accepted illicit financing, saying that all parties have been doing it for decades as they cannot support themselves with legal income alone. Earlier this year judges in Milan requested the lifting of his parliamentary immunity from prosecution, but a speech by Craxi persuaded the Chamber of Deputies to vote against it. The next day a crowd of protesters gathered outside the expensive Hotel Raphaël where he lives (despite his party's supposed financial problems), shouting "thief", waving low-value banknotes while singing "Bettino, do you want these too?" to the tune of 'Guantanamera', and greeting him with a shower of coins. "I love to see money blowing in the wind," MacPhisto comments as Zoo ECUs float around the stage. While he attempts to phone the hotel, the whole crowd starts to chant "Bettino, Bettino, vaffanculo!" ("fuck you!"), much to his amusement. When his call is answered, MacPhisto explains that he'd like to speak to Signor Craxi. "And who is speaking?" asks the man. "My name is MacPhisto." "From where?" MacPhisto doesn't take kindly to this interrogation, testily replying "My country of origin is not of interest to you, young man," but the hotel worker sounds equally irritable and won't let him get a word in edgeways until he states where he's calling from. He finally takes MacPhisto's name and puts him on hold, transferring the call to Craxi's secretary. "I'm actually ringing to give Mr Craxi a warning," MacPhisto informs her. "There's a man looking for him – his name is Judge Di Pietro. Be careful!"
Craxi did eventually face Di Pietro in court, and in 1994 fled to Tunisia to avoid jail; his party was disbanded later that year. He was tried in absentia and sentenced to 10 years in prison for corruption and illicit party financing, but remained a fugitive. Four other trials were still in progress when he died in 2000 at the age of 65, having suffered complications of severe diabetes.
With the Zooropa album released earlier this week, MacPhisto sings "She wore lemon" a couple of times during the bridge of Desire. "Oh look, they have Bo-no's head on the money!" he exclaims after the song, pointing out the Zoo ECUs littering the stage. "My name is MacPhisto, and I think I've turned out to be a very exciting pop star. What do you think of my suit, then? Check out the shoes. You're big into shoes here." The crowd whoop and whistle their approval. Changing the subject, MacPhisto asks "How is Mayor Polese these days? I believe he's in prison, in jail." As Tangentopoli erupted in Naples earlier this year, the former mayor and close follower of Bettino Craxi, Nello Polese, was one of several politicians arrested over bribes paid for the privatisation of municipal real estate management. It capped off a turbulent few months in which he'd also been linked with a district president caught dealing with the Camorra (Neapolitan Mafia); Polese was forced to resign after the city's police commissioner and the editor-in-chief of a major newspaper were heard discussing how to support him in a wiretapped phone conversation, and footage later emerged of him socialising with mobsters at a festival, which a political opponent had screened in a cinema "for the Neapolitans to judge the affair". MacPhisto suggests giving him a call: "Would you like to say hello to Mayor Polese and tell him what you think of him?!" The crowd agree to this, so MacPhisto phones the Poggioreale prison, amused as he dials the number ("266-666... and that's not a joke!"). Unfortunately they think it's a prank call and hang up immediately, which gets a huge laugh from the crowd. (Thanks to the Neapolitan speaker who translated the man's curt response – "Fatt'a 'a galera, guagliò", meaning something like "Hey man, be jailed!") It's not clear what's gone wrong at the end, but MacPhisto gives up with a sigh and begins the next song.
It seems that Polese was not actually in prison at this time, having instead been granted house arrest and subsequently released while under investigation. His son apparently attended the concert as a U2 fan and wrote to the local newspaper the next day, complaining that it was unfair to call a suspect who may be innocent. (Polese himself was among the councillors who had belatedly given permission for U2 to use the stadium after pressure from fans... he probably regretted it now!)
Polese was arrested again the following year in another corruption case, this time spending two and a half months in Poggioreale prison before Silvio Berlusconi's "thief-saving" Biondi decree controversially abolished pre-trial detention for crimes against the public administration (and prompted the resignation of the Mani Pulite magistrates). After 23 trials he was eventually acquitted of all charges and received compensation for unjust detention. He returned to politics in 2000, holding various positions in the New PSI and coordinating the electoral campaign of Campania President Stefano Caldoro in 2010. He also resumed his role as a university professor of engineering, and was head of transport company EAV from 2011 to 2015.
The Naples show additionally included the live debut of 'Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car' in snippet form, though not sung by MacPhisto; its first verse and chorus were inserted into the middle of 'When Love Comes To Town', sounding more like a Mirrorball Man performance! This was repeated at the Turin, Copenhagen and Stockholm concerts. DGPFYCC and Lemon would not be played in full until the Zoomerang Tour in November.
"That's a good one," says MacPhisto after singing a bit of 'Moon River'. "Do you like that? I do like that. Do you like... me?" The crowd scream enthusiastically, and MacPhisto concurs: "I love me!" This evening he draws the audience's attention to the East German Trabants hanging above the stage, saying "D'you see these cars? We had many more, but now we have only three. Do you think if I called Mr Agnelli, he would help me?" Big cheers; the head of local car giant Fiat, known as l'Avvocato ('the Lawyer') because of his law degree, is also honorary president of Juventus FC who call this stadium home. MacPhisto phones the Fiat office and is greeted with a stony silence when he asks for Mr Agnelli, despite repeating "Hello? ...Hello..." in an increasingly pitiful voice. A group of fans sing an obviously well-practised "Agnelli, Agnelli, Agnelli, vaffanculo!", while MacPhisto tries "I just called to say I love you..." There is still no response from the receptionist, and MacPhisto seems hurt: "I just wanted to know if we could have some Fiat Bambinis for our stage!"
Gianni Agnelli died of prostate cancer in 2003 at the age of 81.
In addition to becoming the first and only French club to win the newly-rebranded Champions League, Marseille had recently clinched their fifth consecutive French championship title. However, their success was tainted by a match-fixing scandal, with Valenciennes players accepting a bribe to forfeit a domestic match so that OM could save their energy and avoid any injuries before the Champions League final days later. Many fans in Marseille had rejected the allegations as a plot to destroy the club's president, millionaire businessman-turned-politician Bernard Tapie. MacPhisto tries to phone him, but nobody answers. "Well, I think Monsieur Tapie may be asleep. Shall we try and wake him up?!" he says as the band launch into Ultra Violet.
OM were subsequently banned from participation in international football for the following season, stripped of their French league title and relegated, which forced them to file for bankruptcy. Bernard Tapie served nearly six months in prison for corruption and attempted witness tampering; he was also separately convicted of tax fraud and misuse of corporate assets. Described as "a flamboyant and controversial figure", he went on to forge careers as an actor, presenter and newspaper boss, but a legal battle with state-owned bank Crédit Lyonnais dragged on for decades and he was once again being prosecuted when he died from stomach cancer in 2021, aged 78.
"I'm a rock 'n' roll star," MacPhisto informs the crowd. "Some people think that rock 'n' roll started in the United States of America, but in fact this is not the case. Rock 'n' roll started in the streets of Italy!" They applaud this statement. "Opera! Songs from the street, from the gutter, sung with passion – they sing their little hearts out," MacPhisto continues. "Pavarotti, there's a rock 'n' roll star! Shall I give Pavarotti a telephone call?" The great tenor, who is spending the summer at his holiday villa in Pesaro, brings a smile to MacPhisto's face when he answers the phone in a cheery singsong voice. After being serenaded with 'I Just Called To Say I Love You', Pavarotti asks how the show is going. "Well, the people of Bologna are splendid this evening, I must say!" says MacPhisto, and Pavarotti tells him they're a great audience – "because you deserve it". Returning the flattery, MacPhisto remarks "I believe you're losing a lot of weight, you're slimming down for the '90s!" The maestro laughs: "Not so much, but I will try." (Earlier this year he was forced to cancel all performances while undertaking a two-month weight-loss programme as ordered by his doctors, and a newspaper recently claimed he has hired people to help enforce his strict diet.) MacPhisto assures him that "I love you the way you are," and Pavarotti's heartfelt response of "I love you and all the people there!" prompts huge applause from the audience. MacPhisto asks if he has a song to sing them over the telephone. "No, unfortunately not!" replies Pavarotti, but wishes them many more beautiful days and nights, and says it would be a great pleasure to join them on stage one day. He also wants to thank Bono for writing the English lyrics of 'Miserere', his duet with Zucchero.
Pavarotti would indeed perform with Bono & Edge at one of his charity concerts in Modena two years later, as part of the Passengers collaboration, and duetted again with Bono at the final concert in 2003. He died of pancreatic cancer in 2007 at the age of 71. Villa Giulia Pavarotti has since been transformed into an artistic centre where opera singing courses, concerts and dance seminars are held; it is also available to rent for holidays. His other home in Modena is now a museum.
MacPhisto is in nostalgic mood tonight: "Isn't it wonderful to see all the lights and the smoke? The fanfare, the crowds... it reminds me of the good old days." Showing off his platform shoes, he asks the crowd "Don't I look superb? Do you think Il Duce would've liked a pair of these? Do you think Il Duce would like a gold lamé suit like mine?" The crowd murmur uncertainly at the mention of the former fascist dictator. "I do miss him – do you?!" cries MacPhisto. Ignoring the crowd's emphatic response of "NO!", he decides to phone Mussolini's "very nice granddaughter" Alessandra, who has followed in his footsteps as a neo-fascist politician. He is insulted to find the answerphone switched on, shouting "Hello? Do you know who you're speaking to?! Hello!!" as the recorded message plays. At last the machine beeps. "Hello, I'd like to leave a message for Alessandra Mussolini. I was a close friend of her grandfather's, and I just want to tell her she's doing a wonderful job filling the old man's shoes!" says MacPhisto. His voice takes on a particularly sinister tone as he continues: "I'll be leaving Italy tomorrow, but I won't be far away. And I will be with her forever in spirit..."
His relationship with Il Duce would be delightfully revisited on the Italian leg of the EI Tour in 2018, after recent anti-immigrant rhetoric from the Interior Minister struck a familiar chord.
"Are we having fun tonight?" asks MacPhisto. The crowd respond in the affirmative. He points out the Trabants: "Do you like our little Christmas tree where we hang all our beautiful lights? Our beautiful little cars? You have many of them in your city." A few cheers. "They remind me of the good old days before people wanted change. I don't like change. I like things to stay exactly the way they are." He says he has a friend here in this city who doesn't like change either – Gyula Thürmer, leader of the Hungarian Workers' Party. The crowd response is muted, and MacPhisto wonders if he's pronounced the name correctly. "I hate it when people want a better life," he sighs as he dials the phone number. He gets through to another answerphone, and sings 'I Just Called To Say I Love You' after the tone. "I just called to say... you're doing a very good job!"
"Oh, it's sooo good to be here," MacPhisto gushes. "They thought the rain would keep us away, but I say never, I love the rain – it makes me feel at home!" Some appreciative whistles from the crowd. "And I love rock and roll," he continues enthusiastically. "I love the beat, it's so catchy, and... I love the feeling of togetherness. We're all here tonight, pressing up against each other, it's fabulous! It's like the EEC, isn't it, really?!" The Danish crowd aren't too sure about the joys of togetherness in Europe; the notoriously eurosceptic country had rejected the Maastricht Treaty in a 1992 referendum, and only ratified it in May 1993 after being granted four exceptions to it. MacPhisto says he has a friend here in Copenhagen: Denmark's former Foreign Minister and strong EU supporter, Uffe Ellemann-Jensen (or "Uffemann"). "I feel so close to him, I could almost kiss him – MWAH!" he chuckles. Dialling the politician's home number ("When you're famous, people give you such things"), MacPhisto muses: "It's wonderful to have people to tell you what you want, isn't it, really? It makes life so much easier." (After negotiating the Edinburgh Agreement, Ellemann-Jensen was quoted as saying "We have got everything we wanted"; the government declared that "everybody at home" could now confidently vote 'Yes', though in fact many Danes still opposed the treaty and there were riots after the second referendum.) Uffemann is not in tonight, so his wife Alice Vestergaard answers the phone. MacPhisto introduces himself as a personal friend of his, and asks if he could leave a message. Clearly thinking it's a prank call, she curtly replies "You can call him tomorrow at his office. Goodbye," and hangs up. There is much pantomime booing from the crowd, but MacPhisto remains composed and simply sings 'I Just Called To Say I Love You'.
The tabloid newspaper Ekstra Bladet claimed to have provided him with the phone number before the concert, and it was apparently printed in the papers as well as read out loud by MacPhisto. As a result, angry U2 fans spent the rest of the night calling the household to complain about Ms Vestergaard's rudeness, much to her husband's displeasure.
Uffe Ellemann-Jensen died aged 80 in 2022 after a recurrence of prostate cancer.
"What a wonderful country you have here," says MacPhisto with his usual charm. "Ahh, the fjords; the wildlife is so wonderful here! And what's all the fuss about the whales?" The crowd start to jeer and boo; Norway had recently made the controversial decision to resume commercial whale hunting, despite an international ban. "I mean, I don't understand it – what have the whales ever done for us, eh?" MacPhisto continues, and that gets a cheer. "They're unemployed, they don't pay taxes... and they take up a lot of room, don't you think?" MacPhisto says he learned all about the whales from his friend Jan Henry Olsen, the Minister of Fisheries, and mischievously reads out his phone number as he dials ("You can call him tomorrow if you like!"). For the first – and only – time on the tour, he gets through to a politician in person, much to the delight of the crowd. "How do you do?" Olsen politely asks the devilish caller, and is unfazed when MacPhisto points out that he's here with "a few friends". When asked if he shares their opinion that all the fuss about the whales is "just complete madness", Olsen says that as long as the whales aren't under threat, they will continue to catch them for food. The crowd loudly chant their approval. MacPhisto quite agrees: "I have absolutely no time for people who like whales or dolphins, myself... and I'm sure that if you catch them, you'll eat them all yourself, won't you Mr Olsen! You like to munch on a whale yourself, do you?" The minister does not shy away from the question, replying "I take a bit, yes". "Aha, you like the odd whale steak!" laughs MacPhisto. Taking everyone by surprise, the politician then reveals: "I'm going to have a whale steak tomorrow. D'you want to come and have dinner with me?" The crowd erupts with laughter and cheers. "Mr Olsen," declares MacPhisto, "I think you and I are going to get on just fine!"
Jan Henry Olsen died in 2018 at the age of just 61, after a ten-year battle with early-onset Alzheimer's disease.
MacPhisto is in celebratory mood this evening. "It's wonderful to be here, it's wonderful to be on top of the world... again!" he says. "And the people who put us on the top of the world are here tonight. Island Records! Somebody get them a drink. I like it when they come out to see us play, don't you?" The audience cheer in agreement. "I like show business, it's in my blood," says MacPhisto. "Everybody's into it now, though. What about Ian Wachtmeister?" he asks, referring to the leader of Sweden's racist New Democracy party. "Ooh, he's my kind of man – I like people flashy, you know? From good stock." Although Wachtmeister is not available, MacPhisto finds an unexpected fan in the girl taking the phone call, who giggles knowingly as soon as he gives his name. They share a hearty laugh when she joins in with 'I Just Called To Say I Love You', and the girl blurts out "You're fantastic!" "Oh, I — and so are you, darling!" simpers MacPhisto, caught off-guard by the compliment. "I think we could be beautiful together! I think we'll get on very well, don't you?" But encouraging her proves to be a mistake, as she continues to babble on incessantly in the background while Ultra Violet starts up, until MacPhisto has no choice but to try and drown her out: "I think I'm going to miss you, Stockholm! I could get along well here! GOODNIGHT! ...Goodnight... Goodnight..."
Ian Wachtmeister died in 2017 aged 84 after suffering from an aggressive form of lymphoma.
"Well... I'm not so very good at speeches, so I'll be brief," says MacPhisto in a rare moment of modesty, but it's not long before he's ruffled a few feathers in the crowd. "Call me old-fashioned, but I miss the good old days. The Third Reich!" he reminisces fondly amid boos and whistles. "Don't you miss the good old days, when the trains ran on time?" As ever, MacPhisto is eager to catch up with a friend while he's in town – tonight it's Hans Janmaat, leader of the xenophobic Centre Democrats party whose policies include the abolition of multicultural society in the Netherlands. "You can try this at home, children," smirks MacPhisto as he once again reads out the telephone number for all to hear. A man answers; Janmaat is not available. MacPhisto insists: "I'm a very good friend of his, and I think he'd be rather disappointed not to receive my call." "Yeah, but he's not here," the man repeats bluntly. He agrees to take a message, but immediately hangs up when MacPhisto starts to sing.
Janmaat died from a heart condition in 2002 at the age of 67.
MacPhisto sings about Glasgow being "my kind of town", with a line from New York, New York changed to "I want to wake up in a city that doesn't give me the creeps". He tells the crowd that he loves the theatre; "Did you know that Macbeth – the man, not the play – died 400 years ago this evening?" (Note: this is entirely untrue, but perhaps it's easy to lose a few hundred years when you're an ancient being.) He says he knows another great man – Glasgow-born Ian Lang, the Secretary of State for Scotland. The crowd start to boo. "I thought he was such a fine man! And a great actor – he has everybody thinking he's Scottish. But he's not, you know, he's a Tory... like me!" Playfully paraphrasing Shakespeare as he dials the number ("Is this a telephone I see before me, the handle toward my hand...?"), he calls the Scottish Office in an attempt to reach Ian Lang, speaking to a polite Scottish man who tells him "Well I'm afraid, sir, it's not possible just now. Can I ask who you are?" "I'm a personal friend, and a fellow thespian," explains MacPhisto. (Lang was a member of the Cambridge Footlights while at university.) "He knows exactly who I am, and I'm surprised he hasn't told you I was going to call." The man patiently takes MacPhisto's name ("That's M-A-C... you may be familiar with that one...") and agrees to pass on his message that Lang is doing "a jolly good job up north". "And there's just one other line," adds MacPhisto. "Out... out... damned... SCOT!"
He would go on to reference a line from Hamlet at one of the 2018 shows in Copenhagen.
Once again marvelling about how everybody's into show business now, MacPhisto comments: "My friend John is into it... John Major." The crowd boo upon hearing the British Prime Minister's name, but MacPhisto leaps to his defence: "Oh no, he's an exciting fellow – he ran away from the circus to become an accountant!" (John Major's father Tom was a trapeze artist.) He phones 10 Downing Street; the Prime Minister is not available, but a chirpy secretary asks if he'd like to leave a message. "My name is Mr MacPhisto, and I'm calling from the top of the country – he may have heard of it, it's called Scotland," the devil replies caustically. "And I'd just like to say that I think he's doing an absolutely marvellous job for the people of Scotland." The crowd boo loudly. MacPhisto continues undeterred: "It must be such a headache, being in charge of them when you're so far away. And I'd also like to say that I think he knows exactly what they want – just like he does for the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina," he concludes dryly. "Au revoir!" The acid remarks seem to fly over the head of the lady on the phone, whose cheerful "Bye-bye" is unintentionally hilarious. :D
"Those were the days, my friend, I thought they'd never end..." sings MacPhisto, again courting controversy with his antiquated views: "It's not the same, is it? No... don't you miss the good old days? The Raj, the Empire! Don't you miss the good old days? No talking back from Paddies or Pakis, no!" The crowd are uncomfortable, not sure where this is leading. "What's all the fuss – Salman Rushdie, he can't be English, can he?" MacPhisto asks. The brilliant Indian-born writer had been in hiding under the protection of the British government since 1989, when the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for his death because of alleged blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad in his novel The Satanic Verses. "He's been taking my name in vain," quips MacPhisto. "Yes, all that bullshit about freedom of speech... ha ha. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. I sent him into exile... and I do have his number." He gives the author a call. "Hello, could I speak to Salman Rushdie? The name's MacPhisto." The response is suspiciously loud and clear: "This is Salman Rushdie speaking." MacPhisto is delighted; he asks Salman how miserable he is, but Salman insists he's quite happy. "Do you get out and about much these days?" MacPhisto enquires flippantly, to which Salman replies "Oh yes, now and again. I have to be careful, of course – I've got even more trouble with the critics than you do!" MacPhisto tells Salman that he doesn't want to make him too jealous, as they're having "an absolutely fabulous evening here at Wembley Stadium!" (and here the crowd voice their agreement). But Salman isn't jealous... "Yes, I know that, because I'm here too!" he reveals. MacPhisto is taken aback. "I'm much closer to you than you could ever imagine," Salman continues. "In fact, I can see you now. You're wearing a ridiculous gold suit, and you're standing in front of 50,000 of the loudest people I've ever heard in my life!" The crowd scream merrily, while MacPhisto refuses to believe Salman is present, challenging him: "Are you not afraid? Come out if you're not afraid!"
MacPhisto offers Salman his red devil horns, remarking "I think you might need these, Salman!" The author is defiant: "I'm NOT afraid... and I'm not afraid of YOU! Real devils don't wear horns." For once, MacPhisto the glamorous celebrity is starstruck. Placing an arm around Salman's shoulders, he smiles and shrugs to the audience. "Salman Rushdie – ladies and gentlemen, I bow to the superior man!"
Bono later called Salman's situation "a truly appalling moment in the history of censorship", explaining that they asked him to appear at the concert because freedom of speech, which isn't "a given" in a lot of cultures, is also very important in the music world.
Salman's 1999 novel The Ground Beneath Her Feet included a nod to U2, as well as the lyrics to a song of the same name which the band subsequently recorded. Salman moved to New York in 2000 and was gradually able to live more freely. He was knighted for services to literature in 2007, and in 2012 published a memoir of his years of hiding, Joseph Anton. In 2022, U2 were quick to offer their support when he was brutally stabbed at a speaking engagement; he was fortunate to survive but suffered life-changing injuries to his eye and arm.
"Rock 'n' roll... all my idea," MacPhisto proudly declares, and speaks again of its popularity: "They're all into the rock – rocking in the free world! Even Lady Diana's into it now. Don't you think she's funky? I think everybody gives her too hard a time, I think she's gorgeous, and sexy." MacPhisto phones the royal press office and asks if they could put him through to the Prince Of Wales' apartments. There are several seconds of silence. "Hello? Don't be shy, now..." he coaxes. The phone starts to ring; "She's not a shy girl!" MacPhisto praises the crowd for their patience and manners when the phone continues ringing for some time. Eventually it appears to be picked up, but nobody speaks at the other end. "Hello... is that Lady Diana?" MacPhisto asks hopefully. "Hello? You needn't be shy, I'm just here with a few friends." He tries serenading her with 'I Just Called To Say I Love You', but still gets no response.
Four years later, Diana was tragically killed in a car crash at the age of 36 while fleeing the paparazzi in Paris. U2 paid tribute to her at their next three PopMart concerts in Dublin, Edinburgh and Paris, with improvised lyrics in 'Last Night On Earth' ("Beautiful girl, big black car / Fairytale life, just went too far") and her image on screen during 'MLK'.
This show featured the third and final appearance of 'Zooropa' on its original tour; the song would not be played again until 2011. Both this performance and the previous night's are pleasingly sung in a MacPhisto-esque voice.
Tonight MacPhisto's mind is on the Sellafield nuclear plant, less than 100 miles away on the coast of the Irish Sea, and already the subject of a Greenpeace protest in which U2 had participated. "I should come up here more often, you're so kind," remarks MacPhisto. "I think the people of the North are so generous. I mean, you've been given the nuclear waste of the world – and you take it! My goodness, you take the nuclear waste of the world. What a generous thing to do." He decides to phone his friend John Gummer, Secretary of State for the Environment, telling the crowd "I think he'd love to thank you personally". Mr Gummer's wife Penelope Gardner answers the phone at their Suffolk home and asks who's calling. "My name is MacPhisto; I think he knows me quite well, actually." "Max what, sorry?" is her blank response. She is surprisingly tolerant, though, telling him "I'm afraid he's not in at the moment, I'm very sorry. Would you like to speak to him later?" "But he's a personal friend of mine!" splutters MacPhisto. "And I have a few friends and I know he'd love to thank them personally." "Well I'm sure he would," she agrees, but repeats that her husband is out. MacPhisto asks if she's sure he's not asleep. "I'm absolutely sure he's not asleep," she replies patiently, even though she must be wondering what on earth is going on. She's happy to take a message for Mr Gummer; MacPhisto, of course, just called to say "I love you".
Gummer was Environment Secretary until 1997 when the Conservatives were voted out. He remained an MP until 2010 and was then awarded a peerage as Baron Deben of Winston.
Drawing attention to The Edge's Welsh blood, MacPhisto asks how many people in the audience share his surname Evans (and judging by the cheers and shouts, there are a fair few). He reveals his love of shopping in Cardiff, and says he has a friend who likes it too. "She actually grew up in a grocer's in England, and later when she became the Prime Minister... she got very good at shopping." Realising that he's referring to Britain's only female PM so far, the deeply unpopular Margaret Thatcher, the crowd start to boo loudly (which clearly upsets MacPhisto: "This is a friend of mine you're talking about!"). He says she had the wonderful idea of running the whole kingdom like a shop and putting on a sale ("And she sold the railways, and she sold the coal industry, and she sold the water...") The amused crowd clap and boo in equal measure, cheering extra loudly when MacPhisto suggests giving her a telephone call. "I do miss the old girl, don't you?" he asks, and the insults being hurled from the audience suggest that he's the only one who does. He phones the House of Commons and asks for Lady Thatcher; the secretary is very pleasant and courteous, but explains that the House is in summer recess until October, so it's necessary to write in to the Lords and Baronesses. The crowd boo, but MacPhisto just laughs: "I understand – no, you think I'm an ordinary person! I actually know her personally." The secretary sounds unconvinced. "I wanted to let her know where I was," MacPhisto continues. "I'm in a place called Cardiff – I was wondering, had she heard of it?" She repeats that he'll have to write a letter to Lady Thatcher, as she's unable to pass on a message at this time. Naturally this doesn't put MacPhisto off singing his appreciation down the phone.
Margaret Thatcher died following a stroke in 2013 at the age of 87.
"Rock 'n' roll, don't you love it? African rhythm, European melody – what an idea, eh? Catchy, eh?" says MacPhisto. He says he thinks rock 'n' roll is the new religion, a subject in which he has a great interest: "Some of my best friends are religious leaders. The Ayatollah; the Pope; even the Archbishop of Canterbury. They're doing my job for me, aren't they? Putting the children off God." MacPhisto says he's a little worried about George Carey, though, because "he wants to let women into the church" (the Church of England had recently decided to allow the ordination of female priests). "Then again, you'll all just become Catholics, won't you?" he muses. "I'd like that. Nobody goes to church any more." He decides to give the Archbishop a call, whilst daydreaming about the "lovely cucumber sandwiches" they make at Lambeth Palace. A woman with a strong rural accent answers the phone, and tells him that Carey is in America. MacPhisto is baffled: "No, there must be some misunderstanding. My name is Mr MacPhisto, and I'd like to speak to the Archbishop of Canterbury." But there is no mistake; "As I said, sir, he's abroad, he's in America at the moment." Slightly disappointed now, MacPhisto asks if the trip is for business or pleasure. "Business, sir," is the stony reply. He asks if he could leave a message. "You can do," the woman shrugs, so he sings his usual "I just called to say how much I care..."
George Carey served as Archbishop until his retirement in 2002, when he accepted a life peerage as Baron Carey of Clifton.
"What a theatre, Wembley Stadium!" MacPhisto enthuses. "All the history of this place. Live Aid. The FA Cup. The 1966 World Cup when England won!" There is a huge roar of approval from the crowd – MacPhisto certainly knew the right button to push. "They haven't been winning much lately, now have they?" he observes. "What's happened, this noble country? We lost the Test... almost out of the World Cup... The Smiths have split up..." The crowd sigh in agreement. "There's only one man who can save us," he concludes. "Shall I give Graham Taylor a telephone call?" The England manager had been heavily criticised after the team's poor performance and the controversial substitution of Gary Lineker during Euro '92, and the crowd cheer at the suggestion of phoning him. MacPhisto gets the answerphone, and leads the 72,000-strong Wembley crowd in a rousing rendition of the popular football anthem 'You'll Never Walk Alone'.
Graham Taylor died of a heart attack in 2017, aged 72.
"What an occasion – the occasion of occasions!" proclaims MacPhisto. "Aren't they the greatest showband on Earth? And this the greatest ballroom on Earth?" Cheers from the crowd. He reveals the extensive guest list: Dave Fanning, Gerry Ryan, BP Fallon ("Happy birthday Mr Boogaloo!"), and even the Taoiseach Albert Reynolds, described as "the greatest ballroom manager of them all". (He earned millions operating a chain of ballrooms in the 1960s when showbands were popular in Ireland.) The crowd cheer for the DJs but seem less enthusiastic about the prime minister. "Rock 'n' roll, eh?" chuckles MacPhisto. "They call it... the Devil's music. It is my music. Can't you feel it burning inside you... oh baby?" He pauses before launching into a truly epic rant. "Civilisation is crumbling – who can take you back from the brink? The GAA, that's who! We're their guests tonight, so there'll be no sales of condom in here, will there? No rubber Johnnies, no? We don't want the young people carried away on a sea of seed and desire, now do we? They'll be at it like rabbits – slaves to the Devil's monument, delivered to the gates of Hell in a latex jacket!" The audience can't stop laughing. MacPhisto hasn't finished yet: "Contraception? Safe sex? AIDS? It's not their problem, is it. No homos, junkies or Haitians here tonight, no. Just castrated, abstemious, happy families here tonight. Fine and dandy, not a willy in sight. And we've got the GAA to thank for that, haven't we." The crowd scream with delight when MacPhisto suggests calling them, but the phone rings endlessly without being answered. "Where is Frank Murphy?" he asks, and somebody shouts "He's here!" (as Murphy is actually in the stadium watching the show). "He's here?" repeats MacPhisto. "What do you mean, he's not at home? Oh, I shall sing him a song then, shall I?" Reviving his passion for the Eurovision Song Contest, he sings a few lines from Ireland's first winning entry in 1970 (Dana's 'All Kinds Of Everything'), and the crowd finish it off for him.
Frank Murphy served as secretary of the Cork County Board until his retirement in 2018. Gerry Ryan died aged 53 in 2010, from a cardiac arrhythmia likely triggered by cocaine use. Albert Reynolds resigned as Taoiseach in late 1994, and died from Alzheimer's disease in 2014 at the age of 81.
MacPhisto is especially pleased to be here in Dublin: "Home with the people who love us more than anybody else in the whole world!" The crowd's ecstatic applause seems to confirm the truth of his statement. But this speech is of a more personal nature than usual: "Home with the people who see through all the trappings and the hype. Home with the people who know the real me. Home with the people who don't see me as a glamorous pop star. Home with the people who call me 'Dad'." The crowd are audibly surprised and puzzled. "I'm going to sleep in my own bed tonight," he continues. "Shall I give them a telephone call? Perhaps I should warn them; I know they're excited to see me, after so long." The call is to Bono's own home number. "I'm so tired, hassling people, it's such a bore," he admits as the phone rings. "This is going to be so exciting!" There's a message waiting for him on the answering machine – it's Bono's four-year-old daughter, Jordan. "Hellooo! Nobody's here! We're going on holidaaayyy!" she squeals in an adorable Irish accent. "Daddy, if that's you, we're not coming home until you take your horns off! Bye-byyyyye!" The entire crowd just about die from the cuteness.
In a radio interview just before the two Dublin shows, The Edge hinted that they were toying with the idea of MacPhisto phoning disgraced bishop Eamon Casey, but they would decide whom to call on the day ("I don't have a clue yet").
Jordan Hewson is now an activist and entrepreneur; in 2015 she became the online editor of Global Citizen, and in 2016 she founded tech company Speakable, aimed at promoting social action. Her sister Eve Hewson (who can be heard joining in with the answerphone message as a two-year-old) is now a film and television actress.
It's the last night of the European tour, and MacPhisto is in reflective mood. "Zooropa, it's all over," he sighs. "So many have turned out to see us, I don't know what to say – thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you." A genuine smile lights up his face as the audience loudly express their own gratitude. "But you know, there's someone who used to come and see us all the time, and who hasn't been round for a while. We used to be so close. People think I've forgotten about him, but... I haven't." For a moment there's a spark of passion in his voice: "I used to find him so inspiring back then. He invented me. I was His most magnificent creation – the brightest star in His sky!" He pauses, hanging his head sadly. "Now look at me: a tired old pop star in platform shoes." The crowd cheer their support as his glittering footwear is displayed on the big screens. "I try to speak to him all the time, but he won't take my calls," he whimpers. "And I get blamed for everything – all the wars, all the famine, all the trouble in the world, I get blamed for it. Even the Evening Herald slags me off." (Here he raises a pointed eyebrow and the crowd seem greatly amused, appreciating some local in-joke.) "Who can I get to help me make peace with Him? Who will mediate for me and...?" MacPhisto wonders out loud, gesturing toward the heavens. He suddenly has an idea: "Shall I call the United Nations? Maybe they could help me." It turns out to be a joke. Upon dialling the number (really another call to Bono's house), he gets through to an answerphone with a surprising message: "You've reached the offices of the United Nations. I'm sorry, we're closed for lunch." The look on MacPhisto's face is priceless. The message continues cheerfully: "But if you're a small Third World nation facing genocide, please leave the name of your country after the beep, and we'll get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you!" The audience sigh in sympathy as MacPhisto is defeated once again. He sings an a cappella rendition of The Beatles' 'Help!' down the telephone ("Help me get my feet back off the ground"), with the audience completing the final "Pleeease, please help me, help me, help meee!"
The UN has been criticised for its "over-bureaucratic and dithering approach" when dealing with conflicts; in particular, the lack of political will to prevent the ethnic massacres in Bosnia and Rwanda have been described (and acknowledged) as "glaring failures". Head of peacekeeping operations, Kofi Annan, reportedly ignored and refused to pass on faxed warnings about the impending Rwandan genocide; he later admitted "there was more that I could and should have done to sound the alarm and rally support". It seems the United Nations were, indeed, in no hurry to answer their messages.
Steve Stockman praises MacPhisto's "marvellous monologue" in his book Walk On: The Spiritual Journey Of U2:
Amusingly, MacPhisto would name the United Nations as one of the clubs he'd been busy "burning down" in his 2018 speeches in the UK.
The fifth and final leg of the ZooTV Tour kicks off Down Under, with a few setlist changes to accommodate more songs from the new album; 'Desire' has been dropped in favour of 'Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car' opening the encore.
"I know you like your pop stars to be exciting, so I bought these," MacPhisto tells the crowd, showing off his boots. "You need a good gimmick, don't you, these days... with all the competition. Michael Jackson and Madonna. I think she's gorgeous. Would you like to see me without my clothes on?" he adds, referring to her recent book and raunchy current world tour. The crowd scream excitedly at this suggestion. "Do you know that before I became a celebrity, nobody found me very attractive at all," the devil reveals. "Now everybody loves me! All the glitz and the glamour makes you very sexy." He observes that the Australians like celebrities, and asks: "What are you doing with poor old Derryn Hinch, then?" The controversial journalist, dubbed 'The Human Headline' and notorious for being kicked out of jobs, had just been sacked from his own current affairs show Hinch by Network Ten. "Shame, shame, shame!" cries MacPhisto, quoting Hinch's supposed catchphrase from a parody by Steve Vizard (much to the surprise and amusement of the crowd). He gives him a call; Derryn answers the phone, and guffaws knowingly when MacPhisto introduces himself. "I don't understand it, I hear you've lost your job, old chap," says MacPhisto, telling him they think he's terrific. Derryn says he's very kind, adding: "People have been mentioning your name in my office all week, or at least your group's name." MacPhisto is delighted to hear it; he likes getting "a bit of respect from the media". It's just an excuse for a bad pun, though – "My staffers come to me and they keep saying 'I've been sacked'. I'd say 'You too?'" The audience groan. MacPhisto explains that U2 have their own television station and they'd love for Derryn to work for ZooTV if he's not doing anything else. He laughs and says he'd appreciate the extra work, then asks how MacPhisto got his number. "I know many things," MacPhisto replies enigmatically. Derryn says they owe him a favour "for intruding on my Friday night at home", and asks if they'll dedicate Mysterious Ways to the Ten Network at tomorrow night's show. "I get the joke, ha ha," MacPhisto humours him. Derryn laughs as MacPhisto sings him 'I Just Called To Say I Love You', accompanied by the crowd.
Following a brief preview in Naples, 'Lemon' has now made its way onto the setlist at the expense of 'Ultra Violet'.
"That's what it's all about, you know – shoes and hats," says MacPhisto, raving about show business again. "I think the finest wearer of a hat must be the Queen Mum. What do you think happened on Channel Seven when they reported the old dear not with us any more?!" (The Australian media had mistakenly announced the Queen Mother's death after a mix-up involving a news rehearsal.) MacPhisto says she's a personal friend of his and he tries to keep in touch. When he phones and asks for the Queen Mother, a woman with a strangely familiar accent tells him: "I'm sorry, darling, you must have the wrong number!" The crowd laugh and cheer, immediately recognising her as the legendary Aussie entertainer Dame Edna Everage – at last someone who can rival MacPhisto in the glamour stakes. "Dame Edna! Oh, I've found Australian royalty!" exclaims MacPhisto. He introduces himself and says he was hoping for news on the Queen Mother's health, as he's "terribly worried about the old girl". "Are you the popular singer?" asks Dame Edna. "Um, yes..." he replies, somewhat perplexed. She laughs heartily: "I can't believe this, Mr MacPhisto, because it's a spooky coincidence – I'm having 'lemon' meringue pie at this moment!" Everyone cracks up, and MacPhisto admits to being taken aback. "It's lovely to hear you – I'm a big fan!" Dame Edna tells him. It's clearly mutual; MacPhisto wonders if she might be in line for promotion should anything happen to the Queen Mum. Dame Edna confirms that the Queen thinks of her as a second mother, and she'd be more than willing to step in – "The only trouble is, if you're too close to the Royal Family, you can get photographed from some very awkward angles!" She calls him a naughty boy for getting hold of her "secret number", but he butters her up by telling her he'd like to sing her a song. It's an impassioned rendition of 'God Save The Queen' with the alternative lyrics "God save our Dame!" As Lemon begins, Dame Edna quickly manages to plug her own run of shows in the city next month, promising she'll phone him from the stage too. MacPhisto replies: "I'll be waiting!" (This was the Australian tour of Barry Humphries' one-man show 'Look At Me When I'm Talking To You!', which also featured the characters Sir Les Patterson, Daryl Dalkeith and Sandy Stone in the first half.)
"That's what you young people call rock 'n' roll, eh?" MacPhisto asks the audience. It appears he's feeling a little insecure this evening: "D'you think I'm glamorous? You know, beneath all the powder and the lip gloss, I'm a tired old pop star. And I'm finding it very difficult at the moment to meet people... especially young ladies, they're all frightened of me." He smiles sadly, and the audience scream their support. "But is it me that you love, or is it my horns?" Luckily there's someone in town who might be able to offer him a few tips – Aussie Rules football coach Graham Cornes (who has since gone on to become a TV and radio personality). "Don't you think Graham Cornes is a sexy man? He's great with the young ladies, shall I give him a telephone call?" suggests MacPhisto. Graham had recently raised a few eyebrows by marrying a girl half his age and getting her pregnant. He answers the phone himself, and MacPhisto holds the receiver up towards the cheering crowd. Graham laughs nervously: "What is this...?" "Hello, my name is Mr MacPhisto," says the mischievous caller. "Mr MacPhisto," repeats Graham with a hint of recognition. "And what can I do for you?" MacPhisto explains that he's having difficulty finding a young woman suitable for him, and he's heard that Graham has been "terribly lucky in that department". Graham says it's true, he has a lovely wife. "Oh," replies MacPhisto with a smirk. "And I hear you've some news for us – your lovely wife is expecting a child, is she perhaps?" "Yes, she'll be having a little baby in June," says Graham, which gets a big "Ahhh!". MacPhisto goes on to say that he's heard Graham is a fan of Cliff Richard, which Graham strongly denies. "Oh, I think he's a very exciting pop star!" declares MacPhisto with a devilish leer. Graham interrupts to ask what they're doing to the football oval – MacPhisto replies that they're turning it into some mud! :D He tells Graham that Adelaide FC are an exciting team and "they wouldn't be the same without you", then sings him a special version of Cliff Richard's Eurovision hit 'Congratulations': "We want the world to know how happy you can be!" Graham bashfully thanks him, saying he's very touched. "Au revoir! Love to your lovelies!" calls MacPhisto as Lemon starts up. :)
In a newspaper article shared by Sandro Olivo on his blog U2 Down Under, Graham admitted to being "a bit bewildered" when MacPhisto unexpectedly called him at home for advice!
'Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car' now starts while MacPhisto is still in a specially-designed dressing room backstage, applying the final touches to his make-up. Cameras follow him as he sings to himself in the mirror, puts on his gold jacket and walks out onto the stage.
The following partial description of the phone call was shared on the WIRE mailing list by U2 fan Sanjay Bhatia a couple of weeks after the show:
In an Australian newspaper article about U2's Brisbane history, John O'Brien writes:
@U2 forum user 'turtle' reports that "The whole crowd started chanting Border! *clap, clap, clap* Border!" Reddit user 'Cricketninja' reports that the crowd also sang 'I Just Called To Say I Love You' to him.
It appears that no bootleg of this show exists, although I've heard the odd rumour of people who claim to own a copy. Please contact me if you've come across a clip anywhere!
[ No transcript available ]
"Quite a spectacle, ZooTV, isn't it?" remarks MacPhisto. "Costs a fucking fortune." The Aussie crowd boo when he tells them he's very disappointed by the way they're treating the monarchy. "Why are you trying to sever links with the Crown? After all we've done for you!" MacPhisto rages. "Fish 'n' chips... punk rock... even your national sport, the game of cricket. Where would you be without us?!" He tries to get hold of either Lady Diana or the Queen Mother, but the woman on the phone greets him with "Hello possum! How are you, darling?" It's Dame Edna again. She asks how he got her number, joking that "Only Lenny Kravitz has got my number!", and takes the opportunity to advertise her fortnight of shows in Sydney starting tomorrow, hoping MacPhisto will be available to attend. In another of her spooky coincidences, she was at the zoo today: "I thought of your beautiful album, Zooropa!" She asks if there's anyone at the show tonight; MacPhisto casually replies "Well, there's a few here...", to deafening screams from the audience. Dame Edna protests at being called "Your Highness", but that doesn't stop MacPhisto from once again singing 'God Save Our Dame'.
Dame Edna would cross paths with Bono and The Edge once again in 2009 when they were guests on the same episode of Friday Night with Jonathan Ross (further clips here and here). Her alter-ego Barry Humphries died at the age of 89 in 2023 following complications from hip surgery after a fall.
The Zoomerang leg of the tour comes to an end tonight, with only four more shows remaining after that, and it's being broadcast live around the world as well as being filmed for the official tour video. It was initially thought that MacPhisto could phone the new US President Bill Clinton, complaining "But I got him elected!" when he inevitably failed to get through, but this idea was rejected as being "too American" for a global audience. It was therefore decided that he should address the viewers with a speech to sum up ZooTV.
On the night, the encore is as fantastic as the rest of the show. MacPhisto preens in the mirror during 'Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car', brushing aside the wardrobe assistants Helen and Nassim who help him into his gold jacket. His arrival onto the stage is particularly entertaining, with a loud shriek of "DADDY'S GONNA PAYYY...!" and a spot of crazy dancing. "So many listening tonight – I have a list," says a weary-sounding MacPhisto after his usual introductions. In a speech where almost every line cleverly links back to the "TV" theme, he addresses a number of world nations in turn, first taking the credit for giving Bill Clinton to the people of America ("Too tall to be a despot, but watch him closely"). He praises the people of Asia for their "tiny transistors" which made ZooTV possible, and observes that the countries of Europe had been "squabbling like children" but are now hooked up to one cable, "as close together as stations on a dial". (The EU was created earlier that month.) The biggest cheer comes after his message to the former Soviet Union: "I've given you capitalism, so now you can all dream of being as wealthy and glamorous as me!" There is also a wonderfully black humour when he addresses the people of war-torn Sarajevo: "Count your blessings! There are those all over the world who have food, heat and security, but they're not on TV like you are." He goes on to thank a few individuals; Frank Sinatra is offered the MTV demographic. Salman Rushdie was supposed to be asked "Is the price on your head too much to pay for so much airtime?", but instead MacPhisto comes out with the line "I give you decibels" at the last moment. "Goodbye Squidgy, I hope they give you Wales," he tells Princess Diana. The next line is scripted as being "Goodbye Michael, I hope you get your new penis" (a reference to tabloid speculation about Michael Jackson having surgery to alter the appearance of his manhood after allegations of child molestation), but MacPhisto leaves the line unfinished after a sudden vision of Jackson taking his own life. "Goodbye all you neo-Nazis," he concludes: "I hope they give you Auschwitz." His telephone call is for a taxi to take him home, but the operator can't make sense of MacPhisto's tired slurring, seems suspicious of the crowd noise, and hangs up on him when he asks her name. He looks forlorn. After a few seconds he starts to sing 'Show Me The Way To Go Home' down the telephone: "I'm tired and I want to go to bed. I had a little drink about an hour ago, and it's gone right to my head..."
MacPhisto talks again about how he doesn't like things to change: "I like the old status quo, what about you? Yes, the old things are the best. All this change is so confusing." He raises the topic of the general election. "You've been having a lot of changes round here, haven't you? Poor old Mike Moore!" he says, referring to the former Prime Minister who had lost the election and, adding insult to injury, had just been replaced as leader of the Labour Party. "Why do people always want change? All these new government people. Now you want MMP, not FPP! What difference does it make?!" He's referring to a recent referendum in which the majority of voters chose to replace the old First Past the Post electoral system with Mixed-Member Proportional representation. MacPhisto says he has a friend here who believes the old ways are the best – cabinet minister John Banks, known for his highly conservative views and frequently accused of racism and homophobia. (Banks would later become Mayor of Auckland, and spent a number of years as a controversial radio talkshow host.) MacPhisto describes him as an expert on the subject of law and order, in reference to his position as Minister of Police and the fact his parents were both convicted criminals. "Mm, John... I love you," he murmurs as he picks up the telephone, making a call to New Zealand's Parliament building ("Now, let me see – where is this bloody Beehive?!"). When he asks to speak to his friend, he's informed that Mr Banks is not in the building – he'll be at home in bed. "Mr Banks is at home in bed?" MacPhisto repeats incredulously. "Yes – it is 11:30 at night, sir!" the man points out. This doesn't sound right to MacPhisto: "But I thought Mr John Banks was always available to the people of Christchurch." "If you ring him at his home, he is, he'll be there!" says the man, and the crowd cheer in delight when MacPhisto replies: "Alright, I'll just do that!" He even reads the number out loud with a wicked laugh. Unfortunately he doesn't have any luck there either – another man answers the phone and says Banks isn't home. MacPhisto can't understand it: "I just rang the House of Parliament and they said he was at home in bed!" "Why not? That would make sense," the man agrees unhelpfully. He swiftly hangs up when MacPhisto delivers his "I just called to say I love you" message.
MacPhisto once again speaks of needing a good gimmick to stay ahead of the competition, remarking to the crowd "A little bit of self-destruction sells a lot of records, doesn't it?" (a quote which is sadly prophetic in its reference to Michael Jackson). He opines that political marketing pioneer Margaret Thatcher would have made a great rock 'n' roll star!
"God and the Devil have all the best phone numbers," MacPhisto declares as he phones the house on the hillside. He asks the owner "How much are you charging for admission up there, young man?" "Forty-five thousand dollars," is the calm reply. MacPhisto bursts out laughing: "A thief does even better than us!" He gets the man to give them a wave. "Now, from way up there I must look about two inches tall, do I?" asks MacPhisto. The guy agrees with this, and MacPhisto jokes "Well, I have news for you – I am two inches tall!" He tells the man they've sent up some official T-shirts ("so we can make a few bucks from you, you know what I'm saying?!" he spits pointedly), at which point the thief decides to terminate the call. MacPhisto sings him a chirpy rendition of the Neighbours theme, saying he thinks it's apt!
MacPhisto explains to the Japanese audience how everyone's into show business now: Lady Diana, the President of the United States... "Even your sumo wrestlers are into it! Do you know Akebono?" Earlier this year Hawaiian-born Akebono became the first non-Japanese wrestler ever to achieve the highest rank of yokozuna (grand champion). Describing him as "a glamorous chap", MacPhisto gives him a call and a man answers. "Am I speaking to the great Akebono?" enquires MacPhisto. "Yes, sir!" comes the enthusiastic response. MacPhisto has a proposal for him: "I have some Irish in me, and I believe you have some Irish in you. I'd like to challenge you to an arm wrestle in the Tokyo Dome – me versus you!" Akebono, whose late father Randy Rowan was of Irish descent, agrees they can set a date for it. (The bootleg of this show was given the title 'Bono vs Akebono'.) As Lemon starts up, MacPhisto calls out: "Goodnight Akebono... love from Mr MacPhisto! MacPhisto! MACPHISTO!!"
Akebono retired from sumo in 2001 and subsequently had careers in kickboxing, mixed martial arts and professional wrestling. He has suffered from ill health since 2017.
After nearly two long years and five separate legs, the ZooTV Tour finally reaches its conclusion here tonight. MacPhisto once again has a speech for the occasion: "Don't you think rock 'n' roll has come a long way? And it's taken its toll, let me tell you. On this very tour we've had four marriages, fourteen divorces, fifteen babies born, twelve people got arrested, we've sacked five people, and one crew member left the entourage to become a Franciscan monk! THANK YOU!" The audience cheer. Pausing to introduce the rest of his band, MacPhisto teasingly describes Larry Mullen Jr as "Boy George's wet dream". (The flamboyant singer had once been quoted as saying "Bono, if you still haven't found what you're looking for, look behind the drum kit!") While speaking about the fine people they'd met during the tour, MacPhisto had mentioned that tonight's phone call would be "to my closest friend", and he now continues mysteriously: "I'd like to call somebody I've gotten very close to since I came to Tokyo." It turns out to be rival singer Madonna, whom he'd already confessed to finding "gorgeous" on the first night in Melbourne. She's here at the show, watching from the sound desk with a portable phone, despite her promoter having tried to get the U2 dates moved so as not to interrupt Madonna's run of gigs in Japan. (U2's promoter responded by threatening to "destroy you", so her five nights at the venue were instead booked for the week after! Twenty years later, both artists would be sharing a promoter and manager.) "Hello? I'd like to speak to Madonna. This is Mr MacPhisto here!" he calls into the phone, but for some reason he has actually dialled 117, the Japanese speaking clock service. (This seems to be a strange joke carried over from the Mirrorball Man, who often wanted to "speak with his baby" but only got the current time and temperature.) Given the number of times that poor MacPhisto has failed to get hold of his famous "friends", it seems somehow fitting that the tour should end with him repeatedly shouting "Hello? Hello? HELLO...?" There's just time for one final "Off with the horns, on with the show!" as Lemon begins.
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