Jessica Pratt Opens Up On 'Alarming', 'Surreal' End To European Tour

21 November 2015 | 12:11 pm | Staff Writer

The US songstress was supporting Jose Gonzalez on a run of continental shows when last weekend's attacks in Paris occurred

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Californian singer-songwriter Jessica Pratt has spoken of her experience in Europe last weekend during the co-ordinated attacks in Paris that left more than 100 people dead.

Pratt had been on tour in Europe in the lead-up to the attacks, culiminating with a series of support shows for Jose Gonzalez, the final date for which was scheduled for Monday 17 November, at Le Trianon in Paris. On the night of the attack (Friday 14 November), the touring party was performing in Lucerne, Switzerland, only finding out what had happened in France when they got off stage.

"Obviously it was very alarming, but it was also very surreal," Pratt told The Music's Anthony Carew from home in Los Angeles. "We were in Switzerland at the time, not very far from France, but far enough that you felt like you were at an emotional distance.

"There’s so much brutal stuff that happens in the world, and you hear about it every day," she continued. "So, I think it really took a second to sink in, for all of us. Not just the extremity and the magnitude of the situation, but how close to home it was. Like, it involved a rock venue of the same capacity as the ones that we’d been playing, and it was only a few days before we were supposed to be [in Paris]. It was very strange. No one knew how to react. We were all very quiet for the rest of the night.

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"We felt so fortunate that we didn’t know anyone, personally, that was involved in this. When something of that magnitude occurs, anyone anywhere can imagine themselves in that situation. Can you imagine going to a rockshow with some friends and then a massacre taking place? Everyone was just kind of shell-shocked. It’s mentally and emotionally isolating. We all felt a little bit numb. And it was sad."

In the wake of the news, the planned Paris show for Monday was cancelled immediately — "There was never any question as to whether we were going to play in Paris, because everything there was just shut down, literally, figuratively, emotionally," she said — but the touring party went ahead with a performance in Lausanne, on the French/Swiss border, on Sunday, with Pratt saying that there was almost a sense of duty to the making good on the gig.

"I don’t think we were at a loss as to whether to play that show [in Lausanne]," Pratt told The Music. "We felt obligated to play the shows that we could, that made sense to play. If there’s any way to soothe people’s hearts and minds, it’s with music.

"[The show] was a little tense, because it was so recently after this thing had happened, and not that far away. Collectively, you feel a little uneasy, even unsafe. It was great to be able to just be at a show, but, at the same time, it felt really sad and dark. When you are faced with something that massive and that horrifying, everything seems very petty and trivial. It makes it hard to laugh."

On the tour's abrupt end — with the final show in Paris cancelled, Pratt went in to the city (she had a hotel pre-booked) and flew out the next day — the songstress said the experience's conclusion was "weird for us — really weird".

"It gives you a lot of perspective," she said. "It reminds you that you should appreciate the opportunities you’re given, your health and well-being. It takes a little while for things like that to sink in, for you to be able to process them."