If Paris I was confident like French girls are according to Bono, then perhaps Paris II was a great lover, like French men are (allegedly): aggressive, emotional and a little rough around the edges.
Bono seemed in a theatrical mood – singing flat on his back on the edge of the stage very early on in the show. Did we spot a little limp, was the back acting up? Who knows. Lots of things were going on on stage. Quick discussions with crew members, an ‘ok’ from The Edge for Bono to sing Happy Birthday/Bonne Anniversaire to his god daughter Holly, turning 21 that day.
This night was special from its playful ‘Unos, dos, tres, Louis Quatorze’ start. I felt it even outside of the front pit, having arrived very late for the show. Even if with my 5’1” I couldn’t see a damn thing on the stage. Even if the crowd weren’t ‘singers’ as much as the night before. Even if the band dropped notes left and right. Even if Bono got so carried away at times he forgot which verse was next. But things really spun into orbit with ‘Sometimes you can’t make it on your own.’
As Bono walked along the catwalk, taking off his trademark specs to sing nakedly of filial angst, something in his face betrayed tonight meant just that little more. And I remembered there was a story, of Hewson Jr and Sr, out on the town in Paris. I imagined he must be thinking of it now.
The song continued, twisting towards its conclusion. Here comes ‘No regrets’, I thought, but Bono starts telling the story I was thinking of. Am I dreaming this? He talks about his father, the Dub who liked the opera. ‘And now I’m living it.’ He recounts the time his father drank him under the table in Paris, then put him to bed like a little boy. ‘And as I fell asleep, I listened to him sing the opera.’
Then he started singing with measured pathos: “E tu dice: “Io parto, addio!”, T’alluntane da stu core…, Da la terra de ll’ammore, tiene ‘o core ‘e nun turná?!” And my head exploded because not too long ago, on the West coast of Ireland, I heard that other Irishman sing the exact same song: ‘Return to Sorrento’.
That’s it right there for me. Top it off with a prolonged ‘Amazing Grace’ after Running to Standstill and Paris II moves into the coveted ‘best gig on the tour’-spot, slithering past Dublin II, and maybe even Dublin III in terms of raw emotion.
When things go off like that, the ubiquity of Pride and Sunday Bloody Sunday (bizarrely, sung for French football legend Zinedine Zindane), With or Without You and the simply unforgivable double whammy of Vertigo really doesn’t matter one iota. ‘Live is where we live,’ say the members of U2. And what a great life it is.