Tony Scott 21/12/15
Paris is never far from our minds. I doubt it ever will be. A month on following the atrocities committed by terrorists at the Eagles of Death Metal concert at Le Bataclan and it still feels like yesterday. For Justine and I there will for evermore be a deep connection with the city of Paris, for its compassion and unity, for its unwavering fortitude, for our lives.
There’s still a strange disconnect with the events of that fateful evening as we hid, crawled and ran for our lives escaping out onto the roof of Le Bataclan. It plays back like some weird action movie in my head, as if viewing it from the third person with the fear removed. That’s probably a good thing. It’s easy to slip back into dwelling on the ‘what ifs’ of that night. If we’d turned right instead of left, if we’d been on the floor not in the balcony, if we’d stayed hidden not ran. Any of those scenarios and the outcome may have been different and I may not be writing this now. The simple fact of the matter is that we were incredibly lucky and we escaped not only unharmed physically but unlike some, we also escaped without seeing much of the bloodshed and carnage that would more likely haunt us mentally.
Despite the atrocities of that night we took away with us an overwhelming sense of love and kindness from the people of Paris. From the people pulling us through the skylight, the man that let us take refuge in his apartment on the roof of Le Bataclan, the Police special forces risking their lives that rescued us, the Firemen that led us down the ladders to safety, the people who opened their cafe to give us shelter and hot tea, the lady that gave Justine her coat, the many people who translated French to English for us. We owe them all a huge debt of thanks. Not returning to Paris was never an option.
When the Eagles of Death Metal said in an interview they wanted to return to Paris to finish their set it struck me as an incredibly brave thing to commit to given how recent the events were. We have some sense of the fear that accompanies returning to the setting of a gig. Our first gig in the aftermath of Paris was Faithless at Manchester Arena. It was a difficult gig for us and one we entered into with a fair degree of apprehension. We found ourselves beforehand in the pub below the arena in Victoria railway station. It was busy and the atmosphere noisy with the post match brigade having one for the road while waiting for their trains. The heavy doors to the pub street side kept banging shut, each time making us jump. The loud bangs reminders of the shots fired at Le Bataclan. It left us jittery and leaving for somewhere quieter to put our nerves in check before the gig. There was a considerable police presence in the station and outside the arena. Logically, this was a safe place to be. We made our way into the dark of the arena, consciously checking for exits and escape routes. These were not things I’ve ever considered before at the many gigs I’ve been to. Something’s changed. All the time even while the band were playing we felt exposed and prone and found it hard to relax into the moment. We’ve been to a couple more gigs since and it’s getting easier but we’re still acutely aware of what could happen, however unlikely. You have to get back on the horse as it were and going to gigs for Justine and I is an important part of our life.
For the Eagles of Death Metal, a working band, they have less of a choice. It’s what they do, it’s their livelihood and a job I imagine they take great pleasure from. We watched on the internet as they got on stage with U2 and paid their respects at Le Bataclan. It was a moving and emotional return and hats off to them. We knew how they felt and how hard that must have been.
When they announced last week that they would be returning to finish their gig in February I said to Justine, ‘I think we should go, what do you think?’ It felt like a big decision and with more than a little trepidation attached, but one that there was only one obvious answer to. We have to go, we have to show our defiance, our support to the band, our respect to those, and their families, who sadly lost their lives and not least to show our gratitude to the people of Paris. We’re all family and music binds us together. It’ll be an emotional ride but we feel it’s important for us to go back and go back we will.