A day shy of the anniversary of the Paris attacks, Sting reopened Paris' Bataclan theater with a minute of silence for the 90 killed and dedicated the song "50,000" to David Bowie and Prince, among others.
Security was tight surrounding the venue, with Boulevard Voltaire blocked off and two lines of security checks to get near the theater. Hundreds of people turned out to pay their respects, holding vigil behind police barricades across the street.
Coming on stage promptly at 9 p.m. to a subdued crowd, the British rocker began with remarks honoring the victims that were killed when terrorists stormed the theater on Nov. 13, 2005.
"We've got two important things to do tonight," he said in French. "First, to remember and honor those who lost their lives in the attacks a year ago, and second to celebrate the life and the music of this historic venue."
Sting then called for the minute of silence, which proved to be an existential exhale for the tense crowd.
"We shall not forget them," he said before launching into 1988's "Fragile," which features the line, "Nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could," followed by "Message In a Bottle."
Sting then began a list of those musicians lost his year. "David Bowie, Prince, Glenn Frey, Lemmy ..." he said before the crowd shouted "Leonard Cohen!"
"And Leonard," he added. "This is for them." The performer dedicated "50,000" from his new album 57th & 9th to the late musicians.
His "Inshallah" was next, which might have proved more controversial. He explained the Arabic term as a "word of hope," however, noting the current migrant crisis that is plaguing Europe.
"And now for rock 'n' roll," said Sting, as he launched into "Petrol Head." It wasn't until he entered into The Police's "Every Breath You Take" that the crowd seemed to relax and dance.
But it took a somber turn once again when he dedicated his last song, "Empty Chair," to slain journalist Jim Foley and the HBO documentary made about him, Jim: The James Foley Story. A photo of Foley was projected behind the stage as Sting pulled out his acoustic guitar for an emotional rendition.
The star commanded the stage in slim jeans and a tight gray T-shirt. Despite the many signs reminding the crowd of the ban on film and photos, much of the audience held up phones throughout the show.
The concert benefitted two charities, Life for Paris and 13 Novembre: Libterte Fraternite, that work with the survivors of the attacks. Victims were offered tickets to the show, which sold out in minutes when they went on sale Nov. 8.
Sting also took to his Instagram account Saturday night:
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.
A photo posted by Sting (@theofficialsting) on Nov 12, 2016 at 12:25pm PST
See some of the social media posts below.
#BREAKING Sting performs his song "Fragile" at the #Bataclan reopening concert in #Paris pic.twitter.com/WDmWbarBEJ
- Lucid Hurricane (@LucidHuricane) November 12, 2016
Sting transforms The Bataclan back into what it always was. A concert venue. pic.twitter.com/sps9pdsSEx
- Nick Garnett (@NickGarnettBBC) November 12, 2016
Sting's set list tonight @le_bataclan #bataclan #paris pic.twitter.com/rnZRyVsOgU
- gigsinparis (@gigsinparis) November 12, 2016