US band Eagles of Death Metal to perform in Tel Aviv

Only 10 months ago, the popular American band were performing at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris when Islamic State terrorists armed with rifles and explosives opened fire, killing 89 people.

US band Eagles of Death Metal (photo credit: PR)
US band Eagles of Death Metal
(photo credit: PR)
It’s a wonder the Eagles of Death Metal don’t have permanent stage fright.
Only 10 months ago, the popular American band – described by one fan as a cross between The Ramones and The Allman Brothers – were performing at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris when Islamic State terrorists armed with rifles and explosives opened fire, killing 89 people.
Although the shocked band managed to escape through the backstage area, their merchandise vendor was among the victims.
But the boisterous bunch don’t frighten easily, and their rebound was quick. The band joined U2 onstage a month later, and in February they were back in Europe, returning to Paris for an emotionally cathartic show, attended by some 900 survivors of the attack and victims’ families, all guests of the band and promoter. Front man Jesse Hughes stopped mid-song at one point and said, “Sixty seconds of silence, please. Let’s take a minute to remember – then we get back to having fun.”
And that summarized the band’s credo pretty succinctly. On their current tour, the band’s second outside the US since the Bataclan attack, EODM demonstrated that their rebellious penchant was intact. Last week at the 02 Forum in London, Hughes reached into the audience and grabbed a French flag which he unfurled and hung over his amp. He and the rest of the band dealt with November’s tragedy for the rest of the show in the only way they know how – by turning up the volume.
The band was formed in 1998 by Hughes and Josh Homme, who is best known for his work as the front man of Queens of the Stone Age. According to the less than reverent band, their inspiration and group name came from wondering what a cross between the light country rock breeze of the Eagles and a death metal band would sound like.
With his other obligations, Homme took a back seat, enabling the naturally charismatic Hughes to blossom as an in-your-face stage presence. One could mistake their riff-driven jams for a Spinal Tap parody of hard-drinking, macho rock taken to the extreme, but Hughes and his band mates are sincere rock ‘n roll evangelists.
Through a handful of albums, regular touring and word of mouth, the band developed a strong cult following, but it’s dwarfed by their post-Bataclan notoriety. And it’s not always of the positive kind.
In a February interview with French TV, Hughes, a noted firearm advocate, suggested that armed fans could have thwarted the attack.
“Did your French gun control stop a single person from dying at the Bataclan? he asked. A month later, he implied that the security at the hall may have been in cahoots with the terrorists, but the next day apologized for his “absurd accusations” and explained that he was suffering from “nonstop nightmares.”
Hughes’s natural state of defiance is nothing new and was on full display the first time they performed in Israel, just four months before the Paris tragedy.
“I would never boycott a place like this,” Hughes pronounced during the band’s sold-out debut performance at Tel Aviv’s Barby Club last July. He was referring to a well-publicized letter the band had received from Roger Waters, the outspoken and, some would say, obsessive supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, asking them to reconsider performing in Israel.
“You know what I wrote back? Two words,” Hughes shouted. After repeating the obvious two-word profanity to the large, cheering crowd, Hughes added, “Never waste your time worrying about what an asshole thinks about you.”
When Hughes and EODM return to Israel next week to perform on September 5 – this time at the larger-sized Hangar 11 in the Tel Aviv Port – they will undoubtedly be wiser and changed by the harrowing experiences of the last year. But the things that remain are more significant. Their obnoxious, raunchy side is still intact, and stage fright wouldn’t dare raise its specter.