Review – São Paulo III
Seats: General Admission – Front Row Centre
Having seen how dedicated the Brazilian fans were in queuing up for nights 1 and 2, I figured I might fare better for night 3 for a couple of reasons. First, almost all the diehard Brazilian fans would have purchased tickets for the first and maybe the second show because they were the first gigs to be announced. Second, the first two shows were on a weekend and night 3 was on a Wednesday when some fans may need to work throughout the week and won’t have the time off to queue. Third, some fans might have grown weary and tired to camp for night 3. Fourth, there were a lot of first-timers in the queue who may not be as familiar of the confusing layout of the floor and entry into the pit. As such, my friend Amp and I decided to begin camping at Morumbi Stadium Monday night in lieu of the Wednesday gig and felt we had a good chance to be on the rail.
I have never done a two-nighter and this was a good a time as any. I had thought that my waterproof survival bag and inflatable mattress would guard me from the elements, but I realized that the constant raining and cool evening air created high amounts of condensation in my bag. This made it a very uncomfortable sleep over two nights. At the very least, this has prepared me for the Mexico City shows where it will be a multi-night queue.
After experiencing the show at the back, we both knew that our spiritual concert home was along the front rail and multi-night camping was necessary. I didn’t have a ticket at this point, since my friend Nick and I had miscommunicated and the GA ticket I thought he lined up for me was sold to someone else. It was a leap of faith that I would find a ticket for a show I was camping out for two nights. There were three gates that opened up at random times, and I was number 46 at gate four. Remembering from the past two shows, about 20,000 queue up before the doors officially open! The chances of getting to the front looked slim as I knew I had to compete with 45 fans in front of me, in addition to two other gates that could open ahead of mine. At that point, I would have been content with just being second or third row and be in the mix of it all.
It couldn’t have been more perfect timing when we arrived at the venue Monday night to begin our urban camping. Jana dropped us off, and we saw police lights and a bunch of fans waiting in the rain outside of the Morumbi Stadium. The band were leaving their rehearsal. We jumped out of the truck and got there just in time when Bono was saying hi to everyone. Amp was in South Africa to see the shows with Jana. They were the only two to be outside of the venue to greet the band. Consequently, they had a 20 minute conversation with Bono. They had met several times before and Bono knew them by name and face after pulling them up on stage a few times. Bono encouraged Amp to make it to Brazil, and Amp wanted to thank Bono in person for the invite and to confirm Bono’s observation that music really is a part of the Brazillian DNA. Just a few hours earlier, Amp, Cathal, Marty, Antonio, Paula, and I went to a local samba performance where local composers had a chance to sing their lyrics to a participatory crowd. Regardless of class and background, each person there were performers and it was an honour to witness such an intimate and unique musical event. Amp told Bono this experience and was happy that Amp made it to Brazil. On a related note, I had never seen so many fans become hysterical and cry at the sight of Bono. The passion of South America runs deep!
The morning of the show, I still didn’t have a ticket. I was told to go to the ticket booth at Morumbi as they usually had a ticket drop at 10AM. They were sold out. Despondent, Cathal encouraged me to write a sign in Portuguese asking for a ticket with a smiley face. Only touts selling real and fake tickets at double the price were available. Then a miracle happened. Marty’s Argentinian friend Flavia was in town for work and was staying at the Sheraton where U2’s crew were also lodged. Flavia ran intro Dallas Schoo (Edge’s famous guitar tech) and wanted to thank him for the setlist he gave her at the La Plata show. He asked Falvia if she was going to the show that night and she admitted that she didn’t have a ticket and was willing to hedge her bets at the venue when she got there later that night with Marty. Out of sheer kindness, Dallas said that he would let her in the show with a guest (Marty). With that blessing, Marty was magnanimous to give me his GA ticket when he saw that I was worried of the possibility of not going to the show (despite camping for two cold and extremely wet nights). I had my ticket and geared up to go. I ditched my usual GA bag, as I knew that security was tight, and brought all that I can’t leave behind – ticket and camera.
After the soundcheck at 3:30, the gates opened. We shuffled our way through several check points – ticket check, ticket scan, security check, and ticket rip. At each phase, I looked ahead to see which queue was the shortest and quickest. By the time I got through all four check points, there was maybe about 30 people ahead of me. It appeared that our gate opened first. We had to run the length of the stadium’s hallway giving me much space to run and pass everyone. Once we got to the pitch level, I was clear and ahead of everyone. Running for another 100 or so yards, I got to the outside gate of the pit and ran first into the inner circle and we saved a spot for Amp. Mission accomplished. I was exhausted but excited that I got front row centre again and experience front of house for the last night in São Paulo! We were all together – Jana, Colleen and Amp. Beside me was a lovely Brazilian girl named Naira who was studying law at her school and was seeing her third U2 show. It was nice to chat with her. Behind us were amazing fans from the south. One fellow was wearing a Gremio football jersey and we got along because I was wearing my Liverpool shirt and we talked about Lucas who plays for LFC but was Gremio’s captain years ago.
As we waited for Muse to open the show, we saw Dallas peak out from the stage and with him was Flavia and Marty! We learned that Dallas accompanied them into the stadium, gave them a tour under the stage, met the senior crew, and was able to hold Edge’s first guitar – the iconic Gibson Explorer. We jumped for joy as we saw them on stage. Even before the show started, everything was falling into place. After Muse’s rocking performance, Amp was able to get Christopher’s (Muse’s bassist) harmonica when it was thrown into the crowd.
The U2 show was out of this world. Again, I loved Even Better Than The Real Thing. Another treat was seeing Brazilian samba singer Seu Jorge perform Kraftwerk’s The Model with the band. I had come to love samba music, so it was great to hear a legend perform with U2!
After, Jana was invited to go up on stage to recite some of the lyrics of Beautiful Day in Portuguese with Bono. They have a unique friendship, and we were all happy for her to have this special moment – the last show in her home country of Brazil. Bono had known Jana from the Australia gigs when she told him of the work she does in Africa – providing services to former war child soldiers (starting in a Liberian refugee camp) and re-introducing them to ‘childhood’. It’s too bad she’ll miss most of the North American tour, but we’ll meet up with her again at the last show in Moncton. Colleen will be there too. She is another U2 friend with an amazing background story. She was inspired by U2 during the Conspiracy of Hope tour and helped form a local Amnesty International group in her hometown. This eventually led her to helping Amnesty in the former USSR behind the Iron Curtain and was there for ten years and saw the Iron Curtain fall. It was her long-term involvement with humanitarianism that helped propel Jana’s work in Africa. Amazing people U2 fans are, eh?
Zooropa was something else to witness up front. The screen extended so low that it covered half the band. With its lights off, it was a neat added effect to the song about moral confusion, European society, and emerging into brightly lit cities like Tokyo (how appropriate that the song leads into City of Blinding Lights). I loved it. It was touching to hear Bono dedicate Moment of Surrender to the children who were killed in a school shooting in Rio. At the end of the show, we left satisfied that there was really nothing else that could have made the last show experience better. What a way to end South America. Next up, North America!
The bootleg recording is available here.
Here and below are all my pictures from this show.