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France marks five years since deadly Bataclan attack

France today is leading silent ceremonies to mark five years since the series of coordinated deadly attacks on the Bataclan concert hall, Paris cafes and the Stade de France.

Prime minister Jean Castex led the commemorations, unveiling commemorative plaques at each location that pay tribute to the 130 victims killed by Islamic State extremists on 13 Nov 2015.

Members of the public were not invited to attend commemorations this year due to the country’s partial lockdown.

Ninety of the deceased victims were killed at the Bataclan concert hall when three heavily armed gunmen opened fire during the Eagles of Death Metal concert which was attended by 1,500 people. The other 40 victims were killed during the four-hour attack on the capital.

 

Among victims of the Bataclan concert hall attack was Nick Alexander, the 35-year-old, British merchandise manager for Eagles of Death Metal, who had dedicated 15 years to the music industry.

His sister, Zoe Alexander, told the BBC: “He was such a people person which is why he was so good at his job, interacting with the fans on a daily basis. One of the things I admired most about Nick was that he was unashamedly himself and trod his own path throughout his whole life.”

On the first anniversary of the attack, the Alexander family created The Nick Alexander Memorial Trust, which provides music equipment to disadvantaged communities across the UK.

In aid of the memorial trust and charity Life for Paris, Queens of the Stone Age – which shares member Josh Homme with Eagles of Death Metal – are tonight broadcasting previously unseen footage from the Mona Museum in Tasmania.

Elsewhere, Serge Maestracci, a survivor of the Bataclan concert hall attack told DW: “Music has helped me get through the worst time of my life. I was terrified after the attack. I was afraid to leave the house, to cycle through the city. I felt I had become a target.

“Music was my way to express my feelings and what I’d experienced. When you go through an event like this, you think, I escaped death by a few minutes. Life grinds to a halt. But then, it continues and you think — I need to live life to the fullest!”

Survivor Christophe Naudin, who hid in a closet for hours with two dozen people during the attack, recently published a book called Diary of a Bataclan Survivor describing his post-traumatic stress.

“Writing up my thoughts instead of just brooding over what had happened has really helped me. And it was good to go through it again to get it into shape for the book. All this is part of my reconstruction,” he told DW.

Read IQ‘s interview with AEG Presents head Arnaud Meersseman, who was among those wounded at Bataclan.

France is again under high alert for terrorist attacks after three Islamic extremist attacks since September have killed four people.

 


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Concert firebombed in Israeli Arab town

A concert by the Arab Israeli band, Siraj, was targeted in a drive-by firebomb attack in the northern town of Umm al-Fahm on Saturday, local news outlet , Haaretz reports.

It is believed the assailants, who hurled the firebombs from motorcycles, were opposed to the group, which has been criticised by Conservative Islamic leaders for allowing both men and women to perform on stage together.

According to various reports, Umm al-Fahm was gripped with tension after some Islamic groups denounced the show because of the mixed gender of the musicians and also because of mixed seating arrangements in the venue.

However, the Molotov cocktails aimed at the community centre hall by the motorbike assailants failed to cause any injuries or damage to the venue.

“The firebombs may not have disturbed the show, but there’s no doubt that this was a serious incident and those responsible need to be brought to justice.”

The town’s association of imams spoke out against the concert following its announcement with chairman, Sheikh Mashour Fuaz, claiming they had the right to express their opinion. “We do not support events with mixed singing by male and female singers because it contravenes sharia rules and Islamic culture and the customs on which society is built in a city like Umm al-Fahm,” Fuaz said.

The sheikh’s statement prompted heated social media debates, with some including threats of violence.

Following the firebomb attack, the band continued with the concert.

After the event, Israeli parliament member Yousef Jabareen, told news outlets, “The impressive participation of those who were there was the residents’ answer to attempts by certain parties in the city to have the show cancelled.” He added, “The firebombs may not have disturbed the show, but there’s no doubt that this was a serious incident and those responsible need to be brought to justice.”

 


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Minute’s silence to mark Manchester attack anniversary

A minute’s silence will be held to mark the first anniversary of the Manchester Arena bombing, the British government announced this morning.

The silence, to be held at 14.30 on Tuesday 22 May – exactly a year on from the attack, in which 22 people lost their lives – will be marked at all UK government buildings, with many private organisations also expected to follow suit.

A service at Manchester Cathedral and a communal choir event, Manchester Together – With One Voice, are among the other events also planned to mark the day.

Twenty-two people died and hundreds more were injured on 22 May 2017 after a suicide bomber, Salman Ramadan Abedi, detonated an improvised device outside the 21,000-capacity arena’s foyer after a show by Ariana Grande.

A recent inquiry into the bombing, the Kerslake report, praised arena operator SMG Europe and security company Showsec for going “above and beyond their roles to provide humanitarian assistance” to victims of the bombing.

 


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Four dead after grenade attack on Bangui peace show

Four people have been killed and more than 20 wounded in a grenade attack on a concert in Central African capital Bangui.

The attack, on Saturday evening, saw two men on a motorbike throw grenades into the On the Crossroads of Peace café, where a concert organised to build bridges between Bangui’s Muslim and Christian communities was taking place, reports news agency Reuters.

The Central African Republic has been racked by sectarian violence since 2012, with the UN’s 12,000-strong MINUSCA peacekeeping mission caught in the middle of fighting between the largely Muslim Séléka group and Christian anti-balaka militias.

The café is located near the PK5 area of Bangui – a Muslim enclave in a mostly Christian city – and a number of people were killed later that evening in revenge attacks. “They were two motorcycle-taxi drivers and a young man who was walking in the neighbourhood,” a local resident tells AFP. “They are innocents”.

 


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Ariana Grande ‘suspends remainder of tour’

Ariana Grande has reportedly postponed the remainder of her world tour following the terror attack on Manchester Arena on Monday.

The American singer, who is midway through the Live Nation-promoted Dangerous Woman tour, is booked to play two shows at The O2 in London tomorrow and Friday (25–26 May) followed by a string of dates in continental Europe.

No official statements have yet been issued by Grande (pictured) or the venue, although CNN reports the tour has been put on hold and the Daily Mail has photos of Grande returning home to Florida.

Several high-profile shows, including Take That at the Echo Arena and the debut Amazon Prime Event with Blondie, have been called off in the aftermath of the bombing, and venues and promoters are reviewing their security and bracing for a spike in the cost of insurance coverage.

 


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Security under review after Manchester Arena bomb

As venue operators around the world begin to process the news about the horrific attack on music fans in Manchester, live event security experts are reporting high volumes of queries from an industry that will have its work cut out to reassure concertgoers in the days and weeks ahead.

With festival season due to kick off in just a couple of weeks, urgent reviews of security measures are happening among production crews around the UK, while National Arenas Association chairman Martin Ingham – like most others in the arenas sector – spent the morning in operational meetings with his staff.

“Each of our member venues has been liaising with their own local police force and their network of counter terror officers and I know of at least three arenas who have had briefings with police today,” said Ingham. As well as UK arenas, Many London theatres were also understood to have spent the morning reviewing security procedures.

BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend festival is due to take place in Hull from 27-28 May. A spokesperson for the festival told the NME, “The health and safety of everyone involved in Big Weekend is now our primary focus and we are carrying out a full assessment, with the police and our partners, of every aspect of the festival.”

“Each of our member venues has been liaising with their own local police force and their network of counter terror officers and I know of at least three arenas who have had briefings with police today”

Security expert Chris Kemp, of Mind Over Matter Consultancy, tells IQ that he had received calls from as far afield as New Zealand and emails from clients around the world in the immediate aftermath of the Manchester Arena bombing.

“We’ve just created a course with Network Rail on identifying behavioural characteristics and trying to stop perpetrators in their tracks. But the difficulty is that the modus operandi of these terrorists is changing and there is no way you can infiltrate where there are lone terrorists who don’t communicate with others and just decide to carry out the act.

“Another difficulty is that you are asking low-paid staff to engage people they might perceive as suspicious, but if you’re getting £7.50 an hour, are you really going to put your life on the line? So it has to be the police, or [Security Industry Authority] operatives who do this.”

Kemp believes that terrorists are targeting precisely the places and events where people least expect such atrocities to happen, while those behind such attacks are also getting more savvy about what to wear and how to behave to avoid arousing suspicion. “Unfortunately there has to be a limit on how far you go with things because the costs of extra layers of security can be astronomical. But we are continuously working to create more deterrents and we’re doing a lot more stuff with venues and venue associations to improve security measures,” he says.

“There has to be a limit on how far you go with things, because the costs of extra layers of security can be astronomical”

Iridium Security director Reg Walker observes that “there has clearly been some hostile reconnaissance done beforehand for this bombing.” Although early reports state that it was a lone bomber using homemade explosives, Walker speculates that he would have to have had a support structure and that police and security services are already working hard to identify the bomber and any potential collaborators. At press time, reports were already emerging about the arrest of a 23-year-old man in connection with the Manchester attack.

“There are a lot of lessons to be learned from this tragedy,” says Walker. “It appears that this individual waited outside and attempted to walk into the venue on egress before detonating the device with a hand switch. But the fact that he was in a sort of no-man’s land, in a concourse between the venue itself and the train station, is significant.

“Most venues already have security in depth and the cooperation between venue operators and the security services is very good, so that most venues have become hard places to attack – but at the same time this person targeted an area on the periphery.”

Walker warns that it is virtually impossible to make any venue completely secure. “Even somewhere like Buckingham Palace, with its state-of-the-art security, still has incursions,” he says. “But on the flip side, this is the first mainland bombing in the UK since 2005, so the number of incidents that have been prevented is significant.”

Advising venue operators on how to strengthen security measures, Walker concludes, “It’s vital that venues reach out to the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) for advice on how to enhance or adapt their security. And it’s also imperative that venues carry out regular drills so that new staff can benefit from that training and everyone knows what to do if there is an attack.”

“It’s vital that venues reach out to the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) for advice on how to enhance or adapt their security”

While a number of live music operations declined to comment in the immediate aftermath of the attack, one expert points out that what happens both in the short- and long-term will depend on the outcome of the UK government’s emergency Cobra meeting.

“The information that filters down through the SECOs (security coordinators) will determine the response of promoters and event organisers,” said the source. He added that the police and security services would determine what additional measures may be required for summer festivals and concerts in general, but this may not be communicated for a number of days. “Obviously, trying to get hold of counter terrorism experts in the police today isn’t possible, but they are very effective at sharing information with us, so we expect to be briefed in the next day or two.”

Paul Reed, general manager of the Association of Independent Festivals in the UK noted that security at music festivals, as well as venues, is continuously reviewed as the top priority of promoters is the safety of their audiences. He tells IQ that in recent years, there has been a vast increase in dialogue and intelligence sharing between police and festival organisers, while initiatives such as NaCTSO’s counter terrorism Argus exercises are also helping to strengthen security efforts.

“In the aftermath of this dreadful attack in Manchester, audiences attending festivals this season may understandably have some concerns”

“In the aftermath of this dreadful attack in Manchester, audiences attending festivals this season may understandably have some concerns,” says Reed. “I must emphasise the excellent security record of UK festivals. AIF members are experts in organising safe and secure events for between 800 and 60,000 people and a highly effective private security industry has built up around events in this country.

“In addition, organisers have a constant dialogue with law enforcement and other relevant agencies at a local, regional and national level and there is increasingly more intelligence sharing between these agencies and promoters through initiatives such as Operation Gothic and the Project Argus training events. Security measures at festivals are reviewed constantly and the top priority of promoters of festival and concerts is always the safety and security of audiences. If additional measures need to be introduced, we are confident that they will be.”

 


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Industry pays tribute to Manchester bomb victims

Figures from across the live music industry have been quick to offer their condolences for the victims of the deadly terror attack at Manchester Arena yesterday evening. At least 22 people died and many more were injured after an Isis-linked suicide bomber detonated an improvised device outside the foyer of the 21,000-cap. venue after a show by Ariana Grande.

SMG Europe, which manages and operates the arena (pictured) for property firm Mansford, has confirmed that “an incident occurred in a public space outside of Manchester” and offers its “thoughts and prayers […] to the victims of this tragic incident and their families”.

Several other venues also offered their condolences. Paul Thandi, CEO of Birmingham venue operator NEC Group (Genting Arena, Barclaycard Arena), comments: “Our thoughts are with those who were affected by the terrible incident at the Manchester Arena last night. We’re shocked and saddened by what has happened.”

A statement from The O2 in London, meanwhile, says staff are “shocked and deeply saddened by the terrible tragedy in Manchester”. The AEG-operated venue adds that it is in discussion with “the promoters of Ariana Grande’s tour [Live Nation]” as to whether the remainder will go ahead. Grande is booked to play The O2 on 25 and 26 May.

Tony Watson, sales director for First Direct Arena in Leeds, a sister SMG venue, comments: “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends and colleagues associated with the [Manchester] Arena incident.”

Grande herself tweeted: “From the bottom of my heart, I am so so sorry.”

Michael Dugher, the newly appointed chief executive of UK trade group UK Music, comments: “Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by this horrific attack. It is even more distressing that children and teenagers have been targeted.

“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our brave emergency services and the venue staff. We know venues take security very seriously and do all they can to minimise risks, including training staff how to deal with major incidents. As a result of police investigations there will no doubt be a further review of these measures.

“Music has the power to bring people together and is so often a celebration of peace and love. We will not let terrorism and the politics of violence, hatred and division conquer that spirit.”

Freemuse, an NGO which campaigns for artistic freedom, has criticised the attack “in the strongest possible terms”. “Freemuse calls for a thorough and impartial investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice,” says executive director Srirak Plipat. “Targeting artists and audiences is a cowardly act that will never succeed in silencing artistic expressions and cultural life.”

A statement from Live Nation, the promoter behind Ariana Grande’s Dangerous Woman tour, reads: “We are deeply saddened by this senseless tragedy, and our hearts and thoughts are with those impacted by this devastating incident.”

“The appalling and cowardly attack of Manchester is an attack on our freedom, culture and life,” adds Marek Lieberberg, managing director of Live Nation in Germany. “We mourn for the innocent victims of a blind and brutal terror.”

“Music has the power to bring people together … We will not let terrorism and the politics of violence, hatred and division conquer that spirit”

“Our thoughts today are with all those innocent people whose lives were so cruelly taken yesterday evening in Manchester, and with all those who lost a loved one,” says Munich-based CTS Eventim. “[W]e are sure that Manchester will emerge even stronger from this past night as one of Europe’s centres of pop culture. Our sincere condolences go out to all those affected, and we wish them the loving support of their friends and family.

Live Nation’s Phil Bowdery, speaking on behalf of the Concert Promoters’ Association, says: “We are deeply shocked and saddened by last night’s senseless attack at the Ariana Grande concert. This is heartbreaking news and our thoughts and love are with everyone in Manchester at this time – in particular those that lost their lives or were affected by this devastating incident and their families and friends.

“All members of the Concert Promoters’ Association will continue to work with venues, police, stewarding companies and the relevant authorities, and it is our understanding that outside of the Manchester Arena and the Ariana Grande tour, all other planned concerts and events will go ahead, as advertised, unless ticketholders are directly advised to the contrary. Fans should check with venues direct for specific updates.

“In light of this attack on our concertgoing community, we ask for the support and understanding of our patrons with regard to any security measures which are in place for the safety of the public, and urge everyone to be vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour.”

Both the National Arenas Association (NAA) – of which Manchester Arena is a member – and European Arenas Association (EAA) say they are “shocked and deeply saddened” by the attack.

“Our membership stands in solidarity with the arena, the responders and investigators working hard in Manchester,” reads the EAA statement, “and we are heartened to read of the stories of bravery and courage shown by those teams and the local emergency services last night. Our thoughts and sincere condolences go out to those who have been injured and to the families of those who have so tragically lost their lives.”

 

This article will be updated with more comments as we receive them.

 


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Timeline: Attacks on live music

The Manchester Arena bombing is the latest in a series of terrorist attacks against concerts and festivals by Islamic extremists, which began – in Europe – in November 2015 at the Bataclan theatre.

But the industry had experienced terror attacks prior to Paris…

22 May 2017
A suicide bomber detonated an explosive device in a foyer outside Manchester Arena killing 22 and injuring 59 following a show by US singer Ariana Grande. The incident is the largest terrorist attack in the UK since the 7/7 bombings in 2005.

1 February 2017
Islamist militants are blamed for a tear gas attack on a concert in Sudan. Two canisters of tear gas were fired into the audience during a show by Sudanese singer Nada Galaa at a cinema in New Halfa, in the state of Kassala.

16 January 2017
Four people were shot dead and fifteen others injured when a lone gunman opened fire at BPM Festival in Mexico. A woman also died in a stampede that ensured as a result of the gunfire. Three of the dead were the festival’s security staff who lost their lives trying to protect patrons inside the Blue Parrot nightclub in Playa del Carmen.

1 January 2017
An attack in an Istanbul nightclub on New Year’s Day resulted in the death of 39 people and injured 70 others. A gunman claiming to represent the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) opened fire inside the Reina nightclub owned by the SU Entertainment Group, in Ortaköy, Istanbul.

24 July 2016
A failed asylum seeker from Syria blew himself up and injured 12 others after being turned away from the Ansbach Open festival in Southern Germany. The 27-year old man was refused entry for not having a ticket before detonating a home made bomb at the entrance to the event.

12 June 2016
Omar Mateen, a 29-year old security guard swearing allegiance to ISIL killed 49 people and wounded 53 others after opening fire at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The attack was the deadliest in the United States since the September 11 attacks, and the deadliest mass shooting by a single shooter in US history.

13 November 2015
ISIL gunman killed 89 concertgoers at the Bataclan theatre as part of a coordinated attack on Paris that claimed 130 lives and injured 368. The attack took place during a set by US rock band Eagles of Death Metal. The gunmen took hostages inside the venue before being shot or blowing themselves up in the ensuing police raid.

26 May 2010
A bomb detonated outside the Stavropol Concert Hall in Russia killed seven and injured 40 others. The explosive device was detonated 15 minutes before a popular Chechen dance show Vainakh, who had previously been openly photographed with Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov.

5 June 2003
Two female suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the Krlyla festival at the Tushino Airport near Moscow, killing 16 people and injuring 60 others. The bombers were both linked to rebel formations in Chechnya.

 


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22 people dead after bombing at Manchester Arena

At least 22 people, many of them children, have lost their lives after a suicide bombing at Manchester Arena for which the Islamic State terror group has claimed responsibility.

An explosion ripped through the foyer of the 21,000-cap. UK venue at around 22:40 last night, shortly after the conclusion of a concert by American pop singer Ariana Grande (pictured), with the mostly young, female audience the apparent target. More than 50 people are also known to have been injured.

Chief constable Ian Hopkins of Greater Manchester Police described the attack – believed to have been carried out by 22-year old Salman Abedi, who died at the arena – as “the most horrific incident we have had to face in Greater Manchester, and one that we hoped we would never see”.

“We are deeply saddened by this senseless tragedy”

The bombing is the worst terrorist attack in Britain in more than a decade, and comes 21 years after the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) bombed Manchester in an attack that left no one dead but injured 212.

It is also the deadliest terrorist attack on a music venue since the mass shooting at Bataclan in Paris in November 2015, which led to many venues, promoters and festivals rethinking their security strategies in response to the growing global threat of Islamist terror.

Speaking in Downing Street, UK prime minister Theresa May said: “All acts of terrorism are cowardly attacks against innocent people but this attack stands out for its appalling, sickening cowardice, deliberately targeting innocent and defenceless young people.”

Many foreign leaders have expressed their condolences, including US President Donald Trump who said the “slaughter of innocent people, mostly innocent children” was wicked and the work of an “evil loser”.

According to Pollstar’s annual figures on the arena market, Manchester Arena was the fourth busiest arena in the world in 2016, with total ticket sales of 851,785 for concerts.

“All acts of terrorism are cowardly attacks against innocent people but this attack stands out for its appalling, sickening cowardice, deliberately targeting innocent and defenceless young people.”

The arena issued a statement condemning the attack, which read: “Last night, our community suffered a senseless tragedy… Our entire team’s thoughts and focus are now on supporting the people affected and their families.

“We are assisting the police in any way we can. We cannot praise the emergency services enough for their response and have been inspired by the way the people of this great city of Manchester rallied round last night and have continued to respond today. It shows the very best of this city.

“Again, our thoughts and deepest condolences are with all those affected by last night’s tragedy.”

Live Nation, which promoted the Grande show, says: “We are deeply saddened by this senseless tragedy, and our hearts and thoughts are with those impacted by this devastating incident.”

 


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Minister: No rise in sex attacks at Swedish fests

Despite multiple sexual assaults at two Swedish festivals last summer, the incidence of sexual harassment at live music events in Sweden is less frequent than it was two decades ago, interior minister Anders Ygeman has said.

Speaking yesterday at concert industry conference Sweden Live, Ygeman said: “Sexual molestation at festivals is, in my eyes, less common now than 20 years ago.”

The minister’s views were echoed by Kristina Ljungros, chairwoman of sex-education nonprofit RFSU, who said her organisation does “not believe that crimes have increased”. Ljungros, who joined Ygemen, FKP Scorpio’s Kajsa Apelqvist and We Are Stockholm’s Eve Widgren on a panel discussion on sexual harassment at concerts, added, however, that “it’s good we’re talking about it now” and that “we all have a responsibility” to prevent sexual assaults, reports SVT.

“Sexual molestation at festivals is, in my eyes, less common now than 20 years ago”

Widgren, meanwhile, said “sensational” media reporting has contributed to a sense that sexual assaults are on the rise in Sweden, even if that’s not the case.

More than 35 sex attacks were reported at the Putte i Parken festival in the first weekend of July, with a similar spate of assaults also affecting FKP Scorpio’s Bråvalla festival the same weekend.

FKP Scorpio chief executive Folkert Koopmans later clarified to IQ that of the five initial reports of rape at Bråvalla, two were withdrawn and three would be better described as sexual harassment. “Swedish women are encouraged to stand up and report any type of sexual harassment – much more so compared to most other countries,” he explained. “As a result we receive a high number of reported rapes and other incidents.”

 


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