89 Voices Will Echo When the Bataclan in Paris Sings Again

Whatever else happens at the Bataclan, it will forever be synonymous with one of the blackest nights in Paris.

Updated
Lifestyle
4 min read
People gather for a national service for the victims of the terror attack at the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, Sunday, November 15, 2015. (Photo: AP)

If you had visited the Wikipedia page for Le Bataclan even a day before November 13, you would have been greeted with this rather dry, tactile arrangement of words:

…is a theatre located at 50 boulevard Voltaire in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, France. Designed in 1864 by the architect Charles Duval, its name refers to Ba-ta-clan, an operetta by Offenbach...

Etc., etc.

In a rather chilling reminder of the ever-changing vortex of history, the page now has a new paragraph right under that dry, tactile one. This reads:

The Bataclan was the scene of a terrorist attack on the night of November 13, 2015, when a mass shooting and explosives detonation occurred, killing 89 people during an Eagles of Death Metal concert.
People pay tribute to the victims of the terror attacks in Paris by a poster which reads “Solidarity with Paris” in Nice, southeastern France, November 16, 2015. (Photo: AP)
People pay tribute to the victims of the terror attacks in Paris by a poster which reads “Solidarity with Paris” in Nice, southeastern France, November 16, 2015. (Photo: AP)

The Bataclan will never recover from this. Oh yes, the theatre will move on. It will hold fast to its loyalty to music, to rock and roll fanatics, to doe-eyed lovers of Paris. It will continue to hold rock concerts like that of the Eagles of Death Metal – perhaps ever more so now, in defiance of all that is wrong with the world.

But what the Friday night carnage means is that no matter what else happens at the Bataclan, it will forever remain synonymous with one dark night.

How the Bataclan’s Musical Family Came Together

Sheet music is seen amongst candles near the site of the attack at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, November 15, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)
Sheet music is seen amongst candles near the site of the attack at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, November 15, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

And then came the question: how was music going to respond?

The answer came in on Saturday – musicians hadn’t forgotten. And long and beautiful tributes poured in – from people who had graced the Bataclan with their song.

If ever one had wanted to make a listicle of all the greats that had performed at the Bataclan, they’d be well suited to do it now. Musicians across the globe – with acts ranging from the 1970s to 2015 – can now be put into a soundbox of solidarity.

U2’s Bono had this to say:

We watched in disbelief and shock at the unfolding events in Paris and our hearts go out to all the victims and their families across the city tonight.

U2, of course, has since cancelled two sold-out concerts in Paris – but has determinedly said they are “fully resolved to go ahead with it an appropriate time.”

The Foo Fighters too cut short their tour after the senseless attacks and announced:

A photo posted by Foo Fighters (@foofighters) on

Truer words could not have been spoken.

The Bataclan, since the 1970s (when the concert first opened its doors to rock music) has seen some phenomenal acts. The Velvet Underground, The Police, Roseanne Cash, Backstreet Boys, Metallica, The Smashing Pumpkins, Iron Maiden, Snoop Dogg, Robbie Williams – are only a few among a hundred others.

Can You Ever Shake Off Bloodied History?

The Guardian richly paid its tribute to the “legendary” hall when it said:

The chinoiserie-style theatre was built in 1864 and opened the following year. It has played an integral part in Paris’s musical scene ever since it closed as a cinema and reopened as a salle de spectacle in the early 70s.
“In November 1972 Roxy Music performed at the Bataclan in Paris. Today all our thoughts are with Paris and our French friends” – musician Bryan Ferry. (Photo Courtesy: <a href="https://www.facebook.com/bryanferry/photos/pb.97701607211.-2207520000.1447762216./10153123760122212/?type=3&amp;theater">Facebook/Bryan Ferry</a>)
“In November 1972 Roxy Music performed at the Bataclan in Paris. Today all our thoughts are with Paris and our French friends” – musician Bryan Ferry. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/Bryan Ferry)

The concert hall was more than just a venue for music; it was where men and women with guitars and drums, came with – and left – lasting memories.

In 2011, singer Rafael Saadiq told Rolling Stone it was his favorite small venue in the world. Le Bataclan has seen Prince jam for hours on Led Zeppelin and Santana covers; the late Jeff Buckley bravely cover Edith Piaf in front of a discerning French crowd; Lou Reed and John Cale mend fences after Cale’s departure from the Velvet Underground.
Rolling Stone
An older music performance inside a packed Bataclan. (Photo Courtesy: <a href="https://www.facebook.com/lebataclan/photos_stream">Facebook/Le Bataclan</a>)
An older music performance inside a packed Bataclan. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/Le Bataclan)

How does one get up and shake off bloodied history to make music once again?

Defiance is as good an answer as any other. Roseanne Cash, for one, has already made clear her intentions of making music at the Bataclan next summer when she tours Europe:

The Bataclan, before a Michael Gregorio concert in 2012. (Photo Courtesy: <a href="https://www.facebook.com/lebataclan/photos_stream">Facebook/Le Bataclan</a>)
The Bataclan, before a Michael Gregorio concert in 2012. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/Le Bataclan)
When I heard what happened, my heart was in my gut. It’s so completely dispiriting and inconceivable. People were going to hear music. (But) an act of defiance through music is the best kind of defiance.
Rolling Stone

Little acts of defiance, in fact, are already underway. While U2 and Foo Fighters understandably cancelled their shows with a heavy heart, Motorhead unflinchingly went ahead with its concert on Sunday.

To Making Music Again...

An old photo of the Bataclan in happier days, before it became synonymous with one of the darkest nights in Paris. (Photo Courtesy: <a href="https://www.facebook.com/lebataclan/photos_stream">Facebook/Le Bataclan</a>)
An old photo of the Bataclan in happier days, before it became synonymous with one of the darkest nights in Paris. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/Le Bataclan)

Yes, the city is, suddenly, painstakingly, unsure of itself. As the Bataclan’s co-manager Dominique Revert revealed to The Guardian:

The [atmosphere] will feel a bit heavy for a few months, a few years, but to not open it would be to capitulate. Of course, the Bataclan will reopen.

That assertion is all Paris needs. Because, of course, the Bataclan will reopen, of course, music will sound through its halls again – a hundred times louder, as it now echoes with the voices of 89 excited music lovers, forever enshrined in their place of worship.

Published: 
Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!