Amid heavy security and with dozens of psychologists present, tonight (February 16) Eagles of Death Metal are playing their first solo gig in Paris since last November’s terror attacks.
The band was performing when Islamist gunmen stormed the Bataclan, killing 89 people. Hundreds were injured.
Some 2,000 people are expected at the Olympia gig. Survivors of the November attack have been offered free tickets, although not everyone is expected to attend.
A number among those who were in the Bataclan when it was stormed have said they can’t bring themselves to go to tonight’s gig, or any gig at all.
‘I just don’t want to let anyone down’
In an emotional interview ahead of the gig, frontman Jesse Hughes sympathised with those who can’t bring themselves to go.
“Whenever they’re ready to come back, I’ll be there. I don’t really know what I’m supposed to do. I understand why they can’t come, if they don’t. But, I wish they would. […] But, everyone’s got to move in their own time,” he told French channel, iTele.
Hughes says he plans to visit some of the Bataclan victims while he is in Paris.
“I feel like together, everyone’s looking out for each other right now and I hope the world takes notice and learns.”
He spoke of his own, personal demons following the massacre.
“I just don’t want to let anyone down,” he said.
“It’s such a strange emotion, because I can’t really control it and I don’t know where it’s coming from all the time. That’s one of the things that’s the strangest about this: I haven’t had any nightmares, I’ve slept fine but, when I’m awake is when I see things. There are nightmares, you know. And I thought that talking about it would make it easier, that expelling it from inside of me would make me less like this. But there’s really no frame of reference for this at all. I wish it would go away.”
Bataclan ‘targeted for its support of Israel’
The interviewer asked: “Was it your music, or simply French youth that was the real target in this attack?”
“I think the Bataclan was targeted for its support of Israel. I think the Bataclan was targeted for the simple fact that there are folks who might be Jewish (working there).”
“The way I was raised: an attack on one person is an attack on us all.”
“It targeted rock ‘n’ roll,” he said.
‘I have to be the first’ at the Bataclan
When the Bataclan’s plan to reopen before the end of the year was mentioned, Hughes reiterated his intention of being the first band to play there.
“I have to be the first there. I have to,” he stressed.
“I love that club and I love what it stands for,” he added.
“I’m a great supporter of Israel, myself, so I have to be the first person, we have to be the first band who plays there… And I hope we’re able to.”
‘Maybe until nobody has guns, everybody has to have them’
Hughes has, for a long time, advocated access to gun ownership. He was asked if his opinion had changed, following the Bataclan attack.
“Gun control kind of doesn’t have anything to do with it, but if you want to bring it up I’ll ask you: did your French gun control stop a single fucking person from dying at the Bataclan? If anyone can answer yes, I’d like to hear it. Because I don’t think so.”
“I think the only think that stopped it is some of the bravest men that I’ve ever seen in my life charging head-first into the face of death with their firearms.
“I think the only way my mind has been changed is maybe until nobody has guns, everybody has to have them. Because I don’t want to see anything like this ever happen again. And I want everyone to have the best chance to live. And I saw people die that maybe could have lived.
“But this doesn’t have anything to do with politics or gun control or anything like that. This has to do with rock ‘n’ roll…”
‘People Have the Power’
Less than a month after the attacks, the band joined U2 on stage in Paris for a poignant rendition of the song ‘People Have the Power.’
The band has not performed ‘Kiss the Devil’ — the song playing when the attack started — since the fatal gig. Hughes said he had initially wanted to open the Olympia concert with the song but decided “it’s not the right time. It’s not that important.”
“We have to keep it light, because it’s heavy enough,” he concluded.