Monday 26 September 2016

U2 calls for a 'Europe of mercy' at first concert since Paris attacks

Emma Jane Hade and Michael McHugh

Published 18/11/2015 | 18:11

U2 live at the SSE Arena in Belfast. Picture by Justin Kernoghan
U2 live at the SSE Arena in Belfast. Picture by Justin Kernoghan
U2 live at the SSE Arena in Belfast. Picture by Justin Kernoghan
U2 live at the SSE Arena in Belfast. Picture by Justin Kernoghan
U2 fans hold signs saying, Stronger than fear outside the SSE Arena in Belfast where U2 play their first Irish concert. Picture credit; Damien Eagers
U2 fans queueing outside the SSE Arena in Belfast where U2 play their first Irish concert. Picture credit; Damien Eagers
U2 fan, Holly Weeks, Boston with other fans queueing outside the SSE Arena in Belfast where U2 play their first Irish concert. Picture credit; Damien Eagers
U2 fans queue outside the SSE Arena in Belfast where U2 play their first Irish concert. Picture credit; Damien Eagers

Bono has called for a Europe of mercy to refugees as U2 played its first concert since the Paris attacks.

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The Irish rock stars were among those to cancel high-profile gigs in the French capital following Friday's terrorist attacks, which saw at least 129 killed and hundreds injured.

Guitarist Adam Clayton wore a Stiff Little Fingers T-shirt in tribute to the Northern Ireland outfit which refused to cancel a concert following the carnage.

Bono asked Belfast concertgoers whether they wanted "a Europe with its heart open or its borders closed to mercy".

U2 fans queue outside the SSE Arena in Belfast where U2 play their first Irish concert. Picture credit; Damien Eagers
U2 fans queue outside the SSE Arena in Belfast where U2 play their first Irish concert. Picture credit; Damien Eagers

U2 made their Belfast comeback this evening, and hundreds of fans began queuing outside the venue hours before kick-off to witness the event.

It was over 18-years since the Dublin natives appeared on a stage in the northern city, and tonight they played the first of two consecutive dates in front of more than 11,000 fans in the SSE Airtricity Arena.

Tonight’s concert marks what was intended to be the final leg of their current ‘Innocence and Experience’ tour, with four more dates scheduled for the 3 Arena in Dublin over the next two weeks.

Meanwhile, hundreds of fans participated in the ‘White Out Belfast’ campaign which was launched on social media sites over the weekend.

Danish fan Connie Maria Westergaaid travelled from Copenhagen for the two Belfast concerts and she explained that the purpose of the ‘White Out’ campaign is to demonstrate peace and solidarity in light of the French attacks, where more than 100 music fans were gunned down at a concert.

“I have been to seven concerts on this tour and nine on the two previous tours.  I have stopped counting how many U2 concerts I have been to,” she told Independent.ie.

“Stronger than fear is part of a lyric from Raised By Wolves on this album.  It’s part of a campaign or movement called ‘White Out Belfast’, so basically you go to the concert tonight and you wear or bring something white, so when the band walks on stage you basically wave it.

“You want to be able to go to a concert and not be afraid.  It’s not just about Paris, it’s everywhere,” she added.

The ‘Innocence and Experience’ tour has been critically acclaimed, and when U2 play their final show it is expected that more than 1.3m fans will have attended 76 shows in 11 countries.

The last time they played in Belfast was in 1997, and their last Dublin show was in Croke Park in 2009.

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