5 Things to Expect During HBO’s ‘U2 iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE: Live in Paris’ Concert Special (VIDEO)
In the aftermath of tragedy, Irish rockers U2 are returning to Paris, France to help heal the grieving city through music.
U2 iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE: Live in Paris, the HBO concert special that was originally scheduled for November 14, will now air on December 7 after being postponed following a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in the French capital on November 13 that killed 130 people. Lead singer Bono, guitarist The Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen, Jr. were also forced to reschedule the final two Paris shows of their world tour, which has visited a total of 22 cities since opening in Vancouver last May.
As one of the most successful touring acts of all time, U2 has spent the better part of four decades perfecting the live music experience from arenas to stadiums, and the iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE tour is no exception. In just over two hours, the band takes the audience through their own personal musical journey, pulling songs and images from their storied career to tell the story of their own transformation from innocence to experience.
Here are five of the show’s biggest moments that viewers can expect when U2 finally takes the stage. Spoiler alert!
1. Deep cuts.
Even the most casual U2 fan will recognize famous staples such as “With or Without You,” “Beautiful Day” and “Pride (In the Name of Love).” But the iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE tour is far from a greatest hits showcase. In retracing their roots, the band reached deep into their back catalogue and dusted off a handful of rarities, including 1981’s “Gloria” and “October,” and 1983’s “Two Hearts Beat as One,” which was performed for the first time in 26 years during their July 27 show at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
2. A state-of-the-art setup.
The iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE tour stage is divided into three sections: a traditional rectangular stage on one end of the arena shaped like an I, a smaller stage at the other end of the arena shaped like a lowercase e, and a walkway that extends lengthwise through the middle of the crowd that connects the two stages. But the centerpiece is the massive video cage that hangs above the walkway, which not only projects images of the band during the show, but is also able to accommodate the musicians themselves within the cage and allow them to perform alongside the projections. While performing the song “Cedarwood Road” from U2’s most recent studio album Songs of Innocence, Bono is able to simulate a stroll down his childhood street for the awestruck onlookers.
3. Fan participation.
When the boys finally take the e-stage towards the halfway point of the show, Bono traditionally invites a lucky fan up to the stage each night to shake their hips to “Mysterious Ways” or film a song for worldwide broadcast via the Meerkat app. Some audience members have even jammed along with the band to hits like “Angel of Harlem” and walked away with the ultimate souvenir in the form of one of Edge’s acoustic guitars.
4. Political activism.
A U2 concert would not be complete without a politically charged message, and the iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE tour features two particularly powerful moments. Towards the end of the evening, Bono takes some time to address the global fight against HIV and AIDS, which culminates in a stripped-down cover of Paul Simon’s “Mother and Child Reunion.” But it’s the Syrian refugee crisis that commands the spotlight midway through the set as Bono’s unleashes a fury of anger during a blistering version of 1987’s “Bullet the Blue Sky,” which is followed by a sparse and pleading rendition of the underrated 1993 track “Zooropa” before beautifully segueing into the crown jewel of any live U2 performance, “Where the Streets Have No Name.”
5. Moving tributes.
Even before the Paris attacks, the iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE tour suffered personal heartbreak when U2’s longtime tour manager Dennis Sheehan passed away in May (The band would go on to dedicate a special performance of “40” in Los Angeles and the rest of the tour to Sheehan’s memory). Emotions will no doubt be running high during U2’s final two Paris shows, and the band is expected to be joined onstage by Eagles of Death Metal, the California-based rockers who were performing at the Bataclan Theatre the night of the massacre.
U2 iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE: Live in Paris airs Monday, Dec. 7 at 9/8c on HBO.