Band in Paris attack play for survivors

Eagles of Death Metal frontman Jesse Hughes performing at the l'Olympia in Paris on Tuesday.
Eagles of Death Metal frontman Jesse Hughes performing at the l'Olympia in Paris on Tuesday. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

PARIS • In a concert that may well be enshrined in rock history, American band Eagles of Death Metal appeared on stage in Paris on Tuesday in front of the survivors of the Bataclan massacre in which 90 of their fans died.

They played to a crowd whipped into a frenzy by the joy of reunion and the relief at survival, a counterpoint to memories of a night of slaughter.

Deafening cheers and applause rang out as they began their set, viewed as a key moment in reviving morale in Paris after the Nov 13 terror attacks and helping survivors to turn the page on their ordeal.

In an opening rich in symbolism, the Eagles appeared to the playback of an old song by French singer Jacques Dutronc called Paris s'eveille - Paris Wakes Up, a portrait of a city about to begin a new day.

They tore into a favourite song, I Only Want You, but stopped halfway.

"Let's take a moment to remember, then we will get back to the fun," said Josh Homme, who was the drummer for the night, frontman Jesse Hughes' best friend and lead singer of Queens of the Stone Age.

The Eagles had been playing at the Bataclan concert hall when men with guns and explosives opened fire on fans.

Some fans had looked to the return of the band as a moment of catharsis after months of trauma and sometimes critical injuries.

The rescheduled concert, taking place at the legendary venue l'Olympia, saw scenes of delirium as joyous fans crowd-surfed in the mosh pit in front of the stage.

A fan, Mr Emmanuel Wechta, who was on crutches because of his wounds, said: "I did look at my watch after 40 minutes, which was when the killers came into the Bataclan, but it was fine."

"We are having a good time tonight - amen!" said Hughes, who is also a preacher. "Ain't nobody going to stop us."

A fan gave him a homemade scarf of the tricolore, France's national flag, which he draped over the drumkit.

He dedicated a song, Secret Plans, to Mr Nick Alexander, the band's merchandiser, who was among those killed at the Bataclan. He smashed his guitar and threw it into the audience - the instrument was then replaced with a tricolore version.

"You are stuck with me now! I'm Parisian now! I needed you so much and you did not let me down," he shouted.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 18, 2016, with the headline 'Band in Paris attack play for survivors'. Print Edition | Subscribe