When gunmen stormed the Bataclan theatre in Paris during an Eagles of Death Metal show last month, leaving 89 people killed and many more injured, the members of U2 were not far away, rehearsing for a two-night concert that was set to kick off the following evening in that city. Out of respect for the victims, U2 ended up postponing those shows and a planned broadcast on HBO. And when they returned to Paris this weekend, the event took on a whole new level of resonance.
Rumors began to fly over the next few days that Eagles of Death Metal would be performing alongside U2 at the AccorHotels Arena, but during the first of two shows on Sunday, the band’s “special guest” was Patti Smith, who joined the band for the final song of the night for a performance of her protest anthem “People Have the Power.”
It turned out U2 was saving the emotional fireworks for Monday night’s show, which was broadcast on HBO just hours after it ended in Paris.
"These are our brothers, our fellow troubadours and they were robbed of their stage, so we’d like to offer them ours tonight,” Bono said toward the end of the concert. Once again, U2 closed their multi-song encore with Smith’s “People Have The Power,” but this time Eagles of Death Metal performed side-by-side with them. Then, Bono and crew stepped aside, literally giving over their stage to the band that was denied by terrorists a chance to finish their concert at the Bataclan.
The night ended with the most meaningful version of Eagles of Death Metal’s “I Love You All the Time” that the band has likely ever performed, with more than 20,000 people cheering for their resilience.
Just days after the Paris attacks, Eagles of Death Metal frontman Jesse Hughes, who was onstage at the Bataclan, co-founder Josh Homme, who had chosen to skip the European tour, and other members of the band sat down with Vice to discuss what happened.
“People were playing dead, and they were so scared,” Hughes said. “A great reason why so many were killed is because so many people wouldn’t leave their friends, and so many people put themselves in front of people.”
Following tonight’s concert, Eagles of Death Metal posted a photo and personal message to U2 on the band’s official social media channels.
“We want to offer our heartfelt thanks and appreciation for everything our brothers in U2 did for us in the aftermath of the November 13 attacks,” the band wrote on Facebook. “They reminded us that the bad guys never take a day off, and therefore we rock ’n rollers cannot either…and we never will. We are incredibly grateful to U2 for providing us the opportunity to return to Paris so quickly, and to share in the healing power of rock ‘n roll with so many of the beautiful people – nos amis – of this great city.”
“Thank you to Bono, The Edge, Larry and Adam, thank you to their wonderful management, thank you to France, and thank you to everyone in the world who continues to prove that love, joy, and music will always overcome terror and evil,” they continued. “We look forward to fighting the good fight on many more fronts very soon, especially when we pick up our tour in 2016. See you again in February, Paris.”
Over the next three days, Eagles of Death Metal is scheduled to play concerts in Barcelona, Madrid and Lisbon.