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Cantat's controversial return to stage
On Saturday, Bertrand Cantat, the French singer who made his name as the lead singer of one of the best rock band of recent years, Noir Désir, performed at a festival in Bordeaux. This was his first performance since his release from prison for killing his French film star girlfriend Marie Trintignant, during a furious jealous row in 2003.
The 46 year-old French singer's success came to an abrupt halt when Cantat was sentenced to eight years in jail for manslaughter. The Lithuanian tribunal which judged him acknowledged that the fatal “slap” had been an accident, in accordance with the singer's claims. Cantat then was released on parole on 16 October 2007, after serving half of his sentence.
As he made his first appearance on stage, the artist was greeted with rapturous applause by the 2,000 fans who had been alerted to his possible comeback by rumours last week. He performed with the French rock band Eiffel, singing some of their most popular songs like “À tout moment la rue”, “Le Temps des cerises”, and a frenzy-paced cover of Iggy Pop's hit “Search and Destroy".
This first step down the road to redemption stirred up a huge controversy in France. The crowd was torn between resentment and forgiveness: did he really deserve a second chance? Some obviously think not, as his come-back show enraged feminist campaigners who considered it "a negative message" to wife-beating opponents. As far as Trintignant's family is concerned, the victim's mother Nadine, a respected film director, has so far refused to comment on Cantat's comeback.
Even politicians have joined the debate. Arnaud Montebourg, a Socialist MP, refused to criticise Cantat's return. "Personally, I greatly admire this singer's art, who is a poet," he told French radio. "He is a great artist. He committed a serious crime. He served his sentence. Can the artist return to the stage? That's for him to decide".
But will the rest of the public be as indulgent ?