Sting will re-open Paris’ Bataclan concert hall on November 12, a day before the anniversary of the jihadist attack that left 90 people dead there, the British rock star said Friday.
The former frontman of The Police said he had agreed to the highly-charged gig “to remember and honour those who lost their lives in the attack a year ago, and to celebrate the life and the music that this historic theatre represents.
“In doing so we hope to respect the memory as well as the life affirming spirit of those who fell. We shall not forget them,” he added in a statement on his website.
The announcement is a major boost for the venue which had reportedly been struggling to attract big names back to perform there, fearful of the emotional weight of the occasion.
All revenues from the show will be donated to two charities working with victims of the Paris attacks, Sting’s statement added.
On the day of the anniversary itself, survivors of the attack will attend the unveiling of a plaque in front of the concert hall, Paris city hall said.
But the building itself will remain closed.
The US rock group Eagles of Death Metal — who were on stage when the massacre began — will also be present at the ceremony, according to French rolling news channel BFMTV.
‘No point in being afraid’
Another British rocker, Pete Doherty, will play the refurbished venue for two nights starting on November 16 and he will be followed by Senegalese star Youssou N’Dour and singer Marianne Faithfull.
The British-born Sixties legend, who lives in the French capital, told AFP she will perform “They Come at Night” for the first time, a song that she wrote in the immediate aftermath of the attacks.
“I understand that it’s frightening,” 69-year-old Faithfull said of bands who were reluctant to play the venue in eastern Paris again. “I don’t blame them. But there is no point in being afraid. I don’t think it will happen again.”
The French singer Francis Cabrel said recently he had declined an offer to appear. “There was just too much emotion for me,” he said. “I am sorry, but it is beyond me.”
The Bataclan was one of several targets in a wave of bloody attacks across the French capital by Islamic State gunmen and suicide bombers on the night of November 13, 2015. Bars, restaurants and the national stadium were also hit, leaving a total of 130 people dead.
Caroline Langlade, of the survivors’ group Life for Paris, said it was time to start putting the ghosts of the building to rest.
“When I fled from the Bataclan it was a bloody monster that was trying to eat me,” she said last month after she was shown around its repaired interior.
However, after the visit “it was just a room with walls where something sad happened. It is not the building that is tragic,” she insisted.
Eagles of Death Metal made an emotional return to Paris in February, playing in front of hundreds of survivors of the attacks at the Olympia concert hall. One of the band’s crew was among the dead.
However, controversial comments by the band’s frontman Jesse Hughes alleging that the venue’s Arab-origin employees were complicit in the attack have tarnished its image in France.
The venue strongly rejected the charges and invitations to play French summer music festivals were cancelled.
Hughes, a rare right-wing rocker and supporter of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, has also said without evidence that Muslims were celebrating outside during the venue during the siege.
Before he made the claims, Hughes told AFP that he wanted to play the Bataclan again one day.