Sunday, 15 June 2008

1992 May - Zoo TV in Paris

It was 7th May and this Paris show was the first of the European leg so there was a sense of anticipation and excitement. Again this was a time when not many people had the Internet so though the first leg of Zoo TV had been in the US, we'd only read a few things and had reports from friends so there was still a bit of mystery about what to expect.

Our journey to Paris was uneventful. It was a very warm and sunny day when we were dropped of at the Bercy arena, and initially, we'd wanted to go Notre Dame which we could see in the far distance down the river. We decided against it as we did not really have enough time, it was a shame as I love Paris, but this was one of those cheap arrive-see the show-go home trips. Most people on our coach trooped off to a nearby MacDonalds, but Jane and I wanted to have a little taste of France while we were there so we wandered off to look for a restaurant. We found a lovely little place and had a delicious leisurely meal there.

We left the restaurant and met up with some of our friends who had also come on this trip. There was nowhere else to wait so we just hung around the venue hoping to see the band arrive. However, we missed them, they went in by another entrance and the fans who were there got their autographs.

We started queueing - it was really hot by now and we felt like cattle as we were literally penned in with barriers and watched over by security men. That meant it was almost impossible to leave because you had to climb over these high barriers that were all around us. It was not pleasant, the sun was relentless and we were squashed together, perspiration running down our bodies. I ended up with sunburn on one side of my face! I prayed for the gates to open. Eventually at around 6pm they did and we were let out of our pens. There was a stampede - we'd expected this as we'd heard that this happens in France - we had to join in otherwise we would not get a good place.

Inside we had already agreed to go for seats rather than the floor, again because we felt it might be too much of a crush for us there. We raced past the bag checker, the ticket collector, down steps, up steps and into the arena. We manged to get good seats three rows from the front in the lower balcony to the right of the stage. We sat down on our seats and recovered our breath for a while and laughed at the madness of it all.

The French audience were brilliant, cheering and really building up the excitement long before anyone came on stage. There always is a great atmosphere at European shows. Fatima Mansions were the support band which we did not enjoy very much. At 9pm Zoo TV started with Bono, dressed all in black, strolling onto stage with little ceremony. He sang a beautiful song that sounded almost traditional Irish. In America Dianne had met Bono and had asked him what the song was and he'd said it was just something he'd made up.

The rest of the band came on-stage and blasted into Zoo Station amidst a barrage of words and images from the 20+ small screen and four large screen on the stage. Six garishly painted Trabants hung above the stage at weird angles, their headlights were on and there were spotlights shining from inside the cars. It was a real assault on the senses and like nothing U2 had done before in a live show.

The Fly was next, and Bono went into character, all in black, Fly shades, jerky dancing, sleazy, having great fun with this character. Edge's guitar razor sharp, words flashing up at breakneck speed on the screens, adding to the relentless pace of the song.

Mysterious Ways was funky, complete with bellydancer which worked well. This was one of my least favourite tracks on Achtung Baby, but live it was excellent with an extended ending. So many of U2's songs really change and come alive on-stage.
One was wonderful. Simple and poignant, lighters lit like fireflies all around Bercy, the audience swaying and singing along. It was obvious then that this song was going to be a U2 classic.

Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses was most mostly sung by Bono lying on the stage, I don't know how he can sing so well lying down! He was in great voice for all of the concert, and I could appreciate just what a good singer he was, for when I'd heard him in Lovetown he was having voice problems so he was not at his best.

And so the show went on and I thought just how different it was from the Lovetown show I'd seen three years earlier. It was much better, and very powerful, and the Achtung baby songs were so damn good! At one point Bono leaned into the audience and held hands, then suddenly he disappeared he's been pulled into the seething mass! It took a lot of tugging from the security to get him back on stage. But it didn't stop Bono continuing to have physical contact with the crowd - and that too was different from Lovetown where he had no contact with the audience.

The old songs were brilliant too - Bad as always sent shivers down my spine, Streets nearly blew the roof off. Running to Standstill was a new arrangement which I really liked. The audience were amazing and sung along so loud with passion and fervour. But we were glad we weren't on the floor as mass of people kept "rippling" and the crush was scary.

All too soon the show ended with Love is Blindness which was very moving. The stage was lit with red and purple lights and constellations of stars in black and white spun slowly on the four big screens. It was strangely peaceful and almost hypnotic. Bono got a girl out of the audience and danced with her closely for a long time, it felt like he was dancing with us all. There was such a sense of intimacy in that huge arena, it was a special moment.

And that was it, my first Zoo TV show, and what a ball it was and what great memories it has left me with!

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