'We are still standing': Paris attack survivors welcome the reopening of the Bataclan

Libertines frontman Pete Doherty is set to perform at the venue on Wednesday night, after Sting opened the venue last week

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The Independent Online

It is quiet in the streets of Paris, but outside the Bataclan venue, a small crowd of Peter Doherty fans are already here, huddled together and sporting Rough Trade bags and Libertines badges. 

On Tuesday night in London, charity concert A Peaceful Noise took place at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, organised by the sister of Bataclan victim Nick Alexander, in his and other Paris attack victims’ honour. 

Alexander, 35, from Colchester, was killed on 13 November 2015 while selling Eagles of Death Metal merchandise, along with 88 other civilians. 

As well as working for EODM, he had toured with the likes of Sum 41 and Fall Out Boy, and was paid tribute to by friends, family members and the artists he had worked with.

Performing for A Peaceful Noise were Frank Turner, Maximo Park, former Supergrass frontman and solo artist Gaz Coombes, and Fran Healey, all of whom made special tributes on the night.

Ahead of the gig Frank Turner said: “Losing Nick in the horrible events in Paris was the worst part of last year; he was truly one of the good guys. 

“Bringing people together in the spirit of peace and music for an evening is the least we can do for his memory, I'm honoured to be asked to play.”

Speaking to The Independent after the event, Ms Alexander said: "Our first A Peaceful Noise show has been incredible. All the artists have given so much and to see the crowd brought together with the message that music can unite us all has been so powerful.

"I want to say a huge thank you to everyone that has shown their support.”

While there has been debate over whether it was right to open the Bataclan a day before the anniversary of the attack, many have praised the move as a symbol of defiance, and of France’s resilience at a time when terror attacks are more of a risk than ever. 

There was controversy of a different kind ahead of Sting's performance on Saturday night, where EODM frontman Jesse Hughes and another member of the band reportedly attempted to enter the venue but were turned away.

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Jesse Hughes (centre) with Eagles of Death Metal bandmate Julian Dorio (left) looking at tributes to victims of the attacks outside the Bataclan in December 2015 (AFP/Getty)

Bataclan manager Jules Frutos is reported to have said it was because there are "things you can't forgive", apparently referring to comments Hughes made in the aftermath of the attack, including suggestions that members of security may have been complicit, and that he had seen Muslims "celebrating in the street" during the attack.

However the band's manager Marc Pollack denied the claims and said the band members were "nowhere near" the venue at the time of the alleged incident, branding Mr Frutos a "coward".

"This day is not about Jesse Hughes or Eagles of Death Metal," he said in a statement.

“In fact, Jesse is in Paris to share in remembering the tragic events of a year ago with his friends, family and fans. 

"This is about recalling the tragic loss of life that happened right in front of his eyes during his show, and this coward Jules Frutos feels the need to soil his own club’s reopening by spreading false tales to the press, and tainting a wonderful opportunity that could’ve been used to spread peace and love."

Recovering from the ordeal has been a difficult process for survivors as the year was punctured by a new attack in Brussels and then Nice, where 31-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, from Tunisia, killed 85 people and injured 202 others by ploughing into crowds as they celebrated Bastille Day on the Promenade des Anglais. 

Bouhlel died after police shot through the window of the truck, ending the attack.

Kelly Le Guen, a music reporter for RockUrLife and Webzine, was among a group of 30 people trapped in what she described as a “suffocating” room in the Bataclan for more than two hours before security forces stormed the hall.

She is glad the venue is reopening; prior to Sting’s sold-out concert she told The Independent: “I can’t wait to go and I am so glad the venue is sold out. I know some people find it disrespectful towards the victims. But I disagree.

“Imagine if every café and restaurant where someone was killed in Paris had to close. There would be no more cafes left to go to.”

Sérénade Chafik, co-founder of the charity Les Dorine, which fights against the radicalisation of young citizens and extremism, said there was no right or wrong opinion about the reopening of the Bataclan.

She told The Independent: “We should not forget that the victims are still going through a post-traumatic stage. 

“You can’t get back on your feet immediately after being so close to death and seeing people of your generation getting killed in front of you because of terrorism. 

“I do understand it is too early from them, they are still healing. However, I personally think reopening the Bataclan was necessary. The venue reopened one day before the anniversary, as a way of saying ‘we are still standing’.”

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