Freddie at Live Aid, David Byrne and his baggy suit in the never-bettered Stop Making Sense or Derek Smalls getting trapped in a pod on-stage during This is Spinal Tap. A band’s work (even the fictional ones) can traverse the gap from memorable to iconic in an instance if they’re at the right place, at the right time, with a camera trained on them.
Obviously a band with one eye firmly placed on their entry in the rock history books, U2 have long embraced epic, grandiose and occasionally ridiculous gestures in their roughly 30-year, globe-spanning career. It comes as no surprise then that instead of releasing a normal concert film, they had to go and make a 3D one during a stop in South America on their recent Vertigo tour.
Is it the future of concert films? Who knows…but simultaneously intrigued and terrified by the thought of a 20-metre-high 3D Bono, we recently attended a press screening of the film at the London IMAX (initial news report here) and came back with the following minute-by-minute account of what transpired in front of our eyes over the course of 80 minutes.
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18:47 – Enter cinema. Handed large plastic 3D glasses.
18:51 –Announcer gives us press quotes and information about the film. Warned that a photographer from The Times will be taking a few photos of the audience during start.
18:54 – Film starts. Momentarily blinded by photographer’s flash.
18: 55 – Opening includes jump shots of people rushing into stadium with a voice in the background murmuring the words “Everyone”.
18:56 – Opening chords of ‘Vertigo’ are heard. Bono appears in silhouette. The waving 3D arms of the crowd projected onto screen give small shock.
19:00 – Incredibly large close up of entire band.
19:02 – Woman sitting next to me starts clapping at the end of ‘Vertigo’. Stops suddenly when she remembers she’s not at an actual gig.
19:06 – On-screen crowd cries out for Bono. Sound like they’re at a religious service crying out for salvation. Disturbed by implications of this.
19:08 – Messianic style pose from Bono spotted.
19:13 – Image of Bono projected on a giant screen behind the band. Decide to label this the po-mo Bono moment.
19:17 – Bono finishes song with a hug…that he gives to himself.
19:20 – Glimpse of small Bono belly.
19:22 – Bono puts on a bandana with a Muslim crescent, Star of David and crucifix drawn on to it during lead up to ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’…he’s at it again.
19:23 – Woman next to me claps.
19:26 – Bono angrily yanks microphone from stand and gets ‘serious’ during lead up to song climax.
19:28 – Close up of Bono making a cupping hand motion. It looks like he’s trying to stroke my head when shown in 3D.
19:29 – Woman quietly claps.
19:31 – Messianic pose #2.
19:32 – Bono places bandana over eyes. Slowly walks out blindfolded onto stage extension that snakes into crowd.
19:33 – Messianic pose #3.
19:35 – Bono looks rather short even on an IMAX screen.
19:37 – Bono missed his calling in musical theatre.
19:39 – A declaration of human rights is projected behind the band while they are read aloud by an off-screen voice. Woman claps.
19:40 – Honestly…
19:42 – Wonder how much hair product Larry Mullen must use to kept his ‘wet-look’ hair slicked back after almost an hour of drumming.
19:43 – Screen cuts to a shot of the audience, revealing numerous topless men sitting on their respective friend’s shoulders shouting for Bono. WTF?
19:44 – Messianic pose number #5…now with pumping fist action. (What happened to #4? - Ed)
19:45 – Woman claps.
19:46 – Witness Bono inexplicably caressing Adam Clayton’s face during ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’.
19:52 – Band play ‘One’. Recall that my first girlfriend when I was 12 loved this song. Cue thoughts about where she is now.
19:53 – Woman claps.
19.58 – Band wave goodbye. Go backstage.
19:59 – Goddamn encores.
20:00 – A stream of random words and text starts floating across screen.
20:01 – Bono now wearing military style hat and coat.
20:02 – “When will it end” and “Unbearable” actually flash across screen.
20:06 – Play ‘With or With Out You’.
20:07 – Woman next to me starts to quietly sing along. More clapping.
20:08 – Messianic pose #6.
20:09 – Either the 3D is starting to fail or my eyes just can’t take this anymore.
20:10 – Overhear woman saying “Oh Bono”.
20:11 – God, please let this end.
20:12 – Prayer answered. The end.
Video: U23D trailer
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U23D is released on February 22. Check out its website here.