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BY TALIA SOGHOMONIAN
report from 'Gay Paris'...
"Next time you write about U2, you have to
write 'Bono is my favourite'. How do you say
that in French?" Bono est mon préféré. And he scribbles
it in both English and French for me, in case I might
The day before my meeting with U2, the band, accompanied
by their families, arrived in Paris for a two-night
stint in the French capitol as part of the Elevation
favourite Rock Star With A Conscience took advantage
of U2's day off performing to pay a visit to L'Elysée,
the presidential palace, where he paid a visit to
Prime Minister Lionel Jospin.
thanked Jospin for France's efforts to cancel Third
World Debt. "I have come to thank the Prime Minister,
but also the President (Jacques Chirac), who
have helped us a lot and all those who are involved
in these activities."
France has, in fact, canceled the debt of 34 of the
world's 41 poorest countries. And Bono wanted to give
them some recognition. "The fact that France is the
country in the world which has done most to write
off the debt is not very well-known."
one of the most active lobbyists of the Drop the Debt
campaign, Bono also urged Jospin to "finish what we
accompanied by the former Minister of Culture Jack
Lang, even attended the first night of U2's Paris
shows. Over 34,000 fans saw U2 and their opening act,
the Stereophonics, perform at the Bercy arena
in Paris on July 17 and 18.
French fans wanted the first show to be special and
different by paying tribute to U2. The French fanzine
site AchtungU2 had planned to distribute 17,000
balloons in the colours of the Irish flag but was
not granted final permission. No reasons were officially
announced. However, many Irish flags are seen all
over the arena, some bearing messages, such as Drop
the Debt, which Bono acknowledges by making a V sign.
band plays their classical Elevation Tour setlist
with a few surprises. The band plays two songs from
the 'Pop' album, usually absent from the setlist -
'Gone' and an acoustic version of 'Wake Up Dead Man'.
The screens enlighten the crowd with a mini-film showing
that France is one of the five leading countries involved
in the sale of arms.
Politics aside, it is a family event as well. "Don't
by shy. Why are you so shy?" Bono asks his two daughters
as they join their father onstage during 'Mysterious
Ways'. Other family members and friends get dedications.
'Beautiful Day' is dedicated to his newborn son. 'Kite'
is played for his uncle, also in the audience.
'In A Little While' honours the memory of Joey
Ramone, who passed away last spring while listening
to that song.
"Hier soir, Bercy nous a éclatés. Ce soir, mon coeur
EST prêt à exploser" ("Last night, Bercy exploded
us. Tonight, my heart is ready to explose").
who has made some excellent progress in French, tells
the crowd of the second Parisian show, right before
playing 'Kite' "pour mon fils Elijah qui EST là CE
soir" ("for my son Elijah who is here tonight").
are the ones who explode Bercy on the second night
as they give one of their most electrifying performances
yet. It is almost as if the rain has sparked all their
circuits. In front of an audience composed of fans
who have braved the cold and rain and celebrities
- amongst whom are Naomi Campbell, football
star Fabien Barthez and the French Elvis,
Johnny Hallyday - U2 show France that they are,
indeed, the Greatest Band On Earth.
"The goal is soul," yells Bono at the end of 'Beautiful
Day'. Souls seem to be elevated as the band goes into
hit after hit. The setlist is a Best Of U2, amongst
which are 'With or Without You', 'The Fly', 'Where
the Streets Have No Name' and 'One'. 'Pride' also
proves to be very popular with the crowd, much in
the same spirit as 'Sunday Bloody Sunday'.
crowd sings along to the "love song", 'All I want
Is You'. The most defying moment is 'Bullet the Blue
Sky', where the famous anti-guns film, featuring Charlton
Heston is shown, for it was by a gun that John
Lennon was killed. A strong reference is made
to the Beatle as Bono yells the name of his killer,
in a Moment' is, as always, dedicated to the person
for whom it was written, late INXS frontman Michael
Hutchence. The setlist contains two surprises.
Bono reminisces about the band's early days, when
they performed at the small but legendary venue Elysée
Montmartre and, to add to the nostalgia, the band
performs their first single, 'Out of Control'.
witnesses Bono and The Edge play an acoustic
version of 'Wild Honey' which is rarely, if ever,
played in public. "I hope we don't fuck it up," says
a modest Bono, but at the end of the song, he feels
that they did. "I knew there was a reason why we never
the show reaches its end with 'Walk On', Bono and
a little help in French from The Edge, he also thanks
all the supporters of Jubilee 2000 and the fans. "Merci
Bercy. Thank you for a great life, une grande vie."
Bono, The Edge and Adam Clayton had shown their
thanks to the fans the day before as they signed autographs
and posed for both the fans and the paparazzi. The
Edge was practicing his photographic skills with his
own camera as he snapped pictures of fans and of his
bandmates interacting with fans. "Everybody, hold
up your cameras as I take a picture!"
Mullen preferred to sit in his car than share
a few moments with his record-buying public, even
bluntly rejecting an autograph to a fan who had been
waiting hours under the rain.
band left soon after the second show to "elevate"
other parts of Europe. The band will be performing
in their homeland at Slane Castle on August 25 and
I almost forgot. Bono is my favourite.