The Vertigo of Bliss PART 2:
SUNDAY 19th JUNE 2005


[ Click here for Part 1 of our U2 adventure! ]

We'd set the alarm clock on the TV in our hotel room, and it woke me up with a huge jolt at 3am – I'd been right in the middle of a dream and had no idea how to shut off the awful blaring noise! Every instinct was telling me to go back to sleep; the last thing I felt like doing was getting up and travelling back to Twickenham already, but I knew it had to be done. So I dragged myself out of bed and went to have my shower. I had originally thought this would be a mere luxury, but christ was it a necessity after Saturday's queuing! Everything and everyone had become completely filthy after sitting around in the heat and the grit all day. My nails were so ingrained with dirt that I actually could not scrape it off, and even after my shower I could still see it caked onto the inside of my elbows. Yeuch! At least my hair got a much-needed wash.

My outfit for the first night had been a tribute to MacPhisto, but I was dressing more sensibly for Sunday. Goodbye sweaty elastane trousers, painful shoes and layers of black clothing; hello comfy jeans, Zooropa T-shirt and trainers! I had planned to wear my horns again, but ultimately decided to give them a miss – they'd stayed on very well during the gig but they did pinch a bit, and I didn't want to risk being distracted by a subliminal headache. (Besides, they obviously hadn't made any kind of impression on Bono... I dunno if he noticed me or not, but he never acknowledged them at all. Bah, and there was me hoping he might want to try them on!!)

Sunday outfit (plus horns)

So here we are again...

After unloading my concert souvenirs and restocking on vital supplies such as food and bin liners, Coral and I went to look for the correct bus stop at the north end of Putney Bridge. We caught the 4:20 night bus to Twickenham King Street and successfully found our way back to the stadium, joining the GA line at 5am; we were still within the first dozen people, so it had definitely been worth returning to the hotel for a while. Especially since I was still completely unable to get any sleep in the queue... I'd barely slept at all for several days now, but I was just too cold and uncomfortable lying on the gravel, and my mind was refusing to shut up!

We hadn't been there for very long when a security guy came round and moved us closer to Gate H, as before. The queuing procedure was different today; after 9am they'd be splitting people into lines according to the gate allocation on their ticket, and both lines would be let into the stadium at the same time. I was slightly worried about the latter part and how it might affect our chances of getting a good spot, but at least our Sunday tickets were for Gate H, so there wouldn't be any confusion about where we needed to be!

GA line (photo © Nicky McMillan)
The GA queuing area early on Sunday morning.

We were in for another long, hot day. It had apparently been around 32° or 33°C on the Saturday... and if that had been bad enough, it was like a cool spring day compared to Sunday. :/ It was absolutely sweltering by about 9am; you couldn't bear to imagine what the afternoon was going to be like. Just before 10 o'clock, Nicky and I joined a mass of people trekking round the corner to Tesco which was about to open. There I purchased a very large bottle of water, a floppy wide-brimmed hat to keep the sun off, and the biggest newspaper I could find (it wasn't for reading!), plus a load of sandwiches and grapes which mostly went uneaten as I just had no appetite in the heat. Nicky bought some Factor 50 sunblock, a large pack of napkins and a box of ice-lollies to share around. (We had to eat them *fast* as they'd melt within seconds!)

Time dragged slowly in the unrelenting heat (I heard it was 35°C that day) – what felt like an hour would turn out to have been only 20 minutes. It was just unbearable. For a long time I found the only way to endure it was to lie motionless on the ground, completely buried under a pile of newspaper! The things we do for this band. :p  I honestly don't know how we survived that roasting (I'm not very good with hot weather at the best of times). Some lucky people had umbrellas, while others constructed elaborate shelters from pieces of fabric and cardboard. Sadly there was no room under them for us!

GA line (photo © Nicky McMillan)
Some people came prepared...

GA line (photo © Nicky McMillan)
...and some people improvised!

My new hat turned out to be a lifesaver – I hit upon the idea of wearing a sheet of newspaper underneath it for extra shade, which looked ridiculous but made me feel a lot more comfortable! (At one point a medic came round checking on people, and laughed "YOU'VE got a good idea!" when he saw my daft headgear.) Later someone had the genius idea of buying those spray bottles that you use to water plants, so Nicky went back to Tesco and found us one. It felt so amazing to get sprayed in the face with cold water – we were much happier after that! What a scene, though: everyone covered in sweat and dirt, sunblock dripped over everything, litter and newspaper all over the ground, people sleeping in cardboard boxes... the phrase "tramps on the beach" sprung to mind. ;p  At least there was a pleasant sense of community spirit that arose from our shared suffering!

GA line (photo © Nicky McMillan)
That's me and my hat in the foreground!

GA line (photo © Nicky McMillan)
GA line survival kit!

U2 started soundchecking really early on the Sunday afternoon, which was nice as it gave us something to take our minds off the intense heat. I was somewhat relieved when they soundchecked Zoo Station, as I was desperate to hear that one again, and Nicky had said they might not play it on the second night. (Of course, they still hadn't played Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses despite soundchecking it on Saturday, so this didn't guarantee anything!) We also overheard a fan saying he'd met the band after hanging around Gate B for a couple of hours last night, so that sounded like a good plan for later. We probably wouldn't make the last train anyway and we'd have an hour's wait for the buses to start, so it's not like we'd have anything better to do!

Everything's gonna work out tonight

Things were far better organised on the Sunday – they handed out the wristbands nice and early (orange today for the inner circle), and promised to try and get things moving earlier than yesterday. Just before 3 o'clock a medic came round again and insisted that Coral take a half-hour break in the shade, so we went and sat under the trees for a while, which was a welcome relief. I took the opportunity to refill my water bottle as the contents had become disgustingly warm. :\  (I also had to abandon the pizza slices I'd brought with me, as they were starting to taste incredibly dodgy after sitting around in the sun all afternoon, and I didn't want to risk food poisoning just then!!) I made a trip to the portaloos – there was no running water in any of them now, so I had to pour some of my drinking water over my hands – and then it was time to get back in line.

When they let us through for the ticket and bag checks, I was impressed by how little pushing and shoving there was – it all seemed fairly polite and relaxed, unlike Saturday's frantic entrance. (Perhaps everyone was just knackered from the heat.) We made our way to the inner circle and found, once again, that we could stand pretty much wherever we wanted! Even with two lines going in at once, it wasn't filling up that fast. I was so relieved and amazed – things had worked out better than I ever could have hoped.

For the second night in a row I got the exact spot I'd been aiming for – this time on the rail outside the right-hand B-stage. And fucking hell, we must have had the best spot in the entire stadium. It made our excellent Saturday night position look rubbish! From here, we'd be right next to all the B-stage action, we had a clear view right along the walkway, *and* we had a perfect view of the main stage as it was elevated above the heads of everyone in the bomb shelter. We could also see the band on the left-hand walkway and B-stage, which had been our blind spot the night before. Furthermore, we could now see all of the screens at a glance without having to twist around and miss things in the opposite direction. It was jaw-droppingly good – you couldn't have wished for a better place to stand! And the sound quality was just slightly muddier than right at the front, but still brilliant. Wow!

Sunday spot (photo source unknown)
The yellow rectangle shows our position on the rail for Sunday's concert!
(This was taken during Love And Peace Or Else – you can just about see us snapping photos of Bono.)

Sunday view
This photo gives you some idea of the fabulous view we had. Here they were performing Beautiful Day and Bono can be seen on the ramp.

It was still very humid when we got inside the stadium. The sun had almost disappeared below the top of the west stand, but not quite, and then it was reflecting off the big screen for ages. We also couldn't sit down today because everyone was crowding right up against the B-stage. :/ Indeed, we had to work quite hard to preserve what limited breathing space we had, as the people behind us weren't being very considerate (to put it politely). I hoped they were prepared to have their feet stomped on later, because I wasn't going to let them prevent me from dancing! The security folk were again wonderful, bringing us free cups of water before and throughout the show. I also still had my bottle of water at my feet, and I've *no* idea how it managed to stay upright all evening!! (The floor was very well designed anyway, with a grid of holes to ensure any spillages didn't create puddles.)

There was an amusing incident just in front of us, when a security bloke got caught playing with his mobile phone – he and his supervisor had a massive argument which culminated in him hurling his cap to the ground and storming off, evidently having either quit or been fired! The other security people eventually filled the gap, and we were mostly looked after by a friendly girl who didn't seem to know much about the event (she insisted we'd be getting Doves and Athlete again, LOL). The first support act, Idlewild, came on at 5:30pm and played for half an hour. They did a great job; I only knew one of their songs (You Held The World In Your Arms), but I love that song so I was happy that they played it! The rest of the crowd didn't seem overly responsive to their set, probably because of the heat, which is a shame. I sympathised with the frontman who commented that opening for U2 isn't the easiest job in the world!

Ash came on at 6:45pm for a 45 minute set (a last-minute replacement for Interpol who'd been forced to cancel). They too were admittedly very good, playing with lots of energy and skill, but I can't say I enjoyed their set at all. I was tired, hot, my feet ached, I was getting really impatient for U2, and they hardly played any of the hits that I knew. Besides which, Charlotte Hatherley had been slagging U2 off in recent months (I'm surprised she agreed to support them), so I couldn't bring myself to clap them too enthusiastically no matter how well they performed. We had another long wait once they'd finished, but a couple of large inflatable eggs were now being chucked all around the pitch, which was quite entertaining – one of them skimmed right over my head and landed on the B-stage just in front of me. The security guards were very good about throwing them back into the crowd whenever they got stranded! (These were later mentioned on the Zootopia forum, in a thread entitled "DID YOU TOUCH MY BALLS????")

Then we all got terribly excited when Bono's guitar tech Phil Docherty made his way to the B-stage clutching several sheets of paper, and I instantly caught sight of the words "You're dangerous 'cos you're honest"... YAAAYYY, proof that we would finally be getting Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses at this show!! :D  He spent ages carefully taping all the lyrics onto the floor – oh Bono, can you really not be arsed to learn the songs beforehand?! – and then went off to do the same thing on the other B-stage, which is sadly where Bono chose to perform it in the end. One of the other techs (Dallas, I think) threw a plectrum into the crowd, which was caught by a lucky woman just along the rail from us.

Twickenham Stadium crowd (photo © Nicky McMillan)
The crowd on the pitch just before U2 came on.

By the time U2 finally came on at about 8:15, I was really up for this gig – I was going to enjoy this one properly if it killed me, dammit. No more inhibitions, no more missing out on key moments. I would take fewer photographs, and forget about the camera whenever something really special was happening in front of me. And I'd bounce and wave my arms and dance like hell, regardless of whether anyone around me was doing the same thing!

I'm ready for the crush

Right from the start of the gig, you could tell it was gonna be even better than the night before... Vertigo was fucking incendiary! I thought Bono had already been giving 200% on the Saturday, but tonight he was absolutely on *fire*, lunging and teetering and spazzing around like there was an earthquake beneath the stage. It was driving the crowd into an utter frenzy. :D  (One fan's review on U2.com said he was "like a deranged animal that had just been let out of its cage", which is such a great description!) That song rocked so hard – I adored the way Bono would go "Just give me what I want, and no-one gets... [long pause]... HURT?!" :D  I was also deeply in love with his black jacket with the red lining; he had a bit of a Fly moment (from the Sydney video) where he threw the jacket off his shoulders and struck a pose, and it looked so damn good!

I was having lots of fun, although the fans behind us were not exactly civilised – all through the show they were grabbing us (usually on my badly sunburnt shoulders), humping us and trying to lean past us. One girl even tapped me on the shoulder from several rows back and begged me to let her onto the rail, even though I had no space as it was! (I just shook my head in disgust – I didn't queue for 15 hours to let some whiny latecomer invade my hard-earned spot. I heard another woman point this out to her, and tell her to stay where she was!)

After Vertigo came the first surprise of the night... instead of I Will Follow, they launched straight into All Because Of You! This had normally been played in the encore (or omitted altogether, as it had been yesterday), so I never expected to hear it that early in the set. I'd always said they should open the shows with Vertigo and ABOY to get things off with a bang, and it was a pleasure to be proved right! Great performance – the crowd sang along brilliantly and I loved all the "Oh oh ohhh" bits in the middle. After this came The Electric Co and then Elevation, and I think the entire audience snorted with laughter when Bono threw in a snippet of Nelly's "It's getting hot in here, so take off all your clothes" – an unexpected suggestion, but hilariously appropriate!!

Much to my delight, we then had another blistering performance of New Year's Day – they dropped this song for quite a few US gigs, so I'm thrilled we got to hear it both nights. Adam came out and played for us on the B-stage (he was so close you could see every bead of sweat!), and our manic cheering was again rewarded with lots of smiles and little nods of acknowledgment – how great is he?! :)

New Year's Day (photo © U2.se)
A pic from U2.se, showing Adam on our B-stage during New Year's Day. Coral is near the left-hand side, wearing blue; Nicky is behind the security girl, in a black baseball cap, and I'm the short one in between them!

New Year's Day (photo source unknown)
We're much easier to see in this one, just to the right of Adam. :D

Beautiful Day had a different Beatles snippet today (Blackbird instead of Here Comes The Sun), and I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For was another big crowd singalong. Then it was the moment we'd all been waiting for... the European tour debut of Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses! It was lovely, especially the exquisite falsetto on the bridge and the "Come on now love" climaxes... mmmhhh. We were certainly being spoiled with all this Achtung Baby material, which I never would have expected before the tour started! (Afterwards, Bono said "I think that might be the first time we've played that one", and then we could see him mouthing at the audience "Have we done that one before??" – LOL, his memory is so shite.)

Beautiful Day (photo © Nicky McMillan)
The band performing Beautiful Day.

Beautiful Day
Here Bono was strolling along the walkway towards us.

Speaking of loveliness, up next was City Of Blinding Lights, which was better than the previous night – I got to hear my beloved falsetto note this time, bringing happy tears to my eyes! :') Since it was Father's Day, Bono released a balloon that said "World's Greatest Dad" or something like that – aww. A dreamy Miracle Drug followed, and then Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own, which I appreciated a *whole* lot more now that I could see Bono's face at the right moments. He looked very emotional on the walkway, and did a little boxing gesture when he sang "Let me take some of the punches". :) For the second verse onwards he came out to our B-stage, and it was such a privilege to witness Bono opening his heart and soul right in front of us.

Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own
Bono on our B-stage for the second verse of Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own.

Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own
Now there's a nice passionate shot!

As with last night, Love And Peace Or Else was another chance to go mental despite the lack of room – to hell with everyone else!! It was especially cool this time, as Bono came prancing all around our B-stage. Every time he stopped in front of us, we'd all reach out desperately in case he decided to make contact... he never did reach back, but it was fun trying! Larry's drumming sounded out of time with the song, but Bono was *amazing* on the drum tonight, beating the hell out of it – it looked and sounded so cool, you just felt like jumping about and screaming. :D  One of the techs hurled the drumsticks into the crowd afterwards, and judging from the excited shrieks somewhere behind us, someone was very grateful for them!

Love And Peace Or Else
Larry and Bono on the B-stage for Love And Peace Or Else.

Love And Peace Or Else (photo © Nicky McMillan)
Larry sings!

Love And Peace Or Else
Whack that drum!!

Love And Peace Or Else (photo source unknown)
You can see Coral (plus my camera) between Bono's legs, and Nicky is just to his left!

Sunday Bloody Sunday was fantastically cool once again (and Bono got the lyrics right this time <g>). I love the way everyone sings the "Ohhh-oh-ohh, whoa-oh-ohhhh-oh-ohh" intro, and I also really liked the extra line "Till death itself has been undone". The red lights and smoke for Bullet The Blue Sky looked even more amazing from a distance, and although the song itself was still lacking its traditional fire, the sequence of snippets (including a lovely bit of Please) sounded even better tonight! The devilish tone of When Johnny Comes Marching Home and the epic beauty of The Hands That Built America were so swoon-worthy that I never even noticed they were skipping half of Bullet on this tour, LOL.

Sunday Bloody Sunday (photo © Daniel Lindinger // U2tour.de)
At the bottom of this photo, to the left of the security guy, you can see myself and Nicky (whose face is obscured by a frenzy of hands!)

Bullet The Blue Sky (photo © Nicky McMillan)
Dramatic lighting for Bullet The Blue Sky.

Running To Stand Still, on this occasion, was also bursting with unexpected snippets. It was Aung San Suu Kyi's 60th birthday, so Bono led us in a chorus of Happy Birthday, though it was fairly evident that not many people knew how to pronounce her name. ;) Then instead of the usual "Still running" or "Hallelujah" endings, he launched into a few lines of Walk On! (That song had really upset me on the Elevation Tour, signalling the final moments of an all-too-brief concert, but it was much nicer to hear it now in its proper context and not as a farewell.) The Declaration of Human Rights video was followed by Pride and Streets which were as rousing as ever... you can't ever grow tired of the latter, it gets the crowd going like nothing else! Adam also came out to our B-stage again.

Where The Streets Have No Name (photo © Nicky McMillan)
Where The Streets Have No Name.

Where The Streets Have No Name (photo source unknown)
Myself and Coral are just to the right of the mobile phone!

Before One, Bono gave quite a lengthy speech about Make Poverty History, saluting the various people involved with it. He spent ages describing this one guy, and I don't think anyone knew who he was referring to (I was expecting it to be some important charity worker that I'd never heard of)... then he finally reveals he's talking about Bob Geldof, who is in fact here tonight!! The whole stadium just *screamed* with excitement, it was such a cool moment. :) The performances of One had a new "Oh oh oh oh..." ending on this tour, which I liked; it was different and pleasant, although obviously not a patch on the original falsetto wailings.

I'm ready – I'm ready for what's next!

Interval video
Zoo Babies!! "Mama!" :D

Then it was the interval (have I mentioned how much I loved that fruit machine?!), and I knew what was coming next... or at least I hoped with all my heart that they hadn't decided to change things around for the second show. This time I was determined not to be overwhelmed by the ZooTV set; I was going to drink it all in and enjoy the living hell out of every moment. And sure enough, in crashed ZOO STATION – yaaaayyyyy, I was so happy they didn't drop it!! The entire show was superb, but this was by far the highlight for me. I just could not believe I was there at a U2 stadium show, watching them play an absolutely kickarse version of Zoo Station, with Bono recreating the old ZooTV moves right in front of my face. There are just no words to describe how cool this was. The last of my inhibitions flew out the window and I went ballistic – grinning like a fool, singing and dancing my little heart out and not caring in the slightest if it bothered anyone behind me! Bono once again did several laps of our B-stage, pausing to sing right down at us... part of me wishes I'd taken a photo of that moment, but there was no *way* I wanted to be distracted by anything just then! He and the other band members all looked fantastic on that tour, they were positively glowing, and the aura of awesomeness radiating from Bono was almost tangible.

Zoo Station (photo © Nicky McMillan)
Bono's silhouette appears on the upper left-hand screen for the start of Zoo Station...

Zoo Station
The Fly is still doing the ol' Nazi salute with one hand and slapping it down with the other!

Zoo Station
More excellent Zoo Station graphics; Bono can also be seen hiding in the shadows on the left-hand side!

Zoo Station (photo © Nicky McMillan)
SO. DAMN. COOL.

Zoo Station (photo source unknown)
Rather dark, but we are in this picture. I remember the exact moment it was taken – my arm was still blissfully outstretched towards Bono who had just been singing Zoo Station down at us. :)

By the time they played The Fly, with those gigantic ZooTV screens flickering hypnotically against the darkness, I thought my heart was going to burst with ecstasy. After all those years of aching sadness that I was too young to have been a fan in 1993, and fearing I'd missed the boat when it came to their full-blown sensory extravaganzas, this was more than I could ever have dared to dream about. It may not have been ZooTV but it looked and felt just like it, and came incredibly close to making up for not seeing the original tour. At last I was able to experience the mindblowing U2 that I know and love, in their natural environment, the bigger the better... I cried with joy just writing about it when I got home! The dizzying slogans on the screen were brilliant and the colours were just so stunningly gorgeous – there are no words that could do it justice, it was quite simply the greatest moment of my entire life. I'm so glad I wore my trainers that day, because I was jumping like mad to that awesome guitar riff, propelling myself higher off the ground than I'd ever done before at a gig, and it felt amazing.

The Fly
I can't help it... it's so beautiful...

In the third setlist change from the previous night, Mysterious Ways was replaced by a *beautiful* version of With Or Without You – there was something about the way he sang it, I found I could close my eyes and imagine it was MacPhisto on the ZooTV Tour. Even the way he embraced a girl from the crowd reminded me of the Sydney video! As they danced together, Bono surprised everyone by singing a snippet of Take Me To The Clouds Above, the dance track sampling WOWY that had topped the UK chart the year before. The crowd loved it – I'm not sure that mashup was ever particularly popular with U2 fans, but in this context it was just magical, it seemed like hearts were melting all around the stadium. Bono then took a moment to send out another birthday greeting, this time to producer Steve Lillywhite, before Yahweh which was again visually pretty but otherwise a wasted opportunity. And thennnnn....

Here it is, the big finale; a fourth performance of Vertigo to bring down the curtain on this utterly crazy weekend! And if there had been a roof on Twickenham Stadium, U2 would have blown it sky high. It was a complete frenzy of jumping and screaming our heads off and singing at the top of our lungs, and Bono himself was like a whirlwind by this point! On the 2001 tour, I'd spent the final song feeling distressed and panicky. Not this time. I don't think I've ever bounced so much in my entire life... it was so unbelievably hot that I could feel myself literally *drenched* in sweat, and I hadn't taken a drink of water in ages, but none of that mattered one bit, because in that moment I just wanted to dance until I dropped. There wasn't even the slightest tinge of sadness that it was all coming to an end – I was just so thrilled to have experienced this amazing show which had seemed to last for hours. Thank god I'd attended both concerts; it was so much easier to absorb everything once you knew what to expect! Bono finished off Vertigo with a snippet of London Calling, just as he'd done at Earls Court four years earlier (except this time I was actually able to hear it!!), and they just about made the 10:30pm curfew for the second night in a row – nicely done, lads. :)

What a night, what a show! At last I'd done a U2 concert properly: genuinely felt it and expressed my joy without feeling self-conscious. Amazingly I had *no* hearing problems whatsoever after the second gig – I could hear normally from the moment Vertigo ended – and I wasn't even remotely tired, despite having had virtually no sleep all weekend. I was just on top of the world. All my plans had worked out perfectly in the end. The band were hitting a major peak; Bono's voice sounded better than it had in years. We had a great pair of setlists, mixing it up nicely without dropping any of my favourite songs, and dominated by material from my two favourite albums (AB and HTDAAB) – I was even delighted with the running order. The visuals were sensational, I loved the striking stage setup which combined the wow factor of the '90s outings with the intimacy of this decade's 'inner circle' design. (It looked so much cooler than the North American leg, which had just seemed like a dull rehash of the Elevation Tour... I'm still shocked and gutted they chose to film the Vertigo DVD indoors.) Saturday's gig had already scored 10 out of 10 – and Sunday's was at least an 11!


SETLIST IN FULL:

  1. Vertigo
  2. All Because Of You
  3. The Electric Co (+ Bullet With Butterfly Wings, I Can See For Miles)
  4. Elevation (+ Hot In Herre)
  5. New Year's Day
  6. Beautiful Day (+ Blackbird)
  7. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
  8. Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses
  9. City Of Blinding Lights
  10. Miracle Drug
  11. Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own (+ No Regrets)
  12. Love And Peace Or Else
  13. Sunday Bloody Sunday
  14. Bullet The Blue Sky (+ When Johnny Comes Marching Home, Please, The Hands That Built America)
  15. Running To Stand Still (+ Happy Birthday, Walk On)
  16. Pride (In The Name Of Love)
  17. Where The Streets Have No Name
  18. One
    --
  19. Zoo Station
  20. The Fly
  21. With Or Without You (+ Take Me To The Clouds Above)
  22. Yahweh
  23. Vertigo (+ London Calling)

U2gigs.com | @U2 Tours | U2start.com | Willie's Tour Diary

Bootleg video, part 1 (Vertigo to Love And Peace Or Else)
Bootleg video, part 2 (Sunday Bloody Sunday to Vertigo)


I'm waiting, I'm waiting for you

The adventure wasn't quite over yet, as we were still hoping to meet the band afterwards. We left the building as quickly as we could, which was *very* slowly due to the dense crowd; we'd also lost Coral by the time we got outside, and it took a while to find each other again. The band had left via Gate B last night, so we headed there, but a few minutes later a security guard came over and locked the gate, so we had to look for another one that was still open. Nicky departed at this point, intending to catch the last shuttle bus to the station, but he came back a few minutes later after finding the queue was a nightmare! We found a bunch of security guys and a whole row of cars at Gate C, which looked promising, so we waited there for well over an hour with another small group of fans. One of the security guys told us the band had all left straight after the show, but it sounded like he was lying so we didn't give up!

A lot of people emerged from the building, including Ricky Gervais (whom nobody else seemed to recognise!), but no sign of Bono & co. A passing girl whispered in my ear that U2 had another two cars waiting round the corner at the West Stand, which left us with a dilemma – should we heed this tip, or stand our ground in case it turned out to be a double bluff? It was a gamble either way, and we decided to stay put, since there were still several cars which were obviously waiting for *someone*. Sadly they each left with random passengers until only a bus remained, and by the time we wandered around the stadium there were no other cars or crowds anywhere... I guess they either did use the other exit, or we really had been waiting in vain to begin with. Oh well – it was mildly disappointing not to meet the boys, but in no way did it spoil my evening! After a gig like that, anything else would just have been a bonus.

Bidding farewell to the stadium which had almost begun to feel like home, we strolled through the deserted streets of Twickenham, which were oddly peaceful now that the singing crowds had all moved on – though there was still a trail of crap to show where they'd been! I was tired now, but still utterly elated; no-one could ever take this experience away from me, and even if I never saw another U2 show that was half as good, I'd be OK with that. We found the right bus stop just in time to catch the first night bus back to Putney; Nicky caught the same bus despite only having a vague idea of the way to his hostel in Earls Court! Coral and I discovered our hotel room was now a horrific 27°C in the middle of the night, but by this point we were far too exhausted to let the heat bother us. I was finally ready to have a good long sleep!!

I'm on the outside, LET ME IN!

I hit the sack around 2am and enjoyed several hours of blissful sleep, before being woken at 9am by an almighty thunderstorm. (It was originally predicted to hit over the weekend and soak us in the GA line!) I slept for another hour or so and then had a shower, though I was still unable to scrub all the dirt off my arms. :p  After checking out of the hotel, Coral and I headed straight for the nearest Boots to buy some aftersun for my poor shoulders... the smell of it still reminds me of Twickers every time I use it! Our train home to Poole was delayed by signal problems (caused by a lightning strike!) which meant sitting on the platform at Clapham Junction for a while, but the journey was otherwise uneventful and we both pretty much dozed all the way. <g>

We then caught our separate buses home (I had to wait ages for mine), and it was *such* an effort to walk the final distance to my house, struggling with a heavy bag that I couldn't sling over my shoulders because of the sunburn. I was hot, knackered and aching all over, and the only thing that kept me going was the thought of a bath and a relaxing afternoon indoors. So imagine my despair when I found my door key wouldn't work because of the heat, and nobody else was at home to let me in! Tripped at the very last hurdle... all my attempts to force it open failed, and I had no choice but to sit outside for 3½ hours until the lock had cooled sufficiently to cooperate. Just when I thought I was done with waiting around in the sun all day!!!

Those were the best days of my life

How can I sum up this extraordinary weekend? The whole thing was just surreal. My first experience of queuing for GA had been the ultimate test of endurance, camping out in that brutal heat for two whole days, with the added discomfort of the gravel and the sleep deprivation to cope with. (By the time I got home, my battle scars included two very sore shoulders and no less than 27 bruises on my legs!) But "no pain, no gain", as they say – and it was so worth all the effort, to be that close. I now realised this was the ONLY way to see a U2 show, I didn't ever want to have seats again! Of course, my view would probably have been terrible if I hadn't been right on the rail, so it was always going to require the full overnight marathon. I'd do it again in a heartbeat; though in a way I'm kind of glad these things don't come around more frequently. ;)

And the concerts themselves... what can I say, they exceeded not only my expectations but also my wildest hopes. There's no greater gift they could have given me than a little taste of ZooTV in my own lifetime as a fan. What I saw and heard and felt over those two nights was so indescribably awesome that I don't feel any need to quibble over the inclusion or omission of particular songs – it could hardly have been any better. The audio bootlegs don't really capture the atmosphere in that stadium, the playful mood of the band, the passionate singing of the crowd... although I still had tears of joy rolling down my face when I gave them a listen. :) I can't tell you how ecstatic I am that U2 decided to give us another one of their truly spectacular live shows, and I WAS THERE! A piece of my heart will always remain at Twickers. ♥

Most importantly, this tour had finally exorcised the ghosts of my first U2 concert which had haunted me ever since. The Elevation show had been a disappointment on so many levels, it had left me feeling incomplete as a U2 fan, like there was still a great void within me. Now all of those problems had been put right, and it was such an immense relief! Twickenham was the most fantastic experience that I would remember and cherish for the rest of my life, and Earls Court had become a distant memory that no longer mattered in the slightest. Perhaps I even needed to taste those bitter lows in 2001, in order to fully appreciate the highs of 2005. It certainly was nice to wake up the morning after a U2 gig feeling blissfully happy instead of sick to my stomach. :)

My most heartfelt thanks to everybody who helped to make that weekend what it was. It's one I will never, ever forget.


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