In the aftermath of the November 13th terror attacks in Paris, U2 were forced to postpone their November 14th and 15th concerts in the French city. Those shows were rescheduled for December 6th and 7th – the latter broadcasting live for an HBO special – and as those dates near, Bono spoke to the New York Times about U2’s upcoming Paris gigs, helping out Eagles of Death Metal following the terror attacks and the attainability of peace.
“When you get bleak about things and think, Gosh, is there an end to this? Yeah, there is, it just takes lots of work, lots of time. I was never a hippie — I’m punk rock, really. I was never into: ‘Let’s hold hands, and peace will come just because we’ll dream it into the world.’ No,” Bono said. “Peace is the opposite of dreaming. It’s built slowly and surely through brutal compromises and tiny victories that you don’t even see. It’s a messy business, bringing peace into the world. But it can be done, I’m sure of that.”
Bono admitted that, at first, he didn’t want to cancel U2’s initial Paris gigs – “I suppose the Irish in us just doesn’t want to give in to terrorism” – but once the scope of the attacks was revealed and the postponing of the shows became a necessity, U2’s focus shifted toward helping out Eagles of Death Metal. Bono says U2 offered the group access to their private plane and provided EODM with new cell phones to contact friends and family, since their phones were left behind in the Bataclan.
“Jesse [Hughes] took me through every moment,” Bono said. “They really need proper counseling, though — not from a well-meaning Irish rock star. Because post-traumatic stress disorder is a real issue for people who go through these things. They’re going to come through fine, but it was pretty bad.”
Bono added that the band is “thinking about some special guests” for their Paris performances, which would be the biggest and most high-profile concerts in the French capital since the terror attacks. The singer also noted the irony of U2’s Innocence + Experience tour – which features a stage show steeped in the effects Ireland’s homegrown terrorism has had on band members in their youth – concluding in Paris.
“If you were to write a script for Paris, and if it was U2 playing, you’d come up with a show similar to what we have,” Bono said. “That’s the funny thing. But it’s not only joy as an act of defiance; it’s business as usual as an act of defiance. This is not a concert for heroes. This is just: Do your thing. That’s what the French want us to do. We’re doing what we’re told.”
Speaking to Irish DJ Dave Fanning the day after the terror attacks, Bono drew comparisons between their rescheduled Paris shows and their concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden just weeks after 9/11. “The feeling of Madison Square Garden was just unbelievable and the feeling was just this is who we are, you can’t change it,” Bono said. “You’re not going to turn us into haters or you’re not going to turn us around in the way we go about our lives. That was the feeling of Madison Square Garden back then and I hope that will be the feeling at Bercy when we get back there.”