In landmark moment, American band Eagles of Death Metal play to Paris attacks survivors

Eagles of Death Metal singer Jesse Hughes (right) during the band's concert in Paris on Feb 16.
Eagles of Death Metal singer Jesse Hughes (right) during the band's concert in Paris on Feb 16.PHOTO: AFP
Eagles of Death Metal singer Jesse Hughes holding a tee-shirt prior to the start of the band's show at the Olympia concert hall in Paris, on Feb 16.
Eagles of Death Metal singer Jesse Hughes holding a tee-shirt prior to the start of the band's show at the Olympia concert hall in Paris, on Feb 16.PHOTO: AFP
US rock group Eagles of Death Metal on stage at the Olympia concert hall in Paris on Feb 16.
US rock group Eagles of Death Metal on stage at the Olympia concert hall in Paris on Feb 16. PHOTO: AFP
The name Eagles of Death Metal is displayed on the facade of the Olympia concert hall in Paris on Feb 16.
The name Eagles of Death Metal is displayed on the facade of the Olympia concert hall in Paris on Feb 16. PHOTO: EPA

PARIS (AFP) - 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.

The group played to a crowd whipped into to 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 the group 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 through it.

"Let's take a moment to remember, then we will get back to the fun," said drummer Josh Homme.

The Eagles of Death Metal had been playing at the Bataclan concert hall when jihadists with guns and explosives opened fire on defenceless fans before the police stormed the venue.

The assault was the bloodiest in a string of attacks in central Paris and at the national stadium that night which left 130 dead and 350 injured, many of them grievously.

The band met about 60 survivors on Monday and the group that represents some 500 of them, Life for Paris, said many would only decide whether or not to go at the very last minute.

Some had looked to the return of the band as a moment of catharsis after months of trauma and sometimes critical injuries, although some psychologists feared it could be too soon.

One 26-year-old, who survived the carnage at the Bataclan by playing dead, said seeing his musical heroes was about confronting the fears and anxieties that now dog his life.

"Today I have been tormenting myself for hours about whether I will go to the concert," the Internet moderator called Alexis said.

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.

"We are having a good time tonight - amen!" said frontman Jesse 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 proceeded to drape over the drumkit.

Hughes, wearing a black Mon Amis (My Friends) tour T-shirt and trademark red braces, pointed to Homme, saying" "That's my best friend in front of me." "But I have got a whole s***load of best friends here, too," he said, pointing at the audience.

He dedicated a song, Secret Plans, to 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.

"I am so drunk with this (moment) I cannot walk off this stage. Can you not see that?"

In the runup to the show, Hughes, a vocal opponent of gun control, caused controversy by claiming that if everyone had guns the massacre may not have happened.

He said France's strict gun control laws "had nothing to do with" the attack. But he questioned whether gun control had saved any lives at the Bataclan.

"I think the only thing that stopped it was some of the bravest men that I've ever seen in my life charging head first into the face of death with their firearms."

"That night guns made them equal," the 43-year-old told French television station iTele. "Until nobody has guns everybody has to have them."