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A New Begining....

The following text is copywright 1995 by Bill Flanagan.
Chapter 28. page 228-229.
 

"The extramusical aspects of the show will be quite different from last year's tour. Just as Ned and Maurice have updated the on screen videos to reflect the current confused situation in Europe, Bono is constructing a new charecter to play onstage during the encores. The Mirroball Man who closed the 1992 shows was an American TV evangelist/used car salesman/game show host in a cowboy hat throwing dollar bills around. There is no sense in using this charecter in Europe. So Bono sets about trying to construct a European equivilent and starts singing Desire in a voice that sounds like an aging British music hall entertainer, or a faded Shakespearean actor touring the provinces. Fintan Fitzgerald has been looking for the right costume for this old ham and comes in one day with a hilarious pair of 1970's platform boots, spray painted glittering gold. Bono starts free-associating. Maybe this old guy is the last rock star, dragging himself around some years in the future, recreating the joys of the great music of the twentieth century for other senior citizens. But of course, that's not all he is. Bono remembers how knocked out he was by Steven Burkoff's performance of Oscar Wilde's Salome in which the actor slowed all the speeches down to half speed. Bono tries talking like Quentin Crisp with his batteries running out and it creates a weird poignancy. "Oooh. Iii've boughhht sommmme newwww shoessss. Doooo youuuuu like them?" It feels like an old man trying to hold himself together. But it's Gavin Friday who comes in and supplies the unifying metaphor. He demands to know who is this charecter really representing? Who was the Mirrorball Man really supposed to be? Bono says "Well, the devil." "Then," Gaving says, "he should wear horns." Bono thinks that's ridiculous, it's too blatant. But Fintan secures some red horns and when Bono tries them on with whiteface and lipstick and platform shoes and aged British voice, he likes what he sees. He sees MacPhisto, the devil as the last rock star. Bono pulls in all sorts of orbiting signals to finish creating MacPhisto's charecter. He takes from a magician he saw in Madrid abrupt, almost comical movements, like a senile karate expert suddenly trying to snap into his old positions. He takes from the devi lcharecter in The Black Rider a ringmaster's demeanor and the stiff-shined walk of someone hiding a cloven foot. He uses Joel Grey's charecter in Cabaret as a touchstone for the decadence from which European fascism bloomed. MacPhisto is Satan as a cross between Elvis, Sinatra and a thirties Berlin carabet star. He is, of course, also Goethe's Mephistopheles, that proto European symbol of great art and temptation. Like Bloom in Nighttown, Goethe's Faust risked his immortal soul for knowledge. That's a trade off that fascinates U2. "

"From the introduction of MacPhisto on, it's all cabaret." Bono says. "MacPhisto is The Fly down the line. When he goes into falsetto on Can't Help Falling In Love, it's the little boy inside the corrupt man breaking through for a moment. "


The Lair