U2 were rehearsing at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris Friday night, less than three miles away from the Bataclan concert hall where the Eagles of Death Metal were playing, when they got word of the terrorist attack on the city.
“Our security locked it down pretty quickly and we got our team and our crew out of there safely,” Bono told Irish DJ Dave Fanning in a radio interview Saturday. “We came to the back door of the hotel. Everyone congregated and watched the TV like everybody else in disbelief with what was happening. We’re all safe.”
U2 have been gigging all over Europe for the past two months, leading up to a planned show Saturday night in Paris set for broadcast on HBO. That gig has now been postponed, along with the following evening’s show at the same venue. “We didn’t call it off,” Bono said. “It was cancelled, honest, and I understand perfectly why … It’s up to the French authorities and the city to decide when we can go back.”
Right now, the band is trying to make sense of the horrific carnage. “Our first thoughts at this point are with the Eagles of Death Metal fans,” he said. “If you think about it, the majority of victims last night are music fans. This is the first direct hit on music that we’ve had in this so-called War on Terror or whatever it’s called. It’s very upsetting. These are our people. This could be me at a show. You at a show, in that venue. It’s a very recognizable situation for you and for me and the coldblooded aspect of this slaughter is deeply disturbing and that’s what I can’t get out of my head.”
The city of Paris is still in lockdown and there’s no word on when the U2 shows will be rescheduled, but Bono pledges that they will go forward. “Music is very important,” he said. “I think U2 has a role to play and I can’t wait till we get back to Paris and play and that’s what I’m feeling from the messages we’re receiving from music fans is these people will not set our agenda. They will not organize our lives for us.”
U2 were on a short break from their 2001 Elevation Tour during the September 11th attacks. They began playing North American dates just one month after the attacks, playing three nights at New York’s Madison Square Garden in late October. They were among the most emotional shows of the band’s long career. “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 today. “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.”
U2’s tour heads to Ireland for a series of shows in Belfast and Dublin that were supposed to wrap up the 2015 leg of the Innocence + Experience Tour, though it now seems likely the rescheduled Paris shows will be held sometime after the final night in Dublin on November 28th.