Now that the Fall Semester is over, I finally got a chance to watch the return of U2 to Paris after their concerts were cancelled in the aftermath of the terrible, November terrorist attacks.
As you know, I earlier took issue with the boys from Dublin because of the automatic Songs of Innocence music download that went onto everyone’s Apple devices and their apology.
After watching this concert, I admit “mea culpa”. This may be the best concert I have seen. Ever.
Bono summed it up perfectly at the beginning of the HBO broadcast: “Every night we go on stage there is a feeling of anticipation. But, this night, this night is different. There’s a time to cry. There’s a time to pray. There’s a time to shout. This night we choose love over fear.” In the following 2 sets and an encore completed in over 2+ hours, U2 illustrated what love over fear really looks like.
The iNNOCENSE + eXPERIENCE concert began with a background soundtrack of Patti Smith’s “People Have the Power” while the band got on the stage. The first set was dominated by music from the Songs of Innocense album of course. However, “Vertigo”, “I Will Follow”, “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, and Until The End of the World” also appeared. Throughout the set, there was constant audience interaction and references to the violence experienced in Paris and around the world: “We are in Paris. Feels like the whole world is in Paris. We are all Parisians tonight. Ce soir nous somme tous Parisiens. If you believe in liberty, Paris is your hometown.”
Perhaps the most powerful song of the evening was “Bullet the Blue Sky” during the second set. Originally, it was written as an overtly political statement about the United States’ military intervention in El Salvador in the 1980s. Over the years, however, the song has become a critique of the ongoing political issues and violence occurring during the timeframe of U2’s tours. In Paris, Bono sang the song with a megaphone against a backdrop of a visual montage of Wall Street, military, political, refugee, and war images. During the bridge he asked: “Can you see those fighter planes when you’re flying on private planes?” The visual image of the European Union flag of refugee bodies floating in the Mediterranean was also striking.
And then…there was “Where the Streets Have No Name”. Bono began by asking “What do you want…You want us to be afraid…You’ll not have our hatred…we choose love over fear. Love over fear!”
The end of the concert was absolutely phenomenal. Before the encore, there was a voiceover by Stephen Hawking: “When we see the earth from space we see ourselves as a whole. We see the unity, but not the divisions. One planet, one human race….We must become global citizens.” The song “City of Blinding Lights” was framed by images of Paris and ended with the names of those 139 people who lost their lives in the image of the French flag on the big screen.
The grand finale? U2 offered the stage to “…their fellow troubadours”: Eagles of Death Metal. As you know, this is the band that performed at the Bataclan concert venue when the gunmen attacked and killed 89 people. They sang Smith’s “People Have the Power” with U2, and ended the concert with their song “I Love You All The Time”.
I encourage you to watch the concert if you get the chance. This Cork girl agrees with the boys from Dublin that we should all choose love over fear!