• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3
IN IMAGES/VIDEOS
Eagles of Death Metal help heal Paris with frenzied return
Photos: All AFP

Eagles of Death Metal help heal Paris with frenzied return

AFP · 17 Feb 2016, 07:22

Published: 17 Feb 2016 07:22 GMT+01:00

Despite fears the concert could bring back the trauma of November's slaughter in which 90 people died, the group whipped the crowd into a frenzy of joy, with fans embracing each other in tears at the end.

Eagles frontman Jesse Hughes bounded off the stage to hug a survivor in her wheelchair, as the night wore on and the emotion grew.

The ultimate rock showman, who smashed his guitar on stage at one point to wild applause, had choked up the night before as he told AFP how he feared "falling to pieces on stage".

In the event, he turned in a bravura performance that many fans hailed as his best.

Deafening cheers and applause rang out as the group began their set, with many survivors -- including the band -- hoping the gig would help them turn the page on their ordeal.

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

The band then 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 drummer for the night Josh Homme, Hughes' best friend and lead singer of Queens of the Stone Age.

'Letting myself go'

Eagles of Death Metal were playing at the Bataclan concert hall on November 13 when jihadists opened fire on defenceless fans.

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

Some survivors looked to the return of the band as a moment of catharsis, although some psychologists feared it could be too soon.

There were no scenes of panic, although Emmanuel Wechta, who is 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.

"I wasn't there for therapy but to enjoy myself and that I did. I really succeeded in letting myself go," the 42-year-old said.

But 26-year-old Alexis, who survived the massacre by playing dead for two hours, had a more troubled night. "About three-quarters of it was very hard for me. I was sitting beside the injured on the balcony three metres from an exit, but I stayed.

"The thing that I found most difficult was the snare drum, which made me think of the sound of the shooting at the Bataclan.

"But in the end it was a very positive evening -- I succeeded in going out to a concert," he said.

Healing rock 'n' roll

From the start it was clear the Eagles were putting their trust "in the healing power of rock 'n' roll".

"We are having a good time tonight -- amen!" said the flamboyant frontman 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 drum kit.

Story continues below…

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 shitload 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.

But the highlight for many, including Internet moderator Alexis, was when Hughes appeared alone on stage near the end with a tricolore guitar to sing the Rolling Stone's "Brown Sugar". "From the moment we all sang the chorus together I was fine right to the end of the concert."

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

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

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
New app aims to rid Paris pavements of dog poo
Photo: ByeBye Crottoir

No need to watch your step anymore, says this French engineer behind a new app called "Bye Bye Pavement Dog Poo"

Calls in France for English to be ditched as EU language
Photo: AFP

Some in France suggest it's time to end the dominance of English as the EU's working language, now that the UK has voted to leave the union.

Seven tips for selling your house in France
Photo: AFP

After the Brexit referendum there is already talk of British expats in France considering selling up. Here are seven tips put together by an expert.

British businesses in France told to keep calm and carry on
Brits celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday at the British embassy in Paris. Photo: UK in France/Flickr

Brits running their own businesses have been told that despite the Brexit vote, it should be "business as usual".

Paris thieves pilfer luxury watches worth €3 million
Photo: AFP

Another multi-million robbery in the chic heart of Paris.

Price of Paris monthly transport pass to rise
Photo: AFP

Commuting in Paris is set to get pricier.

Opinion - Brexit
Why a Brexit would be a 'windfall' for France
Photo: AFP

A Brexit wouldn't mean the "apocalypse" the doomsdayers are predicting, it would actually be a "tremendous opportunity" for France.

Post Brexit: Paris and London vow to cooperate not compete
Sadiq Khan and Anne Hidalgo vow to work together. Photo: AFP

The mayors of Paris and London have vowed to work together in order to shape the 21st century.

Voters give green light to new airport in western France
Photo: AFP

Will this finally mark the end of years of wrangling and protests?

'We can handle Brexit' insist Hollande and Merkel
Photo: AFP

France and Germany say they are on the same page when it comes to handling the fallout of last week's shock Brexit vote.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Mixed reaction from the French as UK votes for Brexit
National
How Brexit could now scupper that dream move to France
Brexit limbo: What happens next for Brits in France?
Gallery
Ten reasons why you should think about becoming French
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Analysis & Opinion
Brexit: Life for Brits in France 'will get more complicated'
Culture
20 English words that 'should be banished' from French
National
Best Briehaviour: A guide to French cheese etiquette
Features
And the best city in France for expats to live in is...?
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Society
Forget bikes, Paris is set to roll out scooter rentals
National
'We fear for our safety': French police feel the strain
Lifestyle
Why Rennes (and not Paris) is the best city in France for expats to live
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
Why are the French losing appetite for baguettes?
Lifestyle
Naturism booms in France as young eager to ditch clothes
Lifestyle
Is working life better in London or Paris?
National
Dear Americans: Please come to Paris
National
It's official (kind of): French work fewest hours in EU
And the best football fans of Euro 2016 in France are?
National
Paris has wettest spring in 100 years and it's hitting morale
Police murders remind France of complexity of terror threat
National
IN PICTURES: Labour law protests in Paris turn ugly
National
Double murder just latest jihadist attack on French police and soldiers
International
French police appear unprepared for hooligan threat at Euro 2016
Sport
An A to Z guide of what to expect in France for Euro 2016
2,730
jobs available