Paris Love Town (The Godfatherecords G.R. 938/939)
Palais Omnisports De Bercy, Paris, France – December 11, 1989
Disc 1 (69:11) Intro, Star Spangled Banner / Bullet The Blue Sky, Desire, All Along The Watchtower, All I Want Is You / Sexual Healing, Where The Streets Have No Name / In God’s Country, I Will Follow, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For / Exodus, MLK, The Unforgettable Fire, God Part II / I Feel Love, Help / Bad, Van Diemen’s Land, New Years Day, Pride (In The Name Of Love)
Disc 2 (69:16) Angel Of Harlem, When Love Come’s To Town, Love Rescue Me, With Or Without You, 40. Bonus Tracks: Palais Omnisports De Bercy, Paris, France December 12, 1989; One Tree Hill, Gloria, All Along The Watchtower / Like A Hurricane, Star Spangled Banner / Bullet The Blue Sky / Whole Lotta Love, Running To Stand Still, People Get Ready, With Or Without You / Love Will Tear Us Apart
U2’s fifth album, The Joshua Tree, pushed them into the upper echelon of popular music in the mid 80’s, the album spawned three top 10 singles and won the band a couple of Grammy Awards to boot. The record spawned a film off shoot project called Rattle and Hum that was a both a theatrical and musical endeavored, it also spawned a short tour that focused on Australia, Japan, and finally a short European leg, it is the latter that is the source of this excellent new release from Godfathers. The audience recording featured here is excellent, well balanced with all instruments coming through clear in the mix. It is just slightly distant and if one was to be picky the mix favors the upper frequencies. It has just enough audience noise mixed in but does not interfere and the atmosphere and ambience of the concert is well captured.
The recording begins with The Beatles being played over the PA system, first “Love Me Do” followed by “I Saw Her Standing There” in obvious homage to the Fab Four and honesly what better way to warm up the crowd before show time. The true intro music is a brief snatch of “The Star Spangled Banner”, ala Hendrix at Woodstock and the electric strains of “Bullet The Blue Sky” weaves through and finally takes over as the band take to the stage. A song built for the live stage, it where it comes to life as The Edge’s guitar brings the war torn conflicts to the live stage and Bono spews the lyrics of “And he’s peeling off those dollar bills slapping them down…100…200” with political fueled spite. The song is quickly followed by “Desire” from Rattle and Hum that quickly lightens the mood and leads non stop into Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” but this version has much more to do with the Hendrix version, the band certainly has no problem interjecting lyrics and music from their heroes, many of those same heroes where by this time becoming peers. Finally the band take a quick breather while the audience does a football style chant, they need to get their throats warmed up as the band play “All I Want Is You”, and the French audience sings the opening lyrics with Bono. Bono interjects a snippet of Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” in, even singing the opening lines with a falsetto voice, capturing the audience off guard.
The audience is, by this time, pulled directly into the concert, they are the fifth member of the band as evident as the band start the opening notes of “Where The Streets Have No Name”, they ecstatically cheer and clap along and also give Bono a hand with the vocals, again to great effect. The addition of “In God’s Country” is not musical but simply Bono quoting the opening verse of the song at the beginning of “Streets”. The energy the song produces leads directly into the crowd favorite “I Will Follow” and a emotional “I Still Haven’t Found What I Am Looking For”, the latter contains a reference to Bob Marley’s “Exodus”, something that the band had been doing since The Joshua Tree tour, with Bono telling the audience they are all Irish tonight. One of the most moving parts of this show is the audience signing along with Bono during the somber “MLK”, he even pays homage to him by saying “For Dr. King…thank you”. They stay with that record and play its title song, “The Unforgettable Fire”.
“God Part II” takes inspiration from John Lennon but musically finds the band moving into the direction of the new Decade and their masterpiece Achtung Baby. Bono throws in a few lines from Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” as only he can, “God Part II” easily makes the transition to the live stage and is quite dynamic. The Beatles influence continues as Bono quotes their song “Help” as introduction to “Bad”, quite interesting since the lyrics deal most certainly with addiction. “Van Diemen’s Land” slows the proceedings down, the audience does their part by clapping along with Bono and The Edge to great effect, the moment is quickly gone as the band play “New Year’s Day”, most curious how popular The Joshua Tree became that the band had dropped most of their pre 1984 output. “Pride” follows and afterwards Bono curiously tells the audience “Thank you…goodnight” as the crowd roars their appreciation.
There is an obvious cut in the recording as the band arranges the stage to allow for the horn section and ultimately a blues legend. The recording picks up with “Angel Of Harlem”, the horn section sound quite good and provide that bit of American influence needed for the song, Bono does a great take on the Elvis classic “Suspicious Minds” in the middle. They go non stop into “When Love Comes To Town”, Bono exclaims “Where is he?” and gives the big man a nice introduction. The song has a great swing thanks to the horn section and is a huge rave up live, certainly getting everyone up and moving. BB and the horns stay onstage, as well and a couple back up singers and they proceed to play “Love Rescue Me”, a song Bono wrote with Bob Dylan and reeks of Southern Gospel to great effect, the band take a quick break at its conclusion before returning with the hugely popular “With Or Without You”. “There’s nothing I Can say to this…nothing. Goodnight” is Bono’s introduction to the concert closing “40”, of course featuring the audience doing the extended chorus chant made famous on the Under A Blood Red Sky record, curiously the recording does not end but also records the outro music, Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come”…..perfect.
The band played two nights in Paris, the bonus material featured here is from the following night and is made up of songs not played the previous day. The band re arranged the running order and added a few extras. The recording is most similar to the previous evenings show and if I was to guess both of these would be from the same taper. If anything tonight has a bit better bottom end but is still in the excellent category, if you have not done so by now, feel free to turn the volume up and both of these recordings sound great loud. “One Tree Hill” is the first bonus song but it is “Gloria” that has things kicking into high gear, the energy is flowing from the band to the receptive audience. Again Bono takes lyrical liberties in many of the songs; he melds in Neil Young’s “Like A Hurricane” in with Dylan’s “Watchtower” and throws a quick “Wanna Whole Lotta Love” in “Bullet the Blue Sky”. Probably the best of the bonus tracks are “Gloria” and a wonderful “Running To Stand Still”, the band somehow find a way to include the wonderful audience in, making for an excellent version of the song. Bono’s harmonica solo towards the end adds the melancholy nature of the song.
Bono asks for the BB King to accompany the band onstage and introduces them to the audience; Bono tells of the band’s early days and how they were not exposed to a lot of American artists such as BB King, they then roll into the Curtis Mayfield classic “People Get Ready”. The King horn section blends perfectly with the band as Bono pulls an audience member in to play a little guitar, the whole thing manages to break down the barriers between artist and fan, as only U2 can. The final track is “With Or Without You” and has a bit of “Love Will Tear Us Apart” from the 80’s band Joy Division thrown in for good measure.
The packaging is tri gatefold sleeve with tour graphics and live pictures from the tour, and of course there are shots of the band with BB King for good measure. Always one to put forth something special on the U2 releases, The Don also includes ticket reproductions for both the main December 11 show and the following night, December 12 as well. There is even a poster with the CD cover on one side and the tour dates on the other. Excellent sound combined with a package chock full of music and extras make this an excellent and highly recommended title.