Sunday 25 March 2018

'Tonight we are all Parisians, the world is from Paris' - Bono

U2 on stage at the AccorHotels Arena in Bercy, Paris, last night
U2 on stage at the AccorHotels Arena in Bercy, Paris, last night
A woman is searched on the way into the gig
Security was tight at the U2 concert as armed police maintained a high presence
Alicia Foley from California
Adam Cullen

Adam Cullen

A distinct sense of trepidation could be felt in the quiet Parisian neighbourhood of Bercy last night as the moment approached when Irish rock legends U2 were to appear on stage at the AccorHotels Arena.

The band's appearance had been delayed by two weeks due to the deadly terror attacks that hit the French capital on November 13.

The northside boys had been due to rock Paris on the night after it witnessed one of its darkest days.

But the city was grieving and so too was the world. U2 decided to postpone their performance in memory of the 130 people who died.

Instead of laying down their monster hits, they laid flowers outside the Bataclan theatre, where 90 music lovers were gunned down in cold blood by Isil gunmen.

Last night, some 20,000 people were ushered into the arena by scores of soldiers and armed police.

The horror of that night two weeks ago was clearly in Bono's mind as he told the audience: "Tonight, we are all Parisians, the world is from Paris."

The set U2 played on the penultimate night on their 'Innocence + Experience' Tour wasn't that different from the set they played in Dublin last month. They sang the same songs; they spread the same message. But there was more heart. There was more passion.

"We stand together with the families who lost their loved ones in Paris. We stand together with families in San Bernardino," said Bono.

"We stand together with families in Beirut and Istanbul," he declared before a rousing chorus of 'Pride In The Name Of Love'.

"We stand together before those with false ideologies of the god they serve," he said.

Fans had streamed into the venue from early evening in near silence. There was no singing, little hustle and bustle and very little in terms of atmosphere.

Many had been in Paris on the night of the attacks, waiting to see U2 the following evening.

Sisters Elodie and Alizee Alexander from Lyon made the journey to the capital for the second time last night.

Even the fear of another terrorist attack could not put them off seeing their favourite band.

"We were here on the night and remembered watching the news, not knowing if the concert was going to go ahead the next night. It was very scary," said 19-year-old Alizee.

"We were trying to decide in our mind if we would go, if it was on, but we are glad it was postponed."

Elodie (21) added: "We have loved U2 since we were born. Our father instilled their music in us."

Travelling from further afield was Alicia Foley from California, who had made the 7,000-mile journey to see her idols play live.

"I was to come the last day and I was sitting in the airport in LAX and I saw the news and I just thought, 'Oh my God!' I didn't know what to do," she said.

Frenchwoman Emilie Chelle has been living in Cork for the past three years.

She travelled to her homeland last month in order to "witness one of the best bands in the world" and travelled again last night.

"My boyfriend is Irish and was at home the night of the terror attacks. He was hearing more on the Irish news than we were on the ground in Paris.

"I think that U2 did the right thing to cancel the show that night. But now France must move forward - and look forward to the music."

Irish Independent

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