French officials ordered security measures in the wake of the ISIL terrorist attack in Paris last Friday, which included the cancellation of all concerts. As just about everyone around the world has read or heard by now, the largest massacre was at a show by an American band, Eagles of Death Metal, at the Bataclan Theater. Included in the eighty-nine victims was Nick Alexander of Colchester, England, who was serving as their merch manager. This all hits close to home for anyone who loves live music, and like us spends a lot of evenings in clubs and theaters.
The restrictions have since been eased as the city seems safer, although efforts to capture the possible mastermind of the attack led to a shootout late last night in the suburb of Saint-Denis. The legendary Irish punk band Stiff Little Fingers didn’t cancel a show last night at a Paris venue, Backstage at the Mill. In this BBC story, lead singer Jake Burns expressed their condolences to the victims. “For us, we’re musicians, we’ve just come to do what we do. Hopefully the people who come tonight can manage to forget about their troubles for an hour and a half,” he said. “That would be our job done as we see it.”
Burns and the band grew up in Belfast during the worst of what were called the Troubles, the long and bloody conflict in Northern Ireland which deterred touring bands from visiting the capital city for much of the seventies.
“As a youngster, it was frustrating to be deprived of such a normal part of life. For us as a band, our performances were sometimes delayed because of disturbances and road blocks, nothing serious. But we do have an appreciation of just how difficult these situations can be.
Obviously, in Northern Ireland, conflict became very much the normal state of affairs. Here, it isn’t. It’s a huge shock to the system for people here. Unfortunately, we can’t do a lot to help, we’re just here to do our job.”
After their encore, lead singer Jake Burns told the crowd, “The world has you in its heart.”
Before French officials eased the restrictions, another Irish group with roots in the Troubles, U2, was forced to cancel a concert which was to be televised on Saturday. They had been rehearsing in Paris, just three miles from the Bataclan, when the attacks began on Friday night. Bono spoke with an Irish radio station in the morning, offering his reaction. “Our first thoughts at this point are with the Eagles of Death Metal fans,” he said.
If you think about it, the majority of victims last night are music fans. This is the first direct hit on music that we’ve had in this so-called War on Terror or whatever it’s called. It’s very upsetting. These are our people. This could be me at a show. You at a show, in that venue. It’s a very recognizable situation for you and for me and the coldblooded aspect of this slaughter is deeply disturbing and that’s what I can’t get out of my head.
All four members of U2 visited the Bataclan Theater on Saturday, laying flowers on the sidewalk with others.
There is a lyric in the bridge of Stiff Little Finger’s first single, “Alternative Ulster,” which seemed like a fitting response to the Islamic terrorists like ISIL, even though the song was originally about the conflict in Ireland.
They say they’re a part of you
But that’s not true you know
They say they’ve got control of you
And that’s a lie you know