I am going to conduct a thought experiment, involving some simple questions:
Q: What is the coolest thing I can think of at any given moment on the space/time continuum?
A: Patti Smith, obviously.
Q: What is the least cool thing I can think of at any given moment on the space/time continuum?
A: U2, specifically Bono.
Q: What would happen if the coolest thing and the least cool thing ever met to collaborate on a live performance?
A: What a good question. Well, it's a scientific fact that the coolest thing would absorb the least cool thing into its benevolent glow of coolness, like when you drop water onto a tiled floor and it just seeps everywhere, dampening everything in its path, getting right into the cracks between the tiles. Like that but with coolness. Coolness going absolutely everywhere, positively emitting off Patti Smith and soaking even Bono in its glorious rays.
And even though you would think that Bono would resist or even reject the coolness, so uncool is he (see: Bono's sunglasses and leather blazers; see also: The Edge's hats, all of which channel "your uncle and his mate who started a business that did quite well and turned into a pair of flash gits"). But the coolness that comes from somewhere deep in Patti Smith's soul – her fundamental being – is so powerful that it cannot be resisted. And thus Bono and the rest of U2 become cool, by virtue of Patti Smith's incantations, that make her sound like she's channelling the spirit of "Howl"-era Allen Ginsberg, and her great plaits and her very presence. That's what happens.
Anyway long story short, you can watch Patti Smith performing "Mothers of the Disappeared" with U2 in Paris below. It's great.
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