U2 completed the rescheduled Paris dates for the Innocence + Experience tour last night, ending the band’s sold-out touring activity for 2015 on an upbeat note in a city victimized by terrorist attacks less than a month prior.
The band had already played two of the four show booked at the AccorHotels (formerly Bercy) Arena when terrorists attacked the Bataclan concert hall during an Eagles Of Death Metal show on Nov. 13, among other sites. U2 had been scheduled to complete the Paris run Nov. 14 (with a live HBO telecast) and Nov. 15, before heading to Ireland to wrap the tour, originally scheduled to end in Dublin on Nov. 28. Those shows were postponed in the wake of the attacks.
Efforts for the rescheduling began soon after the band's Dec. 14-15 shows were lost, “because the band really wanted to come back and make good on the two postponed shows,” tour producer Arthur Fogel, chairman of Live Nation’s Global Touring division, tells Billboard. “As it turned out, the only two days possible were Dec. 6-7, everything else was booked up at the arena.”
Logistically, delaying the end of the tour by more than a week “was a challenge,” Fogel admits, as the scores of personnel and massive amount of gear involved had all been scheduled to scatter after the Dublin shows. “Obviously we figured it out, and everybody was able to stay together to complete the shows. It was something the band really felt was important to do, as we all did, and it ended up working out well for the wrap of the tour for this year.”
Fogel says there were “minimal” refunds for the Dec. 14-15 shows, about 3,000 of the 34,000 sold. “As they got refunded, they resold immediately,” he says. “It’s a testament to the band and the fans that there were so few refunds, and they ended up being very emotional shows. Paris is an incredible city, with great people, great fans of music. I think [rescheduling] was the right thing to do, and it ended up being a great experience for everybody.”
U2, a band seemingly built for big emotional moments, rose to the occasion in Paris, last night bringing Eagles Of Death Metal to the stage in dramatic fashion. Fogel, promoter/producer of all of the band’s tours since PopMart in 1997-’98, calls U2 “a special band, special people, and they do rise to the occasion. They have an incredible ability to capture the moment, the mood, and it’s pretty inspirational, I have to say.”
An “extensive” security plan was in place for the rescheduled shows, “much more so than the norm,” according to Fogel, but he says in many ways the city has returned to normalcy. “People are out everywhere here, at restaurants, shopping. People are going about their lives, for sure, going to shows, buying tickets,” he says. “Generally, it may not be life exactly as we knew it, but it’s pretty normal.”
U2’s 2015 Innocence + Experience tour wraps as a critical and commercial success, though not one without its obstacles, including the death of longtime tour manager Dennis Sheehan early on in the tour. Through Nov. 3, the tour reported grosses totaling $133.6 million and attendance of 1,125,624 from 64 shows, according to Boxscore. “[Innocence + Experience] was a run that had some incredible challenges,” says Fogel, “but, in the end, it was a complete triumph, critically and every other way. They are truly a great band and have proven that once again.”
Fogel is also the tour producer for Madonna, who brings her Rebel Heart tour to Paris tomorrow, and finishes her year Dec. 20 in Glasgow, Scotland. Rebel Heart starts up again in Mexico City on Jan. 6, and next year will take Madonna to Southeast Asia for the first time.