- 09 Dec 15
24 days after the Bataclan tragedy in Paris, U2 gave back to Eagles Of Death Metal the stage that was "stolen from them", as Bono put it, by inviting the five members to join his band in front of 20,000 people. Jean-Pierre Sabouret, who was in The Bataclan on November 13, writes...
Believe it or not, the last time I saw U2 was in the same venue, on Feb 02, 1985. Then, it was simply called Paris Bercy, but now it is AccorHotels Arena (or AHA – and yes, you can laugh).
Thirty years on, you can't help but think that the band has changed. But the world has changed too. In 1985, U2 were rejecting the rock'n'roll circus and the show was not much more than a few lights. Today the band have become the masters of stage wizardry.
Before the show, a deep voice resonated over the PA, to warn the audience that there would be sounds of explosions during the show and that there was no risk. The idea was obviously to prevent any panic in the audience. But one can ask about the difference between a fake explosion and a real one...
Some people in the audience had attended one or more U2 shows before November 13, and they were pointing out that it was like seeing a different band now. All through the show, it was obvious to everyone that Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr and Adam Clayton have been deeply affected by the events which took place while they were just a few streets away.
The same goes for the audience. On more than one occasion, it felt like the lyrics from the songs had found deeper meanings. Bono didn't add long speeches, as it was really not necessary. A few phrases – "tonight the world is from Paris" or "we are all Parisians" – delivered with passion and honesty were enough to touch the hearts of everyone.
Of course the big stage-production with the giant 'video cage' is impressive, and it tends to transport you into a sort of other dimension, quite distant from the sad reality of these past weeks. But it did the job of enhancing the recent songs very well, as it seemed that most of the crowd were unfamiliar with them – all that business with uploading Songs of Innocence onto people's iPhones notwithstanding.
The French flag appearing on the screen with the names of the people who lost their lives was a highlight, amid all this visual debauchery. But it was still Bono singing a capella, a few lines from 'Ne Me Quitte Pas' ('Don't Leave Me' by Jacque Brel) that really touched the heart of everyone.
And for some in the crowd, who where at the Bataclan, it was difficult to hold back the tears and refrain from shaking when, at the end of the encores, Bono invited Jesse Hughes, Dave Catching, Matt McJuskins, Eden Galindo and Julian Dorio to join them for an impressive rendition of Patti Smith's 'People Have The Power'. Almost crying, Jesse had to tell everyone how he felt really moved by the warm welcome, and how he felt closer to France. But above all, he promised he "will never give up rock’n'roll."
For 'I Love You All The Time' which includes French lyrics, EODM had the whole stage to themselves and they truly deserved it. More than a simple performance, the two songs performed by EODM – with or without U2 – were a vital part of the healing process.
"You don't have to become a monster to fight a monster," wrote Bono. This concert proved him right. But the unbelievable results of the Front National (France's extreme right party) in this weekend's Regional Elections had the opposite effect. Thanks to the French media, too many people chose an illusion of security over liberty.
And, in the light of those election results, I can’t escape the thought that we may be on the way to having Bono's words censored next time U2 pay a visit to the self proclaimed land of human rights.