Less than three weeks after postponing their iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE concerts in the wake of the Paris attacks, U2 was back to rock the French capital with a powerful and fearless live performance on Sunday. The evening’s surprise guest, Patti Smith, joined the band for the last song.
Bono stirred vivid emotions from the crowd shouting “Vive La France” as he stepped on stage of the 20,300-seat AccordHotel Arena. “If you love liberty, Paris is your hometown,” said Bono, who also talked about the grieving power of music.
“Grief is like a wound that never fully closes. I am still feeling it and I was 14 when my mother left me but she left me as an artist and this wound became an opening into another world and I found these three (pointing to his band). Rock n’ roll saved me, these men saved me, you saved me.”
“We can’t save you but our role tonight is to serve you. We have the privilege to be your servants this evening,” said Bono before dedicating a song to his mother, “Iris (Hold Me Close).” The band went on to play their greatest hits, “Where The Streets Have No Name,” Beautiful Day,” “With or Without You” and “Bloody Sunday.”
U2 also paid tribute to the victims of the Paris attacks, performing “In the Name of Love” while every victim’s name was shown within a peace and love symbol on the giant screen of the venue.
Despite previous reports, Eagles of Death Metal will not be performing with the band, but are rumored to be lined up for tomorrow — the concert will be recorded for a HBO special.
“So much that was taken from Paris on the tragic night of November 13th is irreplaceable. For one night, the killers took lives, took music, took peace of mind – but they couldn’t steal the spirit of that city,” Bono said after rescheduling the shows.
A flurry of concerts, including The Foo Fighters and Coldplay, were scrapped in the aftermath of the attacks — the deadliest assault on French soil since WWII. The Nov. 13 terror attacks killed 130 people in Paris, including 89 people who were attending the concert of Eagles of Death Metal at the Bataclan.
France’s largest concert venue, the AccordHotel Arena boasted maximal security on Sunday evening. The U2 concert is exceptional amid current times, as Gaul is now under a state of emergency due to the high terrorist threat, so mass rallies are banned.
Thomas Alden contributed to this report.
More to come…