Almost exactly one year to the night that ISIS-affiliated terrorists attacked the Bataclan, killing 89 people, Sting reopened the Parisian concert hall that he first played decades ago during the early days of the Police.
The singer, who asked for a moment of silence in fluent French, told the crowd, "In re-opening the Bataclan, we have two important tasks to reconcile. First, to remember and honor those who lost their lives in the attack a year ago, and second to celebrate the life and the music that this historic theater 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."
In re-opening the Bataclan, we have two important tasks to reconcile. First, to remember and honour those who lost their lives in the attack a year ago, and second 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.
The venue's VIP area was reserved for survivors and the families of those who were killed there on Nov. 13, 2015.
One survivor, 25-year-old Aurelien Perrin, who lost his friend Nicolas Berthier in the attack, told the Associated Press about his experience that night and what brought him back to the Bataclan.
"I came alone tonight," he said. "It’s very emotional, as I keep getting flashbacks of that night. I was standing just there, just the other side of the bar when it happened. Tonight is the first time I’ve been back here since,” he said, adding that he hasn't gone to any bars or movie theaters in the past year.
“I’m here because it’s important to finally finish a concert that was never allowed to end. It’s for the memory of my friend and for all the 90 people who died,” he said.
Though the concert was dedicated to the people lost that night, Sting also made an effort to include those who share the same religion or ethnic background with the terrorists.
French-Lebanese trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf joined Sting for An Englishman in New York and Fragile. The set also included Desert Rose, his 1999 hit which featured Arabic lyrics sung by Algerian artist Cheb Mami.
Sting even sang the Arabic expression "Inshallah (God willing)," calling it "a magnificent word." The room applauded but later, Tommy Robinson, a far-right English activist, called the gesture "disrespectful" on Twitter.
Bataclan director Jerôme Langlet only confirmed the British rock icon as the first performer last week, after receiving the green light from security officials to reopen the club.
The Bataclan, has been completely renovated in the year since the tragedy, which happened during a concert by California's Eagles of Death Metal. The band will be the subject of a February documentary on HBO focusing on the aftermath of that night.
EODM singer Jesse Hughes traveled to Paris this weekend, telling French reporter Paul Aveline he was "so happy" the Bataclan was reopening and that he "had to see it."
"He stayed five minutes," Aveline noted in his Twitter feed, "but told me he couldn't go in because it was too hard."
Instead, Hughes left a message that read, "This is where my heart remains. Bound by blood."
Contributing: The Associated Press