A year ago it was the scene of a bloody massacre that killed 90 music fans.
Now the Bataclan concert hall in Paris has been brought back to life after its operators said they did not want it to become a “mausoleum”.
Barricades, extensive body searches and scores of armed police greeted concert goers as British rock star Sting took to the stage at the venue last night for a 1,000-capacity show which sold out within just half an hour.
The 65-year-old singer-songwriter, who appeared at the venue with his former band The Police in 1979, has agreed to donate proceeds from the show to two charities working with victims of the attacks.
The restored venue, which Prince, Kylie Minogue, Oasis, Metallica, Robbie Williams and David Byrne have all appeared at, has been shut since Islamist gunmen stormed a gig by American band Eagles of Death Metal.
The coordinated attacks in Paris on 13 November last year left 130 people dead and hundreds more injured and were the worst extremist attacks ever to hit France.
More than 1,700 people have been officially recognised as victims of the horror that unfolded at the Bataclan, various Paris cafés and restaurants, and France’s national stadium.
In addition to those who died, 20 people remain in hospital from the attacks, while others are paralysed or otherwise irreparably injured. The French government says more than 600 people are still receiving psychological treatment related to the attacks.
One of the victims of the Bataclan massacre was British roadie Nick Alexander, who had been on tour with the band selling merchandise.
Speaking before his concert, Sting said: “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 families of the victims of the Bataclan massacre were invited to the concert, but the venue was expected to remain closed on the official anniversary today, when a commemorative plaque is due to be unveiled.
Jules Frutos, co-director of the Bataclan, which dates back to 1865, said: “After a few weeks it was clear: we had to go on after such horror and not leave a mausoleum, a tomb.
“We owed it to ourselves to rebuild everything. It was obvious that it had to be rebuilt identically. Because of its past it was important we didn’t change it as a venue. That’s why people loved it. One night of tragedy mustn’t overshadow decades of parties and music. Reopening the Bataclan with a ceremony and then some music didn’t cut the mustard for me.”
British star Marianne Faithfull is due to perform at the venue in coming weeks.
She said: “I think music makes people happy … and it can be very healing, which is why [reopening] the Bataclan is a very good thing. And if I can help do that, I am glad.”