The Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris that left a reported 127 people dead around the city are a particular horror for fans of live music, with shootings and a hostage situation resulting in as many as 118 deaths occurring inside concert venue Le Bataclan during an Eagles of Death Metal performance. And as the city and the world continue to recover from the tragedy, the live events community is weighing in on the possible effects on touring and public performances.
As of now, the city of Paris has shut down all public spaces, including concert halls, public performance spaces, museums, libraries and landmarks, with one source with knowledge of the live events situation in the city telling Billboard it will remain that way until at least Thursday. “We will continue operations in other markets with due reference to local authorities and their guidance,” a source with Live Nation’s international operations told Billboard, citing Madonna‘s performance in Stockholm tonight as an example. “Our priority going forward is of course the safety of the fans we entertain every night and [we] will be reviewing security for our shows on a longer term basis.”
Fan security is foremost on everyone’s minds in light of what was the deadliest concert shooting in history; yesterday afternoon outside of Justin Bieber’s event at L.A.’s Staples Center, Billboard observed extra security and police arriving as news of the events trickled in. “Insuring the safest and most secure environment for our guests and staff is our top priority,” Staples Center President Lee Zeidman, who also runs the Microsoft Theater and L.A. LIVE, said in a statement released last night. “We are in constant communication with local, state and Federal law enforcement agencies along with intelligence authorities and other consultants to ensure our security is continually taking proactive measures.”
What those proactive measures will look like is a question that promoters, venue owners and security companies are looking at as events unfold, with one exec calling for a change in attitude. “Our industry must realize incidents like this can happen to any of us at any time at any event,” says Cory Meredith, founder of one of the largest security and crowd management firms in the U.S., Staff Pro. “Budgeting and planning to implement industry best practices is imperative.”
Already some preparedness and response initiatives are being installed following the attacks, including a refresher for all levels of staff on the Department of Homeland Security’s See Something/Say Something campaign, an “enhanced and visible presence” of security inside and around the venue, and a recommended review of shelter-in-place and evacuation procedures to include communication and decision-making coordination.
“It’s a sobering reminder that we can never again afford to become complacent,” says Russ Simons, managing partner at Venue Solutions Group and the Chairman of the DHS’ Public Assembly Facility Sub-Sector Council. “Just because something hasn’t happened to us for awhile it doesn’t diminish our need to be prepared.”
U2 has canceled its HBO live stream performance, previously scheduled to take place tonight at AccorHotels Arena in Paris, while the Foo Fighters have called off the remaining dates on their European tour after French President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency in France and closed its borders. One source tells Billboard that tour policies do not generally include provisions for terrorism-related cancellations, though it is an option that can be added at an additional premium.
Still, though additional security measures are already being implemented, there is a general belief from many promoters that the violence will have a tangible effect. “Cowardly terrorist attacks have occurred at any time and any place which has very sadly taken the lives and injured scores of innocent victims throughout the world,” says Jam Productions owner Jerry Mickelson, adding he believes any type of violence at a public event would have an effect on a number of different levels. “What I do know is that we must not let any of these horrific acts change the way we live our lives. We must not live in fear.”