Sunday, 22 November 2015

Steve Grantley Interview

Much has been said about the terror attacks on the French capital earlier this month and normally a music blog wouldn't be commenting on them but this time I will be for a couple of reasons. Firstly a music venue was targeted, not a high profile stadium gig but a normal concert venue, secondly mere days after the attack one band decided to buck the trend of cancellations and actively made their scheduled gig in Paris go ahead - that band was Stiff Little Fingers and on the drum stool as always was Steve Grantley. While the SLF tour continues Steve found time to answer a few questions about what it was like to play that Paris show.

Where were you when you heard the news of the attacks in Paris?

We were in Dublin. We had just come off stage and our tour manager Tony informed us of the tragedy.

Did it immediately sink in that you were due to play there in a matter of days?

Yes. We all looked at each other with immediate realisation - "we are due in Paris in 2 days!" It was a sobering moment!

What were the discussions within the band as to whether or not to go ahead with the show?

We all agreed that we must go and play - however we knew we would have to have the support of the promoter and the permission of the authorities. At the time large gatherings were forbidden by the government and there was also a period of mourning in place so it was a bit up in the air but it was lifted by the Tuesday when we were due to play.

Did it ever occur to you to cancel?

No, never!

Were the venue and promoter eager for you to go ahead or did they need persuading that it was a good thing to proceed with?

They wanted us to go ahead. We all collectively felt that we should play.

The reviews coming out of the show say the reaction from the audience was amazing with chants at the beginning of the set, how would you describe the experience?

Yes, it was heart warming and elating. The Paris audience were exuberant and unnecessarily grateful to us for playing. You see, we WANTED to perform. Their warmth was palpable and the atmosphere was electric.

Jake made little comment of the attack itself until near the end of the set, was this an intentional decision, almost a return to normalcy for the audience?

Absolutely, we didn't want to remind them of the atrocity: we wanted to make it business as usual.
U2's Adam Clayton in Belfast this week (pic Nick Thom)

Did you make any changes to the set?

No we didn't. We wore black arm bands as a mark of respect to the people who lost their lives but other than that we went out and played a SLF show.

What do you think of U2 and Foo Fighters cancelling their dates?

U2 had no choice: there was a ban on concerts the night they were due to play. In terms of security, it's a lot easier to guarantee a level of safety for 500 people in a club rather than thousands in an arena.

U2 were due to play the night after the attack and made the decision to visit the street memorials, it's unlikely the authorities would have allowed the show to go ahead. Was there any discussions with the police or politicians about whether or not you should go ahead with the gig?

No discussions, the concert and large gathering ban was over as was the national mourning period so it was up to us and the promoter. U2 had no choice, they weren't allowed to play!

Have you had any messages of support from other bands?

We've had an amazing reaction from all over the world. It's been a huge surprise. To us we just did what we do! We played a gig!

You return to France early next month when you play in Rouen, do you think that the Paris show will influence it?

I've no idea - who knows? For us it's business as usual. We play music, that's what we do. If we stopped, changed our routine or adapted to accommodate fear - the terrorists have won! And we can't have that!

1 comment:

  1. Good old Steve! Well done guys. Wish I was there at that gig.