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May 7th, 2010

Song Of The Day @ 01:21 pm

canadanne:
I've thought about writing this post on-and-off for years, but... I don't know. I think I feared I could never do it justice. Which is true, but I've decided it's worth attempting.

I have done ZooTV Live From Sydney SOTDs before - Mysterious Ways, Satellite Of Love, and the truly epic Dirty Day / Bullet The Blue Sky / Running To Stand Still / Where The Streets Have No Name. (I've done PopMart Live From Mexico City ones too: Please / Streets, With Or Without You and One.) This one, however, is the closest to my heart.

Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car --> Lemon --> With Or Without You --> Love Is Blindness --> Can't Help Falling In Love

Oh yeah, it's a five-song extravaganza this week. I thought very hard about whether to give each song its own individual post, but I've always said the whole encore should be watched as one amazing sequence, so I'm keeping them all together. It's a real emotional journey that needs tracing from start to finish. Luckily I've watched this half-hour section about a hundred million times and I could describe every shot with my eyes closed. The ZooTV concert video was one of my earliest purchases as a U2 fan, long before I had most of the albums, and I spent a wonderful summer watching this encore every night before I went to sleep. It's pretty darn special to me, and hopefully to you too.

It's exactly 17 years since the incomparable Mr MacPhisto first materialised. If you love him half as much as I do, I think you'll enjoy this post. If not... probably best to give it a miss. :p


If you're new to U2, you may be unfamiliar with MacPhisto and why he's the greatest thing in the history of the world ever. In which case, here's something I prepared earlier... lots of useful info about his origins and things he's gotten up to over the years. :)

Now then, the Sydney video. After closing the main set with Pride (In The Name Of Love), Bono says goodnight and heads off backstage. He won't be back. I don't know where on earth he disappears to for the rest of the evening, but there's a very different frontman when the band return for the encore. An even better one!

The interval video features the space baby from the Zooropa album cover, singing a bit of opera. As on the album, Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car opens with the fanfare taken from Lenin's Favourite Songs, before that awesome quirky intro explodes into life - all pounding drumbeats, slinky bass and crunching guitar. At first the video screens only tease us with glimpses of Larry (and Edge's arm)... but where is the singer? And then at last we see him, and for the unsuspecting first time viewer, it's a pretty major WTF moment. He's in his dressing room, preening in front of a large mirror. But who the hell is he and what has he done with Bono?!


I love MacPhisto's luxurious red and gold dressing room, it's so *him*. I believe it only appeared on this final leg of the tour. On the screen we see him carefully perfecting his devilish look with a touch more powder and lip gloss, smiling to himself like an artist who knows he's just crafted his greatest masterpiece. Now I think he's stunningly gorgeous, but 10 years ago I just found him incredibly creepy, in a fascinating sort of way. He breathes a deep sigh of satisfaction, then leans forward into the microphone and starts to sing.

Applying lipstick

It feels like this song was always written for MacPhisto. I did grow to enjoy the album version, but it's quite flat and mechanical, without much emotion. Live, however, it really *lives* - it's sexy and fun and just completely fabulous. (I saw the video first, which made me want the album, and I was really disappointed when I heard the studio take!) He delivers each line with nuance and character; it's a truly mesmerising performance. I adore all his facial expressions, the playful smirks - at one point he turns his head and looks straight into the camera with an eerie smile, and it feels like he's gazing out of the screen directly into your soul. *shiver*

Creepy smile   Evil eyes

A-HA, SHA-LA is one of the best parts of the song. It cracks me up how they actually flash the words up in huge letters on the screen, and I love the way Mac really throws himself into the second one! (I also love the way he finishes the chorus with a little flick of the shoulders as if to say "Damn, I'm hot" before gratuitously adjusting his shirt collar. And then sort of groaning into the microphone. Guh.)

A-HA (SHA-LA)   Reflection perfection

He stands up for the second verse and is helped into his gold jacket by Helen and Nassim, who are then shooed away with a dismissive wave of his arm. :) Another favourite moment is when he pauses to admire his reflection and then sing to it quite flirtatiously, giving himself another little knowing smile as he turns away. During the chorus he leaves the dressing room and heads toward the stage, twirling and bowing as if to acknowledge some imaginary audience along the way. It's brilliant how MacPhisto has his own distinctive way of moving - every sweep of his arm is flowing and graceful, every step accompanied by a subtle swing of the hips. He dances like a lunatic, though. :D  As the song suddenly picks up its pace, he bursts onto the stage with a demonic shriek of "Daddy's gonna paaayyyyy-YYYAAH!" and breaks into a bizarre one-legged dance, shaking his entire body in time with the music. The crowd love it! His leap forward just before grabbing the mic stand is awesome too; I've found myself copying that move so many times when I'm excited about something. *g*

You'll notice they totally reworked this middle section for the live shows, and it's extremely effective. Whereas the album version keeps the same basic melody and tempo throughout, here MacPhisto sings the lines twice as fast and gives it a bit more drama. I especially like the way he sings "Daddy's a comforrrrt! He's your - best - friend! Daddy hold your hand... to the end". The close-up shots of him tapping his glittery platform boot to the music, and the Trabants swinging wildly overhead, make it even cooler.

Sexy boots   Trabbies!

Edge provides additional vocals on the "Sunday, Monday..." bit, and continues on his own when Mac decides to concentrate on gyrating his hips instead (a decision I support wholeheartedly). The latter then shouts "Daddy's gonna pay!" and the cannons erupt with Zoo dollars that shower everywhere... something Adam has clearly forgotten about, as he visibly jumps a *mile* in the background before hastily shuffling away, LOLOL! Mac is laughing too as the glorious chaos unfolds - you can't fail to crack a smile. And the song reaches its delicious conclusion with a purred a cappella "Daddy's gonna payyyyyyy... for your... craaashed... caaarrrr". I love everything about it, right down to the stray hair across his forehead, and the way he curls the fingers of his free hand while he's singing. Beautiful. He also knows a good thing when he hears it, and is the first to applaud himself. ;)

Adam soils himself...   ...MacPhisto is amused
Last line   Leading the applause

(You may also enjoy the pro-shot Adelaide performance of this song - it doesn't have quite the same energy level, but it does include some wonderful facial expressions, a drawn-out *moan* and some impressive tongue action. Nice!!)


MacPhisto then delivers his famous goodbye speech - I guess I won't say too much about that, since I'm meant to be writing about the songs, and I'd be here all day if I tried to pick out highlights of that classic speech with all its witty one-liners. (Mind you, I should point out that he sounds unusually weary on the Sydney video; he isn't always this serious. I highly recommend downloading some of his other phone calls if you want a flavour of his real personality and humour!) Still remember the first time I watched this video - if Mac's appearance had been startling enough, his unfamiliar speaking voice creeped the *hell* out of me. Bono really had left the building, hadn't he?!

After trying and failing to order a taxi, and singing 'Show Me The Way To Go Home' down the telephone whilst looking utterly forlorn, MacPhisto replaces the receiver just as Lemon begins. That soon cheers him up - his signature song! And my all-time favourite U2 song. This is where I heard it first and fell in love with it, and it still moves me in ways that nothing else can.


Lemon is the perfect transitional song, simultaneously mischievous and melancholy, keeping the party alive whilst also carrying us forward into the more emotional part of the set. And the Sydney performance is just *flawless*, it blows me away every time. It speaks for itself far better than I can possibly describe it, but anyway I'll try...

The song starts up with those fantastic siren wails (the same ones they'd use again for HMTMKMKM on the PopMart Tour), and the stage is bathed in warm golden light, with psychedelic lemons flashing on the screens. As the shimmery intro comes in, MacPhisto flashes a devilish smile and joyfully pirouettes to the music, sending the crowd into instant raptures. Then he steps up to the mic stand, opens his mouth and... "Leh-monnn!" BEST. VOCAL. EVER. I'd give anything to hear that magnificent falsetto in concert now. The moment he's sung that very first word, he turns and grins at the audience, knowing how much they're gonna *love* this performance. :D

Lemon love!   Shoulder dance

Guh, I could ramble on and on about how I adore every single line of this. It just sounds - and looks - incredible from start to finish. Love, love, love the groovy little shoulder shimmy during "She's gonna make ya cryyyyy, she's gonna make ya whisper and moan". They reorganised the verses and chorus to make it work better live, and it's beautifully structured. MacPhisto's falsetto scat singing is the first truly heartstopping moment, the first indication that there's more to this performance than just fun and games. It leads into a new and improved chorus with Mac singing "Midnight... midniiiiight... midniiiiight is where the day begins" over the backing vocals. *Gorgeous*. This song is the other reason I rushed out and bought Zooropa after seeing the video, and I was gutted to discover that chorus vocal wasn't on the album - it was probably my favourite bit!

Lovely falsetto   Mopping Adam

Mac heads over to Adam's side of the stage for the next verse - he even stops to playfully mop Adam's brow on the way. *g* Again I must comment on Mac's unique style of moving around; his spontaneous twirls, the way he leaps down onto the lower part of the stage, his little skipping sidestep. It's all these delightful idiosyncrasies that make him such a striking and special character. He pauses to read out the lyrics which are displayed on the screen karaoke-style, complete with bouncing lemon. *g* (At the final show in Japan he changes these lyrics to "A man builds a city, with banks and karaoke"!)

Can I also just mention his belt is *really* distracting, it's not properly tucked into his belt loops and every time I see it I just want to grab it and.... ahem, moving on.

Lemon karaoke!   See what I mean?

He breaks into the falsetto again for "You're gonna meet her there..." and begins striding back along the stage (which is absolutely *carpeted* in the Zoo money from earlier, lol). The song now reaches its most passionate and thrilling stage... he's really throwing himself into it for "And these are the days when our work has come asunder / And these are the days when we look for something other". Centre stage now, with the people in the front row *desperately* trying to reach him, he sings an ascending series of Midnight's that make my spirit soar, his voice growing in strength and power with each one. By the time he's belting out "Midniiiiight is where the dayyy begins" it's like he's filling that whole giant stadium, and I am in awe. Rock 'n' roll frontmen don't come better than this. ♥

''When we look for something other...''   ''Midniiiiight...''

Giving Edge a sly smile as he sashays past him, MacPhisto removes his headgear ("Off with the horns, on with the show!") and runs a hand through his hair, before drifting down the steps onto the walkway. This has got to be another favourite moment, with Mac striking flamenco poses and displaying to the audience like a proud peacock - I especially like the way he finally notices or deigns to acknowledge the fans on his right, and throws them a flirty little simper that makes one girl scream her head off. *g* At some shows (including Adelaide) he also includes a "Cha-cha-cha" or several.

Anyone ship Mac/Edge?!   Crazy flamenco   Flirting with the crowd

MacPhisto then catches sight of the camera being lowered towards him, which utterly transfixes him and prompts another of those sinister demonic stares. As he brings out the falsetto one last time for "You're gonna meet her there...", he gazes deeply into the approaching camera with his piercing blue eyes, a doleful expression on his face. It's almost like he wants the camera (representing the showbiz industry) and/or the viewing audience to feel guilty for what they've turned him into. He backs away from it, looking vaguely sickened. It creeps closer again... and this time he touches it affectionately and a huge smile spreads across his lips, as if to say "Just kidding. You know I love you really!"

Mac spots the camera   Not happy...   ...Happy!

He swings it out over the cheering crowd, before parading along the walkway with his arms aloft. (Amusingly at the Auckland show, he discovers what appears to be a plastic lemon on the catwalk, and holds it up to the camera!) There's also a great shot of Adam at this point, looking cool as a cucumber and just flashing a brief satisfied smile. :) MacPhisto dances for the fans a bit more, then comes to a halt and begins to sing "Midniiiiight... is where the day begins". He repeats this a couple more times as the song winds down, and as he sings the fourth and final "Midniiiiight...", a familiar throbbing bassline comes in and we segue exquisitely into....



....With Or Without You. And there may be fans with other preferences (there's no accounting for taste!) but for me, this is hands-down the greatest performance of WOWY there has ever been. I could not agree more with some of the comments on YouTube:
  • "This is the best version I've ever seen of this song."
  • "Only MacPhisto can express what this song is all about."
  • "MacPhisto elevates this song to another level. The essence of the song truly resonates through MacPhisto."
  • "Mr MacPhisto is such a conflicted and tormented soul that he represents this song perfectly."
  • "Every time I watch this I am just speechless... if you don't get chills watching this you seriously have no soul."
This, this, a thousand times this! My love for the ZooTV Sydney version cannot be fully expressed in words, it's just amazing beyond description. Nonetheless I must say what I can about it.

The crowd are screaming with excitement upon recognising that intro, but now MacPhisto barely acknowledges them. You won't see him smile again on this video - things are about to get a whole lot deeper and heavier. When he starts to sing, "See the stone set in your eyes, see the thorn twist in your side", his eyes are fixed on the ground, his head bowed, both hands initially clutching the microphone close to his chest. At the line "I wait... for you", he lifts his head and turns it to one side, gazing out at someone only he can see, with a look on his face of sorrowful resignation. The heartstrings are being gently tugged already. He continues sadly, running a hand across his forehead and through his hair, while Edge recreates that haunting Infinite Guitar sound using an E-Bow. A forest of arms is seen reaching up from the crowd, before the camera pans across to MacPhisto, solemnly regarding them from the walkway. It's a beautiful shot, with his jacket rippling in the breeze and a strange aura of light surrounding him.

Head bowed   Sad gaze   Pretty lighting

For the chorus his voice is high and laced with emotion, and it seems all the more personal with the addition of the words "With or without you, my love". Another gorgeous shot with a backdrop of sparklers. "Yeah, you" sings Mac (the song always seems incomplete without those two extra words), and he lowers his head again, hugging himself tightly.

Sparklers

The walkway camera has been following him closely the whole time, and now he swings round to face it, tilting it towards him with three fingers. "And you giiiive yourself away. And you giiiive your-self away." He's glaring into it like it's an old enemy. "And ya giiiive... and ya giiiive... and you giiiive your-self away" he continues, baring not only his soul but his chest as he rips open his shirt and gives the world a close-up. (If you like that, ladies - and indeed gentlemen - then do try the Basel performance; all pouty lips and come-to-bed eyes and basically making love to the camera. Oh my.)

Camera glare   Bare chest   ''My body bruised...''

He's staring down the camera again for "My hands are tied", but when he gets to "My body bruised", it's MacPhisto who finally blinks first - his eyes flutter closed as if some great effort has taken its toll on him, his voice falters and he turns painfully away. The crowd are all reaching towards him and singing along with "nothing left to lose", but he's in his own little world and pays them no attention. As he gathers his strength for another "And you give... and you give... and you give yourself away", he almost seems to be shivering - certainly not from the temperature, but just from the sheer emotion of the song. The passion and fragility in his performance is really something to behold. I adore the way MacPhisto's accent comes through clearly on the line "With or wiiiithout you my love" - you know this tortured soul is really feeling every word he sings.

Shiver   Passionate singing

The "Ohhhh oh oh ohhh" bridge is every bit as stirring as it ought to be, as Mac strides along the walkway with his arms flung wide - he even gives it a proper melodic "Ooh-oh-ooh-oh-ooh-oh" rather than just trailing off as it tends to do normally. He's reached the B-stage now, and the song is going at full tilt. Just look at the way he sings that second "With or WITH-out you" with a telltale tremble in his voice, his whole face and neck strained with anguish. "I can't live... I can't live... with or without you. With orrrr without you." He raises his hand for quiet, and the music all but stops, while MacPhisto freezes in his current position with one platform boot elegantly balanced on tiptoe. For a moment it's just like the start again, with nothing to be heard except Adam's bassline.

Raw emotion   The calm before the storm

The song had a whole new structure on this leg of the tour, giving it a far more dramatic climax. I wish they would always perform it this way. On the summer tour of Europe that year, they had generally included a guitar solo and the traditional "shine like stars" coda (see the Basel video, for example) - which is all well and good, but it's not on the same level as what they did here. This is the point where the album version begins its famously restrained outro, and that's exactly what Edge starts to play; but the bass and drums tell a different story, suggesting there's something bigger still to come.

Don't cry... :(

MacPhisto turns slowly to face the audience, still hunched over, looking for all the world like he's about to cry. Instead, he sings again - an ascending and increasingly desperate sequence of "And you give... and you give... and you give... and you give", throwing his entire body into it while the music builds to a crescendo. When he sings that last impassioned "With or wiiiith-out you... myyy love", there's not an inch of me that doesn't believe he's being absolutely torn apart. It's the most heart-wrenching version of this song I have ever seen - nothing else has anything like this kind of intensity. He repeats the next line for extra effect: "I can't live – I can't live – with or without you", throwing his head back with each new burst of emotion, until the drums crash in for the final climactic "With or... withoouuut you". The head goes back, eyes closed, the tiniest pout on those painted lips... I melt every time. And the crowd *erupts*.

Wow.
Eyes ablaze   Climax

(The Adelaide performance is also pretty powerful... MacPhisto staring directly up into the falling raindrops as he sings; more seductive looks into the camera; and a different variation on the "And you give / and you give / and you give / and you give" ending. I like that version too, but they really perfected it that night in Sydney. At the final show in Tokyo they changed the outro once more, with a moving snippet of Joy Division's "Looove, love will tear us apart again...")


How do you follow such an epic With Or Without You? Well, obviously: with something even darker. If that gave you goosebumps, you ain't seen nothing yet.


As the camera gradually zooms out to show the entire stage (now mostly in darkness), the brooding organ notes of Love Is Blindness fill the air, and the screens then light up with beautiful rotating star field projections that we're shown in close-up. (Brian Eno created this videoclip by placing a star map he'd bought on a potter's wheel and slowly turning it whilst zooming in with a rostrum camera. It cost him the grand sum of £12 to make, and I think they've re-used it on every subsequent tour! Certainly it showed up again on both PopMart and Elevation.) The gentle guitar and percussion join in, and the star map remains visible in the background as shots of different band members fade in and out over the top. MacPhisto slowly revolves on the B-stage, waving to the sea of fans that surround him... when we first glimpse him looking very small in one corner of the screen, it always reminds me of the ballerina figure you'd find inside a music box. :) They use moody red lighting for this song, although it's not as obvious on the Sydney video as in bootlegs of other shows.

MacPhisto's hands tell a story all by themselves. First he hugs himself with his free arm, looking pensive; then he puts his hand on his chest for the line "Take my heart". When he gets to "The thread is ripping / The knot is slipping", he pulls his gold jacket open (on the Adelaide video he actually holds it open) and lets the breeze catch it as he bends forward like a marionette - another very aesthetically pleasing shot, for reasons I can't quite explain. Perhaps the best action accompanies the line "Squeeze the handle, blow out the candle / Love is blindness", when his fluttering fingers settle into the shape of a gun, initially pointed at the main stage before he spins around and mimes firing it into the audience.

''The knot is slipping...''

"A little death without mourning"... I had never read too deeply into that line until I heard a handful of live performances where he translates "little death" into "petit mort", the term used for an orgasm. It's a cleverer lyric than I realised! The "dangerous idea" suddenly seems to be less about terrorism and more about an extra-marital affair, perhaps. Ooh, you've got to love a song with layers. MacPhisto's face is so expressive during this verse, with the frown of someone who's been utterly hurt and betrayed - and there's that little shiver again, on the dangerous idea line. One of the most affecting moments comes at the end of this verse, when he suddenly lets out a piercing cry as if he's been stabbed. That always sends a real jolt through me. (At the second Dublin show he sings a burst of falsetto, which has a similar effect!)

'How could you?' frown   Shivering

There's a brief instrumental section here, during which MacPhisto often acquires a lighter and starts flicking it in time to the music - trying to rekindle a flame that's gone out, as one fan describes it in her book. After a while the crowd usually start flicking their own lighters in response; the best example I've seen is a bootleg from Naples, where they've got the hang of it by the guitar solo, and by the end of the song you can see the whole stadium filled with these rhythmic twinkling lights. Pretty cool.

MacPhisto seems to go through different stages of grief as the song progresses, and at this point he's moved on to anger. His previously soft voice has taken on a growling quality, he stares at the floor, he gives his neck a menacing little twist. I love the way he sings "Take the money... honey" in the bitterest, most sarcastic tone, with an exaggerated sweep of his arm and a flick of his head. He follows this up with a real tough-guy swagger, and the next time he sings "Love is blindness", it sounds as if the very words make him want to throw up.

Then we swing quite abruptly into a different mood altogether, like that moment when you've been shouting and screaming at someone and then the underlying pain takes over and you just dissolve into tears. One thing he did at more than half the shows, which he didn't do on this occasion, was to draw out the next line with a passionate "Won't you wrap the night around me-e-e-yeaaahhh!" - you can see this for example in Adelaide, it's amazing. (Also watch out for his expression after "...that almost makes sense", just as he turns away from the camera - he so looks like he's going to cry.) On which note, MacPhisto has now reached the point of his deepest despair on the Sydney video; it's heartbreaking to look at him. Those are the saddest eyes I've ever seen. You could almost swear they were full of tears, though I think it's just a trick of the light reflecting off his make-up. In any case, he looks like he's in that place where you don't even have the energy to cry, though it would probably be therapeutic if you could. He closes his eyes and throws out the final word "...Blindness..." as if everything is so futile that he almost can't see the point in completing the line.

And just in case there's any part of you that still hasn't gone to pieces, Edge plays the most devastating guitar solo you'll ever hear.

Sad eyes   ''Blindness...''

MacPhisto gestures for someone from the audience to come up and join him (as he usually does around now), and this awesome girl walks up to him and wraps her arms around his neck. They dance together as the intensity of the music continues to build. His eyes tightly shut, he grabs her right hand and runs it down the side of his face. I liked that girl immediately; nobody seems to know who she was, but they couldn't have picked a better fan to appear in the video. She's gorgeous, she doesn't seem remotely fazed by the attention of a global audience, and she plays her role perfectly - it's clear she adores him (and is *thrilled* to have this opportunity!) but she isn't at all clingy or crazy like other female fans I've seen. She's sensitive to his current headspace and it's just really sweet. Thank god they didn't choose one of those shameless bimbos who completely ignore the mood of the song and just seem determined to stick their hands wherever they can!

Girl hug   Face stroke

The music approaches a great howling crescendo of agony; there's a really powerful shot of Larry grimacing at the drumkit as if he's fighting for his life with every stroke. We don't see MacPhisto and his dance partner at all for over half a minute, as the camera quite rightly focuses on The Edge, giving us an extreme close-up of his guitar as he plays that gut-wrenching solo. It's like pure anguish translated into musical form. I don't know if that particular effect has a name, but it sounds uncannily similar to someone absolutely bawling their eyes out. Rock concerts don't come much more emotional than this, eh?

Everybody hurts...   ...including Larry   Guitar solo

We return at last to the singer, who's still gently swaying in circles with his arm around the girl. This image sums up Love Is Blindness like nothing else - whichever way you interpret the song, surely there is no greater metaphor than slow-dancing with the Devil. As for his mental state at this point, he's calmer now, though his eyes are still closed and the melancholy still etched on his face. When he sings the final "Love is blindness, I don't wanna see / Won't you wrap the night around me?", they normally make it literal and fade all the lights to black, though it doesn't happen on the Sydney video for obvious reasons. Instead we get to see his face as he sings "Take my heart... it's blindneeess" to close the song, his eyes and voice filled with an aching sadness. Can I just say "Wow" again? The lucky girl takes a moment to fully absorb the beauty of his last word, then dreamily nestles her head on his shoulder. He embraces and clings to her tightly, needing all the comfort he can get.

Slow dancing   ''Take my heart...''   ''...It's blindness''

(If you want to hear a really unusual verson of Love Is Blindness, download the one from Oslo, which is half-spoken and features an extensive snippet of 'All Along The Watchtower'. Mac's phone call to a pro-whaling minister had somewhat backfired as the whole crowd appeared to support his policies, so he uses both Ultra Violet and Love Is Blindness to take quite a barbed swipe at them! Oh, one other thing he didn't do on the Sydney video - at some shows he sings a NYD / UTEOTW-style "Laaaa daaaa da-da-daaaa daaaa" at the start of the guitar solo. I love hearing that in any song.)


MacPhisto gives the girl a kiss on the cheek and leads her back to the crowd; she is gracious to the end and makes no attempt to outstay her welcome! As he finds himself alone on the B-stage once more, we hear nothing but the soft plucking of Edge's guitar strings, the only musical accompaniment for the final song:


This is one of those songs that begins really quietly and modestly, so that you have no idea how stunning it's ultimately going to be. It's also a wonderful reinvention of a classic track. The Elvis version is so well known that it'd be natural to just perform it in the same style, but instead they stripped it right back to its essence and gave it a really different tone and feel, that's (in my opinion) far superior. It's fragile and poignant and... well, very hard to put into words.

We're now approaching the climax of the emotional rollercoaster set in motion by With Or Without You and intensified by Love Is Blindness. It appears there's a theme to this little trilogy: "I can't live with or without you." "Love is blindness, I don't want to see, won't you wrap the night around me?" "I can't help falling in love with you." It revolves around an irresistible desire; something you crave with all your heart, even though it's deeply unhealthy and will probably be your downfall in the end. In MacPhisto's case this poisoned chalice is fame and stardom with its associated trappings. He's the embodiment of rock 'n' roll and he loves the adoration of an audience; it's a drug he can't get enough of, no matter what it's turning him into. As he says himself, "Look what you've done to me... you've made me very famous, and I thank you." Who could possibly give these songs more depth of feeling than a character partly inspired by Elvis in his doomed Vegas years?

The stage is dimly lit, as if to show the sun is going down on this concert (and this tired old popstar in platform shoes). One thing that's very effective is the change in his voice on alternate lines - a low, weary vocal for "Wise men say, only fools rush in" and then a smooth, much higher vocal for "But I can't help falling in love with you". It emphasises how conflicted he is, almost like two sides of his personality are fighting for dominance. (Maybe I've been reading and watching too much Gollum lately.) Another key moment is when he turns towards the camera for "Fallin' in love..." and we get a full close-up of his face for the first time. It has such a mixed expression - sad and hopeless, but sort of resigned to his fate. This performance is a million miles away from the humour and theatrics at the start of the encore. The great arrogant showman has disappeared entirely; this is MacPhisto at his most exposed and vulnerable. There's something rather moving about the way he softly sings "...with you" like he's just some ordinary guy off the street who doesn't even deserve a say.

''Fallin' in love...''   ''...with you''

As he wanders slowly back onto the catwalk, his voice during the bridge is again low and understated, setting up a contrast that makes the next bit even more breathtaking. As he finishes the line "So it goes, some things were meant to be" (a tragic statement of inevitability), he reaches deep within himself and pulls out of nowhere this pure, utterly spine-tingling falsetto. It's a moment that truly must be seen and heard to be appreciated. Bono described it as "the little boy inside the corrupt man breaking through for a moment", and remarked elsewhere that "the angels do arrive at the end to rescue the day... I hope". It's a tiny glimpse into MacPhisto's soul, a sign that he isn't rotten all the way to the core, not just yet. At the same time, it's an admission that he knows he's going that way. "Taaake my ha-a-and / Take my who-o-ole life too / 'Cos I can't help, fallin' in lo-o-ove, wiiiiith you". That voice is just extraordinary - the way it climbs higher and higher and you think there's no way he'll reach the top note, you're braced for disaster, and then he actually does it and it's absolutely sublime. Without a doubt his finest ever vocal performance. It's enough to make me burst into tears, and no matter how many times I watch it, it never loses its impact.

'''Cos I can't help...''   ''...fallin' in lo-o-ove...''
&apos;&apos;...wiiiiith you&apos;&apos;   So beautiful... <3

As the crowd explode into rapturous applause, MacPhisto starts backing along the walkway toward the main stage, calmly repeating that undeniable truth that he can't help falling in love with them. Just to be sure it's mutual, he allows the fans to complete each of these final lines, which they do with pleasure. And finally - sometimes with a little solo waltz - he turns and melts away into the darkness. At this point they would normally fade in the original Elvis version of the song (Bill Flanagan called it "drowning out the last rock star with the first"), but the end credits of the Sydney video are accompanied solely by the ecstatic *screaming* of 50,000 U2 fans. If that doesn't give you chills, nothing ever will.


So there you have it... for my money, the most amazing finale of the greatest tour there has ever been. You just can't top that. And anyone who was lucky enough to experience it in person has my eternal envy.


LYRICS

You're a precious stone
You're out on your own
You know everyone in the world
But you feel alone

Daddy won't let you weep
Daddy won't let you ache
Daddy'll give you
As much as you can take

A-ha, sha-la
A-ha, sha-la
Daddy's gonna pay for your crashed car

A little uptight
You're a baby's fist
Butterfly kisses
Up and down your wrist

When you see daddy comin'
You're lickin' your lip
Nails bitten down
To the quick

A-ha, sha-la
A-ha, sha-la
Daddy's gonna pay for your crashed car
Daddy's gonna pay for your crashed car
Daddy's gonna pay...

You're a head full of traffic
You're a siren song
You cry for mama
Daddy's right along
He gives you the keys
To a flamin' car
Daddy's with you
Wherever you are

Daddy's a comfort
He's your best friend
Daddy hold your hand
To the end

A-ha, sha-la
A-ha, sha-la
A-ha, sha-la
Daddy's gonna pay for your crashed car

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
Thursday, Friday, Saturday's alright
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
(Thursday, Friday, Saturday's alright)
Daddy's gonna pay / (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday)
(Thursday, Friday, Saturday's alright)

Daddy's gonna pay / (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday)
(Thursday, Friday, Saturday's alright)

Daddy's gonna pay / (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday)
(Thursday, Friday, Saturday's alright)


Daddy's gonna pay...
For your... crashed... car

*

Lemon... see-through in the sunlight
She wore lemon... but never in the daylight
She's gonna make you cry
She's gonna make you whisper and moan
And when you're dry
She draws her water from the stone

And I feel
Like I'm slowly, slowly, slowly goin' under
And I feel
Like I'm holdin' onto nothing

Ohh-ooh...
Ohh-ooh... / (Midnight is where the day begins)
(Midnight is where the day begins) / Midnight... midnight
(Midnight is where the day begins) / Midnight is where the day begins

Lemon... to colour in the cold grey night
She had heaven... and she held on so tight

(A man builds a city)
A man builds a city
(With banks and cathedrals)
With banks and cathedrals
(A man melts the sand)
(So he can see the world outside) / So he can see the world outside

You're gonna meet her there / (A man makes a car)
She's your destination / (And builds a road to run them on)
There's no sleeping there / (A man dreams of leaving)
She's imagination / (But he always stays behind)

And these are the days
When our work has come asunder
And these are the days
When we look for something other

Ohh-ooh...
(Midnight is where the day begins) / Midnight... midnight
(Midnight is where the day begins) / Midnight... midnight
(Midnight is where the day begins) / Midnight is where the day begins
(Midnight is where the day begins) / Midnight is where the day begins


Off with the horns, on with the show

(A man makes a picture)
(A moving picture)
(Through light projected)
(He can see himself up close)

You're gonna meet her there / (A man captures colour)
She's your destination / (A man likes to stare)
There's no sleeping there / (He turns his money into light)
She's imagination / (To look for her)

(She is the dreamer)
(She's imagination)
She wore lemon / (Through light projected)
(He can see himself up close)

Midnight is where the day begins
Midnight is where the day begins
Midnight is where the day begins
Midnight...

*

See the stone set in your eyes
See the thorn twist in your side
I wait... for you

Sleight of hand and a twist of fate
On a bed of nails she makes me wait
And I wait... without you

With or without you
With or without you

Through the storm we reach the shore
You give it all, but I want more
And I'm waiting for you

With or without you
With or without you, my love
I can't live
With or without you

Yeah, you

And you give yourself away
And you give yourself away
And you give
And you give
And you give yourself away

My hands are tied
My body bruised, she...
I got nothin' to win
I got nothing left to lose

And you give yourself away
And you give yourself away
And you give
And you give
And you give yourself away

With or without you
With or without you, my love
I can't live
With or without you

Ohh oh oh oh
Ohh oh oh oh
Ohh oh ooh-oh
Ooh-oh ooh-oh ooh-oh

With or without you
With or without you
I can't live
I can't live
With or without you
With or without you

And you give... and you give... and you give... and you give
And you give... and you give... and you give... and you give

With or without you
With or without you... my love
I can't live
I can't live
With or without you
With or... without you

*

Love is blindness, I don't wanna see
Won't you wrap the night around me
Take my heart
It's blindness

In a parked car, in a crowded street
You see your love made complete
The thread is ripping, the knot is slipping
Love is blindness

Love is clockworks and cold steel
Fingers too numb to feel
Squeeze the handle, blow out the candle
Love is blindness

Love is blindness, I don't wanna see
Won't you wrap the night around me
Take my heart
It's blindness

A little death without mourning
No call and no warning
Baby, a dangerous idea
That almost makes sense

Love is drowning in a deep well
All the secrets and no-one to tell
Take the money... honey
It's blindness

Love is blindness, I don't wanna see
Won't you wrap the night around me
Take my heart
Blindness

Love is blindness, I don't wanna see
Won't you wrap the night around me
Take my heart
It's blindness

*

Wise men say
Only fools rush in
But I can't help
Fallin' in love... with you

Shall I stay
Would it be a sin
If I can't help
Fallin' in love... with you

Like a river flows
To the sea
So it goes
Some things were meant to be

Take my hand
Take my whole life too
'Cos I can't help
Fallin' in love with you

I can't help fallin' in love... (with you)
No I can't help... (falling in love with you)
No I can't help... (falling in love with you)



Happy birthday you handsome devil. Maybe I'll do a Desire / Ultra Violet special another time!
 
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Comments

 
[User Picture Icon]
From:fouroux
Date:May 7th, 2010 01:03 pm (UTC)
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wow. someone deserves a serious amout of cookies for this effort. thanks a lot for this post. I've always loved macphisto (: one of bono's greatest ideas, imo.

reading and watching all this, I start to miss him & regret a little that I abandoned my old nickname only recently (phistolemon) (;
[User Picture Icon]
From:canadanne
Date:May 8th, 2010 03:36 am (UTC)
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Bono likes to take the credit for MacPhisto, but I think Adam hit the nail on the head: "I don't know whether Bono thought him up. I think he's been around for a long time. I just think Bono likes to wear his clothes." :p

Thank you for the comment! What a shame you changed your username, I loved that one!
(no subject) - (Anonymous)
[User Picture Icon]
From:canadanne
Date:May 8th, 2010 03:38 am (UTC)
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Thank you so much, I'm glad you liked it! :D
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From:galosha75
Date:May 7th, 2010 05:41 pm (UTC)
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Thank you! It's beautiful...
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From:canadanne
Date:May 8th, 2010 03:40 am (UTC)
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Thank you for commenting! :)
[User Picture Icon]
From:verlindahenning
Date:May 9th, 2010 01:00 am (UTC)
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What a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing this with us--you captured the mood of this show magnificently.

[User Picture Icon]
From:canadanne
Date:May 9th, 2010 02:39 am (UTC)
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Aww, thank you very much. I put a lot of effort into this one so I appreciate the feedback more than ever. :)
[User Picture Icon]
From:thanks4thefish
Date:May 9th, 2010 05:41 pm (UTC)

I know you like your pop stars to be exciting, so I bought these...

(Link)
My feelings about this WOWY performance are complex. I love the stripped-down ringing notes, quite chord-focused outro, and "shine like stars" coda of the "standard" WOWY. But you're not wrong about the ZOO TV performance...it's basically a whole different song. As you mentioned, Adam pushing the baseline riff through the crescendo, and even adding that simple "my love..." make the ache of the song palpable. Since the Elevation tour, the song has seemed mostly like a throw-in ('yes, it's our most mainstream song, so we have to play it'). Of the 20+ shows I've been to in the last 10 years, no WOWY performance stands out, sadly.

You're right to love every second of the MacPhisto performance. Bono always grabs people in live shows, but getting into the MacPhisto character just pushes his stage presence into another dimension, and brings the rest of the band's performance along with it. The other best example of this is the Dublin ZOO TV performance of Ultraviolet (with Help at the beginning). Another MacPhisto moment that is completely epic. So real, so emotional, so heartfelt, I'm surprised my speakers don't melt when I listen to it.

Every time I watch this Daddy's Gonna Pay/Lemon, I just can't believe how perfect it is.

Well done! :)
[User Picture Icon]
From:canadanne
Date:May 9th, 2010 08:08 pm (UTC)

Re: I know you like your pop stars to be exciting, so I bought these...

(Link)
I love you so much for the detailed comment! And I'm very happy to see that other fans appreciate this amazing show as much as I do. :)

I agree about WOWY losing its power in the last decade. I did really enjoy the performance in London on the Vertigo Tour, but when I listen to the bootleg, it doesn't sound half as amazing as it did at the time - I think it was more to do with the euphoric atmosphere in the stadium after a brilliant show, than anything special about the performance itself. And it sounds unbelievably tired on the current tour. I think if they resurrected the ZooTV version, it would do the song a huge favour... or maybe the band just don't care about this song any more. One way or another, they need to decide - either make some effort to freshen it up, or play something else instead!

Every time I watch this Daddy's Gonna Pay/Lemon, I just can't believe how perfect it is.

My thoughts exactly. :)  It's even more impressive when you consider the pressure they were under, following Adam's absence on the first night. And none of the previous performances had been quite as flawless - they nailed it just when it mattered the most!
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From:jevoislerouge
Date:May 10th, 2010 04:56 pm (UTC)
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This was so in-depth and heartfelt - a joy read on the morning of his 50th birthday. I loved the bit about the strand of hair over his brow, and the curl of his fingers as he sings. That made me giggle. MacPhisto and his mannerisms are so unique to Bono. It's so funny to have seen him as a character like that onstage. Kind of a shame he doesn't do anything like that anymore, granted that was ZOOTV, and pretty much anything was possible, ha. Anyway, great post :-) Happy 50th, you sly devil!
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From:canadanne
Date:May 10th, 2010 07:40 pm (UTC)
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Thank you, glad you liked!

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