"The Blackout" (Live from Amsterdam, July 28, 2017) [05:15]
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The video for “The Blackout” was released on August 30, 2017, in advance of Songs of Experience, and the video debuted as a streaming only video on Facebook. The video was only available on Facebook, until November 13, 2017 when it was released on YouTube and VEVO, and also made available for purchase on iTunes. The video is a live performance of the song, directed by Richie Smyth at a small club in Amsterdam on July 28, 2017 in front of a crowd of about 300 people, mostly invited through a U2.Com contest.
On August 28, 2017, subscribers to U2.Com who had won entrance to the video shoot received emails saying “Remember Gashouder?”, a reference to the venue where the video was filmed, and included was a photo of the venue taken from the stage. The following day it was announced that The Blackout video would premiere on Facebook at 12pm EDT (noon) and that the first single from the album would follow on September 6, 2017. The video had also been teased through a mysterious letter sent to fans in the United States which started arriving on August 21, 2017. In the first seven days that the video was available on Facebook, it accrued 11.1 million views, which placed it in the number 1 position on Billboard’s Top Facebook Live Videos chart for August 2017. Rankings for that chart are determined by a blend of views, reactions (172,000), comments and shares (50,000) of the video.
The video has not yet been released on any commercial U2 release but is available to purchase on iTunes.
The video itself was shot at a small club in Amsterdam called the Westerunie on July 28, 2017. On July 24, 2017, a post on U2.Com titled “Up Close and Personal…” invited fans to apply for a chance to attend something special, “Word is that the band might be doing a little filming later this week. Somewhere around central Amsterdam. Late afternoon to early evening Thursday. Might even be some room for some fans to catch the action… up close and personal. Sound like the kind of thing you might be up for? Put it in your diary and we’ll have more detail later in the week. Enter your details below.” A few days later, the post was updated to say the filming would take place on Friday instead. On Thursday, fans started to receive emails confirming they were invited to the event, and that they would be allowed to bring a guest. 137 fans were on the guest list for the event, and each was allowed to bring one guest. Fans were asked to wear black and grey only, and to avoid any clothing that had large logos.
The following afternoon, phone calls were made to the winners, asking them to meet at Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam at 5:15, and were directed to follow the “Figuratie” signs upon arrival, which lead to a building called the Gashouder. The Gashouder is a large round chamber, in an old industrial complex, part of a former gasworks. The entrance to this facility was long, and some fans waited over an hour for admission. Once inside fans were asked to surrender any cameras, and phones, and given a claim number to retrieve devices at the end of the night. Food and water was available at the venue. Shooting did not take place in that building, and fans were escorted into another building nearby, a small club called the Westerunie. Filming of the video included filming of the fans moving into the other building. The club features a low stage, with no barriers, and a balcony that wraps around the room.
U2 performed the new song, “The Blackout” five times in front of fans. The clapboard used for the filming read “The Black Out” and identified director Richie Smyth. They filmed two cuts of the song, moved offstage and watched the footage, before returning to do two more versions. Finally they came back one final time to film a fifth and final version. The video as released, contains shots from all of these performances, and is a mix of all five. Multiple cameras were used for filming including a large unit stationed in the crowd, and a number of hand held cameras. During the shooting, Bono did crowd surf into the crowd three times, and Adam Clayton also hopped off the stage and wandered into the crowd during one of the takes. During the filming U2 personnel including Guy Oseary, Gavin Friday, Willie Williams, Martin Wroe and Sebastian Clayton were all present.
After the performance, the fans gathered started to sing “40” and it caught the attention of Bono, who had not yet left the building. He came back to the stage and asked permission from someone at the back of the room to play a new song from the album. The song “The Lights of Home” was played over the PA system of the club and the band exited the building while the song was playing. From the time the last fans entered the Gashouder building until the time the last fans left, a total of three and a half hours passed. More information on the entire performance is available in our news article, “Shedding Light on the Blackout“ including photos from outside the venue on the day of the shoot.
Video Shooting Locations
Additional Screen Captures
Director: Richie Smyth