Anyone who’s ever attended a U2 concert will know that it’s more than four guys putting on a show, but an actual experience. The iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE: Live From Paris Blu-ray and DVD take this to a new level as they returned to heal Parisians less than a month after the terrorist attacks in November 2015 that canceled their original HBO special.
As a lifelong U2 fan, I was eager to see this show, but didn’t make it to any of their Los Angeles-area shows and I don’t have HBO. However, I did receive a Blu-ray copy — albeit a month after it arrived and sat under my front door mat for 32 days before I knew it was there — and I wasn’t disappointed. The disc not only contains the entire two and a half hour show, but also a slew of bonus features that clock in around an hour or so.
The main concert features 30 tracks. Not all of the tracks are live performance pieces and some are songs that are performed together but listed separately. For example, the band walks out to “People Have The Power” and doesn’t actually begin playing until “The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone).” Also, they kick off a seven song encore with a pre-taped bit featuring Stephen Hawking encouraging everyone to become a Global Citizen.
The stage sits at one end of the arena with two 96 ft wide x 22.5 ft tall see-through LED video screens stretching across it connecting a smaller “e” platform. The band embraces technology extremely well and performs inside the V-Thru LED Video Screens throughout the show which make up some of my favorite moments from the night.
As the band performs “Invisible” from inside, the screens are yellow with black lighting acting as a waveform to reveal each member on the inside. The band is revealed on screen through colored dots, as if it were their chemical makeup, during “Even Better Than Real Thing.” Mid song, they each walked out and finished the song on the “e” stage.
Throughout their career, Bono has been known to “randomly choose” audience members and bring them on stage. Perhaps this time was a bit riskier given the recent events in the city, but it’s always possible the lucky chosen few were pre-screened beforehand.
A slew of audience members were brought on stage during “Elevation” to get the crowd ramped up. They paraded back and forth across the long stage singing and dancing along with the band. A lady from Canada, who danced with Bono during “Mysterious Ways” beforehand, stayed on stage and was given a cell phone connected via Bluetooth to the giant screens that displayed the on stage fun and tweets from around the world.
The band has some memorable performances as they change things up a bit with some of their classic hits. Their performance of “Sunday Bloody Sunday” was very dramatic and somber. Larry Mullen, Jr. played only on a snare drum — marching style around his neck — out in front with the rest of the band. It was much slower with more melodic instrumentation than the punk version from 1983.
An interesting aspect to the concert was when Bono performed a solo version of “The Fly” as he sang live backstage to an EDM backing track. During the performance, fans are treated to a rare behind the scenes look as Bono is being prepped by make up artists while the rest of band chats and changes clothes. This is interlaced with arena shots of the crowd.
Bono and The Edge take center stage to perform a stripped down version of “Every Breaking Wave” before singing a brief section of “October” as images of worn torn countries are displayed on the screens. The band then breaks into a rousing rendition of one of my all time favorite U2 songs, “Bullet The Blue Sky.” The song is nicely represented here as Bono grabs a megaphone and begins singing. His numerous ad lib speaking rants throughout extend the song by about double its studio length.
“With Or Without You” closes the main set before the band takes their bows. Interlocking arms with each other, they acknowledge each side of the arena by turning in unison. The crowd then sings them into the encore which kicks off with the aforementioned Stephen Hawking bit before launching into “City Of Blinding Lights.”
During “One,” Bono addressed the ISIS attacks as The Edge played the intro. Bono led the crowd to a singalong before the full band kicked in after the first chorus. The song received the largest applause of the evening, most likely for the message it sends — love. Surely fans in attendance thought the concert would end there, but not before Bono introduced The Eagles Of Death Metal to perform a pair of songs.
“They were robbed of their stage three weeks ago, and we would like to offer them ours tonight,” Bono exclaimed to crowd eruption.
U2 stayed on stage to perform “People Have The Power” with them before handing over their instruments and leaving the stage for the final time. The Eagles of Death Metal stayed to perform “I Love You All The Time” on their own as they accepted the audience’s cheers before taking their own bows and exiting.
It’s very evident that U2 and its crew put a lot of careful planning into this show/tour. There are so many visuals throughout — some more intricate than others — it makes it hard to describe sometimes. Many flashes of light appear on the screens often with other video and/or the band performing live. There’s various talking that’s played over Bono throughout and it’s sometimes hard to understand, but works for them. This concert reminds me a bit of their Zoo TV tour in some aspects, but a completely different show in so many other ways. Very entertaining to say the least.
Despite playing nearly 40 years of hits and album tracks live, U2 never manages to perform the songs the same way each time. They always seem to reinvent themselves tour after tour, and this concert is very evident of that. This is such a stunning visual experience — and an even greater performance for and by a city that hadn’t even begun to comprehend what had happened three weeks prior.
Music heals and U2 helped the people of Paris heal, even if it was just for the two nights they returned. It was clearly evident that the city of Paris needed these shows to help them not to forget, but to memorialize those innocent lives that were lost. Many verbal and visual references were displayed throughout the entire concert and the crowd cheered. The audience absolutely embraced U2’s — and The Eagles of Death Metal’s — love for the city. After all, the city of Paris is known as the “City of Love.”
U2 iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Live in Paris is available on Blu-ray, Deluxe 2 DVD, single DVD and 2 DVD/1 Blu-ray Deluxe Box Set. The standard DVD features 30 tracks while the Deluxe DVD and Blu-ray formats come with an abundance of bonus material including, Gavin Friday’s guide to “Cedarwood Road,” a behind-the-scenes piece with director director Hamish Hamilton’s behind-the-scenes documentary, on-stage tour videos for “The Wanderer” and “The Troubles” as well as six music videos commissioned for single releases from Songs of Innocence.
Bonus live songs are also included featuring “The Electric Co.” from their November 11, 2015 performance in Paris as well as “Out Of Control” and “Bad” from the December 6, 2015 show. Singer/songwriter Patti Smith joins the band for a duet of “People Have The Power” from the December 6th show, as well.
If you’re a big U2 fan, you’ll want to add this Blu-ray or Deluxe DVD/Blu-ray box set to your collection. This concert is like no other U2 show and you will surely enjoy the set while feeling for the people of Paris.
Author: Buddy Iahn
Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.