Back on the 19th, Bono felt unwell. Decompressing from the massive 360 Tour at his villa in Eze-sur-Mer in the south of France, his heart began rattling around in his chest like a drum machine gone insane. The palpitations and discomfort were enough for his wife to rush him to Princess Grace Memorial Hospital in nearby Monaco. After being examined by a specialist and subjected to a battery of tests, he was sent home with orders to get some rest. Bono’s 51-year-old body is telling him something: you can’t be on a world tour for two years, pausing only for major spinal surgery and not expect to suffer some physical consequences.
The pace, the travel, the time zone shifts and the exertion of performing two hours a night takes its toll, even on the most pampered of rock stars. Performing is hard physical work that gets only harder as you get older. Much has been made about Meatloaf’s requirement for a small tank of oxygen and a mask side-stage so he may revive his 63-year-old frame between songs. That he suffers from asthma doesn’t help, which contributed to his fainting at two shows earlier this month. But Meatloaf’s oxygen jones isn’t unique. Many performers rely on hits of O2 during shows.
Even younger musicians need assistance. I was once backstage before a show by one of the biggest groups in the world. They travel with a refrigerator-sized medical dispensary that contained everything from rapid-release painkillers (migraines be damned; the show must go on) to syringes used for pre-show B-12 shots.
The case also contained all manner of bandages, splints, allergy pills, antiseptics, antibiotics, muscle relaxants, compresses (hot and cold), medical instruments (scissors, scalpels, tweezers) — a genuine a M*A*S*H* unit. And I seem to recall an oxygen unit somewhere.
Then there’s Paul McCartney.
Not that long ago, I saw him perform 22 consecutive songs before he took as much as a sip of water. Not bad for 69.