The Scotsman : U2 start gambling in Vegas - U2 France
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The Scotsman : U2 start gambling in Vegas

lundi 21 avril 1997

Source : The Scotsman

From The Scotsman :

U2 start gambling in VegasBy Barry Didcock

The days when kings and queens toured their dominion to give the peasants a glimpse of theirroyal faces are long gone. However, there is a modern-day equivalent in the shape of the RockWorld Tour.

Today’s music aristocracy may go about things a little differently, having jumbos and Hiltons laid on where their predecessors had only carriages and castles, but the basic idea remains thesame : you kiss the kids and the missus goodbye and take to the road for an exhausting 18-month slog round the Wichitas and Hamburgs of this world.

On Friday, U2 will launch PopMart, one of the biggest rock tours ever undertaken. It’s being billed as a "giant, sci-fi, disco supermarket experience" and as well as the simple act of four men playing rock songs for an audience it will encompass a wealth of multi-media events - including adocumentary -and utilise the most up-to-the-minute technology. There will also be a 35ftlemon-shaped mirrorball, a huge golden arch and a massive, internally-lit olive. Like their lastworld-circling jaunt, Zooropa, it is more of a concept than a tour. In keeping with its theme ofconsumerism, it begins in glitzy, gaudy Las Vegas and by the time it reaches its end - so far in the future in fact that no date has yet been set - it will have set-down in over 60 cities and 20 countries.

Setting down with it will be the PopMart entourage. U2’s 200 camp-followers will travel in 15 buses (when they aren’t on specially-commissioned planes) and the equipment they need to make thePopMart magic come alive will fill 52 trucks. And yes, it is coming to a stadium near you : Murrayfield on 2 September.

On Saturday, the American terrestrial broadcaster ABC will screen U2 : A Year in Pop. The TVdocumentary has followed the band as they prepare for the tour and will include footage shot at the concert and patched into the final edit. The programme will be shown in the UK, though whichbroadcaster will screen it has yet to be announced.

From the tragic Winter Dance Party tour of 1959 which ended with the death of Buddy Holly through REM’s ill-fated Monster tour of two years ago, to PopMart itself, the tour has always been ahazardous occupation. World tours, doubly so.

If they’re unlucky, bands will just implode when they take to the road.

It happened to the Sex Pistols in 1978 and Oasis were lucky to escape with a warning when internal ructions forced the cancellation of a US tour last September.

Sometimes members leave or go missing, such as Fleetwood Mac’s Jeremy Spencer, who went tobuy a newspaper prior to a show in Los Angeles during the band’s 1971 tour and didn’t come back. He finally turned up a week later in a Children of God commune having shaved his head andadopted the name Joseph.

Such are the pressures of touring.

Most dangerous is the drug and alcohol abuse which can make even getting on and off stage difficult, as Depeche Mode’s David Gahan found out during the darkest days of his heroin addiction duringthat band’s Songs of Faith and Devotion tour in 1994. There are now doubts about whether they will ever tour again.

So can U2 survive ? Frankly, they can’t afford not to. Their superstar status is assured but to maintain it they must pit their wits and their health against a year of constant travelling, bickering and drinking.

Otherwise their PopMart spectacle might be faced with early closure. In the shaky world of the rock world tour, it wouldn’t be the first.

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