PARIS (Reuters) - U.S. band Eagles of Death Metal, on stage when Islamic State attacked their venue and killed 89 people in Paris last November, expressed sympathy with those too traumatized to attend their concert at another Paris hall on Tuesday.
With armed police on guard, workers hung the band’s name in big red letters outside the Olympia concert hall in Paris. The Bataclan hall, where they were playing to a crowd of about 1,500 people on the evening of the attack on Nov. 13, is still closed.
The three militants who attacked the crowd at the Bataclan were part of a co-ordinated assault in which 130 people died in the French capital. It was claimed by Islamic State.
The Californian band offered survivors free tickets, and psychologists were on duty to help those attending Tuesday’s concert. Any proceeds will go to a victims’ support association.
But many are still recovering from wounds or staying away, not wanting to revive the memories of Nov. 13. “I understand why they can’t come if they don’t. But I wish they would,” the band’s frontman Jesse Hughes said.
Others welcomed the concert as a way to move on.
“I didn’t come here to cry, I came here to have a good time,” said survivor Cedric Rizzo, 42. “It’s hard, because you think of the people who aren’t here.”
Hughes told France’s i<TELE on Monday that he felt a “sacred duty” to complete the concert. “I can’t let the bad guys win,” he said.
He also said the killings had not changed his pro-gun views, saying tougher gun controls in France compared to the United States had not limited the killings. Until nobody had guns, perhaps “everyone should have one,” he said.
In December, Eagles of Death Metal appeared on stage at a U2 concert in Paris for their first return to the city since the attacks. Tuesday will be their first full concert.
Outside the Olympia hall, many Parisians welcomed the band’s return.
“I think the people who decided to come back are incredibly courageous and it’s exactly the kind of behavior that we need today,” said Parisian Caroline Zeimett.
Additional reporting and writing by Alister Doyle; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky