‘The funny thing,’ adds Mark, ‘is that we don’t even listen to U2 at home. But I love the excitement here amongst the fans: that angst, that knot in your stomach half an hour before you go in. Then the elbows everywhere; places guarded jealously; every man for himself. And then we’re all friends again at the end.’ Some of the fans – I mention no names – have come out of the first show and begun queuing for the next show the following night. Now that is, beyond question, madness. I can’t budge on that one, I’m afraid.
The next candidate is Theresa, a Portuguese scientist. She’s a really big fan, but has only come to two shows. And, rather prudently, she doesn’t want to jump on Bono and kiss him to death. ‘I want to have an intelligent chat with him instead,’ she giggles. ‘I’d ask him why they don’t do the other really nice songs from the ‘80s and even ‘90s. They could do better, I think.’
‘Just OK?’ she asks suddenly, thunderstruck at my bullish indifference. She’s genuinely shocked that I think U2 are simply OK, rather than life-changingly marvellous. Well, they are OK – I quite like all that jolly “oooooohing” in the background night after night, but it doesn’t give me goosebumps. ‘Ah, you’re just being polite, right?’ she asks. I force a smile. It seems pointless to mention I’d prefer Barber’s Adagio for Strings any day of the week; or that a hard bop jazz quintet with front-line brass has me instantly basking in plenitude. No, far better to beam gaily.
I had meant to consult a larger cross-section of the audience on their pottiness, but this weather is vile now – and worsening by the minute. Hoi polloi are sinking beneath their tarpaulins once more, whittling away the remaining nine hours till the concert without protest. Still, at least they don’t have to drive the 2366km to Rome afterwards.
‘Mark, old prune,’ I say, looking up at the brooding firmament, ‘I’ll have to leave you lot in your own vomit, I’m afraid. I’m off to enjoy a leisurely Number Two on a comfortable toilet indoors, and then think about visiting Catering for some lobster ravioli. Tonkerty-tonk for now, and all that.’ He and Lorraine wave merrily and we promise to be “friends” on Facebook.
Well, I don’t get very far. My final interviewee for the day, a social butterfly hopping ebulliently through the crowd, is Lucia from Rome. In a certain light she looks like Pamela Anderson…whilst in others, like a Carthaginian General. It’s the nose. Anyway, today she resembles the former, so the friendly chat will be conducted in the truck, I think, over a bottle of particularly fruity Argentinian Malbec. ‘That’s it, you make yourself comfortable on the bed, dear,’ I coo, ‘and I’ll try and invent some leading questions.’
Hang on a minute, she’s not taking this seriously. Tickling my back while I assemble notepad and pencil wasn’t supposed to be on the programme. ‘We call this grattino,’ she says in her thick Italian burr, increasing the tempo somewhat. Well, I must say, it certainly hits the spot. Crikey, that’s definitely the spot. End of transmission…………