Sting will re-open Paris’ Bataclan concert hall on November 12, a day before the anniversary of the jihadist attack that left 90 people dead there, the British rock star said Friday.
The former frontman of The Police said he had agreed to the highly-charged gig “to remember and honour those who lost their lives in the attack a year ago, and second to celebrate the life and the music that this historic theatre represents.
“In doing so we hope to respect the memory as well as the life affirming spirit of those who fell. We shall not forget them,” he added in a statement on his website.
The announcement is a major boost for the venue which had reportedly been struggling to attract big names back to perform there, fearful of the emotional weight of the occasion.
All revenues from the show will be donated to two charities working with victims of the Paris attacks, Sting’s statement added.
On the day of the anniversary itself, survivors of the attack and the US rock group Eagles of Death Metal — who were on stage when the massacre began — will attend the unveiling of a plaque in front of the concert hall, according to French rolling news channel BFMTV.
However, the owners of the Bataclan have yet to confirm to AFP that the ceremony will take place.
– ‘No point in being afraid’ –
Another British rocker, Libertines frontman Peter Doherty, will play the refurbished venue for two nights starting on November 16 and he will be followed by Senegalese star Youssou N’Dour and singer Marianne Faithfull.
The British-born Sixties legend, who lives in the French capital, told AFP she had written a song inspired by the attacks which she would perform for the first time there.
“I understand that it’s frightening,” 69-year-old Faithfull said of bands who were reluctant to play the venue in eastern Paris again. “I don’t blame them. But there is no point in being afraid. I don’t think it will happen again.”
The Bataclan was one of several targets in a wave of bloody attacks across the French capital by Islamic State gunmen and suicide bombers on the night of November 13, 2015. Bars, restaurants and the national stadium were also hit, leaving a total of 130 people dead.
Eagles of Death Metal made an emotional return to the city in February, playing in front of hundreds of survivors of the attacks. One of the band’s crew was among the dead.
However, controversial comments by the band’s frontman Jesse Hughes alleging that the venue’s Arab-origin employees were complicit in the attack have tarnished its image in France.
The venue strongly rejected the charges and invitations to play French summer music festivals were cancelled.
Hughes, a rare right-wing rocker and supporter of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, has also said without evidence that Muslims were celebrating outside the venue during the siege.