Expresso Music

The Virtual Road – Third stop : BOOM CHA!

5 April 2021

How’s the post show hangover going guys?

Boom Cha alright.

I truly thought the Popmart stream would be the easiest one to write about. After all, it’s a party right? And yet, here I am four days later still overthinking about that show.

‘Give U2 fans some Pop and watch them go crazy’, I said before the event. And for sure we all lost our minds like the rightful lunatics we can be about that band, but I still can’t get over the fact that it also felt like someone spiked my drink that night.

Don’t get me wrong, I had the time of my lockdown life, and I’m gonna ramble about how good it was all throughout this post, but beneath that Pop crackling extravaganza, it left me with quite an undescriptable sadness. The higher you get, the harder you fall? Maybe. Maybe not. It doesn’t make a lot of sense but Popmart truly hit me harder than every other show so far. 

Maybe the easiest way to make sense of that booze-free joy induced high hangover I’m still feeling is to go back to the beginning of the party, and try to retrace back the steps that sent us all spiralling.. Up. Down. Somewhere in between. 

I love Pop. It’s still my favourite U2 album to this day. And I know some of you just think that it’s only yet another confirmation that I’m nuts and maybe you’re right. And maybe you’re not. 

I know I’m not the only one staring at the sun, and that livestream proved it beyond expectations. All the U2 fans I spoke with when The Virtual Road was announced were waiting for that show. We were all restless thinking of this party ahead. And of course, all of us lost our shite when we saw those first teasers coming through. The response online was nuts. Truly utterly nuts. Everybody talks about Pop Musik alright. And maybe I’m biased because I prob hang out with other nutters like me, but all I know is that we were louder than any numbers showing up on that Youtube video. It felt right though. It felt like those couple of hours before show time, when we’re all just getting hyped for what’s to come. Driven by this incredible feeling of joy. Ha… the true anticipation of a U2 show. And all that from the comfort of our home. It felt so right. 

And the music started… – pretty sure that’s when someone spiked my drink.


That entrance.


That rally cry.


Blood racing through your veins.


Show time.

And suddenly, as my whole living room went from black and white to being illuminated by throbbing lights, I just lost ground. All senses suddenly enhanced as quickly as the flick of a switch. The music sounded louder. The colors emanating from the stage were more vibrant than ever – I’ll never clap loud enough for the team in charge of those remastered.

Life just felt brighter. And the feels guys. The feels. I wasn’t paying much attention to those as it felt like being in rock n roll heaven, but those feels were deeper than I could ever have expected. 

I often describe U2 shows as rollercoasters, because it’s all a brilliantly executed succession of up and downs, but I don’t think Popmart fits in that category. The thing with rollercoasters is that no matter how scared or thrilled you get, you know that ultimately you’re safe and that you will be fine by the time the ride stops. I am not sure Popmart is safe. That show is completely extravagant, with a rocket fueled band full rockstar mode ready to send you straight to the moon and back.

Turn it up loud Captain

It’s probably closer to a rocket ship trip alright. You’re fine. You get crushed. You’re fine again. You can’t breath. You finally hit 0 gravity and you’re just left floating and being thrown left and right like a rag doll. And it’s scary shit. It hurts more than you think. But you’re also very aware that it’s the ride of a lifetime. Exhilarating. Joyful. Blissful. And the scariest part of it all, is that you go up, and up, and have not a care in the world about how you’re going to get down from there. It doesn’t matter. Gone with the sun. A musical supernova that sucks in rock n roll and everyone around. Now that’s what I call a party guys. Boom Fckin Cha. 

Music will always be my drug of choice, and yes, there’s no doubt that you can get high on that.

Popmart is the perfect example of it all. That stage in itself feels like an acid trip, and that rush of adrenaline doesn’t get much more real than that. So of course we lose it. There’s so much joy your system can take eh. 

Take me higher

Thrilling. Buoyant. Exhilarating. Yes, It’s a party. But then this crazy band forces you to pause in your uncontrollable ascent for a second, and you look around for a minute, realising that maybe everything is not exactly how it seems. And maybe, if you start scratching that glittering surface, you will see the illusion of the show. You will see that underneath lies things a lot darker. 

We all know in which conditions that show happened. We all know that album was released a bit too soon for their own liking. That the tour probably happened too fast. That our favorite frontman was struggling with his voice. And of course, we all know that Hutch death a few weeks prior most definitely left an indelible mark on that performance.

A moment of surrender. Something like that. 

Edge’s performance of Sunday Bloody Sunday always hit the brakes for me. There’s been a lot of talk about that song, maybe, maybe too much talk, and yet at that moment of the show, you realise you haven’t heard the half of it yet. That song evolved so much through the years. We saw the anger of Young Bono at Red rocks, we heard the cry for justice at Slane, and it’s yet another feeling we’ll get in Paris too – but Popmart, and Edge’s pensive declamation in Mexico is a whole different level. His kind angelic voice completely drowns the anger of those words. But if you take the rage away, what’s left is usually pain. 

What always impressed me the most about this show, was not the setting, nor the extravagant stage, not even the performance of the band per se, but that unbelievable strength to turn that pain into something beautiful for their audience. 

Odds are you won’t even realise it if you’re just casually watching the show, but when you pay a bit more attention, in between that attitude, that celebration of joy and music, you’re allowed to see the cracks now and then. And as it’s often the case, the wounded hearts roar for joy a lot louder than anyone else. 

But it’s there and we can’t deny it. The undescriptable sadness. 

As I said earlier, by the end of a U2 show you’re usually okay. Shaken, but happy. But for some reason, not that night. That viewing of Popmart hit harder than any other time I watched it. And that sadness lingered even after the last drum beat echoed through the dawn rising on my side of the world.

And it didn’t make sense on the moment. I just had the most amazing time watching one of my favourite shows ever, along with all my mates across the globe and yet, I couldn’t shake that sadness away. I wondered what was the cause of it. Sleep deprivation? Too much caffeine? A feeling of living like it’s the last night on Earth? And so I started thinking about it, probably way too much for my own good. But soon realise I wasn’t the only one feeling that way. Ha. Crazy U2 fans alright.

And I’m sorry to take you along on that harsh fall with me but maybe it will make sense to you too. 

A sense of mourning. That’s what came up. 

Someone on twitter said it felt like mourning because a show like Popmart will never happen again. Mourning for days gone. It makes sense. Larry will never allow anyone again to trap him in a gigantic fruit that’s for sure. But more seriously, it’s true. They grew older, we grew older. Time changed. Life followed its course and no-one can stop it right? 

It all makes a lot of sense indeed. But I’ll take that thought further. That mourning of days gone, maybe it’s also a bit more personal. Dig deeper. Isn’t it a blatant reminder of our own youth? Was Popmart the last of our innocence? 

Let’s go ‘Discotheque’, not have a care in the world, get wasted with your mates while singing all throughout the night every damn week ends. Ha. Maybe for some those days are long gone. And maybe for others it’s just on pause for now. Maybe Popmart also hit us right in the face with everything we can’t have at the moment. Reminding us without any mercy of all the stolen hours of joy and carefreeness the past year took away. Togetherness, frivolity, fun. Some days it all sounds like the ghost of our past eh. 

So maybe there’s a bit of all that. Maybe this Popmart livestream was the night that was but never will be, lost somewhere between insolent innocence and forced experience.  

Overthinking much? 

Or maybe it’s just Pop in a nutshell. I wrote a little thread on Twitter about the album on its anniversary. It’s not the general truth, only mine. And it makes me kinda snicker to think that maybe I just spent four days overthinking something I knew all along. 


“If music teach, then POP is one hell of a life lesson. That’s how I listen to it. That’s my Pop. 

That album sounds like life itself. 

It’s a damn party and you’re having the time of your life, drowning yourself in the sound and whatever other designated poison you might enjoy. Venting off those every day life problems, or maybe that rage all consuming. Free from love and hate for a few hours, out of your own head at last. And the party goes on, and it’s all good fun til the harsh truth smacks you in the face in the small hours of the morning, when you think you figured it all out. Sudden Revelations, or so you think. But morning comes. It always does. And there you are with one mofo hangover, your head throbbing from all that fake induced joy. 

With it comes the doubts, the regrets. Maybe it was all bullshit after all. Yourself, the world, love, life, everything? Sometimes. But what if it was also very real?

Pray, think, contemplate, reflect… It’s the time when you choose to wake up (dead man). Or not. Don’t worry, you’ll fall for it again anyway. Pop sounds like life, because yes, It’s imperfect. But aren’t we all? Dark, relatable, almost human little mofo. I frigging love you. I prob get it all wrong, and thank fck for that. Because eh, that’s my Pop.”


Damn. I can’t believe I just fell for the Pop post party hangover. Again. 

All in all, that album, that show, is like a freaking drug. You take it for a good time but truth is you never know where it will lead you once the high subdue. And maybe that’s for the best. 

One thing is for sure.

It was the absolute best.

Alright. I guess that’s enough crap writing for one day. 

Next stop is Paris guys. The last stop. 

 I’m not too sure I’m ready to go back there to be fully honest. That being said, I never was. 

We’re up for one special show. A show that was needed then, and quite frankly needed now. In time of darkness, that band gave us a light to hold onto. And we can probably use a bit of that again these days. It’s there. Within reach. But this band will always make it a little brighter. 

No more overthinking for what’s next guys.

You know what? 

Fuck the past. Kiss the future. 

GA line this way y’all! 

Ps : Bono was hawt. Can’t possibly post about Popmart and not mention this at least once. #SorryNotSorry 



Jo D

Music lover, helpless dreamer, bit of a nutter. I like to think that the world would be a better place to live in if people smiled up a bit more often. Forever stuck in the intro of 'Streets', I keep bouncing through life and try to escape a boring reality using my very own sense of silliness. Some people think I’m crazy, and thank god they’re right. But the truth is that in the end, I’m just a U2 fan who drinks too much coffee

Twitter @madfl3a
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