Heavy se­cu­rity as Sting re­opens Bat­a­clan after Paris at­tacks

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - WEATHER - 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.”

Elodie Suigo, who lost six friends in the at­tack, said that it was a hard night, even though she loved the mu­sic.

“It was dif­fi­cult go­ing through that door. I don’t think I was the only one... We can­not say it was a mag­i­cal mo­ment be­cause of ev­ery­thing that changed in our lives. But (Sting) is a really great man,” she said.

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.

Juli­ette Meadel, the French min­is­ter for vic­tims’ aid and Paris Mayor Anne Hi­dalgo were among those at the con­cert.

Even some of the VIPs were caught up in the wild en­ergy that swept through the crowd.

France’s Cul­ture Min­is­ter Au­drey Azoulay wasn’t in the of­fi­cial seat­ing area, but was seen stand­ing next to the bar, jumping up and down as Sting per­formed his hit song “Rox­anne,” in­spired by the pros­ti­tutes he en­coun­tered out­side a ho­tel where the band stayed in Paris’ red-light dis­trict in 1977.

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 Sun­day’s ac­tual an­niver­sary of the at­tacks, when Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande and Hi­dalgo, the Paris mayor, will un­veil plaques in me­mory of vic­tims at the half-dozen sites where rev­el­ers died.

In ad­di­tion to those killed, nine peo­ple re­main hos­pi­tal­ized from the at­tacks and oth­ers are par­a­lyzed or oth­er­wise ir­repara­bly in­jured. The govern­ment says more than 600 peo­ple are still re­ceiv­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal treat­ment re­lated to the at­tacks.

French Prime Min­is­ter Manuel Valls, in a com­men­tary given to a half-dozen Euro­pean news­pa­pers, warned that “Yes, ter­ror­ism will strike us again.” But, he con­tended that “we have all the re­sources to re­sist and all the strength to win.”

KAMIL ZI­H­NIOGLU—THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Big red let­ters read Bat­a­clan on the main en­trance of the Bat­a­clan con­cert hall in Paris, Satur­day. A con­cert by Bri­tish pop leg­end Sting is mark­ing the re­open­ing of the Paris’ Bat­a­clan con­cert hall one year after sui­ci­dal ji­hadis turned it into a blood­bath and killed 90 rev­el­ers. The co­or­di­nated at­tacks in Paris on Nov. 13 last year that also tar­geted bars, restau­rants and the sports sta­dium, left 130 peo­ple dead.

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