A few weeks ago I had a once in a lifetime experience. U2 played two nights in Chicago at Soldier Field on their 360 Tour. The Scottish group Snow Patrol opened for them for the entire tour. I was approached by British photographer, Perou(‘s rep), on behalf of Snow Patrol’s label. He was hired to photograph the band for an upcoming release.
I met up with Perou at his hotel and then drove him to the hotel at which Snow Patrol was staying. We met them in the lobby as they shambled onto their tour bus after a long night of partying and DJing.
We rode to Soldier Field, introducing ourselves. I got to hear Perou catching up with the band. Apparently he’d toured with them before.
Once the band got settled, we walked around the stadium shooting some candid group shots before their soundcheck. Then Snow Patrol soundchecked. It was awesome. We were in the middle of an empty Soldier Field, on the stage where U2 was going to be playing. Soundchecking in a stadium! I was downloading cards for Perou as he was running around shooting. Beneath the stage I was watching U2’s guitar techs setting up Adam Clayton’s basses and The Edge’s guitars. I had to get a shot of me on the stage- so the really unflattering ‘neck shot’ is from that. I wasn’t sure I was allowed taking photos before the show.
After the soundcheck we did some more shooting around the stadium. I was talking a lot with Paul Wilson, Snow Patrol’s bassist. At one point Gary Lightbody, singer for Snow Patrol, ran off from our shoot and went into a gift shop. 15 minutes later he emerged with a Chicago Bear’s t-shirt. He planned on wearing it for the night’s show.
After some more publicity shots we retired to Snow Patrol’s dressing room. There we hung out and shot the shit. There were lots of jokes at Welsh people’s expense (the band, the crew, and most of the support staff were from everywhere else in Britain). Paul Wilson was really into some remix of some Snow Patrol song that a fan had sent him. The band was very generous, offering everything from their craft service rider. It was pretty hot that day, for September in Chicago. Not to mention running around with some battery packs and lights for Perou. So I eagerly accepted a Magner’s from their stash. Apparently, they get a case sent to every venue on their tour. I had never heard of it, and they said it was hard to get in the States (I later found out it is not, they have it at my local bodega). But it hit the spot nonetheless.
The last ‘required shot’ Perou wanted to do was the walk-from-the-dressing-room-on-to-the-stage shot. We suited up and waited for the band to get ready. While waiting in the catacombs under Soldier Field, Larry Mullen and Paul McGuinness walked by! Larry Mullen stopped long enough to say hello and kept going. Paul McGuiness stopped by and talked to some people around us. If I’d not have been such a U2 fan, I’d have never recognized him. He was dressed very modestly- like a manager of a grocery store or something.
Perou and I did the long walk from the dressing room to the stage. It was amazing. I know the crowd was cheering for Snow Patrol. But being in their group, walking them to the stage, and hearing the crowd erupt as we became visible was unlike anything I’ve ever felt in my life- and is probably as close as I’ll come to a crowd cheering for me. I can now see why people go through the bullshit of being a celebrity. It was close enough for me.
Perou and I got to watch the show from the soundboard- which, all things considered it being a stadium and all, were really good seats. I actually enjoyed the show- Snow Patrol are really nice, very generous guys. But their new music leaves a lot to be desired. It is very good pop, but that’s it. Pop. Their first record was really good. But each consecutive record became pretty predictable. They played very well- and the crowd ate up Gary’s taking off his jacket to reveal a Bear’s t-shirt- a cheap shot, but it worked. I really enjoyed their show.
Then U2 came on. It was very cool to see them, despite me not liking any of their records since Achtung Baby. I first came to like them because my uncle Alan liked them. He had posters and all of their albums. I liked some pretty bad bands/music when I was younger, but U2 was a good start into something good. So seeing them live was a pretty cool experience. Plus, their unique stage was a sight to behold- the HD screen above the band was VERY cool.
I wished I could have heard more early songs- and at least heard them with some of the vitality of their early shows, but it was great to see a band I had a lot of respect live. It was very cool night. I don’t like seeing a band in a stadium- all intimacy and connection with the audience is lost…But if I have to, THAT is how you do it. I love my job.