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Arnaud Meersseman: Bataclan attack spurred me on

On the anniversary of the attack in Paris, AEG Presents France head Arnaud Meersseman, who was among those wounded in the Bataclan, reflects on the past five years

By IQ on 13 Nov 2020

Arnaud Meersseman, AEG Presents France, Prodiss

AEG Presents France GM Arnaud Meersseman

AEG Presents’ Arnaud Meersseman has said the attack on the Bataclan, which took place five years ago today, left him more determined than ever to keep working in live music.

Meersseman, whose then-company, Nous Productions, was the promoter of the ill-fated show, says that the alternative to continuing – to quit promoting concerts – would have been to hand victory to the terrorists responsible.

Meersseman was one of hundreds of people injured when three heavily armed Islamic State gunmen attacked the Paris venue during a performance by Eagles of Death Metal on 13 November 2015. Ninety people, including the band’s merchandise manager, Nick Alexander, lost their lives in what was then the deadliest attack on a live music event.

The attack, along with subsequent terrorist incidents at Manchester Arena and the Route 91 Harvest festival, had far-reaching implications for the live business, with stricter security and safety protocols becoming standard at large events.

The tragedy also continues to affect the survivors: As Meersseman points out, an article in this morning’s Le Monde reveals that some 30% of people who were at the Bataclan completely changed their career direction in the years following the attack.

“Convincing AEG to open their French office, and them trusting me to do, was me saying, ‘I’m still standing’”

For Meersseman, however, the choice was clear. “Yes, I was attacked and wounded at my place of work, but it’s more than just work – it’s my passion, my lifestyle, and the only job I’ve ever done,” he tells IQ.

Now general manager and VP of AEG Presents France, Meersseman says he “lost himself in work” in the aftermath of the attack. “I think I was pushed forward [by it],” he explains.

“Going after AEG and convincing them to open their French office, and them trusting me to do, was me saying, ‘I’m still standing.’ Because if I stopped, they’d have won.”

Five years on, 13 November understandably remains a “strange time” for Meersseman – although it gets “a little less strange ever year”, becoming more like a “black-and-white movie” than personally lived trauma, he explains.

While planning for terrorism is “now an accepted part of our jobs”, especially around periods of increased violence, the way Meersseman sees it, fans, artists and the industry have two options: “You either completely stop your life, or you carry on. And if you don’t carry on, they’ve won.” The latter, he adds, was “never an option”.


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