The French TV channel Canal + had been preparing for this for a week: the welcoming of U2 as very special guests of the daily show “Le Grand Journal”. This show has become a reference for political and cultural events, a talk show offering one of the most state-of-the-art musical set.
Monday evening’s show was an exceptional event, since U2 had never done any live performance on any French television set before. Canal + was totally themed around U2 for the night, even broadcasting their advertising jingles under the colors and design of U2.
The excitement, the pressure, and the emotion were tangible amongst everyone on the set, including the exceptionally numerous VIP guests: TV presenters, singers, music business personalities. The set was “invaded” by dozens of guests, most of them having to stand or sit wherever they could, on the stairs and on the floor.
U2 appeared at 8.10 pm in a flood of music and images in front of a giant screen – starting “Get on your Boots” with a few notes of the French national anthem and a spoken French translation of the sentence “I don’t wanna talk about wars between nations”. Bono made the audience even louder and crazier as he kept diving into the crowd, shaking hands and embracing people. He even finished standing on the central table at the end of “Breathe”, performed right after a 20-minute interview with Bono and The Edge.
The interview was rather classic, revealing nothing that had not been said earlier. But it was really refreshing thanks to the light, whimsical mood and humour of Bono and The Edge. Both of them actually kept evading the presenters’ questions, making jokes and laughing, closer to each other than ever.
Asked first about the secret of their longevity, they mention that it’s all about the shoes. When Michel Denisot asks a rather complex question about the limits they set to themselves in the band, they naturally answer that “playing golf” would mean instant elimination for any member of the band. When the subject of The Edge’s particular taste for disco music is raised, Bono pretends to leave the set, explaining that the band would have to split up after this revelation. The political commitment of Bono was – deliberately – mentioned only briefly: the interview had to focus on music, Canal + had announced.
U2 left the set in the middle of a huge chaos, just after Bono embraced his friend Michka Assayas, whom he had spotted in the audience.
Originally, they had considered taping “Magnificent” as an outside broadcast but they finally did not: they had to rush to the NRJ radio studios for another interview.
U2’s performance and interview can be viewed in full on the Canal+ website: