American rockers Eagles of Death Metal took to the stage in Stockholm on Saturday relaunching the European tour interrupted when terrorists attacked their concert at Paris's Bataclan.
Published: 14 February 2016 09:34 CET
Jesse Hughes prepares for Saturday's gig in Stockholm. Photo: Gustav Maartensson / AFP
Next week the Californian band will return to Paris to “finish” the fateful November concert, which ended with jihadi gunmen killing 90 fans.
About 1,000 fans turned out in Stockholm, with frontman Jesse Hughes alluding to the Paris tragedy, telling the audience: “After all these weeks, we needed you, we really needed you tonight.”
But it will be the return to Paris that will be most emotional for the group and its French fans, many of whom lived through the carnage, including some who are still being treated for their injuries.
“The show isn't (just) a show in Paris…. It has a purpose and a responsibility which is far beyond just dancing,” singer Hughes told AFP.
He said he had felt “a sacred duty” to go on with the show.
As the tears rolled down his cheeks, Hughes told AFP he was ready to return to the French capital on Tuesday to finish the concert that was so tragically cut short on November 13 when gunmen stormed the Bataclan music hall, opening fire on the 1,500-strong, mostly young crowd.
“I take it as a very sacred duty. I feel we were elected by circumstances to represent this for good or bad. I take that as a responsibility I'm charged by God to do,” Hughes, a fervent Catholic, said in an emotional interview in Stockholm, where the Californian band played their first tour gig since the
Jihadists killed 130 people and wounded many more in a series of coordinated gun and suicide bomb attacks across Paris that night in November.
The worst violence was at the Bataclan, shortly after the band took to the stage. Hundreds of fans were injured by gunfire, and Hughes said he planned to meet some of the survivors while in Paris in the hopes of offering some comfort.
“There's a lot of kids who were injured who didn't die who are really fucked up physically and if me just coming to visit is gonna help them that's fucking great and there's nothing more important in my life,” Hughes said.
The Eagles of Death Metal (EODM) already briefly reappeared on stage in Paris alongside U2 in December, in a highly-charged concert that paid tribute to the victims, but the start of their rescheduled Nos Amis Tour marks the band's official comeback.
“It was our friends who were attacked and died, this tour has to have some kind of meaning about that so we can leave it there and go on and be a band again,” said Hughes, who admitted that he uses his music as “therapy” to come to terms with the trauma of the Bataclan bloodshed.
“I'm fortunate, I have experience with dealing with my emotions via music,” he said.
Wearing a red-and-white checked shirt and with rose-tinted glasses resting on his head, Hughes said he would not give in to either hatred or fear.
“There's no way the bad guys are gonna change what Eagles of Death Metal is… No one is going to make me stop being me, no one.”
He said he would vent his feelings in song, the way he has done in the past, and expose the jihadists for the “fools” they were.
“It's not going to fill me with hate,” said the bearded 43-year-old. “I'm an open book with my fans, this is my therapy but sometimes it feels like you can't breathe you know,” he told AFP. “I'm going to put it there (in song), I'm good at that.”
But there's no denying the experience has changed him, and the singer — a member of America's National Rifle Association — said he now always carries a gun to protect himself.
“I don't go anywhere in America without a gun anymore. That sucks. And I'm not paranoid. I'm not a cowboy… but I wanna be prepared.”
While the Bataclan has yet to reopen after the tragedy, Hughes said he wanted EODM to be the first to return to the venue.
“We need to be the first band there, we need to walk into that placeunafraid.”
The band will appear on stage in Oslo on Sunday before playing Paris's Olympia concert hall on Tuesday.
The Austrian duo White Miles, who opened for EODM on that fateful night at the Bataclan, have joined the band on tour again as their support act.
Historic trial begins in Paris over November 2015 terror attacks
The biggest trial in France's modern legal history begins on Wednesday over the November 2015 attacks on Paris that saw 130 people killed at bars, restaurants, the Stade de France and the Bataclan concert hall.
Published: 8 September 2021 08:34 CEST
A memorial to the 130 victims of the November 13th attacks in Paris. Photo: Thomas Coex/AFP
The suicide bombing and gun assault by three teams of jihadists, planned from Syria and later claimed by the Islamic State group, was France’s worst post-war atrocity.
The only surviving attacker, Salah Abdeslam, will be in the dock at the purpose-built facility at the historic court of justice on the Île de la Cité in central Paris, along with 13 other defendants.
Six others are being tried in absentia. Twelve of the 20 people on trial, including Abdeslam, face life sentences if convicted.
“We are entering the unknown,” said Arthur Denouveaux, a survivor of the Bataclan music venue attack and president of Life for Paris, a victims’ association. “We can’t wait for it to start, but we’re asking, How will it be for the next nine months?”
The trial will last until May 2022, with 145 days for hearings involving about 330 lawyers, 300 victims and former president François Hollande, who will testify in November.
The case file runs to a million pages in 542 volumes, measuring 53 metres across.
Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti this week described the trial as “historic” and “one of all superlatives” as he inspected the courtroom.
Surviving gunman Abdeslam, now 31, who was born in Belgium but has French and Moroccan nationality, fled the scene of the carnage after abandoning his suicide belt, which investigators later found to be defective.
He was captured four months later in Brussels, hiding in a building close to his family home.
Abdeslam has resolutely refused to cooperate with the French investigation and remained largely silent throughout a separate trial in Belgium in 2018, where he declared only that he put his “trust in Allah” and that the court was biased.
A major question is whether he will speak at his scheduled testimony, set for mid-January.
Another focus of the trial will be on how the squad of killers managed to enter France undetected, allegedly using the flow of migrants from Islamic State-controlled regions of Syria as cover.
Fourteen of the accused – who face charges ranging from providing logistical support to planning the attacks as well as weapons offences – are expected to be present in court.
They include a Swedish national, Osama Krayem, who Belgian investigators have identified as one of the killers of a Jordanian pilot burned alive in a cage by Isis in early 2015 in Syria. He is also under investigation in Sweden for war crimes.
The alleged coordinator, Belgian national Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was killed by French police northeast of Paris five days after the attacks.
Of the six tried in absentia, five are presumed dead, mainly in air strikes in Syria.
The horror was unleashed late on the night of Friday, November 13th, when jihadists detonated suicide belts outside the Stade de France stadium where Hollande was in the crowd watching France play a football match against Germany. One man was killed there.
A group of Islamist gunmen, including Abdeslam’s brother Brahim, later opened fire from a car on half a dozen restaurants in the trendy 10th and 11th Arrondissements of the capital, which were packed with people on the balmy autumn evening.
The massacre culminated at the Bataclan music venue. Three jihadists stormed in during a performance, killing a total of 90 people.
While the trial’s initial phase will be devoted to procedural issues, testimonies are expected to begin on September 28th from some 300 survivors and relatives of victims for five weeks of harrowing statements.
Security forces will be on high alert.
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