Heavy se­cu­rity as St­ing re­opens Bat­a­clan venue

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - NATION+WORLD - By Thomas Adam­son

PARIS >> French se­cu­rity turned out in force Satur­day night ahead of a con­cert by Bri­tish pop leg­end St­ing mark­ing the re­open­ing of the Bat­a­clan con­cert hall one year af­ter sui­ci­dal ji­hadis turned the famed Paris site into a blood­bath.

Hun­dreds of yards of bar­ri­cades, ex­ten­sive body searches and scores of armed po­lice greeted those lucky enough to get a ticket. The Bat­a­clan said all 1,000 St­ing tick­ets sold out quickly and other tick­ets were given to the fam­i­lies of the 90 rev­el­ers slain a year ago by ex­trem­ists with au­to­matic weapons and ex­plo­sive belts.

St­ing, in a T-shirt with a gui­tar slung over his shoul­der, asked con­cert-go­ers in flu­ent French to ob­serve a minute of si­lence as he opened the show.

“We will not for­get them,” the singer promised. “Tonight we have two tasks to set­tle. First, to re­mem­ber and honor those who lost their life in the at­tacks. Then, to cel­e­brate life and mu­sic.”

He then strummed out a string of hits, in­clud­ing “Mes­sage in a Bot­tle.”

The co­or­di­nated at­tacks in Paris on Nov. 13 last year tar­geted bars, restau­rants and the sports sta­dium, leav­ing 130 peo­ple dead and hun­dreds more in­jured. The worst ex­trem­ist vi­o­lence ever to hit France, they were claimed by the Is­lamic State group.

Some sur­vivors on Satur­day stayed out­side the Bat­a­clan in quiet vigil, while oth­ers in­side stood silently sip­ping a drink, wait­ing for the con­cert to start. The smell of fresh paint from the re­con­struc­tion hung over the crowd.

Aure­lien Per­rin, 25, sur­vived the Bat­a­clan mas­sacre but his friend Ni­co­las Berthier did not.

“I came alone tonight. It’s very emo­tional, as I keep get­ting flash­backs of that night. I was stand­ing just there, just the other side of the bar when it hap­pened. Tonight is the first time I’ve been back here since,” he said.

Per­rin added that he had not been to any bar or even the cin­ema since that fate­ful night.

“I’m here be­cause it’s im­por­tant to fi­nally fin­ish a con­cert that was never al­lowed to end. It’s for the mem­ory of my friend and for all the 90 peo­ple who died,” he said.

An­other sur­vivor, Mariesha Jack Payne, waited across the road from the Bat­a­clan in The Barom­e­ter bar, where she was rushed to af­ter the at­tack. She trav­eled from Scot­land for the com­mem­o­ra­tions in Paris this week­end.

“Even if I’m not in­side, it’s sym­bolic for me to be here nearby. The im­por­tant day is to­mor­row. I come back to this bar ev­ery time I’m in Paris now,” she said.

St­ing, 65, is no stranger to the Bat­a­clan, play­ing there decades ago in 1979 as the lead singer of The Po­lice. The singer’s new al­bum “57th & 9th” was re­leased Fri­day.

St­ing says pro­ceeds from the con­cert would go to two char­i­ties help­ing sur­vivors. More than 1,700 peo­ple have been of­fi­cially rec­og­nized as vic­tims of the hor­ror that un­folded at the Bat­a­clan, Paris cafes and France’s na­tional sta­dium.

Some who were in­vited de­cided against at­tend­ing the emo­tion­ally charged event.

“I don’t want to put a foot in the Bat­a­clan. Even if St­ing is a leg­end. I’m stay­ing with my fam­ily tonight,” said Jean Marie de Peretti, father of Aure­lie de Peretti who died in the con­cert hall mas­sacre.

The con­cert hall, which has been re­fur­bished to its orig­i­nal state, will re­main closed on to­day’s ac­tual an­niver­sary of the at­tacks, when Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande and Anne Hi­dalgo, the Paris mayor, will un­veil plaques in mem­ory of vic­tims at the half­dozen sites where rev­el­ers died.

KAMIL ZIHNIOGLU — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Po­lice of­fi­cers hold flow­ers given by peo­ple near the Bat­a­clan con­cert hall Satur­day in Paris. A con­cert by Bri­tish pop leg­end St­ing is mark­ing the re­open­ing of the Paris’ Bat­a­clan con­cert hall one year af­ter the ter­ror at­tack.

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