PARIS — The Bataclan concert hall is set to reopen a year after Islamist militants attacked the venue, killing 90 people there last November. The restoration work inside the historic venue in eastern Paris is now coming to an end. The team is finally ready.
All that's missing? The artists.
Many French musicians who have been invited to perform over the past few weeks have declined. They said their reluctance was not out of fear but that they weren't comfortable with the idea of celebrating in the same venue that saw so many innocent people massacred.
The historic music hall, which first opened in 1865, has hosted such legendary performers as Jerry Lee Lewis, the Velvet Underground, The Clash, And Prince. American rockers The Eagles of Death Metal were performing on Nov. 13 when Islamic terrorists stormed the theater, opening fire and taking scores hostage as part of a coordinated attack in and around Paris that killed a total of 130.
Jules Frutos, one of the Bataclan's managers, says he's facing difficulties he had not foreseen. For the upcoming winter and spring season, only 15 artists, most of them British, will perform.
"I think that I overestimated the artistic demand," says Frutos, saying that he assumed that a call from him or the other manager of the Bataclan, Olivier Poubelle, would be enough to convince artists to perform at the venue. "But I was wrong."
The reluctance of technicians and production crews has been another obstacle. "The murder of a dozen (colleagues) that everyone knew was a traumatic experience," says Pierre-Alexandre Vertadier, the chief executive of Decibel Productions.
The employees of the production companies owned by Frutos and Poubelle want to continue to organize new events at the Bataclan. "Our teams were on the front line that night in November," he says. "The shock is not the same and their way to overcome what happened is not either."
Moreover, the manager's earlier concerns about ticket sales is slowly fading as the scheduled shows are selling out. "The public has expressed a strong will to come back and it feels very good. There are good things to come," Frutos says.
Vertadier is also enthusiastic about the future of the concert hall. "The venue will be revived. It's just a matter of time," he says.
British rocker Pete Doherty is the first artist scheduled to perform at the Bataclan on Nov. 16. Other shows might happen before that but the dates for those are yet to be fixed.
"Each performance will be like the first one for both the artists and the crowds," says Frutos.