- 07 Dec 15
The 2FM man checked in with Hot Press following the first of U2's shows in the City of Light. The reaction to the band's much-anticipated return to the French capital, he says, was something special...
"In terms of what I would have known about gigs in France before – and to be fair, I haven't been to too many – but the natural reserve of the French was not around last night. They went completely bonkers."
That was Dave Fanning's verdict, on the morning after U2 played the first of two Paris shows, which had been delayed following the terrorist attacks in the city on Friday, November 13.
"There were fists flying up all over the place, a million arms in the air," he recounts. "Granted, the floor was so packed you'd almost have to have put your arms up, since there was nowhere else they could go! But the reaction was genuinely amazing."
Despite the frenzied response inside the venue, where the iNNONCENCE + eXPERIENCE tour was rapturously received, three weeks after the band were initially scheduled to perform, Dave revealed that the atmosphere around the city remains muted.
"There was little sense of 'Isn't this amazing, that U2 are coming back and doing this for us'," he revealed.
Which is understandable, in a city that is still reeling from the crushing events of just a few weeks ago. That Parisians had more to think about than what would happen onstage in the Paris AccorHotels Arena was illustrated by the heightened security presence outside the venue.
"There were rigorous checks," Dave says. "Plenty of army guys with guns. Any corner you turned there were three – always three, for some reason – guys, although it wasn't stupid and pervasive. It was much like airport security, really."
And while Patti Smith's appearance (pictured above by Eoin McLaughlin) marked a special finale, the rest of the show was largely the same as what we saw in Dublin, and across the rest of the i+e tour.
"The show runs pretty mechanically at this stage," Dave opined, "because it has to. As anyone who saw it in Dublin will know, it's a huge production. Last night, Bono spoke words of French occasionally – and my son, who studies French, said he was pretty good! But the set was really the same as its been throughout the tour. Until, of course, Patti Smith came on towards the end, and they just had to do 'Gloria'."
That too was a uniquely powerful moment, bringing the show to a suitably cathartic end. Meanwhile, with TV cameras in situ tonight - and a much-rumoured Eagles Of Death Metal cameo mooted - this evening's show might well be different again.
"All the HBO trucks were there, with loads of people setting up. Tonight is the really special one," Dave says.
Considering how uplifting last night was, this evening's performance can't come quickly enough. And then it will be time for U2 and their crew to take a well-earned rest...