- 06 Dec 15
There were extraordinary scenes tonight in Paris as Bono, Adam, Edge and Larry took to the stage in AccorHotels Arena
A wave of emotion gripped Paris AccorHotels Arena tonight, as U2 returned to the venue to play the first of the two concerts, which were cancelled as a result of the terrorist atrocities in the capital of France on November 13.
The sickening violence that shook the City of Light so horribly on that Friday evening, had a huge impact on music and musicians, with 86 of the 130 people who were killed on the night being gunned down at the Bataclan venue, where the U.S. rock band Eagles of Death Metal were playing. It made tonight's return to the French capital by the biggest band in the world all the more important – and all the more poignant. Inevitably, the crowd responded in kind. It was an extraordinary and brilliant occasion, the effect of which was to defy those who want to steal culture from us and crush the spirit of freedom.
The band were joined on stage to close the show by the legendary Chicago-born punk poet, Patti Smith (pictured, with U2 above, by Eoin McLoughlin), whose track ‘People Have The Power’ has been used as the opening theme throughout the band’s iNNOCENCE & eXPERIENCE tour. She joined the band to perform the aforementioned track and the Van Morrison classic, 'Gloria' (which she made her own on the seminal album Horses) in a fitting end to a show which made many a reference to the appalling events of just over 3 weeks ago.
In advance of the show it had been revealed that the band’s frontman and songwriter in chief, Bono, has written a song about the Paris attacks.
"We think of music as the sound of freedom," U2 guitarist Edge said in an interview broadcast by CNN. "We think rock’n'roll has a part to play, so going back to Paris to us is not just symbolic. I think we're actually starting the process of resistance, of defiance against this movement.”
The November 13 killings were carried out by jihadists from the self-styled Islamic State.
It was in that same interview that Bono recited lyrics from a new song called 'Streets of Surrender’, which was written in response to the violence. He revealed that he had started composing the song for the Italian singer Zucchero.
The working title of the song-in-progress is 'City of Liberty’.
Bono revealed that the lyrics include expressions along the following lines: "Every man's got one city of liberty/ For me it's Paris/ I love it/ Every time I get lost down these ancient streets/ I find myself again/ I didn't come here to fight you/ I came down these streets of love and pride/ To surrender."
The song also touches on the refugee crisis, with a lyric referencing the young Syrian boy who was photographed dead on a Turkish beach earlier this year: "Everybody's crying/ about some kid that they found lying on a beach/ born in a manger.”
Stories have been circulating in the music press – including the U.S. trade bible, Billboard – that U2 will be joined on stage for Monday’s Paris show, by Eagles of Death Metal, though neither band has yet confirmed any details.
Speaking to CNN, Bono revealed that they had tried to help the Eagles of Death Metal after the carnage at the Bataclan.
"We tried to find a plane for them to get out and things like that,” the singer stated. "Turns out the best way to help them was finding them phones, because their phones had been left in the venue."
Bono also offered the view that Islamic State's ban on music was perverse. "Think about the idea of outlawing music,” he mused. "A child sings before it can speak. It's the very essence of our humanity."
"It seemed like the target was culture,” Edge reflected, "and every kind of expression of the best of humanity: great music, restaurants, French food – everything that we hold dear.”
Tonight the spirit of everything we hold dear – of liberté, égalité, fraternité – was alive and well at the 16,000 seater AccorHotels Arena. Long may it flourish...
[hotpress.com, will feature exclusive extended reports from U2 in Paris tomorrow morning]