Saturday 3 December 2016

Paris attack commemoration: Eagles of Death Metal singer 'barred from Sting Bataclan gig'

Catherine Wylie, Press Association, in Paris

Published 13/11/2016 | 08:16

Handout photo issued by Universal Music France of Sting on stage at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France to mark one year since the terrorist attacks in the city. Photo: Boris Allin/Universal Music France/PA Wire
Handout photo issued by Universal Music France of Sting on stage at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France to mark one year since the terrorist attacks in the city. Photo: Boris Allin/Universal Music France/PA Wire

EAGLES of Death Metal frontman Jesse Hughes was turned away from Sting's concert at the Bataclan, according to the venue's management who said he was "not welcome".

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US rock band EODM were performing in the Paris theatre on November 13 last year when it was attacked by Islamic extremist suicide bombers who killed 89 people.

French President Francois Hollande and Saint-Denis Mayor Didier Paillard unveil a commemorative plaque outside the Stade de France stadium, in Saint-Denis, near Paris REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
French President Francois Hollande and Saint-Denis Mayor Didier Paillard unveil a commemorative plaque outside the Stade de France stadium, in Saint-Denis, near Paris REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

In the months after the massacre Hughes provoked anger when he suggested Bataclan security staff were complicit in the attack and later apologised.

On the eve of the first anniversary of the atrocity, former Police frontman Sting, 65, re-opened the 150-year-old venue and Hughes was not allowed in, the Bataclan boss said.

However a representative for the band reportedly branded the venue's version of events as "false".

Jules Frutos, manager of the theatre, said Hughes and his manager were turned away at the door.

A green traffic light is seen in front of the new logo over the entrance of the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, as rock star Sting performs a special reopening concert one year after the deadly Paris attacks. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
A green traffic light is seen in front of the new logo over the entrance of the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, as rock star Sting performs a special reopening concert one year after the deadly Paris attacks. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Mr Frutos told the Press Association: "They tried to enter the venue and they are persona non grata. They are not welcome after what he said about the security."

Referring to Hughes, Mr Frutos said: "Even if he came back on what he said. I mean, this man is just sick. That's all."

Mr Frutos said he thinks the band used what happened at the Bataclan to get "promotion", asking: "Who did know about this band before?"

He said the band's attitude shows "no respect for the victims". Mr Frutos said the frontman and his manager did not have tickets for Sting's concert.

The band's management said Hughes was in Paris with family, friends and fans to commemorate the "tragic loss of life that happened right in front of his eyes during his show".

Marc Pollack, of The MGMT Company, accused Mr Frutos of "tainting a wonderful opportunity that could've been used to spread peace and love".

"Jesse never even tried entering the club for Sting's show tonight," he told US magazine Billboard.

Earlier this year Hughes apologised for suggesting that security guards were complicit in the attack.

He told the Fox Business Network in March that six guards at the Bataclan never came to work on the night of the attack, and "it seems rather obvious that they had a reason not to show up".

Afterwards in a statement, he said: "I humbly beg forgiveness from the people of France, the staff and security of the Bataclan, my fans, family, friends and anyone else hurt or offended by the absurd accusations I made.

"My suggestions that anyone affiliated with the Bataclan played a role in the events of November 13 are unfounded and baseless - and I take full responsibility for them."

There was a heavy police presence outside the theatre, which is in a fashionable district of the French capital, and revellers were searched more than once as they made their way in.

Suicide bombers - Frenchmen Omar Ismail Mostefai, 29, Samy Amimour, 28, and Foued Mohamed-Aggad, 23 - stormed into the concert hall last year as EODM performed, while attackers also targeted cafes and the Stade de France. In total 130 people died, including Briton Nick Alexander.

Mr Alexander had been on tour with the American band selling merchandise and tried to play dead when he was approached by one of the gunmen who opened fire.

Appearing on stage to loud cheers, Sting spoke French throughout to the packed crowd, saying: "We've got two important things to do tonight ... First, to remember and honour those who lost their lives in the attacks a year ago, and to celebrate the life and the music of this historic venue.

"So before we begin, I would like to ask that we observe one minute of silence ... We shall not forget them."

After the minute of silence, the star launched into a string of hits including Englishman In New York, Every Breath You Take, Roxanne and Message In A Bottle.

Sarah Marrer, 18, from Lille, said it was important to "show that we're not afraid", adding: "I think it's important that every French person and everyone can come here and enjoy and show that it's not over."

Erika Duminy 41, from near Paris, was at the show with two friends who were at the EODM concert last November.

She said the night brought "a lot of emotions" and hailed Sting as "a good artist to begin the new Bataclan".

Ms Duminy, whose friend was shot twice in the shoulder last year, said her pals were confident that security would be tight.

"They knew that there was no place more secure tonight in Paris," she said.

All revenue from the show will be donated to Life For Paris and 13 Novembre: Fraternite Verite.

The Bataclan will play host to two gigs by Libertines frontman Pete Doherty, on Wednesday and Thursday, while Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour will play on Friday and Saturday.

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