“Cancelling Paris Concerts After Attacks was the Biggest Mistake of U2’s Career.” Discuss.

Within hours of the horrible attacks on Eagles of Death Metal fans at the Bataclan theatre in Paris, U2’s two Paris shows were called off. “Too dangerous,” everyone said.

I agree. At the time the decision was made, there were real concerns about additional attacks on soft targets. After all, only a couple of miscalculations by suicide bombers prevented them from taking out untold numbers of people at the Germany-France soccer game. Were there other terrorist cells preparing to strike again? Were all the people associated with the Friday atrocities dead? It was a fluid, fast-moving situation not unlike 9/11 when no one was sure when it was all over. Plenty of other acts also cancelled or postponed Toronto shows out of an abundance of caution.

Now, though, some 20/20 hindsight people think that U2 made a big mistake deep-sixing these two gigs.  From the New York Observer:

In Paris on the evening of Tuesday, November 18, a legendary band from the Emerald Isle stood on stage in a rock club. In the face of fear, in the face of terror, in a city that is the epicenter of the world’s anxiety and the word’s beauty, this group sang rousing anthems about war and peace, about bridging ancient hostilities caused by ignorance, about loving your fellow man even if their religion is one you were raised to hate. This foursome used the power of simple rhythms and soaring vocals to bravely raise the flag of hope and brotherhood.

That band, of course, were Stiff Little Fingers from Belfast, Northern Ireland, who performed as scheduled in Paris last night. U2, on the other hand, cancelled concerts in Paris this past weekend in the wake of Friday’s terror attacks.

Rock and roll is full of empty gestures, many of them beautiful, some of them stirring, a very, very few of them even necessary. After all, amongst our greatest icons is a multimillionaire, one of the wealthiest musicians of his era, who sang, “Imagine no possessions.” Rock and roll sends shivers up our spine, and leaves our lives inspired and our jaws agape. But it is also defined by the raised fist that meets no flesh.

You can read the rest here. Thoughts?


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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5 thoughts on ““Cancelling Paris Concerts After Attacks was the Biggest Mistake of U2’s Career.” Discuss.

  • I think the band made a wise decision, especially in light of what transpired last night in Paris, with the remainder of the terrorists being arrested or killed, and who had other strikes planned.

  • It’s a no win situation. You cancel and you’re cowards who missed a opportunity to send a message. You go on with the show and they’re egocentric selfish assholes. And because it’s U2, those with a hate-on just magnifies the negative sentiments toward the band.

    • I agree with you Frank. If it was the Foo Fighters, they may have been able to play on, and most would say that they were brave. U2 is certainly in a no win situation. The worst part is I would have been one of ‘those guys’ (my tolerance for U2, specifically Bono gets lower and lower every year).

  • The concerts were cancelled because the city of Paris was closed, not because the band wanted to cancel. Also, I read that the Foo Fighters cancelled the rest of their European tour after the attacks.

    • I think the writer of this article was way off base. The safest thing to do for everyone’s sake was to postpone everything until the situation settled at least a little bit. Remember that we had no idea if more attacks were coming.


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