Scotty’s birthday was great. We enjoyed a very relaxed morning – walking around St. Michel, window shopping, stopping at Shakespeare and Co., eating a delicious lunch. I had a fabulous Salade Nicoise and Scotty had some yummy pizza. By this time it was about time to head up to the Stade de France, a megaplex with covered seating for 80,000! As we had decided to go for “open seating” tickets it was essential that we get in line a few hours before the gates opened. So at 2:30 we were sitting outside Gate C waiting for the clock to strike 5:30 when we would be allowed to enter. It was a bit wild because people were just sacked out on the pavement, sprawled around in groups, some quiet some loud. A haze of smoke hung in the air but it was pretty calm and relaxed. At 4:30 we got some sort of false alarm that the gates were opening and at that point everyone jumped up and started pushing toward the opening…but to no avail. It was not open and we ended up standing for the next hour. Once the gates were opened it was a pretty frantic rush to get through the turnstiles, have our tickets scanned, wait for our bags to be searched, and then literally run down onto the field. But all that waiting paid off as we settled down on the ribbed metal floor about 10 people away from the inner circle. So the views were amazing. Although we’d just spent a few hours outside waiting, we were still only about half way through – the opening band Kaiser Chiefs was set to open at 8 followed by U2 at 9.
So we sat ourselves down in the midst of a mass of people who were all speaking a language I have such a hard time understanding. We were very poorly prepared for this experience – we had no water, were both wearing flip flops, and had only eaten lunch. And it would have been impossible for one of us to go get drinks and actually find our way back. There were quite a few comical scenes with people carrying beers for their group of friends completely unable to locate them. One woman was trying to juggle the eight beers she’d bought while digging her phone out of her purse in order to call her friend and figure out exactly where she was. She was in our area for a good 15 minutes before heading off in another direction. It probably took her a good hour to finally reunite with her friends! We, not having cellphones were at a distinct disadvantage and decided to just sit tight and purchase vast quantities of liquids once we were back in Paris. So we were surrounded by French people, all of whom were very friendly. They had brought picnic dinners, newspapers, ipods – all sorts of things to pass the time. But, most importantly for the French, vast quantities of cigarettes! It was a good thing that this stadium was open air. And so we along with 90,000 of our closest friends (and believe me at this point I’ve had enough contact with some of the people around me that it would be rude to not include them as friends 🙂 ) passed the hours until the show began.
Kaiser Chiefs put on a good show – they’re enthusiastic performers and got the crowd very excited for the main act. Here’s a sample of their music from the concert if you’re interested.
Finally around 9:30 U2 took to the stage and put on an incredible show! The actual mechanics of their crazy stage were impressive enough but add to that the fact that their song set was just about perfect – all Scotty’s favorites – and you have a great show. Plus factor in that it is your husband’s actual birthday and you’re in Paris and it’s just about ridiculous! And it’s really fun to hear French people singing U2 lyrics: “Weeeth or weeth out you. I caaan’t leeeeve weeth or weeth out you.” It made me smile a lot. For those of you who are hardcore U2 fans and want details, here’s the song set:
2. No Line on the Horizon
3. Get on Your Boots
5. Beautiful Day
6. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
8. In A Little While
9. Unknown Caller
10. The Unforgettable Fire
11. City Of Blinding Lights
13. I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight
14. Pride (In The Name Of Love)
16. Walk On
17. Where The Streets Have No Name
19. Ultraviolet (Light My Way)
20. With Or Without You
21. Moment of Surrender
Of course when the concert started people started getting a little pushy and our cramped quarters became even more cramped. At one point an overly enthused fan started playing the air guitar against my bum! Anyway they played for a solid two hours and then it was time to get our exhausted and thoroughly parched selves to a watering hole. The stadium is very impressive in that it is designed so well – it probably only took us 10 minutes to get from the center of the field out to the street and considering that there were over 90,000 people there that’s amazing.
We only brought our small camera because the rules stated that no cameras were allowed and we didn’t bring the SLR in and risk having it confiscated or damaged. And we forgot the download cord to that camera so all our pictures and videos are stuck on there. So here’s some YouTube videos that give a good idea of the experience. Most of these were shot from the seats or way in the back of the field and give you a good idea of what a crowd was there. Imagine the two of us in that sea of people near the edge of the outer ring of the stage and you’ll have a pretty good picture of why we couldn’t leave to go to the bathroom or get water!
The last video has terrible sound quality but it’s the best for getting an idea of what this crowd was like as well as the mechanics of the stage.
It was 12:30AM when we gratefully stumbled into an open McDonalds and ordered huge Sprites and french fries. A soft drink never tasted so good! And we were both famished. I don’t think we collapsed into bed until around 3AM and were completely wiped out the next day. Which was fine because I spent that day pretty much glued to my computer waiting for updates on my sister. We had a celebratory ice cream with the Arbos once we’d heard that Ashton had arrived safely and Hilary was alright. Still went to bed exhausted.