My friend Shaun is a music photographer. He worked at The Olympia Theatre on the night of the attack on Paris. A few days before, the Eagles of Death Metal played at The Olympia, before going to Paris where they and their fans were caught up in the shocking and tragic events of November 13th. This connection had an impact on Shaun, and he shared his thoughts with those around him, as many of us have. I’m happy to now repost his words as a guest post here.
Remember, hate and fear have no place in our world any more: we can drive them out with love and bravery.
I didn’t get a lot of sleep tonight, and the few hours that I did get was only due to the fact that I worked five straight gigs in a row for the first time in a while and my body caved in.
One of the reasons I do what I do, is for an escape. For me, a music venue is where I have a tendency to feel safe. Where I’ll share a press pit with (most) people I know and get along with, where I can have banter with fans in the front row who are also there to switch off from the world for 2-3 hours and enjoy their night. Some of which were waiting weeks, months or in some cases even a year for that particular show.
I left The Academy early after the Stiff Little Fingers shoot, delighted with what I got. I checked my phone on my way home, only to discover what was going down at Le Bataclan in Paris, a 151 year old theatre that holds about 1,500 people mixture of standing and seated. Roughly the same as our Olympia Theatre, or Vicar Street.
The venue had been sold out for Eagles Of Death Metal (who had only played here three days prior), but it had been subjected to a number of gunmen who had taken it upon themselves to think that storming the venue, taking the lives of 87 people, and holding another 100 hostage was a brilliant idea, being Friday the 13th. Nearly 40 people also lost their lives in other attacks around Paris last night.
Of course, I felt like many others when the news broke… numb.
And the sad part is, that’s only the tragedy end of things. Those who survived, or witnessed all of this, or were stranded after the attacks are probably not still aware of the reality of this due to being in a state of shock, not that they could be blamed for that. Some are still only recovering from the Charlie Hebdo attacks that took place back in January (my birthday of all days).
I am shocked, saddened, but worst of all, I’m confused. Politics or religion are no justified motivation for attacking a hall of innocent people. And the scary part of all of this is that it indirectly affects us all. We live in an era of cheap flights and cheap accommodation and in an economy where there’s not always work in Ireland, so some of us need to travel. I know people who are on tour in Europe with bands as part of the crew, I know others who are travelling for a series of concerts just as fans. While I understand this isn’t an every day occurrence, I still fear for the safety of those who are away from home.
This isn’t a Paris thing, or even a France thing. The Boston bombings took place less than three years ago. The London bombings took place ten years ago and 9/11 is over fourteen years ago now. Even look closer to home, we’re not above any of this. in 1998 in Omagh, Co. Tyrone a car bomb detonated killing 27 people, two of whom were pregnant totalling to 29, injuring several hundred others. This is something that can happen anywhere at any time.
I’m not typing any of this to scare people. I’m merely using this as a release. I’m nearly 40 years old and I’ve seen far too much of this, especially in the last 20 years. I’m sure I can’t be the only one who is thinking this. Who does this? Who walks into a theatre full of innocent people (or a school for that matter) with a machine gun and starts firing off rounds? What goes through the mind of people attaching explosives in a densely populated area, knowing what they’re responsible for?
I downed tools at about midnight earlier. I couldn’t read another update. I don’t often post about what goes on in my head, at least not in detail like this. But last night got to me, as I’m sure it got to many people. I walk in and out of theatres and music venues night in and night out. Not once did I ever think that some lunatic with a gun or explosive would take my life. Why? Because I never had to. For me, it will be business as usual although I do have the night off tonight.
In closing, Paris has been in my thoughts since about 9.30pm last night since I got wind of the news, and it will remain there, especially as I enter another music venue. My thoughts are with the families of those who have lost, have those who witnessed these awful events, and the survivors, whom I hope will have the strength to move on with their lives and rebuild.