Eagles of Death Metal (EODM) played an emotional, powerful, and uplifting show in Paris on Tuesday, said fans, as they returned to the French capital for their first gig there since the November terror attacks.
Many of those in the audience were people who had survived the assault by gunmen on EODM's gig at the Bataclan concert hall on November 13, which killed 90 people. Other near-simultaneous attacks killed dozens more in restaurants, bars, and at the Stade de France stadium.
Security was tight at the Olympia concert hall where the gig took place — the Bataclan has not yet reopened. Psychologists were on standby to offer support to survivors.
While some felt unable to attend, others felt it brought some degree of closure.
"The show was perfect, it was beautiful," Julien, who was one of the first to escape when the attackers stormed the venue with assault rifles and hand grenades, told Reuters. "I felt good before, but it's true, I feel better now, it's true that it feels like it's a stepstone, it's like we can be done with it."
The band's lead singer and guitarist Jesse Hughes greeted fans waiting outside the Olympia concert hall. "Not returning to finish our set was never an option," the band said in a statement last December announcing the dates of their rescheduled European tour.
EODM's co-founder and Hughes' best friend Josh Homme also greeted fans. He rarely plays with the band nowadays but joined them for the Paris performance.
The show sold out in minutes. In an interview with French television prior to the performance, Hughes said the band had been overwhelmed by the "outpouring of support for us and love for us."
A survivor of the Bataclan attack, Christophe Fauvel talked to media as he arrived for the show. While many felt attending the show would help bring them some closure, others felt it was too soon.
Taking to the stage at the Olympia, Hughes told fans he wanted to "finish" the gig that the band had started. "Bonsoir Paris, we're ready for this!" he said.
— Fabien Jannic (@FabienJ) February 16, 2016
The band walked on stage to the sound of an old song Il est cinq heures, Paris s'éveille [It is five o'clock, Paris awakens] by French singer Jacques Dutronc, before busting into one of their hits, I Only Want You. They stopped it halfway through. "Let's take a moment to remember, then we will get back to the fun," said Homme.
Hughes had said before the performance that he feared "falling to pieces on stage." But in the end he was full of energy and positive emotions. At one point he jumped off stage to hug a survivor in a wheelchair; at another he smashed a guitar to wild applause, reported AFP.
Towards the end of the show, Hughes appeared alone on stage with a French Tricolore guitar and sang a cover of the Rolling Stones' Brown Sugar. "From the moment we all sang the retrain together I was fine right to the end of the concert," he said, reported AFP.
"You are stuck with me now! I'm Parisian now! I needed you so much and you did not let me down," he shouted. "I am so drunk with this [moment] I cannot walk off this stage. Can you not see that?"
— Rock and Roll » Blog (@BlogandRoll) February 17, 2016
Fans embraced in tears at the end of the show. One of the survivors who attended, Lydia Vassallo, told the BBC: "It was the most extraordinary gig of my life. It was really emotional but not the way I thought it would be. I think everyone needed it."
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